Have You Played… BioShock?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I know that sounds like asking “have you eaten bread?” or “ever had a crush?”, but Have You Played’s purpose is far more to inspire discussion after the fact, or prompt a replay, than it is as a buyer’s guide for someone with an empty gaming plate.

BioShock was drowning in hype at launch and bitterness immediately after it – oh it was going to rewrite the FPS rulebook, oh it wasn’t much like System Shock 2, oh its moral choice was too absolute, oh its final fight was bobbins. (That last is true, in fairness). To some extent it’s been tarished by its sequel BioShock Infinite, which though not short on redeeming quantities does make ‘BioShock’ as a name now seem to represent excess, folly, contradiction, wondrous world-building burned on the pyre of mindless shooting… I think about BioShock now, its own right, hype and sequel detached from it, and I only feel fond.

It has, hands down, one of the best videogame opening sequences I can name. Drama and mystery and Django Reinhardt and lighthouses, then a plunge beneath the waves and the first glimpse of Rapture’s whale-patrolled subnautical skyscrapers. There is so much packed into those first ten minutes, so much world built, so much atmosphere generated, so many mysteries posed, so much menace and splendour.

There is so much more to come, even if it much of it doesn’t grab to quite the extent the opening did. But Fort Frolic, the Ryan encounter, the darkly deft environmental storytelling of the Little Sisters’ nursery, the twist, the Big Daddy production line, the player-character’s last-act transformation, even the sadness of the final cinematics: there is so much in BioShock. Much was lost when it left the seas in favour of open sky and even bigger questions. And yes, there are plot holes and there are disruptively game-y elements, but BioShock did so much in a time when no-one else in Big Gaming was. I am grateful to it, and I still think it majestic no matter its wobbles and no matter what happened later.

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  1. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    I was one of those guys that you see posting here in RPS all the time who didn’t give Bioshock a chance based on it not being enough like SS2 when it was released. I turned my nose up at the lack of simulation and patted myself on the back for my good taste. There will probably be a few of those in this thread.

    I revisited it years later, and a less entitled version of myself was able to really enjoy it for what it was instead of what I thought it should have been.

    • Emeraude says:

      I’m probably one of those.

      Here’s the thing though. I want to like that game. I think it has some pretty interesting element of level design and narrative to gameplay integration. The thing is there’s no cohesion at all for that later bit.

      For one, sparing Little Sisters makes you much stronger, not weaker, which contributes in making all the narrative set up crumble on itself for me.

      • Premium User Badge

        gritz says:

        I get it. A highly opinionated reward system really undermines the sense of choice that these games put front and center. I posted something similar just minutes ago in the new Deus Ex review. It’s the kind of thing that kept me from enjoying Dishonored until recently.

        It’s a real flaw, but I came to realize that the other merits were well worth exploring (especially in Bioshock, DXHR and Dishonored)

        • Premium User Badge

          basilisk says:

          I find it easiest to pretend that whole system isn’t there. Because sure, it’s a false dichotomy and a very nonsensical choice. “Kill child yes/no”. That’s just dumb.

          I know I’m handwaving it, but honestly, it’s so easy to ignore it, to automatically assume that Jack simply would not kill the Little Sisters, and nothing fundamental changes. It’s an unsightly blemish, but one that’s very easy to overlook.

          • Emeraude says:

            I would do that more easily if that hadn’t been one of the only hooks the game had in me.

            And it could have been made a meaningful choice. Design the game so that not harvesting little sisters actually makes you miserable power-wise, give purely symbolic rewards if you have to.

            It kind of reminds me of RPGs, where “evil” choices hardly ever make sense because heroes live in their own pockets of post-scarcity economy, and as such are unconcerned by so many of the necessities that are at the heart of morally ambiguous choices at their most fundamental level.

      • ThricebornPhoenix says:

        “For one, sparing Little Sisters makes you much stronger, not weaker, which contributes in making all the narrative set up crumble on itself for me.”

        Bioshock is a rejection of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism (presented at an extreme through antagonist ANDrew RYAN), which promotes self-interest above all else. The way harvesting or sparing Little Sisters works is perfectly in line with this: you can do the former for yourself and get more ADAM (supposedly the all-important thing in Rapture); or do the latter for others, who reward you in other ways later on out of gratitude (and a first-time player probably doesn’t know this), showing that there are benefits to looking out for each other.

        • Drew says:

          But it’s not some benefit that’s entirely different from the benefit of ADAM. It’s you, personally, getting more powerful in a linear way.

          • ROMhack2 says:

            I think it works as a metaphor though, right?

          • luukdeman111 says:

            It really isn’t made all that clear that you get a reward later if you save the girl. For me, those first two little sisters were a real difficult choice, because to me it seemed that the choice was between gameplay advantage and moral justification. If you later get rewarded for being a morally just person that helps you gameplay wise, I don’t think that undermines those initial decisions.

  2. icarussc says:

    Hey, you — reader! Would you kindly leave a comment?

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      phuzz says:

      I still use that phrase occasionally, when I’m asking someone to do something for me.

      As far as the game is concerned though, I never understood why that scene is about halfway through the game instead of being the ending.
      I think I’ll replay it when the remastered version comes out, as I only played it once.

  3. Premium User Badge

    basilisk says:

    Having replayed it after BInf came out, I still think it’s brilliant. It’s so cleverly put together on so many levels; it’s rare to find a game that is all revolving around one central theme (parenthood) and in which each level has its own distinct subtheme, all adding up and weaving together into something consistent, unique and bold. The city of Rapture was such a revelation back then.

    Sure, the gameplay has its ups and downs, there are far too many unnecessary and tedious systems weighing it down (dumbed down my arse) and the level immediately after the famous big moment is pants, which really makes it feel like the game has run out of breath even though it hasn’t quite yet. (But it certainly does later.) And yes, the morality system was just ridiculous. But still, behind that is one of the most significant games of its decade. A game that had genuine vision.

    I’m sure lots of people will rush in, as they always do, to criticise everything that BioShock isn’t, but what it is, and I don’t think that’s possible to deny, is quite special.

  4. Chewbacca says:

    I really tried to give Bioshock a chance but I just couldn’t like it. The story and atmosphere were great but the difficulty was just all over the place. With Vita chambers you could basically never loose and on normal the game was too easy anyway. And on hard most enemies were fine but some enemies were just large bullet sponges but you died after a few hits. That’s not a good design. So I stopped playing. There was either no challenge or it was just frustrating.

  5. Kefren says:

    It was the first game I pre-ordered, on the back of my obsession with System Shock 2. Then it arrived and I found it had online activation. On top of the hassles with performance and trying to sort it out with a dial-up modem I sent it back and vowed never to pre-order again.

    It was years later before I played it. There were parts I loved, and parts that were stupid enough to break my association with the character (finding a ridiculous huge syringe of unknown chemicals and STICKING IT IN MY ARM???)

    • icarussc says:

      I thought their approach to that was quite clever, actually. I mean, not right away. But by the end of the game, I did.

      • Kefren says:

        “Would you kindly?” I could be wrong, but I don’t think it was said in relation to the needle. Your character just does it for shits and giggles.

        Though it raises an issue in general – even if something is explained later, having the player’s character do something bizarre does break the feeling of immersion. It’d be like playing the first Deus Ex, then just as another conspiracy is uncovered it goes to a cutscene where JC strips off then skips down the street singing The Floppy Song while the player isn’t allowed to do anything but watch in disbelief. Then JC puts his clothes back on and control goes back to the player, and suddenly it’s all serious again.

        • poliovaccine says:

          As someone who was addicted to heroin for about eight years, and so is rather stuck viewing society from thr outside in, let me congratulate you on being THE FIRST human being, doper or not, I have ever seen out there in the world realize just how odd it is to have perfectly acceptable painkiller/IV/sometimes-even-*morphine* powerups..!

          It is odd to me that, in a world of both internal and external critics like the gaming community, nobody notices that, haha, especially considering its prevalence in games. I actually saw a video on youtube once listing videogame drug experiences – they mention Far Cry 3 and its hallucinogenic made ritual level, but even in that context they dont consider the hero to be getting loaded every single time he heals… dude’s homecoming is gonna be an awful lot like it was for so many Americans coming back from Vietnam!

          The best is how addiction just doesnt exist, except maybe in atmospheric NPCs of homeless people. Or as violence-crazed enemies haha. I mean Max Payne does seem to pay for his excesses by the third game haha, but uh, besides that little narrative tweak, painkillers in that world are a unilatetrally great thing to find and can do only good. There is no wothdrawal, unless maybe you consider the game’s enemies as symbolic of withdrawal, and avoiding them by not progressing thru the levels as equally symbolic, or…

          Fallout at least had the concept of addiction, but it is shockingly undercooked. I adore the series, but I do have to mod chems into at least viewing distance of reality… the idea of paying 50 caps to any stray “doctor” and being “cured” – until the next time your character uses chems – hey maybe that one’s symbolic too…!

          Anyway. I just wanted to say. You get the outsiders award for clueing into something you werent supposed to find odd but in reality it truly is…!

          • poliovaccine says:

            Actually, re: Max Payne, *of course* the enemies symbize withdrawal! That’s why you’re always constantly, frantically shooting to stave them off… also why your favorite bits are the part where time goes slower and everything seems like an awesome action movie…

  6. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    One of my all-time favorites, no doubt.

    There’s one respect in which I think no game has ever lived up to the potential of Bioshock, and that’s in the relationship between the Big Daddys and the Little Sisters. Here we NPCs who go about their business (draining corpses, returning Little Sisters to the vents, requesting new Little Sisters if they don’t have one) independently of the player, and who are animated and voiced in such a way that they genuinely seem to care about one another (the Sisters chattering away to “Mr. Bubbles, the Daddys boosting their Sisters up to the vents, etc). Obviously the character designs are super stylized, which makes it easier to do that kind of simple relationship in a convincing way, but still. I kind of thought we’d see more games by now that ran with the idea of an ecosystem that the player can disrupt or work with at their leisure, and that featured NPCs whose dynamic interactions with one another could encompass more emotions than fear and hate. But Bioshock Infinite went in a different direction, and I don’t know if I can think of any other game that picked up that particular torch.

    • criskywalker says:

      This! I was wondering what was so unique about Bioshock and the fact that you felt like visiting a mysterious city and that not all of its inhabitants would attack you right away and that some of the would fight among themselves or try to save each other made me feel like it was much more than an FPS.

      That’s where Bioshock Infinite totally fails. They had the chance to create a really interesting place to visit, with a spooky community and lots of exploration, but then they ended up with a very generic FPS with an absurd story on top of it.

      Bioshock is an absolute classic while Bioshock Infinite is a boring shooting gallery.

  7. Xocrates says:

    It’s a game I respect a lot more than I enjoy.

    The game did a lot of very interesting things, shook up the industry in ways that I appreciate, and it’s probably has some of the best environmental storytelling I’ve ever seen.

    It was also horribly plodding, with awkward combat that didn’t feel intentionally so, with levels feeling largely pointless and disconnected to the overall plot (tellingly, both Medical Pavilion and Fort Frolic are complete detours from the main path), with larger than life characters that never feel like actual people – which makes the game feel a lot more like a theme park ride of rapture than a cohesive whole.

    But hey, they fixed all of that in Bioshock 2, so it’s all good.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      BioShock 2 which included an *actual* theme park ride of Rapture.

      It’s interesting to read this, because I see BS1 as the cohesive one and BS2 as the scattered collection of levels that don’t really fit together. (With objectively better gameplay, mind.)

      Though yes, you are right that Fort Frolic feels rather DLCish. It’s a great and very memorable level, but it’s not connected to the rest of the game at all.

      • Xocrates says:

        Yeah, playing through Ryan Amusements was doubly enjoyable because of that.

        Thing is, with the exception of the start of the game (which is probably a huge reason on why the start feels so slow) every level in Bioshock 2 is connected in meaningful ways to the main characters or at contextualizing them.

        By contrast the entirety of the first game felt like it was just about discovering rapture, so I was never able to have any real engagement with the main story and characters.

        • Premium User Badge

          basilisk says:

          Well, I’d argue Rapture sort of is the main character. The rise and fall of Rapture is the big dramatic arc that you’re learning about in retrospect.

          There are just a handful of actual characters; pretty much only Ryan and Fontaine as the two failed fathers and Tenenbaum as the failed mother. The rest of the cast are usually just quick sketches who don’t undergo any real development. Because the story really is mostly about Rapture.

          • Xocrates says:

            I agree. Which is why to me it feels like a theme park ride.

            Rapture is a fascinating place, but it never feels real because none of the people in it do.

  8. Monggerel says:

    Played it. At the time, I thought it was the Half Life 3 of Video Games.
    Then I watched the Spoiler Warning season of it, years later. And then replayed it. And I felt really smug and smarmy about now being much smarter and having much better taste than my easily awed, edgy teenager ex-self.

  9. Cropduster says:

    I replayed it recently and found it a bit of a chore.

    Loved it at the time though, even post SS2. The interplay between you, the splicers, machines and big daddies was great, and between plasmids and weapons too. They were all simple tools, but you do awesome things with all of them.

    Infinite didn’t really bother with any of that sadly.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    I still get the feeling that the narrative goes one way and the gameplay on an opposite direction. And I never got rid of the “Morpheus” adventure deja-vu when playing this. Though Cryostasis later would be even more exaggerated on both accounts.

    Good game though.

  11. Zenicetus says:

    Played it and enjoyed it, although I can’t be sure how much of it was loving the art direction and setting vs. actual gameplay. It was the setting that hooked me.

    My only two complaints would be (spoiler warning if you haven’t played it):
    When you transform to a Big Daddy it didn’t feel different enough, or powerful enough. It was still way too easy to get killed, which took the fun out of what should have been a very cool thing. And the boss fight at the end was stupid. Still a great game.

  12. wombat191 says:

    it had one of the best introductions ive seen with a game that bored me absolutely senseless by the time i realised that it had turned into a fetch quest half way through.

    stopped and never went back

  13. Yukiomo says:

    I’ve tried to play this at least three times, but I have never gotten past the first few hours.

    For whatever reason, the first-person movement just feels super off to me, to the extent of being detrimental to the game experience. (This is in addition to the clunkiness of the melee.) I really would like to play it, but I am not sure I will be able to.

  14. jarowdowsky says:

    Much as I loved it at the time I can’t help but think it’d make a much better game than a film… Or maybe they could release a directors cut that’s just three hours long.

    Hell, I actually wiah they’d do that with a ton of classic games, rather than release them in slightly more HD, just put out greatest hit versions and strip out what needed to be added to pad games to meet an expected AAA release length…

  15. Premium User Badge

    AutonomyLost says:

    I began to, way back when on whichever version of Xbox it debuted, but played very little. I’m not entirely sure why. I never attempted to play the second, though played Infinite to completion once. I intend on buying the Remastered collection once it launches.

  16. Doubler says:

    I never thought it was that great, to be honest. It was badly padded, didn’t seem to understand its own mechanics (much of it was at odds with itself, and it lifted a whole bunch of mechanics from the games that inspired it while dropping the reasons they made a difference in the first place) and everything after the big reveal felt like an afterthought.

    I respect how stylish it was, but I never found it to offer much besides that.

  17. E_FD says:

    A couple thoughts:

    1. In a roundabout way, this is the game that got me hooked on Steam. I grudgingly accepted having it on my computer for Half-Life 2, but I still preferred to buy physical copies of games and get ones that didn’t require a 3rd party client to run. Then one evening I saw an ad on Steam for a free Bioshock demo, had heard about the game before and thought it sounded interesting but not enough to motivate me to buy it, and figured this was an easy enough way to check it out. And like most folks, I was blown away by the opening, and ended up buying the full game. And while I didn’t insta-convert to purchasing all games over Steam right after that, it really made me reevaluate the convenience that the platform offered.

    2. The twist. Was it really that big a deal? Am I misremembering, or didn’t Knights of the Old Republic predate Bioshock (I certainly played it first)? And it had basically the exact same twist. So without having been spoiled at all about the Bioshock plot, my reaction to the Big Moment was really just a shrug and a “oh, this again”. And later I played FEAR, which tried yet another variation on the trope, by which time I was pretty bored with it.

    • c-Row says:

      As far as I am concerned KOTOR’s twist could be seen coming from a hundred miles away, but I still fondly remember the feeling of getting kicked in the proverbial balls by the “Would you kindly…” reveal of Bioshock.

      • Einsammler says:

        He didn’t even go to the effort to establish…trust.


    • MikoSquiz says:

      I felt personally offended by Bioshock Infinite’s hanging of a gigantic flashing wibbly-woo-mystical lampshade on being a rehash of the first game: “There’s always a lighthouse, there’s always a man..”, there’s always my arse, you twats – but thinking back, I’m not sure if the first Bioshock’s hanging of a gigantic flashing slightly less wibbly-woo lampshade on the total lack of player agency in the plot was any better.

      “Hey, we noticed that thing about games that’s a bit rubbish, too. Oh, no, we couldn’t be arsed to make an improvement of any kind in that regard, we just themed the whole game around our smugness over our cleverness in noticing that thing.”

  18. Sin Vega says:

    Played it on the funsquare a few years later. Super atmospheric but I got a bit bored several hours in, lost track of where I was and what I was supposed to be doing, and never picked it up again. It didn’t help that the tension was completely destroyed when I first got killed, and realised that death wasn’t even a slap on the wrist, so those big daddy fights were really just a laborious excercise in throwing away most of your ammo. Sure, resurrection was in System Shock 2 as well, but it had SOME penalty at least, and there were few enemies that felt so bullet spongey.

    Probably one of the best settings in a game ever. It’s something of a shame they weren’t able or willing to make another game set in, if not the exact same place, somewhere very much like it.

  19. Premium User Badge

    alison says:

    This game was fucking bollocks. I bought it a couple years ago, after hearing it praised in the same breath as Deus Ex and Far Cry 2, which are far and away the two best first person games ever made. Perhaps I was expecting too much. It is literally the only game I have paid over 10€ for and then never completed. The mechanics are some kind of 1990s “walk over the invisible line and ono bullet sponge monster closet”, except without any of the novelty Doom had 15 years beforehand. I guess there was some big “twist” that came later in the game, but I couldn’t last through to that point. It was basically Ayn Rand meets fast zombies meets some kind of magical fireball/iceball Mass Effect 2 faux-sci-fi garbage. I have honestly never been so thoroughly regretful at a game purchases since this one. Even the most flawed games I have played usually have one redeeming feature. This had none. Most fucking overrated pile of shite ever.

  20. turkeydrumstick says:

    I did. I was hugely disappointed.

    The atmosphere and art direction was great and the plot twist was clever. Everything else was pretty much pants. The action was generic. All characters were uninteresting. Huge parts of the game felt like it was just filler. The morality system was beyond pointless, I never felt the least tempted to do the “wrong” thing. While the plot twist was clever, it mostly served to highlight the ridiculousness of the rest of the game. The big daddies were the game’s most appealing feature and it annoyed me to no end that they barely received any exposition at all. Also, the end-game transformation had absolutely no weight to it at all. And while arguably my own fault, playing the damn thing on the playstation did it no favors.

    The brief moments I enjoyed it were right at the beginning when you were still trying to figure out the city, scared out of your wits being practically weaponless and vulnerable. After that it just deteriorated into meh.

  21. Zeke346 says:

    I feel compelled to respond since this is a topic that reaches into my childhood memory. I must have been around 13-14 at the time and hugely anticipated the release of System Shock 2, and consider it worthy of a place in any gaming top 10. The sound of the Psionic Monkeys stays with you.

    Anyway, BioShock came a little later, and being the nerd that I am I followed its development. It had the same development team as System Shock 2 but sadly for commercial reasons Irrational Games didn’t survive publishing the game. I’ve still my original boxed copy and its release on Steam was a snap buy. If I remember correctly they even released a demo.

    I had completely devoured the game in less than 48 hours post-release. It was fun to play, and the core mechanics of plasmids and tonics were woven seamlessly into the narrative and allowed from some pretty cool experimentation with playstyles and a wide variety of weapon loadouts. Although I do remember dicking about with the camera a bit too much and eventually settling on an absurdly OP melee life-gain and frost thrower build.

    I had so much fun playing it and the narrative was so compelling that so often my jaw was on the floor. I even re-played this game together with my flatmate at the time, largely in part due to the strength of the narrative.


    Let’s keep this to just discussing the main twist. Can you think of a more powerful scene in videogame narrative? Never mind the CoD manufactured outrage, here is a man literally ordering you to beat him to death with a golf club as a powerful statement about choice and you’re left watching the whole thing! I’ll never look at golf clubs the same way again.

    The BioShock series is one that engages with more than just narrative – although that is the best, too. (Anyone remember Sander Cohen?) – but uses the gaming as a medium to pose profound philosophy questions, and even statements. I had never considered such a meaningful resolution to the problem of choice in gaming (as highlighted by the Stanley Parable), but as discussed elsewhere in the thread choice still determines the ultimate outcome; so there is hope. A man chooses, a slave obeys.


    This game delivered on the hype and then some, and followers of the series will see its pinnacle at the BioShock Infinite DLC. If you haven’t played it yet play it now. I can’t see how Ken Levine will continue to deliver, but I look forward to it.

    • icarussc says:

      I agree with him^. Her^. Person^ whose gender is unknown to me. Darn it, if we were speaking Chinese, this wouldn’t happen!

  22. kud13 says:

    I’m yet to play BInfinite.

    I played Bioshock at the same time as I tried S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Perhaps that’s why I wasn’t really impressed with BioShock.

    I do like the sequel, oddly enough. It feels like a much tighter and more thought out experience. And the gunplay is significantly better

  23. The Chadillac says:

    I played the demo. It felt mechanically inferior to Half Life 2 in every conceivable way so I uninstalled. I was later told that the opening of the game was the high point so I never bothered installing the copy Humble Bundle forced onto my steam account. Then Bioshock Infinite came out and made it abundantly clear that System Shock 2 was a fluke and Ken Levine was always an incompetent hack and I am smarter than any of the games journalists who praised these piles of shit.

  24. Zeke346 says:

    Some further consideration on the gameplay mechanics and ethical commentary. I reckon at this point it’s probably safe to assume


    It’s been mentioned elsewhere that it has one of the strongest prologues in gaming. This is correct. Rapture wears its values on its sleeve. I haven’t read Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead but the photo above sums it up rather neatly: No Gods or Kings, Only Man. This is a society devoid of purpose other than to the advancement of the individual. To elevate the status of man we must accept both the good and the bad – to expect villains like Fontaine not to exist in such a society is clearly wishful thinking.

    Each level becomes exploration of the consequences of Randian philosophy. Underlied by the corrupting effect of exceptionalism: the low level enemies of the game are ‘splicers’, essentially individuals overcome by a desire for Adam; and the suffering of Bid Daddies and Little Sisters – the former transformed by Dr Suchong and the latter abducted by Fontaine from his shelters. Big Daddies serve the need for character advancement via Adam and also provide quasi-boss fights for each level. Although I would allow the criticism that these become a little too easy from the mid-game onwards. The fact that the end game takes place in an orphanage would strengthen anyone’s resolve in the hunt for Fontaine.

    The narrative is seamlessly integrated into the core mechanics of the game. The problem of failure, and the attendant respawning merits further examination. We discover from audio logs that they were constructed at the behest of Andrew Ryan and encoded to match his DNA, so why can we use them? If you don’t yet know I’ll let you figure that one out.

    The point is that the restrictions that core mechanics that usually present a barrier to a coherent narrative are in this case the two are interwoven. The only other game to come to mind that pulls this off quite so well would be the Dark Souls series and that’s high praise.

  25. mactier says:

    It seems after every creative and substantial phase, it becomes “quaint”, and more modern and trendy to do nothing, nothing at all (e.g. multiplayer, focus on graphics cards (seriously, what else is there – I’m not even really on this page, it’s almost an accident)).

    But to be honest, I don’t know what you’re alluding to with the sequels. I think Bioshock Infinite is fantastic and on the same level.

  26. poliovaccine says:

    I’m one of these people who are more of the “it’s good, not great” crowd, but I freely admit FPS isn’t generally my favorite genre. Tho a good one, I always enjoy.

    This one I enjoyed, for the most part. Maybe it’s just a lack of imagination on my part, but I found many of the plasmids to really be useless, in that they never seemed to get a chance to be applied, what they provided was at odds with the world you got. Even the ones I settled upon, I felt like I was too often going out of my way to use them. And I fully appreciated how Infinite lifted the two-plasmid restriction except where you find the machines to change them, because that didn’t strike me as a beneficial restriction. On the contrary, being able to have more than two at a time would have gotten some of those other ones at least a little use, and gone a long way towards making the thing feel whole.

    I feel equally lukewarm about the style and the setting. Underwater art deco looked cool, and I always appreciate further denouncement of objectivism, but none of it struck me as any more smart or subtle than any other supervillains we’ve had. Tho certainly good, of type.

    That all said, I did manage to get into some fights that were more interesting than some other videogame fights I had been in. I liked the AI, which is almost always a make-or-break thing for me in a game where it features as much as it does in this one (maybe less so in an RPG, for example, where imagination is already filling in more of the gaps, in order to allow more to be done overall). So that’s no small thing, I mean I either like the AI or I don’t. It’s cus I grew up on Thief and Hitman, and by adolescence was writing some AI of my own.

    As an action game, I enjoyed it on the level of Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Which is why I feel the need to call an utterly solid game “good, not great” – because many folks think it is. I don’t think they’re wrong, but I think given the divided nature of the reactions, between either it being Incredible or Overrated (with Overrated having the two subs, Bitter About It or Charitable View – mine being the latter), and I think that is going to be about the natural split for anything anyone calls Incredible. It will have necessarily been born of and built for a niche.

    What I mean is, people only love a thing that much if it “hits every mark” for em. Givem the variability of people, that will always be a niche – a fan population guaranteed, just as much as it’s guaranteed to not be the only population. Very few games are lucky enough to be what *everyone* wanted at the time. But I think the reason GTA3 was one of those is cus, with the way possibilities shook out in gaming, we had *all* envisioned some kind of fully 3D, fully open world game, even had long enough to pine for it a little, before it had ever happened. Goung further back, Half Life got a lot of points for being a shooter that managed to feel actually cinematic, in spite of the obvious limits and general clunk-assedness of the tech at that time. Mainly cus other games had felt that way in little bits and pieces before, so we knew it was possible. I don’t know dick about the development of Half Life, but I’m willing to bet money they set their standard by actually playtesting.