BioShock Gameplay Review

Written by Joe Martin

August 21, 2007 // 9:50 a.m.

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

Companies: #take-two

Must we stay spoiler-free, Tim?

For all the fancy gameplay elements and attention to detail though, BioShock is still a game about a story. There’s no multiplayer side which will give the game extra life either, so the story is doubly important.

Talking about the game's story is something made incredibly difficult thanks to the spoiler-free nature of this article, but you don’t need to worry and we won’t give in to the over-whelming urge to tell all. Let it only be said that the game's over-arching plot is full of twists, turns and emotional grab you by the short and curlies then yank you out of your chair moments.

The story, which is told in first person by an utterly silent narrator, is told not just through cutscenes either. Audio logs litter the ruins of Rapture, just as in System Shock 2 or the much less inspiring Doom 3.

Some of the logs are hidden far off the beaten path and tell side stories of Rapture’s forgotten victims, but most are laying in semi-plain sight.

BioShock Gameplay Review Creepiness and Conclusions
The style of story-telling gives BioShock a perpetual tension and creepiness

Importantly, the game won’t leave you running around searching for specific logs to understand the story or let you skip past diaries that are critical to the plot. Diaries that are important to the plot will flash yellow when you pass them (just as all other items which are critical to the game) and once picked up, critical diaries will play automatically.

There are also a few survivors of the city, such as Atlas who contacts the player at the very start of the game, guide you through the game and explain parts of the plot. Still, it doesn’t matter if the narrators are alive or not – ghosts play a large part in the game and will be heralded by a static effect which disrupts the screen.

Ghosts aren’t overused throughout, and we ran in to only a handful of ghostly encounters in our gaming; but because of the measured approach, they are consistently creepy and well-done.

Conclusions

We don’t really need a conclusion, do we? It should be obvious by now that we’re going to give BioShock the maximum possible score. There really is no doubt about it.

The game is superbly crafted, a masterpiece of game design which will tug on your heartstrings and stain your pants in equal measure. It’ll leave you gripping your desk in excitement when the plot takes a new direction and it will leave you shaking with anticipation whenever the screen gets a burst of static.

BioShock Gameplay Review Creepiness and Conclusions
Rapture is a city full of ethical dillemas

All games have flaws and BioShock is no exception – the Vita-life chambers being the only really bad idea – but the beautiful thing about this game is that it gives players the chance to work around the flaws and find new routes. It fills you with the feeling that the story being told is your story, both in the beauty of the writing and the ways players can personalise their adventure.

Important, gorgeous, dramatic? BioShock redefines what these words mean in the games industry, leaving past peaks like Half-Life 2 by the wayside. BioShock is quite simply a triumph that we cannot gush enough praise for. BioShock is, without exaggeration, the best experience I have ever had with a computer since I first got into games all those years ago with The Secret of Monkey Island. It is my new favourite game and the benchmark for all future titles.

It doesn’t matter how much the game costs. If you are reading this article then it belongs in your collection. Buy it now on PC, or buy it now on 360. Just buy it, there are no excuses.

BioShock Gameplay Review Creepiness and Conclusions

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