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17

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.

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Who am I?

Alec Meer

Senior Editor

Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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