BioShock Gameplay Review

Written by Joe Martin

August 21, 2007 | 09:50

Tags: #2k #360 #atlas #best-ever #best-of #bioshock #boston #evar #irrational #joe #levine #looking-glass #rapture #ryan #story #system-shock

Companies: #take-two

Multiple Paths

The hacking aspect of the game though is a perfect example of how BioShock caters to every player’s style and, because I didn’t like the mini-game, I was consistently able to avoid it using plasmids and hack-tools.

This approach of allowing multiple styles is perpetuated throughout the whole game and those who want action can simply mow enemies down, scavenging ammo and money to stay armed to the teeth. Meanwhile, those who want a more stealthy game can hack and creep through the game, using plasmids to expand abilities as they go.

Most people will naturally fall somewhere between the juggernaut and creeper styles of gameplay, picking which enemies to avoid and which to encounter and occasionally turning enemies against each other. It’s the ability to choose your own style and tactic which makes BioShock feel truly emergent and player-driven.

The multiple paths and options are never as widely catered for as in Deus Ex, a game which BioShock will inevitably be compared to, but it’s still far above and beyond something like Oblivion.

BioShock Gameplay Review Weak points BioShock Gameplay Review Weak points
Click to enlarge

Gamers and RPG-fans also have to bear in mind that BioShock is a FPS first and foremost. There are no player stats or experience points to gather, only plasmids and tonics. There are also a few unavoidable combat encounters, both in the form of Big Daddies and a few arena battles which give some white-knuckle, controller-snapping action.

If you’re worried about finding combat too difficult though, then you can rest easy. Scattered throughout the game levels are ‘Vita-life Chambers’ which automatically reincarnate players with a little bit of health and Eve on their person, as well as all previous weapons and ammo. Quick-saving and quick-loading is therefore removed from the game completely and players can simply try again.

Unfortunately, the Vita-life centres are the single major failure of the game, to the point of almost breaking the entire combat system. This is partly because the notion of being able to reincarnate with almost no consequence encourages players to simply plunge straight on into attacks with no thought or plan, which is somewhat of contrary to the game design.

BioShock Gameplay Review Weak points BioShock Gameplay Review Weak points
Click to enlarge

The Vita-life Chambers are also a pain for tough battles in that, if you struggle with a particular battle and use up all the first-aid kits around you but still die then you will have no choice but to try and take on the remaining forces with no first aid kits and only half health. Some of the larger battles then become more of an endurance contest than anything else, with players attacking a set of enemies, dying, reincarnating, running back through half the level, fighting, dying and repeating.

Now, cheating is something for every player to personally define and we could philosophise forever on whether exploiting the game design in this way is technically cheating or not, but it is clearly possible to kill a Big Daddy with nothing but a wrench in some places. It takes a long time (we tried), but it is very possible for players who don’t want to discard all their ammo for the sake of one Little Sister.
Discuss this in the forums

May 5 2021 | 09:30