You Were Born To Do Great Things

By Alec Meer on November 7th, 2011 at 4:34 pm.

No, says the angry man in the comments thread

While waiting impatiently for something else to download over the weekend, I booted up BioShock 1 for the first time in years, curious to see how it held up a half-decade on. I’d forgotten how remarkable and how magnetic its first few minutes are: whatever else you want to accuse the game of, the work it does in so quickly and so assuredly building a world and a mountain of intrigue around it is something we see all too little of. The vast majority of mainstream games open with enough dry exposition to choke a rhino, but this grabs your total attention with a bare minimum of talk, a steady flow of unpredictable spectacle and a spinetingling cocktail of awe and anxiety. Irrational are, I think, right to leave Rapture behind – but, for no particular reason other than ‘why not?’, let’s remember just why they built it in the first place.


Now that’s how you start a videogame: subtle despite being ludicrous, sinister despite being beautiful, msyterious despite being explanatory. Watching it, I feel the sad-sweet chest-pressure of nostalgia, remembering my ignorance when I first saw that, desperate to know what this world would show me next. I know BioShock pulled an awful lot of punches as it wore on (oh, Big Blue Man, how you wound me), but this intro is precisely why I’m very keen to see what Irrational are planning for Infinite.

, .

101 Comments »

  1. westyfield says:

    “No,” says the man in the EULA; “it belongs to the publisher.”

    • roryok says:

      EDIT: OOPS! Not a reply. Bad form. No biscuit.

    • Premium User Badge Stellar Duck says:

      Hah!

      It’s a bit sad that aside from that intro, my most clear memories of Bioshock is SecuROM.

    • beikul says:

      Same here. I was having some problems getting Bioshock to run so was using Process Explorer to shut down other processes to free up some RAM. When I then tried to run the game I got some message from SecuROM along the lines of ‘we have detected you have been using a hacking tool therefore will not allow you to run the game’.

      I un-installed in disgust and it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since.

    • Theory says:

      Protip: use Task Manager to kill processes.

      Uber protip: don’t have pointless processes running in the first place.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Securom was probably the game’s greatest commentary on free will. You have the moral customer fighting against an intrusive external structure designed to take away their agency. Some refuse to take their freedom, ignoring the increasingly harsh strictures of DRM. Others fight for their freedom and fail, losing the opportunity to use what they once had. The strong take their freedom and play the game the way it was meant to be played, without the annoyances designed to hinder their lessers.

    • Premium User Badge Stellar Duck says:

      Super duper protip:
      Don’t design DRM that interferes with the programs I (or beikul) use to manage our computers.

      Really, that ought to be simple. Task Manager is fine, but I prefer another tool. That’s not the business of DRM. Especially not on a game that is only single player.

    • Jumwa says:

      “It’s a bit sad that aside from that intro, my most clear memories of Bioshock is SecuROM.”

      Sadly, same. Never finished or even saw much of the game thanks to that.

    • Kefren says:

      My first ever pre-order (being a fan of SS1 and 2).
      My first ever return when it arrived and I found it to be a DVD game that required online activation crap.

    • rayne117 says:

      You know, if you bought the game legally and it doesn’t work the way you wanted it to, just pirate the damn thing. Fuhck dah pohlease.

  2. nubbuka says:

    “No”, says the store owner; “You need to pay for that!”

  3. sneetch says:

    “The vast majority of mainstream games open with enough dry exposition to choke a rhino”

    Yeeees, and Bioshock had, if I may, somewhat… wet… exposition. Mmm-hah! Mmmm-hah! Mmmm-hah! Oh, I’m such a card.

    • Premium User Badge bear912 says:

      You might say it was quite immersive

      Dripping with intrigue, even…

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      It surely didn’t take long before you were awash in troubles.

    • chabuhi says:

      At the time, the intro certainly whet my appetite for the game. After watching it again I am bubbling over with anticipation for Infinite! The memories pouring over me make me want to reinstall the original to dive into the adventure once again.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      While there was depth in the writing, ultimately the gameplay was shallow.

    • Premium User Badge Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Water terrible pun thread.

    • Tatourmi says:

      It certainly flew high up in the sky. (Call that a postmodern pun if you will)

  4. roryok says:

    It really was something special. You’re right, not enough games grab you like that.

  5. reticulate says:

    “While waiting impatiently for something else to download over the weekend..”

    It’s Skyrim, isn’t it?

    • Mechorpheus says:

      Well its either that or Modern Warfare 3, and to be honest you could just as well play Modern Warfare 1 again pausing between each level to read a chapter of some Tom Clancy novel.

    • Koozer says:

      MW3? He said “impatiently.” HAR I made a joke about CoD.

  6. Orija says:

    Am I the only one who found the premise a bit too in-your-face and also on the shallow side? Honestly, I was bored out of my wits at the halfway mark but slogged on to see what was it that made such a hit.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I found the plot shallow but the world’s story easy to believe. After all, there are libertarians who are looking to build boats / floating cities right now. And it’s not uncommon for people that try to build a new community resort to violence to retain control when the community decides against them.

      I found later parts, like the theater pretty far-fetched. I found their commentary on free choice hamfisted since the game limited the choice of the players and removed them at important times.

      I still think it is an absolutely amazing game, one of the best.

    • Premium User Badge liquidsoap89 says:

      I enjoyed the story, up until your “issue” with Ryan is resolved. I was bored out of my mind before I got to that point though, and everything AFTER that point doesn’t actually exist.

    • TheGameSquid says:

      Same here. I mean, they actually have banners hanging around the entire place dictating the obvious themes of the game. How much more explicit can a story get? And the final reveal is so ironic considering the entire waypoint system, you’d almost thing the developers pulled some insanely expensive/sick joke on you.

      The only fun thing about the game was seeing Rapture for the first time, no matter how nonsensical it was. But after two hours I pretty much had enough of the game. So much for my 60€.

  7. fishy007 says:

    I’m still sad that I have to miss out on games like this because there is no 3rd person view. I get motion sickness with 90% of FPS games, but I can play in 3rd person. Unfortunately many games don’t really support 3rd person view, so I have to live vicariously :(

  8. roryok says:

    And actually, bad exposition in movies, TV shows, games etc is one of my pet peeves. So easy to get it wrong.

    Good example:
    The beginning of Serenity

    Bad example:
    Episode 2 of Fringe

    • Elltot says:

      How dare you criticise Fringe.

      It is one of the easiest telly box programs to follow, seeing as it was created by the master of consistent and coherent storytelling JJ Abrams.

    • pilouuuu says:

      Do you think Lost was good storytelling? Really? It’s like, let me create a series and make it mysterious, so people will ask lots of questions and we will give no answer or just crappy answers, so they’ll create their own theories and think it’s an amazing show. In some senses Bioshock is a bit like Lost. Both have crappy endings for instance.

      Fringe is epic! I hope it ends in an amazing way for a change, but in many more seasons. It’s one of the few good sci-fi series and possibly one of the best shows on TV ever.

  9. Plinglebob says:

    That intro really has absolutely everything you could want and my jaw hit the desk with the 1st reveal. Somehow when Bioshock came out I completely missed all the hype surrounding it and my first Introduction to it was the Demo. Its introduction turned it from a nothing on my radar to a 1st day purchase and avoiding all the hype definitely made it a better game.

    I’ve deliberately imposed a Bioshock Infinite blackout for the same reason.

  10. WotevahMang says:

    Overrated.
    I suppose playing Shock2 before it soured BS for me.

    • SiHy_ says:

      Same here. I grew up with the original and SShock 2. Then I heard that this was a “spiritual successor” and I guess I just expected too much of it. Wasn’t bad, just not great.

  11. Will Tomas says:

    It’s weird, I played Bioshock for the first time in January this year, and I after the stunning opening I was generally underwhelmed. It just never clicked for me. I think it never felt that it could ever have been a real world, and the engine rendered people as plasticy action figures which made it even less engaging. It was a shooter, where the shooting mechanics weren’t that great, and for all the glorious imagination present in individual moments (the opening, the guy who got you to take pictures of dead people, the Andrew Ryan moment near the end) it never felt quite cohesive enough to me to be a satisfying whole.

    But yeah, kudos to the imagination of design, for sure.

    • SiHy_ says:

      I remember being completely stunned by the opening and then being terrified to leave the first pod (you know, when the splicer was banging around outside). After my second fight with an enemy that fear had completely vanished.
      Every gameplay element they added seemed to remove some logic from the world they’d meticulously created. Like dangerous plasmids being readily available from vending machines and ammo for guns that were supposedly smuggled in but which seemed to be absolutely everywhere.

  12. nimzy says:

    The title made me think you were about to do a PSA on “start your own indie game company!”

    Shame on me.

    • zbeeblebrox says:

      “You Were Born To Do Great Things!

      ….well, not YOU.”

  13. Filip says:

    I remember being shown this by my brother for the first time and waiting for the video to finish at the start, not believing I was actually meant to be playing already. The water effects on that first bit still look amazing. The whole first ten minutes is genuinely brilliant.

    One of the most memorable intros I’ve ever come across but I was actually fairly disappointed by the rest of the game as it descended into something pretty repetitive and standard quite quickly. Maybe the intro and setting just showed too much promise to let the rest stand a chance.

  14. Matt says:

    just rewatching those vids gave me tingles, it’s such a magnificent opening to a game.

    I don’t get how it’s become a bit trendy to look back on Bioshock and be a little sniffy about it – its far from the perfect game and it certainly drops off at the end (but not as badly, imo as is often claimed) but in a world of gritty military shooters – a world we still seem stuck in, like Groundhog Day with grey/brown walls and M16s – the art design and atmosphere, and general ballsy desire to be different counts for a lot, in my book.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I blame the trend on metacritic and the games as art crowd. Metacritic because it makes it easy to think that everyone thinks that the game was the eighth best every made or that it was 96% of the way to perfection. To throw out an arbitrary number, I don’t think I’ve played a game that was closer than about 85% of the way towards perfection.

      I don’t want to start a whole thing, but the games as art crowd annoys me. They annoy a whole bunch of people and when they take up a game, you just want to tear it down, even when it’s as good as Bioshock.

    • Xocrates says:

      The problem with the “games as art” crowd is that many, if not most, have no idea what they’re talking about. I do support the “games as art” point of view, and I do believe that the “games aren’t art” crowd are actually more damaging to the industry that they might think, however I do know that this is the internet we’re talking about here, so a significant vocal section of both sides is composed by morons.

      Ultimately my point is this: The crowd heralding Bioshock as the greatest thing ever isn’t any better or worse than the ones claiming the same for CoD, Halo, Minecraft, Battlefield, Skyrim, what have you. People latch into what they like and by Horace they’ll tell you about it.

    • zbeeblebrox says:

      You have a point, IB, in that there are lots of people out there SO desperate to find an example of “Exactly What I Mean By Games Being Art!” that they latch on to the first interesting thing they can find and put it on this golden pedestal, whether it deserves to be there or not.

      But the point about Metacritic is the more important one. That site – or more accurately, the way people in the industry treat that site – is a cancer.

  15. Nallen says:

    I must have played this (the start) 15 times over, I showed it to everyone that would stand and watch. It’s brilliant. Infact when I saw that screen shot the first memory that came to mind was how as I would swing the camera up as I walked round to the left and down the stairs. My sister loved it, but as soon as the first splicer appeared she declared “oh no, why does it have to be scary?”

    And that was five years ago, you say? Eep.

  16. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    i never got on with Bioshock. I loved the atmosphere the beginning built up, but as soon as the shooting started, i hated everything about the gameplay and the mad running murderer inhabitants of rapture.

    • roryok says:

      “I wore it for you mother – it’s what you like!”

    • Bureaucrat says:

      Same here. I lasted about 3 hours in Rapture. The art direction was indeed cool, but it drove home the point that I simply do not enjoy shootery gameplay, particularly when enemies infinitely re-spawn. Games that try to rush me or scare me are stressful, rather than fun.

  17. Premium User Badge Zephro says:

    I loved Bioshock. The depth of imagination, the characterisation and the brilliant self referential toying with the ideas of agency in video games.

    They were so good I managed to forgive is shonky console lite gunplay and the fact I kept getting a tingling sense I’d seen this all before in System Shock 2. Actually if it wasn’t for the stuff about agency I probably would have sour memories.

    • zeroskill says:

      Well yeah, the only thing I didn’t like about Bioshock was exactly how much of a carbon copy it was of System Shock 2, to the point where every single game design idea was ripped directly out of System Shock 2s spine, and wrapped up into an arguably ingenious new visual package.

    • SiHy_ says:

      Hmmm, I wish they’d copied System Shock 2 more

    • LionsPhil says:

      If they’d copied SysShock2 accurately it probably would have been fine.

      Bioshock was more like a guy with crayons and no art skill trying to make a forgery of the Mona Lisa.

  18. Kleppy says:

    Yeah, definitely one of the best openings to a game ever. Shame about the rest of it though.

  19. Premium User Badge Anthile says:

    “No,” says the man in Castle Shotgun, “it belongs to the Hivemind.”

  20. mjig says:

    Bioshock is 5 years old. Oh god why.

  21. MNKYband says:

    No, says the Zerg, it belongs to everyone!

  22. MNKYband says:

    I agree though, the intro was EPIC. Best I’ve ever seen.

  23. Nihil says:

    To be honest, I think any game that features an insane doctor in a tattered, bloody lab coat thwacking you round the head with a length of lead pipe whilst screaming ‘IT’S JUST A STANDARD PROCEDURE!’ at the top of his lungs is alright.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      “I won’t hurt you. I just want to see what’s inside.”

    • MNKYband says:

      @squirrelfanatic
      ““I won’t hurt you. I just want to see what’s inside.””

      That’s what she said. :P

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      Hehe! :) “I push when I should pull. A- a man’s entitled to a few mistakes.”

  24. DickSocrates says:

    I found the game so insultingly restrictively linear that I couldn’t play it. There was nothing to do other than go into a room, have a battle with horrible combat mechanics then move on to next room. It felt more like a ghost train or even a museum. When I see a low rope guard rail that won’t move when I run into it or won’t let me jump over it, I get angry. Though it came out on 360, it was more like a classic PC adventure game transposed into 3D, with the same hermetically sealed off atmosphere. I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of it at any stage.

    It’s a dead game, like a dead novel or a dead movie. It looks pretty, but that’s it.

  25. elpistolero says:

    Ok, yeah – I’ll take that intro – but raise you Homeworld:

    If this still doesn’t give you chills…
    Epic.

    Also: Whoever they picked for the Narration: flawless victory.

    • Ganabul says:

      Yes, that.

      One of the levels begins with fleet announcing

      “Something is wrong”

      and it is an incantation that haunts me to this day when assaulted by attack ships of a hostile empire some small mundane calamity seems imminent.

  26. owenj says:

    I suppose Bioshock has aged to the point where it’s now cool or acceptable to hate on it. Which is a shame because I think the game did a lot to bring critical thinking and analysis about games, and what it means to be “playing” a video game character to a wider audience.

    I for one loved the game.

    • iucounu says:

      Me too. I thought the central gag, about player agency, was terrific, and the combat was really satisfying. It all got a bit naff right towards the end, but I can forgive it that.

    • owenj says:

      Ha! Player Agency! I was wracking my brain for about 10 minutes trying to think of the word, thank’s for reminding me.

      Yes I read an interview with Ken Levine, or someone at Irrational, recently where they admitted the end boss was a dissapointment to them as well. Interesting that even though they knew it wasn’t as good as they rest of the game, they still felt the conceit of the final boss fight was essential to have in a videogame.

    • iucounu says:

      It is, isn’t it? Particularly that sort of final boss, which was just insultingly humdrum. The Ryan confrontation should probably have been the end, somehow.

      What are the great final boss fights in FPSs? They seem to fall into the enormous static monster category, or the endless waves of dudes category. I can’t really think of many great ones.

    • Stevostin says:

      ”I think the game did a lot to bring critical thinking and analysis about games, and what it means to be “playing” a video game character to a wider audience.”

      I am not even sure what you mean by that, but even if true : in what does it turn the game itself into anything good ?

    • Xocrates says:

      “I suppose Bioshock has aged to the point where it’s now cool or acceptable to hate on it”

      I don’t think that’s the case. There has always been plenty of complaints about it ever since launch. At most what happened is that the complaints are no longer being drowned beneath all the praise. Interestingly enough, the reverse seems to have happened to the sequel for about the same reasons.

      Let’s not forget that for all Bioshock did right it also had plenty of problems, even the twist that works as a frankly quite good metacommentary on player agency (egads I should punch myself just for writing a sentence that pretentious sounding) still relied on a frankly moronic setup.

      Thing is, that due to whatever legacy Bioshock left, its flaws are now more evident as it’s strenghts are taken as granted.

    • iucounu says:

      I think what he means by that is pretty much what he said: it was an AAA shooter that did a particularly clever thing with the form, and got people talking about it. It was a story that you couldn’t actually tell in another medium, because it relied on subverting the conventions of first person shooters. That was interesting enough that I was thinking about it for a few days after finishing it, and can still remember bits of it clearly now, whereas a lot of other games are just blurs at this point.

      It had a cracking opening, lovely art design, solid shooting and just enough variety to keep me interested to the end. The fact that there was an honest-to-god coup de theatre just before you got to the end made it memorable, as well.

    • Nick says:

      what, apart from all the people who criticised it after it came out and they had played it you mean? Your selective memory just to make some sort of (sadly cliche “oh I gues its cool to hate this now”) snide remark does you no justice.

    • Muzman says:

      Now acceptable to hate on it?
      Where were you for the general shellacking it got (in PC circles admittedly) moments after the awe at the opening wore off and for years afterwards?

      No one really questioned the game’s visual design or artistic goals, but its substance as a worthy game has been a subject of huge debate from the moment it dropped.

  27. Pidesco says:

    Bioshock is a corridor shooter without meaningful choices making meta commentary on the tendency of modern games to be a railroaded experience with fake choices.

    Bioshock is also System Shock 2 ripped of the design choices that made it great and unique.

    • owenj says:

      By corridor shooter, do you mean “takes place in a physical corridor?” Because yes the physical geography of an undersea city necessitates a corridor. It’s been years since I’ve played it but I also remember relatively open areas like the Gardens and the Market.

      If by corridor you mean linear, I also remember being having to plan to return to most areas of the game to fight a Big Daddy when I was stronger.

      I also remember having to plan these fights using an interesting variety of weapons and Plasmids depending on the situation.

      And you may disagree, but I saw the Harvesting / Freedom of the Little Sisters as a very meaningful choice.

    • Tim Ward says:

      It would have been more meaningful if you’d gotten *no* mana or whatever it was called from letting them go free.

    • Pidesco says:

      By corridor shooter I mean it was linear. Optional backtracking does not, in any way, change that.

      I remember the Big Daddies as being easily disposed of with circle strafing and some patience.

      I also remember The Big Daddies as the only thing in the game that caused some empathy. Unfortunately the gameplay turned them into blank mountains of hit points.

      The Little Sister moral quandary was rendered meaningless by the rewards each possible choice provided.

      I also remember the gameworld making no sense. You were never in an underwater city. Instead you traipsed across multiple themed corridors.

      Bioshock is still better than the masses of corridor shooters, developers have been showering us with. But, at the end of the day, it’s still, functionally and structurally, the same sort of game it’s trying to criticize. It’s a satire without the satire.

    • Jahkaivah says:

      The developers really missed a trick there. It would have been incredible if the game dropped the linearity and went open world after the plot twist.

      Aside from making sense (why should I still be on a railroad if I’m no longer under the mind control that was railroading me?), it would have shown the developers could walk the walk having talked the talk. It’s one thing to make an albeit brilliant piece of meta commentary about railroading, it’s something else to then do something about it.

  28. AlexW says:

    I didn’t like that it took away all my control in the bathysphere without any visual indications (letterbox bars being the standard method), especially when trying to get to grips with dodgy FoV, but the speech was definitely well delivered.

    I still haven’t played beyond about ten minutes after the plot twist, though, because I heard about the game’s ending from a few places and read Tom Francis’ alternate post-Ryan ideas for the game (http://www.pentadact.com/2009-04-15-ending-bioshock/), so the thought of pushing on towards the actual boss fight and terrible morality toggle was just… not satisfying. Admittedly, I’m the kind of person that’s easily put off by ending spoilers and pretty much can’t stand great games brought down by glaring flaws, but just read that alternate ending and try to convince yourself that Bioshock’s actual boss fight is ‘good enough’.

  29. Stevostin says:

    I have to disagree. It really is fine until your reach the bottom of the elevator, and then it didn’t work at all for me. I blame the level design wich was entirely driven by (not very interesting) gameplay rather than focusing on suspending my disbelief. There is this mutant woman who’s clearly is supposed to be menacing, but she flees for no reason, and a map design that is more about art direction for very small GPU rather than “make us believe what rapture could really look like”. Bioshock lacks the sense of place that made System Shock II the marvel it was (and the lack of ressources, too).

  30. Tim Ward says:

    I think Bioshock deserves an academy award for Biggest Waste of a Fantastic Setting in a Mediocre First Person Shooter Role.

    I also thought the twist when you confront Ryan was bloody brilliant, but two good ideas isn’t exactly enough to sustain a ~20 hour game.

    Oh well, at least they managed to come up with two cool, *and genuinely unique* things to put in their game. How many developers don’t manage any?

  31. buzzmong says:

    You know, something else grabs me from that video, something I didn’t expect:

    In game graphics are now beyond the pre-rendered cut scenes that were used in games at the turn of the century.

    Mindblowing.

  32. The Dark One says:

    Also of note:

    Demiurge collaborated with Irrational Games to assist with art and level design for the opening sequences of BioShock. A first-person shooter that melds stunning environments and a truly unique storyline set in an underwater Utopia, BioShock is a visual masterpiece.

    Demiurge worked closely with the internal Irrational art team, beginning with early vision and art planning with General Manager Ken Levine and Art Director Scott Sinclair. Demiurge’s role included concept and modeling for large “hero” pieces such as the lighthouse, the bathysphere, Rapture’s skyline and many smaller props. The bulk of Demiurge’s work can be seen in the intro sequence and demo, leading up to entering Rapture.

    They don’t go out and say how much of the work was theirs, but I thought it was interesting that these guys managed to sneak in and help deliver the most memorable part of the game.

  33. Burky says:

    that’s a cool cutscene man, totally what games are about

    the best bit of Bioshock is when you set a guy on fire, he runs into the water to put himself out, and then you electrify the water

    because that’s cool for gameplay reasons, not for some b-movie scripting

  34. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    There’s no doubting the opening couple of hours of Bioshock were extremely well done.

    It’s a shame the rest of the game was mostly very dull. In fact, it’s staggering to think it gets nowhere near my personal top50 PC games, despite that opening section. But that’s how much of a nosedive the game took in my eyes.

  35. Zwebbie says:

    It may be because I only played it this year (now that it’s hip to hate it), but I thought BioShock was one of the worst games I’ve played in a while.
    The intro: it looks like it’s trying very hard to take inspiration from Half-life, but fails to understand what made the tram ride great completely. First off, while Freeman is an empty shell to inhibit, BioShock establishes with its first line that you’re playing as a total wanker. The ride: HL is subtle, you don’t have to notice specific things in the tram environment, that all requires a bit – even if the tiniest bit – of effort and curiosity. BioShock gives you a cutscene. It’s an in-game, first person cutscene, but a cutscene nonetheless. HL2 has you walk around for a bit before meeting anyone to see and hear the oppression for yourself. It has zero exposition. BioShock constantly relies on Atlas to spell things out for you. Look, he says, Rapture’s gone down the drain because of Adam. Look, he says, that’s a Little Sister, and I’m going to explain to you that they’re no ordinary little girls. Heaven forbid we figure things out by play.

    Also, McDonagh’s first line: “I realize you’re a posh sort of geezer, and, frankly, I don’t give a toss if you piss or go fishing.
    Gee, what a subtle way to show that the character is British, a purposeless string of British-isms! Qua-li-ty writing there.

    Its gameplay also has nothing to do with objectivism whatsoever, so it’s as much a game about ideological criticism as chess would be if queens look like Ayn Rand.

    Ok, I’m done ranting.

  36. Gasmask Hero says:

    I have so much love for this game, got it for my 360, it was the reason why I bought my first HDTV.

    Bought it again on the Steam Halloween sale to play on my laptop. It’s lost nothing over the years. In fact it’s gained more. Played it with headphones. Got suitable scared by the everyday sounds of Rapture, and the silence of parts Rapture. I call minor genius on the part of the developers that even turning around generates a racket of footsteps. Dr Steiman’s call for ‘Symmetry’, Sander Cohen’s stark lunacy, the blatant, cold profiteering of Ryan…who, in the depths of the ocean, charges people for air? It’s glorious and terrible in so many ways.

    And yet…it staggers and falls at almost the same point as System Shock 2. In Bioshock, you hit the museum and then it’s downhill to the final encounter. In SS2, you hit the Rickenbacker and then the same downward slope occurs. I dare any of you who have been lionising SS2 to defend the Body of the Many, or the final piss poor encounter with Shodan.

    Ken Levine can talk a fine talk, but I’m still waiting for him to finish a game.

  37. Muzman says:

    The kind of expository skill in the opening makes me kind of wish the whole thing was a sort of Dear Esther thing , where you just wander around this ruined place listening to fractious recordings of the past and glimpsing ghosts and so on.
    There isn’t really a mod scene to come up with a no enemies mod as far as I’m aware though.

  38. Red_Avatar says:

    If these vids tell me anything it’s: So much wasted potential … such a great setting ruined by an average (at best) shooter, dull enemies, tacky respawning, weak weapons … Why? As a STALKER kind of game, it would have been brilliant but instead, we get this weak-as-piss FPS where there’s no inventory, barely any RPG elements, the same enemies after enemies, no punishment from dying, many linear parts, etc. Heck, I preferred killing with a wrench than with the weedy guns that felt like I was shooting with paper pellets!

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      It is interesting how different perception and opinion of a game can diverge between different people. I’m playing this game for the first time at the moment and think that

      - the enemies aren’t dull. There is a nice amount of variety in appearance (turrets, flying bots, a variety of Splicers, Big Daddies), weaponry and attack styles (melee, pistols, guns, thrown hooks, mines, grenades, plasmids – teleporting Houdinis anyone? – etc.)
      - the weapons aren’t weak. I’m playing the game on the medium difficulty setting and enemies get thrown back by shotgun blasts, die right away after a flaming bolt to the face or a shot with anti-personal ammunition, run screaming as I turn them into living torches, and get blown around the room when stepping on a proximity mine.
      - the punishment for dying is the same as in every other game. I see little difference between respawning in a Vita-Chamber (if you haven’t turned that feature off) and quickloading like it is featured in other FPSs.
      - there are not so many FPSs without linear parts. At least it is nothing that has bored me to tears.

      Most interestingly, people get annoyed by a lack of RPG elements in a FPS. :)

  39. Memph says:

    Wow, i honestly didn’t know Bioshock garnered so much hate. I played it a good few years after release and got completely hooked by the sheer imagination of it. It still looked plenty good enough but it was the art style that was tremendous and something completely new for a change. I must have played Bio 1 and 2 at least 4 times each using different weapon and plasmid powerups and saving/killing little sisters. Sure the shooty was a bit weak, but it still worked. Switching between weapons and plasmids on the fly in combat was far more fun that running around with my one best gun so far and really, if you didn’t enjoy setting abusive, and at times hilariously crazy Splicers on fire and then electrocuting them as they run screaming to water to put themselves out, or frantically trying to kite a steaming angry, noisy Big Daddy through mines and past turrets, or setting it on the splicers, or even another Big Daddy you must really have a different sense of what makes for fun in games than I.
    And i really, really (really), don’t get the complaints over the ‘morality system’, which never actually existed. There was no ‘illusion of choice’. You could save ‘em or kill ‘em, what other choice could there be? If you wanted to save them you’d obviously save the bloody lot, if you felt like gitting it up for profit you did that. I’m pretty sure once you kill one little girl for drugs you’re bad no matter how many you save afterwards… what, now realism is a problem? /cough

    The graphics were ace, the voice acting was marvellous, as was much of the writing, especially in some of the collectable recordings that gave us subtle hints as to what the people of Rapture were like. Rapture itself always being the star of the show for me, being both wonderous and sinister. The place just felt like it worked, even if it was utterly ludicrous. Exploring it and gradually learning how to take advantage of it and my Splicer griefing powers bestowed was a joy.

    • Muzman says:

      You also have to murder a perfectly innocent Big Daddy in order to do either “choice” in this morality system. To say nothing of the ending being “You are: Emperor Palpatine! You did as you were told once, now crush the planet under your super powered iron heel because obviously you like that sort of thing”. It’s completely phony. The game has virtually nothing coherent to say about moral choice and every time it tries the plot and game mechanics actively work against any such reading.

  40. Turkey says:

    Okay. Now that everyone is being completely honest about the game: Did anyone else find the splicers to be super goofy and not scary or disturbing at all? It’s like I’m listening to these people be all serious and dramatic on the audio logs and meanwhile I’m mowing down rows and rows of Dick Tracy villains.

  41. Merus says:

    Screw all y’all, Bioshock was grand.

  42. digitalfoundry says:

    I thought Bioshock was a cheap, streamlined, stupid, made to run on consoles System Shock 2 rippoff. Ken Levine gets too much praise, when he’s really a mediocre game designer at most. System Shock 2, the “masterpiece”, borrowed a lot from System Shock 1.

    • Timmytoby says:

      System Shock 2, the “masterpiece”, borrowed a lot from System Shock 1.

      Well, seeing as it was the sequel to SS1, shouldn’t it have “borrowed” most of it? *confused

      I loved Bioshock. They could have made it a Match-3 or Marble-Popper for all I care (especially since I hate FPS and played it on easy to minimize the fighting hassle), as long as I still get to enjoy the unsurpassed Art Design and the tremendous courage to try and integrate one of the most insane and hardest to read books of the last century (Atlas Shrugged) in a gamey environment.

      At least I can’t remember anything comparable in the AAA’s in the last 10 years.

      Oh, and one thing that’s very funny is the unrelenting praise for System Shock 2. It’s one of the greatest games ever made, but it had it’s fair share of issues at least on par with Bioshock. (The final Boss fight, the often samey and bland corridors and the Weapon Degradation just to name a few).

  43. Neut says:

    I preferred their earlier work myself ;)