The Little Things
So far, I’ve only touched on the larger and more publicised aspects of the gameplay. Plasmids, Big Daddies and hacking? Pah! Everybody knows about that!
Thankfully, there are a lot of smaller features in BioShock
which are often over-looked. Reloading is in itself innovative, for example, and allows you to load different ammo types into a gun or to reload plasmids with Eve based on context. Hitting the reload key with a plasmid armed will give players a burst from an Eve syringe, but hitting the same key with a weapon equipped will reload the weapon, cutting down the number of keys required and starkly different from the mana/ammo system in games like Clive Barker’s Undying
The different ammo types are also a breath of fresh air, with three different types for each gun. True, they are all essentially the same; one regular ammo type, one for armoured targets and one for un-armoured targets, but the ability to pick and choose again makes the game feel more player driven and there are a few more creative types available in the later levels.
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Even the enemies have been lavished with attention and it isn’t an uncommon experience to be creeping through a deserted hallway, favourite plasmid at the ready, trying to hunt down the sound of the creepy hymn chanting or screaming. Disturbing enemies by making too much noise will also set them off searching for you, all the while muttering to themselves about what the sound may have been.
That may not sound like much in this day and age, but it packs an oddly emotional punch when enemies respond to the sound of a knocked over paint can with comments like “Is that you, Jessica? Why did you leave me?”
Food and drink also litter the levels, each with their own pros and cons. Eating a candy bar will give you a quick burst of health and Eve, while drinking a fine Merlot will give you health but no Eve. If you want, you can even get your nicotine fix for a bonus to Eve at the cost of some health.
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Again proving that every choice has a consequence, players are able to get drunk if they abuse the plentiful alcohol lying around and will have to cope with blurred vision and uncertain aim.
The first time I discovered the drunk effect I was very low on health and raided a nearby bar for supplies. I got interrupted halfway through my binge and let loose with a volley of machine gun fire to kill the splicer who had snuck in. Unfortunately, the drink had taken hold and I accidentally but a round or two into a Big Daddy who made sure that I was heading to the nearest Vita-Life chamber only a few seconds later.