After reading the eurogamer review of bioshock, i was intrigued... not by the bulk of the review, but by the score. 10? that implies a truly perfect game, a perfect game which would never be bested for as long as mankind shall walk the earth. or some such.
despite all the hype that had surrounded this game since its inception, i found myself notably ambivalent about the release of this game. the perfect score had certainly piqued my interest though, so i went out the next day to purchase the game. on returning home to install the game, i found numerous graphical issue which i subsequently found out (using the power of google) were due to shader models 2.0 not being supported. good thing 2k games mentioned that properly on the front of the box then. oh wait - they didn't.
so i find out my options are to play the game with beta tested textures that some kind gents around the world have worked on, or pay out 2-3x as much for a new graphics card as i have for the game itself. this game was starting to build a whole load of hype for itself! cos if it didnt live up to the cost (both financial and time-wise) it was getting sent straight back from whence it came...
so being the cheap-o i am i figured i could get by with the beta textures. made the game play at least, but graphically it failed to blow me away. dunno if the game with SM3.0 will give it that little extra, but that much is irrelevant since i base games on their gameplay value more than i do on their graphics.
the atmosphere from the get-go is absorbing, intriguing, alluring... forcing you to play on to discover the dark truths underneath the rusting interior of Rapture. from the second you land in the water to the moment you enter Rapture, you feel a queasy uneasiness... the opening scene when you reach Rapture builds the intensity and fear, and you feel a real sense of impending danger. once the doors to the sphere open, this sense of fear quickly disappears with the realisation that you are, in fact, invincible. invincibility does not lend itself well to a game, least of all one which purports to place you in a sense of danger, where self preservation is the only thing on your mind.
the presence of these resurrection chambers serves to do two things (from a gameplay point of view) - it reduces the game to a most basic form of gameplay where any situation can be approached by repeatedly and mindlessly bombarding an enemy (the now-famous Big-Daddies) or an area of difficulty. it also shatters the illusion of the whole premise of rapture gone wrong. why are these chambers here if they don't resurrect the splicers you've just killed? why do they only work for you? why is anyone still dead if these chambers exist?! it completely baffles the imagination, and there is no explanation that could succinctly and adequately explain.
much has been made of the genetic boost implants - is this something of a poignant note about the genetics studies of this day and age? irrespective, it serves as a key focal point of the game, and also serves as the main attraction. there is something base and addictive about self improvement, even if it is a virtual improvement. from the days of diablo and level harvesting simply to gain a level, there is nothing that is more addictive to a gamer than the feeling that your character is improving, and the need to improve further is as much as anyone needs to continue to play. the much talked about "harvest or rescue" of the little sisters who carry the genetic currency "adam" serves as an interesting if rather black-and-white ethical dilema. ultimately many will choose their path based on a need to view one of two ending sequences rather than an actual need to gain adam.
in the end then, i find myself torn with this game. gameplay wise i found it to be often be repetitive, and ultimately boring, although the addiction to improvement served as enough of a hook to keep me wanting more. the storyline offered (and produced) such potential, and as a story-telling work of art, this game succeeds. consider this a "playable novel" with some rather dull and repetitive page turning or something and you're about halfway there...
8 / 10