BioShock Reader Review
Long is the way and hard is the road
"Hey there Bioshock, it's been a while. Three plays through and it's time for number four, this time on a different platform..."
How often these days when there's so much new gaming brain-candy to spread your time between can you say that you've honestly been so sucked into a gaming experience that you can't stop playing it. You've seen all it has to offer at every difficulty level, yet like sliding on a pair of incredibly comfortable and fragrantly-smelling slippers, that particular game feels like somewhere you belong.
So what does this say about my state of mind that being in Rapture, under the sea, chased by psychotic masked lunatics in a gameworld torn asunder by madmen feels...well, like revisiting an old friend despite that game not even being a year old?
Bioshock launched to much furore and a tiny smidgeon of the wailing and gnashing of teeth from people who wanted it to live up to System Shock 2. Though I loved System Shock 1 and 2 to death, I think there's enough room for Bioshock in the cadre so let's cast the snobbery aside.
Water way to go
On a decent spec PC, Bioshock will have you chewing your lip if you thought the 360 version was fantastic looking. Once you start to factor in the added detail, the sheer swiftness of the thing running on a high end graphics card with resources to spare it's well worth ploughing through the game again, this time with less of an eye on achievements, and more of an eye on drinking in the vast scope of Rapture and Andrew Ryan's twisted vision.
This run through then was Bioshock as a tourist, as someone who appreciates the sheer amount of effort that went into the art direction and designs found within the game. It's as immersive as ever, and without going too far down the spoiler route, it's so easy to whizz through if you're a Bioshock veteran and not pause from time to time to look around.
From the moment you break the surface when your plane crashes a few feet away from your entrance to Rapture's depths, to the moment the last few minutes of the game pass before your eyes, Bioshock feels unique in a way that few games seem to manage these days. It may be argued that it's merely a first person shooter done up in moralistic clothing (and Bioshock can only be described as disappointing if you were looking for a grey area between good and evil. You are one or the other and your fate in the game will be decided on which way you turn early on). Bioshock is more than that though, it's fantastic storytelling suffused with accomplished visuals.
Listen, can you smell something?
Then there's the soundtrack. Sick to the back teeth of generic rawk or cheesy dance tunes? Bioshock would not insult you with such travesties of aural displacement, it has an utterly beautifully put together soundtrack spliced (ha ha) with classic 30s, 40s and 50s music. Even the voice acting and incidental effects are beautifully done and Bioshock deserves to win a fair share of awards in the upcoming gong season to mark this.
Once again, I've felt that a fourth playthrough was worth the time investment and the PC version is the definitive - like purchasing a film you already own several copies of on other formats, then finally blowing a huge wad of cash on a cinematic setup and a copy in HD. If you think you're tired and weary of Rapture, think again because there are enough subtle little differences and candy for the eyes to drag you back under the waves...
10 / 10