Why BioShock Isn’t A 10/10 Game

By John Walker on August 27th, 2007 at 1:33 pm.

So obviously spoilers. All the spoilers ever, completely ruining every aspect of the game. There’s not a sentence of this you should read before finishing what is a very good game. Spoilers. Spoilers. Have I mentioned, stuff here will spoil surprises? And ruin the game.

This isn’t a list of reasons why BioShock is a bad game. It isn’t. It’s an excellent game. This is a list of reasons why I think it doesn’t merit the highest score possible.

Close your eyes!

I thoroughly enjoyed the vast majority of Bioshock. It’s a 9/10 game, and if limited to five stars, it would be the full five (which it will be where I’m reviewing it). But it is unquestionably not a 10/10 game, nor indeed a 97% game or whatever hyperbolic, “we’d better give it more than we gave Half-Life 2″ marks it might have received. To credit it with such perfection simply doesn’t make sense.

1) The narrative gradually tears and flails around like a frayed windsock, failing to see any of its threads through to an end, beyond simply killing people who were previously alive. What’s to become of Rapture? A sequel? Why not let me explore it once it was over, to see the bits I missed, see it in peace? What happens to Tenenbaum?

2) The final boss fight, which Kieron mentioned a while back, was just awful. It’s not just out of place for the rest of the game. It’s a bloody terrible boss fight. It’s far easier to left-mouse your way through than any of the early Big Daddy fights, which is appalling. I loathe boss fights, and I’m only interested in them when they demand cunning over luck and reflexes. This asked for neither, letting me kill Fontaine with only a few crossbow bolts, no plasmids at all, and at its most ridiculous, allowing me to hack a security bot, presumably while Mr All Powerful stood still tapping his toes, politely waiting.

3) Amazingly, it was unoriginality that really got to me by the end. I’m a bio-genetically engineered being, created to perform the duties of my evil master while believing I was working for the side of good, only to rebel against my creator using the very super-human powers he gave me… So it’s Deus Ex again then, but with the cast on radio. Which is such a massive shame, after the fantastic Brechtian “Would You Kindly” moment. It’s such an extraordinary point in the game – in any game ever – as the inevitabilities of corridor-gaming become the subject of the narrative. And then it just gives up on that plot completely, and says, “hey ho, but let’s carry on anyway”. You obey Tenenbaum, and Fontaine mocks you, but then nothing is done with this. I really love that despite the realisation that all your actions are controlled by the need for the game to progress – how you are the puppet of the developers’ whims – that you cannot help but continue do the same. I just wish the game had acknowledge this in any way at all, beyond saying, “ner ner”. How about bothering to do anything with Tenenbaum’s character, after the point where you stare at her through a window and can’t communicate with her for no reason? What was the message? Blindly following is a random act, and if you do it twice it’ll be ok? Huh? SOMETHING!

4) Something that bothered me from the beginning to the end was the brutality of your approach. Here’s this beautiful city, crafted by the greatest minds in the world: now go hit it with a spanner. While you can later on elegantly use your plasmids for tactical ballet, there’s never a point where it isn’t easier, and far more effective, to just pound everyone in the head with your wrench, while tapping F to heal.

5) I think this is my largest complaint. It reminds me a bit of Studio 60 where Sorkin’s script said, “We’re the funniest thing ever to have been on television”, and then proceeded to not be funny at all. This is a world created by geniuses, but the vast majority of people encountered (by their recordings, obviously) seemed to be pretty stupid to me. Indeed, beyond their having made scientific breakthroughs, there was no evidence of genius at all. Having a couple of museums and a nice garden to sit in isn’t really the pique of human achievement. Why wasn’t I wandering through the ruined remains of former astonishing greatness? Architecturally it was impressive, and they did a good line in red banners, but um… While those mini-ads for plasmids were obviously there for gags, they were pretty damned moronic. I can see an argument that says this is a commentary on those so arrogant that they believed themselves worthy of a utopian society only open to the very most intelligent. But that doesn’t really do it. They’d still at least demonstrate some smartness.

As an FPS, I think it falls short of Half-Life 2, which would be the ribbon to break. But it’s close, and in terms of level design, that’s a massive achievement. As a post-Looking Glass game, it doesn’t come close to offering what Deus Ex provided (and I don’t mean in terms of not being an RPG – I mean in terms of delivering on its narrative). And yes, you could create a list like the above for Deus Ex until the internet ran out of room, but I think you could create a pro-list that equally out-weighs. The only emotional moment for me was arriving in the room filled with the saved Little Sisters, thanking me and gossiping about how I would save them. I could only ever save them, because of who I am, and the game rewarded that with kindness. That was splendid. But it was one moment. So while huge amounts were enjoyable (most especially Cohen’s photography sequence), I never felt like I could betray, or trust, or manipulate. I was the puppet, and the game laughed at me for that, but then it just carried on laughing at me while it wandered to a rather vague conclusion. Oh, and if you’re going to have ten minute cutscenes throughout your game, have the ending last more than 30 seconds, and go into some credits, and not back to a screen declaring “Continue” like I wish it would have.

, .

52 Comments »

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  1. SteveTheBlack says:

    Ah, the little girls actually thanked you? I got a totally different and annoying reaction.

    I killed 2 little sisters through the course of the game, just to see how graphic and terrible they had made it (to which I was pleasantly surprised that you see nothing at all). In all I must have saved at least 3 times the amount I killed, yet when I arrived in their little sanctuary despite Tenenbaum practically being in love with me for my kindness the little girls all hated me.

    “Who’s he?”
    “He’s here to hurt us!”

    Fine then little girls, then I’m stealing all your chocolate!

    When I finally fought my way through the ludicrous final boss I was subsequently informed I was an evil cad who apparently didn’t care about the world other than having a deep desire to conquer it. Annoying.

    I’m currently working on getting the good ending because, to be frank, for a game that boasts multiple endings the bad ending is terrible.

    Still it is an excellent game, and I pretty much fully agree with everything you’ve said.

  2. Richard says:

    (needlessly lengthy write-up over at the usual place)

    how you are the puppet of the developers’ whims

    Which I really hated. I’ve seen that schtick done before, and done better – not least in Metal Gear Solid 2. The Would You Kindly bit, and Ryan’s subsequent suicide, is absolutely wonderful… but then Irrational’s attempt to play off it just came across as smug, especially since it damages so much of the plot, and reduces much of the second half to standard FPS fare.

    (Notable exception: the Little Sisters. Although even the Big Daddy bit is a bit crap. Not only are the LSs no longer a precious commodity, I want one of those big drills, goddamit! Also, I’m very annoyed that Tannenbaum suddenly started hating me, even after an entire game of sending me presents, and all the Little Sisters cheering me on in their playroom.

    That whole ‘now you take over the surface world!’ nonsense was far more like the whole slave thing than anything that happened with Atlas, if only because all your important actions in the game are driven by level design and Ryan’s insane refusal to stop trying to kill you everywhere you go.)

    But even with that, my big problem is that at no point did I believe this city had ever been anything except the gorgeous ruins I was looking at. There needed to be the internal spark of belief that it might have worked, or at least, that the characters who gave up their lives to move there might have seen something in Ryan’s Folly.

    Instead of the ashes of a city, you get the Destroyed Utopia Playset. I could probably find my way around the Von Braun in its prime, I could certainly draw you a pretty picture of it.

    The horrors on board my One True Love’s last conquest are all the more interesting for seeming natural – the audio diaries telling of its decline rather than cutting straight to everything already being pretty much hell in a handbasket, or the little staged scenes around the ship like the guy who tried in vain to barricade himself into his room.

    Bioshock went far more for ‘Doesn’t this look awesome?’, and while it certainly succeeds at that – I would totally visit this place – I never got invested in the story.

    (Probably not least because most of the characters are fools. There’s only so much angry bluster I can put up with from a conspiciously powerless in-game character before I want to chuck the radio down the toilet and go fix myself a snack.)

  3. Kieron Gillen says:

    As I’ve said to everyone complaining about being treated as a shithead when they’ve “Just harvested a couple”… exactly how many little girls do you think the world thinks it’s acceptable to kill?

    KG

  4. Terry says:

    I agree too – a great game but not a perfect game.

    The one element I missed throughout the experience was that tense feeling of terror that permeated System Shock 2 and the mad scramble for survival when you don’t have those armour piercing rounds for that dreadnought outside the door. This is sorely missing from Bioshock which is quite easy throughout and you never really feel like a survivor but more like the plasmid god liberally dispatching death, just like every other FPS. There’s no penalty against the player and this unbalances the whole experience.

    It’s not very long either – some reviews have said it’s 20 hours or more but I must have got only 15 or so whilst also taking it easy and breathing in the atmosphere. It’s replayable but not extensively. Perhaps this is all the result of “consolification” – make it pretty, make it easy, make it sell.

    Still – a great gaming experience.

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    Randomly, I played through Shock 2 in about 15 hours too. In fact, I remember that it was one of my main critique of Shock 2 when I reviewed it back in the day. Of course, shorter games are more the “thing” now, which is a trend outside of console games too. Every major FPS of the last 7 or so years – with the exception of HL2 – has had a campaign that was 10 hours tops.

    That’s a cue for anyone to fill in things I’ve forgotten here, by the way.

    KG

  6. Richard says:

    “As I’ve said to everyone complaining about being treated as a shithead when they’ve “Just harvested a couple”… exactly how many little girls do you think the world thinks it’s acceptable to kill?”

    That depends. What are the consequences if you don’t? And couldn’t it be argued that death is preferable to living in Rapture? You could almost call it a mercy killing next to the guarantee of starving, being brutalised by passing splicers now you’ve killed their only protector, and ultimately facing far worse?

    There’s certainly no jump from “Tragic necessity” to “Graargh! I spit on you and conquer the surface world!”

    It doesn’t help that the moral thing comes from Tannenbaum, a character whose ENTIRE PLOT ARC in the game is built around trying to find some form of redemption for what she’s done, and who herself sent several Little Sisters out to die for your largely personal vendetta against Fontaine. Whether she ever achieves it or not is another question, but it’s not one that sits comfortably with a binary good/evil split.

  7. SteveTheBlack says:

    Granted Mr Gillen killing two little girls was rather evil of me, and I concede that I deserved the Bad Ending, but I would have preferred it if the “Bad” part of it referred to “Evil” rather than “Disappointing”.

    Of course the Bad Endings are almost never canon so are rarely as satisfying as the Good Endings, even for people like me who like to be villainous shits in games.

  8. Richard says:

    Notable exception: Legacy of Kain, where the series holds you to be a complete wuss if you didn’t take over the world.

  9. Richard says:

    Randomly – the good ending is very nice. Far too short, and I wanted more on the city, but very nice indeed.

  10. Terry says:

    Kieron – SS2 was short, especially for it’s day, but I crawled around its corridors as a terrified little boy, so it seemed so much longer. Nostalgia, eh?

    As for ‘every major FPS of the last 7 or so years’ having a campaign ‘that was 10 hours tops’ – don’t forget Far Cry, Riddick, Halo and, dare I say, DE:Invisible War. All pretty lengthy adventures really. Maybe it’s more about pace than length though? Bioshock just seemed to flash by for me. Like Richard says: I wanted more of the city, to see more of Rapture yet it felt like only a glimpse.

    Well, I’m going to play SS2 again and fight like a man this time round. :)

  11. Alec Meer says:

    “That depends[…] There’s certainly no jump from “Tragic necessity” to “Graargh! I spit on you and conquer the world”

    If you harvest even once, you’ve done so out of either greed or sick fascination. That the good/bad payoff is so absolute is annoying, but I get why. Your only chosen purpose is either to save or to conquer, and just one harvesting means your goal is really the latter, sacrificing an innocent life in pursuit of other goals. The (far inferior to the good) bad ending would just have benefitted from clearer suggestion that the brutality was in the name of Ryan-esque societal betterment, as opposed to fairly rote I IS EVIL OVERLORD.

  12. Richard says:

    That the good/bad payoff is so absolute is annoying, but I get why. Your only chosen purpose is either to save or to conquer, and just one harvesting means your goal is really the latter, sacrificing an innocent life in pursuit of other goals.

    And that’s a valid argument, but like the endings, it ascribes a motivation to the player that isn’t necessarily there. You could just as easily be saving the Little Sisters for the very cynical reason that Tannenbaum promises to make it worth your while.

    The only universally driving goal in the game is survival; first against Ryan, then against Fontaine. Everything else is primarily in the player’s head, until the ending suddenly says “Yeah, but what you were REALLY thinking was this…”

    Which in my case simply wasn’t true.

  13. Kieron Gillen says:

    “don’t forget Far Cry, Riddick, Halo and, dare I say, DE:Invisible War.”

    All of those were 12 hours top. Halo was floating around the 10 hour mark. I don’t remember Far Cry as significantly longer. I didn’t play Riddick, but I was under the impression it was under 10 hours (Reviews I google agree with me). I had 11 hours on the clock playing Invisible War, if I recall correctly.

    KG

  14. Kieron Gillen says:

    (And randomly, if you want to talk about bad ending videos, Bioshock’s are like Citizen Caine compared to Shock 2’s…)

    KG

  15. Richard says:

    NOBODY SAYS ‘NAH!’ TO MY ONE TRUE LOVE!

  16. Solario says:

    I love it. But I agree with the majority of the criticism. I really would have liked the game to have gone in a slightly different direction after the “Would You Kindly” moment. Though the bastard son bit was probably my favorite of the lot. And maybe have a medium ending between good and evil. Like, “just” taking over the city.

  17. John Walker says:

    “Bioshock’s are like Citizen Caine”

    I love that movie, where the multi-millionaire newspaper tycoon drives a Mini through the streets of Italy.

  18. Terry says:

    Kieron – you must race through games! Do you quantify the time as playing straight through without dying or your total overall playtime?

    Far Cry took me ages because it was so difficult and they didn’t implement quicksave until the 1.3 patch making you rely on those torturous checkpoints. I died over and over again, thus increasing play time tremendously.

    But, I’ll concede to your gaming genius as I’m only a lowly PC gamer.

  19. Jonty says:

    I’m with you on the big reveal – great that they play with the FPS stereotype, bad that they don’t do anything afterwards. I wouldn’t call it smug, it just seemed to run out of ideas.

    In a similar vein, it managed to get me to care about Little Sisters – I started out harvesting them, stopped in horror when I woke up in the nursery, only to discover in the penultimate escort mission that they’re an endlessly respawning resource. Which is another abrupt stop.

    To cap it off, I’m then told I’m so unutterably evil (BY A NAZI VIVISECTIONIST I MIGHT ADD) I destroy the world. I’d already had my epiphany and stopped harvesting them, but the game has already decided I shall have no redemption. Which is a bit much.

  20. Richard says:

    For the Big Reveal, it’s really worth looking at Metal Gear Solid 2, which takes the same idea but does it many, many times better. Specifically, it turns it into a tangible element – the difference between the player as a many-formed entity versus the player as a specific character is very strong.

    No matter how hard you try or want to be Solid Snake, the only time you get any real success is when Raiden finally starts finding his own identity, outside of the confines of his (effectively) simulated, video-game world.

    Doesn’t make him any cooler, mind. And much of the game is deeply boring and/or annoying. But specific bits like that work very well.

  21. Alec Meer says:

    Interestingly, Ken Levine has said he’s never able to harvest. So maybe that’s who you’re being judged by, not Fraulein Doktorr – you harvest, the developer labels you evil. Tyrannical in its own way.

  22. Richard says:

    At least it’s got more oomph than your average RPG, where Evil is usually either “being a bit rude” or – gasp – “asking for money in exchange for servicese.”

  23. Jonty says:

    There is no God. Only Levine.

  24. Grill says:

    Despite all the crap bits (and there are plenty) I’d still argue that there’s unlikely to be another game on 360 that will better it in terms of plot, appearance, design, etc, and most 360 gamers haven’t played the miniscule-selling SS & SS2. Hence the 10/10 for 360 – I’d score it lower for PC, deffo.

  25. John says:

    I wish that games could be marked based on their own achievements, rather than the paucity of other games.

  26. Rob says:

    There is something of an emperor’s new clothes feeling about Bioshock… I can see that now. Or rather, I always saw that, but can say this now.

  27. Grill says:

    John – unfortunately, there’s no absolute standard in video games so we have to judge them relatively – and if you confine yourself to what’s been on 360 so far, and what’s coming out soon, Bioshock stands head and shoulders above the competition. PC’s a very different cybkettle of biofish.

  28. John says:

    Grill – but the problem arrives when giving 10/10, which implies “as good as we could have hoped”. Which I think BioShock defiantly isn’t.

  29. Alec Meer says:

    I’m with Grill. Yes, the game makes some tragic missteps that mean it doesn’t deserve the flawlessness that 10/10 implies, but it does deserve to be celebrated more than any shooter since, well, Deus Ex. In a situation where, especially on 360, most big shooters net 9/10 (Gears of War, fercrissakes), it’s important people know this is the one to really, definitely pick out of the crowd. Context is very important.
    In my book, a review is first and foremost a buyer’s guide, not a critic’s chance to document what they wanted from the game. That’s why most of my own jaffing off about how pissed I am at the flaky plot is confined to blog posts, not the review I’m writing. What’s important for almost every gamer to know is that, yes, they should buy Bioshock above all its contemporaries, not that Fontaine’s a shitty villain and the wrench is too powerful.

  30. Tom Bramwell says:

    John raising the point about pausing to hack security bots in the middle of the (unbelievably rubbish) boss fight reminds me – what happened to the amazing combat?

    At E3, they showed me the bit where you set up defences/enslave a Big Daddy as Splicers siege the botanist’s lab, and they did two cool things: setting someone on fire by using Incinerate on an oil splotch and then electrifying the water when they dived in to cool off, and putting vortex-chucker wotsits on the floor to propel enemies into proximity mines on the ceiling.

    These were indeed excellent things, but they also seem to be roughly the extent of the combination attacks you can achieve (not least thanks to the claustrophobic environments). I tried attaching proximity mines to a barrel to chuck it at a Big Daddy – only to discover that the barrel in question was one of the bits of the scenery that was bolted down and therefore unavailable for telekinetic tossing.

    The other silly thing is the way that after about 5 minutes you can see off most tension by simply hugging the 360 bumper buttons at the first sound of gunfire or danger, which pauses the game and brings up the weapon or plasmid selection radials.

    In the end I spent most of the game doing what I did right at the start – zap with Electric Bolt, shoot in head with big gun – pausing only to make sure I was using the right sort of ammo.

    Which, er, raises the point about having to make sure you’re using the right sort of ammo all the time.

    Oh well – brilliant otherwise!

  31. Tom Bramwell says:

    “I wish that games could be marked based on their own achievements, rather than the paucity of other games.”

    BioShock has an achievement for Irony! And I got 100 gamerpoints for being nice to children!

    This is clearly what you meant.

  32. Kieron Gillen says:

    Meer hits a key point Re: Reviews, randomly.

    KG

  33. John says:

    Gosh Alec, you stumbled into being right!

  34. Grill says:

    Why, you patronising so-and-so…! (Flame war starts here, tickets $500).

  35. Tom Bramwell says:

    Is that really where a fullstop goes when you have brackets outside of a sentence? (Because then you’d imagine it has to be like this, surely)?

    P.S. The most disappointing thing about BioShock, for me, was that it didn’t end with Rapture’s utter collapse. It started off with occasional buckling corridors and then nowt. Boo.

  36. Terry says:

    Haha. Good point! Boooh!!!

  37. Feet says:

    I harvested one LS and got the happy ending. Perhaps they allow you one for curiosities sake.

  38. Masked Dave says:

    I didn’t harvest any Little Sisters, as in my mind I saw myself snapped their necks or something and just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I wasn’t even curious.

    Then, when escorting them in the penultimate mission, I didn’t consider them to be an infinitely spawning resource, infact, I reloaded whenever she died rather than just casually go and get another one. I could carry on knowing I’d failed to protect her.

    So maybe ‘taking over the world’ is a bit… over the top, (becoming a new Fontaine/Ryan figure would make the most sense), but you totally didn’t deserve the good ending.

    But yes, the final fight… or just the whole not living up to the promise of the ‘Would You Kindly’ moment. I mean, I was half expecting it to be like Okami, where you finish of the ‘big boss’, reliving the original legend only to be told that actually, that was just the prologue.

    I was expecting the city to really open up to you, that now you had nobody in your ear giving you strict instructions that you could go wherever do whatever. And I think it starts true to that, you are desperately seeking a way to have you heart not stop so you have a direction that allows it to stay the same FPS it was, bit it’s *your* direction, not another characters. But then it just reverts to its earlier form… I couldn’t have been more disappointed. Surely there should have been an option to not turn yourself into a Big Daddy (which is apparently irreversible, or it isn’t? what?) and side with Fontaine or forge your own path or *something*.

    Grr. Sorry, I only just finished tonight and the wounds of that ending are still fresh.

    Also, I really wasn’t expecting to have the standard ‘Half-Life’ style load out of weapons. I thought you’d just get a pistol that you’d upgrade and maybe one or two others.

    And did anybody *not* kill Cohen (the theatre dude) at some point? I didn’t at the time but I wasn’t expecting it in his apartment and was forced to (well I could’ve reloaded… but whatever). I just thought the stuff in his chest was a bit lame, wondered if anything different happened if you kept him alive.

  39. Masked Dave says:

    God, that post was just full of typos wasn’t it?

  40. Kristan Reed says:

    I’m with Gril and Meer – context is king here. If review writing/scoring was about picking holes in the plot and other random stuff (that guy going on about the Whale, being the bestest example) then no game would ever score above 9. Ever. We need to tell people that they absolutely have to play this game, and the 10 is our best weapon.

    As I tell anyone with a face: a 10 doesn’t mean it’s perfect.

  41. Darren T says:

    Tom – the incinerate, followed by electrifying the water was one of my favourite methods of killing people in the early game. The problem was later on the Spider slicers didn’t run to water as often.

    I’m surprised I’ve not seen anyone mention the splicers disguised as statues that would appear every now and then (especially in the waterlogged room near the casino). They scared the life out of me!

    Overall, I was most impressed with the way storyline was constantly drip fed to you throughout the game, via the diaries. It was a shame that it ended the way it did, but it has been a hell of a long time that a game has told a story so well.

  42. CryingTheAnnualKingo says:

    Half-Life 2 is the best game ever designed. Until BioShock, that is, if only for the fact that it is the first “mainstream” game to have a complex, intelligent, coherent intellectual dialog, based in philosophy and history, that allows the player to actively participate in. That it plays phenomenally as a shooter and has the densest, most compelling environment ever seen in a game is the icing on the cake.

  43. dr_demento says:

    I thought that Ryan’s death should really have been a turning point for the whole game – if you’d been saving Little Sisters, Tenenbaum gives you a way out and then helps you kill Fontaine (the actual ending) *but* if you’d been harvesting them then the LS don’t help you into a vent and you have to cut your way out of Hephaistos, before going after Fontaine on your own.

    Tell the player that Fontaine has all the Adam they could want and that’s why you’re out to kill him and (based on their LS treatment) they’ll agree. Same levels, just without Tenenbaum in your ear – maybe you find Suchong and threaten him into helping you piece together the plasmids you’ll need to kill Fontaine. Oh, and alter the game ending so that you really do become 100% Big Daddy and that way you’ll sacrifice your humanity either way. Tie it up nicely.

    I just think having Tenenbaum help you after you’ve slaughtered every Sister you met is a bit… daft.

  44. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Probably too late to the party, but…

    I haven’t yet had the chance to play Bioshock even as a shortcut to it sits comfortably on my desktop. I know I’ve spoiled myself silly on several aspects by reading the text and the comments so now I really need to get to it, but my post is actually directed at the concept of scoring a game, Bioshock or otherwise. Doesn’t the fact that finding problems in a game would suggest a more reserved score?

    Take Deus Ex which – as pointed out – could elicit a similar list of problems. Unfortunately, many of these said problems at the time were glossed over but are now being criticized by many gaming journalists as they find them in other games. Bioshock’s apparently erratic reading of the player’s intentions or proper consequences for choices was recurring in Deus Ex – as the game could, for instance, chide you for waltzing into the women’s restroom but couldn’t tell whether you’d stun or killed all the NSF troopers on Liberty Island – but these were also made trivial in the face of the game’s novelty. Criticism of this at the time was fairly light, if any. At what point does a review, as something analoguous to a “buyer’s guide”, does a disservice by telling people they should buy a game when clearly the author has several reservations or solid points about how it falls short of greatness?

    My understanding from reviews is that Bioshock is akin to a “lonely 21st century monument of true next-gen design” when in fact, most gamer input I’ve seen on the internet delegates it to being an upgraded System Shock 2 which succeeds in improving on its design just as often as it fails. It may be a great game compared to contemporary titles but isn’t telling them that, quoting Alec, Fontaine’s a shitty villain and the wrench is too powerful also important? Aspects like those may not detract from the experience to some, but will to others.

    I’d quicker point acquaintances to this page and subsequent comments than most reviews I’ve seen of it anyway, since they’re made with a much more critical component of the game, one I appreciate more than, say, most NGJ.

    (By the way Kieron, nice first article for that portuguese magazine. The translation seemed a bit iffy and I’m guessing some of it got lost anyway, but kudos. Small trivia for the day: I’m thanked on page 19 for having contributed to the mag’s creative process. Me and you man, going places!)

  45. Kieron Gillen says:

    “At what point does a review, as something analoguous to a “buyer’s guide”, does a disservice by telling people they should buy a game when clearly the author has several reservations or solid points about how it falls short of greatness?”

    When they’re not capturing whether or not to buy it. Deus Ex and Bioshock’s failings aren’t actually ones which a straight buyers guide review would pick up on – they’re in the top 5% of games released, however you cut it. The point is pretty much *any* game you can write a list of reservations for.

    (I mean, name any sacred cow and I’ll write 1000 words about why it’s shit right now)

    What’s important in a buyers guide review is capturing the overall picture, etc. To get an accurate picture of a game, you choose examples both positive and negative to give an overall picture of the game’s merits, with them balanced according to your overall opinion of the game.

    I mean, yes, you’re going to get a more indepth discussion of a game’s merits here. This article and the comments thread must be getting on for 5000 words. Space matters.

    Thanks regarding the column. Looking forward to seeing my copy. I won’t be able to READ it, but I look forward to actually seeing it. GO TEAM GAMES JOURNALIST PORTUGAL.

    KG

  46. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    I agree with that assessment though I must confess some disappointment at most reviews precisely because of that – in other words, I’m fine with counterpointing the good and bad but more often than I feel they spectacularly fail to lay out the bad or simply try to minimize it to great lenghts (since we’re on the subject of Bioshock, I was discouraged that many reviews failed to bring up the technical issues when they were clearly there).

    Then again, as someone who does some side writing for RPG Codex (I suspect that in the videogame journalism circles we roughly translate into something like “bloody buggers”), my jaded outlook of things maybe clouded what would actually be a competent or informative review from other sites. Or maybe I just read the wrong reviews or met with all the talentless hacks. Maybe.

    Just so you don’t think you were typing for some random jerk who uses the power of the internet to bother journalists though, I sincerely appreciate the reply. I didn’t mean to drudge NGJ into the fray or criticize it in my previous post as well, it just popped up.

    I’ll stop blathering on then, and come back at some other time. Until then!

    ~DR.

  47. Kieron Gillen says:

    I think you hit on a key point when you compare RPGCodex’s approach to a more mainstream site’s approach, by the way. Different sites serve different audiences, and their reviews do too. God knows I’d write a different review for the Guardian than I’d write for Gamer. Someone writing something for RPGCodex is dealing with a whole different set of questions than – say – Eurogamer is.

    (I mean, when writing for a youthful X360 mag, as I did my review of Bioshock, I namechecked SS2 but clearly wouldn’t stress how it’s all been done before because – really – they’ll have never played anything like Bioshock before. Hell, some of them may not even have been alive when Shock 1 came out.)

    I carefully gritted my teeth and decided to not even recognise your mention of the NGJ thing. As the FAQ on the site says “Don’t mention the War”. :)

    KG

  48. Sandeep Dhir says:

    Hello everyone, this forum seems to be a matured forum.

    I really require a saved game of Bioshock the stage that is preceding the smugglers hideout/ the bulkhead is not opening for me unfortunately.

    I have mailed some of the user but if anyone could help me with this queer problem of mine i would highly appreciate it/ the weekend is up and i am dying to complete the game//please help. Please send me the saved game for the next stage ” return to arcadia ” to my mail ID sandeepkrdhir@yahoo.com or sandeepkrdhir@gmail.com

  49. kyrieee says:

    I wasn’t drawn into this game the way I was with System Shock 2. I was not scared for one second and I wasn’t interested in the world one bit.

    There is basically no narrative in the present. Nothing happens. From the get-go your objective is to kill Ryan, then at the end your objective is to kill Fontaine.

    I think the game was too much of a shooter. SS2 had very different gameplay and I think that gameplay lend itself more to a more atmospheric experience. I didn’t like the combat in BioShock very much and by Fort Frolic I totally stopped having fun.

  50. UK_John says:

    With so many dumbed down gamers nowadays, marketing practically always wins over intelligence. Bioshock is a dumbed down shooter with an original if not very good story. It dumped everything good from the first and second System Shock’s, (Ie, the roleplaying, etc!) and just like Mass Effect it convinced the dumb gamers that it was an RPG, just like Baldur’s Gate or Planescape Torment, except it used ‘hidden’ stats and voice instead of text. Most gamers bought this argument, and today you will see Mass Effect and Bioshock both described as RPG’s than anything else!

    You can tell we have dumbed down gamers now by how many people call Fallout a ‘Shooter-RPG’ just because it uses laser guns instead of swords! Did anyone ever call Oblivion a ‘Sworder-RPG?!

    Also many reviewers of Dragon Age talked about the combat as being action based, and called Dragon Age an Action-RPG. 15 years ago,in a more intelligent age, we talked about whether combat in RPG’s was ‘realtime’, ‘step-time’ or pausable realtime. If it was Fallout, we called it a ‘post apocalyptic RPG’, if it was Daggerfall, we called it a ‘fantasy RPG’. There was none of this ‘Action-RPG’, ‘Shooter-RPG’, etc! 15 years ago games like Borderlands would have been called shooters, Jade Empire, Mass Effect and Bioshock ‘Action-Adventures’, and wouldn’t even know how to categorise games like ‘Dawn of War II’ or the soon to be released ‘Alpha Protocol’ (according to the publishers a ’25 hour gameplay RPG’!!!)

    Is it any wonder retro PC gaming is growing by leaps and bounds,you knew your genres prior to 2003,and you had gamers that knew their stuff!