Bioshockshock

While the UK impatiently awaits Bioshock (just got a message saying my ultra-geek edition has now been dispatched, so I’m praying for my Big Daddy figurine to turn up tomorrow), the US have got their internationally-favoured hands on it already.

And, um, it’s not going as well as could be hoped. More than the average number of whingers have reported crashes, lockups and loading problems. My own PC froze during the demo, requiring a hard reboot, but my RPS fellows sniffily informed me it was fine for them, so I shrugged it off as Microsoftian chance.

“I lucked out. I was able to play for about 2 hrs with intermittent crashes (yeah, I call that “lucking out” at this point). A lot of people can’t even load it. Now I can’t progress any further because of the reboot crash.”
– John C. DisappointedBioshockPurchaser

Bioshock has reviewed universally positively on both PC and 360, but I know for a fact that at least some of the early reviews were done in situ – i.e. in the presence of publisher and/or developer, on a PC specifically designed for the job. While that doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) affect the integrity of such reviews when commenting on the game’s content, if these bugs are real, that’s why they weren’t heard about before now – they either weren’t seen, or were explained by the powers that be as the result of not-quite-gold code.

It’s bad news, at any rate. I know if I can’t play (and in fact review) this game for another week because I’ve got to wait for a patch, I’m probably gonna turn into one of Those Angry Internet Guys myself. This is all on the top of the revelation that Bioshock isn’t, in fact, widescreen, but instead chops off substantial sections of the screen to hit stretchovision resolutions. Speaking selfishly once again: oh, bugger.

Sounds like fixes won’t be due for a while, as Ken Levine has stepped in waving calming hands about:

I hear you that not everybody was thrilled with the PC launch. I’m trying to collect information and see what the facts are. PC game development does not function in a matter of seconds or hours, especially when most of the team is on vacation. But I hear you, and we’re looking into the issue. I only ask you have a bit of understanding as to the time scale that software development issues must occur in.

It’s enough to back up paranoid theories that the PC version has always come second place to 360, after the controversial prioritising of the demo for the latter. I understand why – there’s more guaranteed cash from a console, plus the rigeurs of getting it past Microsoft QA eat up resources better spent on polishing the PC code. In this case though, there’s every chance the PC version will make 2K as a huge wad of money as 360 will – its complex anti-piracy tech means it’s not on the torrent sites as far as I can see yet, and the Steam version should garner a fair few pennies. Most importantly, every PC gamer I know is talking about Bioshock. So, if all this bug talk turns out to be true, 2K – I don’t know whether it’s the publishing or development arm to blame – have behaved dismmissively towards an awful lot of their potential money-pile. Bugs as serious as these don’t go unnoticed during development, after all.

17 Comments

  1. Matthew says:

    Plus, evidence suggests that ‘complex anti-piracy tech’ may not allow more than two activations before you have to run crying to 2K Support for a new registration code.

    There’s a vicious rumour that the widescreen debacle affects the 360 version too, but I have very little proof of that as yet.

  2. Martin Coxall says:

    Well, I certainly hope it’s not true.

    But, since I haven’t yet got the /demo/ to work successufuly either through Steam or Fileplanet, I don’t hold out much hope.

    What seems to be happening is that if you have Vista and an NVIDIA 8800 family GPU, the only way you’re getting this bitch to run is with the latest NVIDIA beta drivers and the August DX10 redistributable.

    Helpfully, of course, the game seems to inform you that you need neither. It just merrily crashes over and over again without any explanation.

    GG, guys.

  3. Martin Coxall says:

    Surely this whole widescreen-viewport brouhaha is silly?

    I mean, if I’m running at 1900×1200, I’m running at 1900×1200. It simply that the image is a bit more zoomed in. That just means I get to see more detail at a higher resolution than my lowly 4:3 brethren.

  4. Alec Meer says:

    “What seems to be happening is that if you have Vista and an NVIDIA 8800 family GPU, the only way you’re getting this bitch to run is with the latest NVIDIA beta drivers and the August DX10 redistributable.”

    I have both of the former and neither of the latter, and I just had that one crash in the demo. Fine, otherwise. While I’m usually obsessive-compulsive about such things, I’m currently reticent to update my NVIDIA driver in case it causes problems.

    The problem with the widescreen is the field of view rather than missing pixels. A 16:10 or 16:9 monitor should allow a kind peripheral vision – the point of widescreen, essentially. It’s not a major problem unless you’re an image junkie, but if it was working you’d feel more ‘inside’ Rapture, have more bits of ocean either side of you, see an enemy appearing from the right sooner, that sort of thing. It’s not so much what’s cropped out as what’s not added that should be. Especially as there’s no earthly reason for it not to be, apart from forgetting or not bothering.

  5. arqueturus says:

    I’ve got the Nvidia beta drivers and WinXp. Absolutely no issue in the demo other than shonky sound if EAX was turned on (I have a creative card) , turned it off and it still sounds mint anyway.

    Fingers crossed I have equal success with the full version.

    cheers arq

  6. Feet says:

    The widescreen problem has already been fixed.

    link to forum.preys-world.com

  7. John P says:

    Well, the demo took a lot of fiddling. At first, loads of the textures were missing from various places. Which was odd. Then it crashed when I started the hacking game. On the next couple of runs through it crashed every time I was about to get into Rapture proper.

    So what I did was a) reinstall those beta nvidia drivers (only this time I downloaded the US version not the UK, if that’s relevant, which I doubt) b) reinstall direct x 9.0c. One of those must have done trick, cuz it only crashed once since I did all that, and that when switching from keyboard to 360 pad then fiddling with some graphics, so i’m hoping it was just my pc being shit.

    Other than that, considering how ancient my PC is it runs like a dream – I hope the full release works out of the box after installing all that crap. For the record I have a 7800 GTS, 1gb RAM, Athlon 4.0 single core thingy on XP.

  8. Solario says:

    Of course if you’re running Vista and own a GeForce 7 of any kind, then you’re probably better off waiting for the “real” patch and not the Beta patch, seeing as I just had to reformat my computer because I got weird stripes of colorful death whenever I tried to start up a game of any kind.

    And the demo has only frozen on me once, when I entered the map and I could hear the game still kept going.

  9. Martin Coxall says:

    Since you were all likely to lose sleep over this, I suppose I should give you some kind of update.

    I got the demo working.

    I know, I know.

    The way was to download the August Beta NVIDIA drivers and the August DX10 SDK. Apparently *only* this combination in any meaningful (i.e. non-crashful) sense supports DirectX 10 SLI.

    I suppose I can’t blame 2KB/A for that. THIS TIME.

    I shall now try the FOV-fiddler tool.

  10. XsV says:

    It’s sad to hear that some people are having problems. Perhaps it is with the Nvidia drivers or DX10. I’ve got to say my machine is pretty old (AMD3500, 2gig ram, X1950pro on AGP)and the demo runs at max settings like a steroid induced bunny with an RPG up its arse, and not a single glitch either.

    I was hoping for poor performance so that I’d have an excuse to build a new system, but, sadly (or not) every thing’s fine!

    Just blame Micro$haft instead. :)

  11. Schadenfreude says:

    Re: The activation. I think the way it works is that you can only have two installs activated at once but you can deactivate by running the uninstaller. If you just wipe over an install or format your drive then that’s the activation gone and you’ll have to call Take 2 (Or just download the bloody crack).

    So not quite as bad as it seems at first, but still potentially annoying.

  12. Janek says:

    Oh for the days when you could just install and then play.

    Arbitary barriers inconveniencing legitimate users are never a good thing, to be honest. And nefarious types will find a way around it, so I don’t know why they bother.

  13. yupp says:

    This activation shit has got to go. Bioshock will be returned for a refund as soon as it shows up. Why don’t they publish their hairbrained ideas before people have the chance to pre-order?
    The joy of doing the right thing is the bitter taste of publisher dick in your mouth…

  14. Martin Coxall says:

    “Bioshock will be returned for a refund as soon as it shows up.”

    Uh-huh.

  15. Krupo says:

    I actually got the experience Janek pines for – and running a wimpy cheap 7300GS in Vista 64-bit.

    Take2 exploited the fact that this is a can’t-miss game to the max: otherwise I would’ve left the box behind in the store.

    But this is a game of such a huge … ‘experience’, it’d be wrong to miss it, no matter what flaming turd obstacle is thrown in my direction.

    Speaking of flaming obstacles, I’m going back into the game to use my telekinesis powers some more. What fun!

    (My hope now, is that the game is stabilized by the time I get around to upgrading to an 8800 so I won’t risk ‘breaking’ it…)

  16. BioShock: The Big Daddies Are Coming : Nostalgia For Infinity says:

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