BioShock Xbox 360 review

3 February 2008
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BioShock for Xbox 360BioShock is a unique game that mixes a spine-chilling setting illustrated with art deco art and architecture, sci-fi themes of bio-genetic mutation and self-modification, a deep storyline with open-choice freedom to interact with the world as you choose, and first-person action with role-playing game customization elements that require you to think every time you pull the trigger.

Would you kindly read on…

System: Xbox 360, PC (DVD & Steam)
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release dates: August 21st 2007 (USA), August 24th 2007 (EURO/AUS)
Players: 1
Developer: 2K Boston
Publisher: 2K Games
Origin: America

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  • BioShock screenshot

    BioShock is the “genetically enhanced” first person shooter that lets you turn nearly everything in the game into a weapon, biologically mod your body with plasmids, hack devices and systems, upgrade your weapons and craft new ammo variants, and experiment with different battle techniques.

    Going beyond “run and gun corridors,” “monster-closet AIs” and static worlds, BioShock creates a living, unique and unpredictable FPS experience. After your plane crashes into icy uncharted waters, you discover a rusted bathysphere and descend into Rapture, a city hidden beneath the sea. Constructed as an idealistic society for a hand picked group of scientists, artists and industrialists, the idealism is no more. Now the city is littered with corpses, wildly powerful guardians roam the corridors as little girls loot the dead, and genetically mutated citizens ambush you at every turn.

    You play as Jack, a cast-away in Rapture, an underwater Utopia torn apart by civil war. While immersed in the decaying art deco city, you can experiment with the various weapons and plasmids, as the storyline unfolds. Caught between powerful forces, and hunted down by genetically modified “splicers” and deadly security systems, you have to come to grips with a deadly, mysterious world filled with powerful technology and fascinating characters. With multiple avenues for surmounting challenges on both a moral and tactical level, no encounter ever plays out the same, and no two gamers will play the game the same way.

    Watch the BioShock launch trailer.

    Sorry about the age verification video, it’s a Mature game.

    The main resources in the game are ADAM, EVE, and money. ADAM is a mutagen, which allows genetic changes. To adapt and advance the character, the player can purchase plasmids, using ADAM. These are grouped under the Combat, Engineering, Active, and Physical technology trees. The “Active” plasmids are abilities that function as alternate weapons; they are powered by EVE, and require activation by the player. The other classes of plasmids, referred to as “Tonics,” are passive abilities that work as long as they are selected as equipment.

    Quantities of ADAM can be used to purchase plasmids, EVE, and other genetic mutations at special “Gatherers Gardens” vending machines throughout the game. ADAM can be obtained in several ways, most prominently the harvesting of “Little Sisters” after defeating their bodyguards, the “Big Daddies,” who are large, heavily armored, genetically enhanced humans wearing diving suits. EVE acts as fuel for “active plasmids” in a manner similar to magic points in other games, while money allows the purchase of items and ammunition, as well as paying to override security elements, such as bots or turrets.

    It is here that morality is implemented as an aspect of the gameplay; the player can chose to either rescue the Little Sisters, or harvest their ADAM. While both choices have their advantages, this element of conflicting morals has an impact on the storyline, and, among other things — like, say, your conscience — on the difficulty of the game itself.

    What are the main features of BioShock?

    * Biologically modify the DNA in your body with plasmids, which are genetic augmentations that empower you with dozens of fantastic abilities including: sending Electrobolts storming from your fingertips, unleashing a swarm of hornets hatched from the veins of your arms, or strategically turning enemies against one another with irritants.

    * Take control of your world by hacking devices and systems: reprogram enemy security bots into personal bodyguards, modify vending machines to change prices, and transform machine gun security turrets into powerless pieces of metal.

    * Upgrade your weapons at Power-to-the-People stations located through Rapture: craft variants of ammo and plasmids by picking up materials in the city and modifying them at U-Invent kiosks.

    * Turn everything into a weapon: the environment, your body, fire and water, and even your worst enemies. BioShock’s free form combat options allow gameplay scenarios to be approached with a variety of weapons: inject active and passive plasmids, utilize environmental objects, exploit political alliances, or use a combination of techniques. Find your style but know when to adapt.

    * Explore an incredible and unique art deco world hidden deep under the ocean, vividly illustrated with realistic water effects and truly next generation graphics.

    * Make meaningful and mature decisions that culminate in the ultimate question: Do you exploit the innocent survivors of Rapture to save yourself… or risk it all to become their savior?

    Watch some more BioShock gameplay.

    When you get right down to it, BioShock is the spiritual successor to the System Shock games. Produced by former developers of that series, creative director Ken Levine claims his team had been thinking about making another game in the same vein since they produced System Shock 2. He pointed out these gameplay similarities between the games:

    Plasmids in Bioshock serve the same function as “Psionic Abilities” in System Shock 2; the player needs to deal with security cameras, turrets, and drones, and has the ability to hack them; ammunition conservation is stressed as “a key gameplay feature”; and audio recordings fulfill the same storytelling role that e-mail logs did in the System Shock games. The “ghosts” (phantom images that replay tragic incidents in the places they occurred) from System Shock 2 also exist in BioShock, as do modifiable weapons with multiple ammunition types. Atlas guides the player along by radio, in much the same way Janice Polito does in System Shock 2, with each having a similar twist mid-game. Both games also give the player more than one method of completing tasks, allowing for emergent gameplay like the below “Plasmid Powers” trailer will show.

    Since I shouldn’t spoil the game by talking about the excellent story, let’s see how much fun BioShock is on a scale from 1 to 10?

    FUN FACTOR – 9.5
    BioShock features a perfect blend between an engrossing storyline and smart action-filled gameplay that creates a terrific atmosphere. The game pushes you from mysterious happenings to scary scenarios, from creepy works of fiction to fantastic art deco art-filled cityscapes, from “oh god! I don’t want to open my eyes…” to “I can’t believe my eyes!” What we have here is a game that can immerse you to feel all these different emotions as you move through the carefully crafted Utopia-gone-wrong. Every few years there’s a game that’s so fun to play, it puts you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. BioShock is one of those highly recommended games.

    Graphics – 10
    The first thing you’ll notice as the game starts is that it looks like a movie in the opening and the the view is unparalleled as you descend upon the by neon-signs lighted underwater city of Rapture. Once inside the various different parts of the city come alive and feel like a huge open environment for you to be guided through or extensively explore to every corner. It feels so alive thanks to the unbelievably beautiful art design, smooth animations and surreal special effects like the realistic water. Even better is that there’s almost always has a steady framerate throughout the game and it supports HDTV graphics of 720p up to 1080i/p. I definitely suggest you download the “BioShock: Breaking the Mold” art book with high-resolution artwork from the game.

    Audio – 10
    The game’s Dolby Digital soundtrack includes 30 licensed classic songs from the 40’s and 50’s like Django Reinhardt’s Beyond the Sea, Billie Holiday’s God Bless the Child and Moby’s Wild Little Sisters, that evoke tunes of a happier time but sound undeniably eerie in the context of the story. To further immerse players in this captivating and haunting world Garry Schyman crafted a complex combination of aleatoric elements, early 20th century writing, musique concrete, traditional tonal and late romantic styles. The score, recorded with a live orchestra at historic Capitol Studios in Hollywood, features solo violin and cello performances. There’s even a piano solo in the style of late Rachmaninoff. It all perfectly complements the creepy sound effects and spot-on voice acting from the eerie audio diaries, splicers and Little Sisters. As to how it all comes together to shape some of the best audio you’ve ever heard in a game, the Little Sisters said it best: “Six times two is lemon.”

    Ingenuity – 9.0
    The game’s challenging gameplay is perfectly balanced to allow the fantastic story to be told. You can never get stuck thanks to the hint system that can explain your next move. While some of the smart tactics reward is taken away by you re-emerging from the nearest Vita Chambers with some health loss and everything else still fully intact from before you died; it should make you want to try different attacks (indirect improvised combat is rewarded), but if you keep charging your enemies you’ll quickly feel as out of your mind as the splicers who do the same. The light RPG aspects of the game do an amazing job of complementing the deep FPS gameplay and as a result make BioShock a fresh and intense gameplay experience.

    Replay Value – 9.0
    Expect the story in BioShock to take around 20 hours to play through, depending on the difficulty level you select and your shooter skills. Be sure to go online with the game to receive a BioShock update that adds new Plasmids, tweaks the game and adds new options (horizontal field-of-view & disable Vita Chambers). With multiple endings it’s definitely deep, fun and engrossing enough for a second playthrough to try things differently, this might keep the (so far) over 1.5 million buyers entertained for a while longer. BioShock publisher 2K Games has already confirmed BioShock 2 and more sequels are planned every two to three years. 2009-2010 can’t come soon enough!


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  • About the author

    Ferry Groenendijk By Ferry Groenendijk: He is the founder and editor of Video Games Blogger. He loved gaming from the moment he got a Nintendo with Super Mario Bros. on his 8th birthday. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and at Google+.

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