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Jeremy Jastrzab
18 Nov, 2008

Bioshock Review

PS3 Review | Welcome back to Rapture.
Following up on the critically acclaimed System Shock and System Shock 2, last year’s Bioshock on the Xbox 360 and PC garnered similar attention and plaudits upon its release. Not only for doing something different in the crowded shooter genre, but for combining a compelling story with intense and varied gameplay in a unique underwater setting. Over a year later, the PlayStation 3 finally gets some Bioshock love with a much belated release. Even though not much has changed since we last stepped foot in Rapture, that doesn’t take away too much from the game.

If you have already played Bioshock on either the Xbox 360 or the PC, then this PS3 release is of no real interest to you, as the developers have opted to stick with tried and true ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ mantra. The primary addition to the game is that of a additional difficulty level, and the option to turn off the vita-chambers (respawn points) from the outset. Regrettably, at the time of writing, the promised challenge rooms were not available, though are due soon at a cost. Frankly, the PS3 version of Bioshock is only for those players who only own Sony’s big black box, as it's little more than a direct port.

For those who are new, welcome to Rapture...

For those who are new, welcome to Rapture...
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Bioshock had one of the most endearing stories of last year, and chances are that most people reading this will have some knowledge of it. Set in 1960, you play a survivor of a plane crash in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, who just happens to end up next to a light house. The light house acts as a gateway to an underwater city known as Rapture. If being involved in a plane crash wasn’t bad enough, you find that this amazing landmark has pretty much gone to hell. Lucky you. And so, you are caught up in something of a civil war between a number of factions, including survivors, enemies known as splicers and the Big Daddies and Little Sisters.

The story in Bioshock was meant to be driven by choice. The choice of how you get to your objectives and the choice of what you do at some of them. It doesn’t quite pan out as the developers would have planned, as it becomes a good ol’ key hunt. For those wanting a bit more challenge and fun, we recommend turning off that big glowing arrow above your head pointing to your next objective. Indeed, the design is good enough for you to get by from just listening and absorbing the environment, which is more of what the developers had originally intended.

Played from the first person perspective, Bioshock is a shooter with a twist. Not just due to the minor morality aspects, but with the addition of plasmids. As explained by the game, the inhabitants of Rapture were subject to genetic manipulation, which gave them extraordinary abilities but also turned them into a bunch of freaks. However, you can use these modifications, these plasmids, to your advantage. With a huge variety of abilities, including offensive abilities such as shooting lightning and fire from your hands, to taking control of enemies and setting the against each other, to status upgrades that help your health and you ability to use the environment.

It's actually quite a friendly place...

It's actually quite a friendly place...
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Put these plasmid abilities together with a limited number but substantially powerful set of weapons will give you some great ingredients for a shooter in its own right. There are some great combinations and strategies that you can come up with, regardless of what you have at your disposal at any given time. However, when compared to more dedicated shooters, Bioshock is a little weak in terms of the actual combat. Bioshock was obviously intended to be a slower, more methodical experience, though you’re faced with enemies that are often much quicker than the intended pace. An example of this is the Big Daddy face-offs. Sure you can avoid them, though you miss out on fair chunk of the game. The suit-clad monstrosities are extremely powerful and deceptively quick, leaving you to often get a few shots in, revive and repeat until they drop.

Still, this is only a minor detraction to an otherwise great game, particularly given the other things that you’re given to do. Plasmids are often used in the solving of puzzles or opening of paths. You can mix and match your level of freakishness, as either an offensive player or one that relies on a stealthier approach. In homage to System Shock 2, you can hack vending machines and security implements to help your cause, rather than spend your very hard earned cash. The only issue with this is that its nothing new if you’ve already played it on the Xbox 360 or PC. Otherwise, its an experience that certainly stands as different among shooters.

As mentioned, Bioshock on the PS3 includes the extra ‘Survivor’ difficulty, partially in response to the criticism that the game was too easy before. And the subtitle on the difficulty select screen isn’t kidding when it says that ‘every bullet counts’. In short, this mode provides a much stiffer challenge and requires you to really think how to use the plasmids in the game. The four extra plasmids included in a download last year are available right out in the PS3 version.

Challenge rooms await... for a price.

Challenge rooms await... for a price.
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Graphically, the Bioshock port for the PS3 is pretty much identical to the Xbox 360 version from last year. Disappointingly, despite the mandatory 10 minute install, the Xbox 360 still has the slightest of advantages, as it runs just a tad smoother. Still, you’re unlikely to notice the difference unless the two were running side-by-side in a heavy combat scenario. A few minor glitches and Unreal III Engine limitations aside, Bioshock is a visual experience unlike any other. Technically solid with some great water and fire effects, the game shines from a unique artistic perspective. Rapture is place that you’re not going to see in any other game. Sonically, the game is identical to last year, though at times some of the sounds feel like they have been muted.

This late release is not the definitive version of Bioshock. The game is essentially identical to last year’s release, which for all intents and purposes is a good thing. However, when this includes the game's detractions as well. While most of the detractions are negligible, it is disappointing that the game is being slugged at full retail and then asks you to pay more for the challenge rooms, especially since it has been available for over a year now. Still, this happens to be one of those games that didn’t need to be tampered with much. For those who only own a PS3, this is a unique and immensely well-made experience that will stick with you for some time. That is, unless you have already played it.
The Score
For those who haven't already been down to Rapture, Bioshock is an experience not to be missed.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Bioshock Content

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26 Apr, 2009 Gore Verbinski's adaptation halted due to escalating budget.
Bioshock winners announced
15 Nov, 2008 Dystopia escaped!
14 Comments
5 years ago
Excellent game... if i have one complaint it's that its simply TOO long. I know that sounds odd, but I've invested a lot of time in this game and I'm only 3/4 through it. It kinda sucks cause things start to get old after awhile, and I'm one of those weirdos that just HAS to finish the game. Its a curse.
5 years ago
Too Long!?
Are you insane man?

I want to live in Rapture..
5 years ago
I use the term "bioshocking" to describe anything that is excessively slow. The environment just felt like you were constantly meant to be doing something, but you regularly were either doing nothing or playing Pipe Dream for the eleventy billionth time.
5 years ago
I loved Pipe Dream. Now that I've sufficiently sidled past the actual topic without discussing it I shall take my leave.
5 years ago
Sin Ogaris wrote
I loved Pipe Dream. .
me too, it was the only part of Bioshock I could play at a decent frame rate on my computer.
5 years ago
I was actually referencing the game Pipe Dream (which I assume is a part of Bioshock, but is a game in and of itself, a very old game at that), having not yet played Bioshock (yes, I am a freak), but thanks for playing anyway.
5 years ago
Why did the XBox version get a nine and the ps3 a 8.5 if they're basically identical and the ps3 has survivor mode?
5 years ago
quidybo wrote
Why did the XBox version get a nine and the ps3 a 8.5 if they're basically identical and the ps3 has survivor mode?
It's just a number bro relax. Different time periods as well. Games out when it was released on 360 compared to games out when it was released on PS3...higher quality now.
5 years ago
quidybo wrote
It's just a number bro relax. Different time periods as well. Games out when it was released on 360 compared to games out when it was released on PS3...higher quality now.
There just seems to be a general bias against ps3 games, I've played both gears of war 2 and resistance 2 and they're both great games, but gears is averaging 95 and resistance 88, Gears is not that much better than resistance if at all
5 years ago
Sin Ogaris wrote
I loved Pipe Dream.
So did I.

Then I played Bioshock.

I don't think I'll ever need to play Pipe Dream or one of it's clones again.
5 years ago
quidybo wrote
quidybo wrote
It's just a number bro relax. Different time periods as well. Games out when it was released on 360 compared to games out when it was released on PS3...higher quality now.
There just seems to be a general bias against ps3 games, I've played both gears of war 2 and resistance 2 and they're both great games, but gears is averaging 95 and resistance 88, Gears is not that much better than resistance if at all
Well there you go, you have just proven to yourself that the number slapped onto a review shouldn't affect how much YOU enjoy the game, so no need to worry about it icon_wink.gif
5 years ago
quidybo wrote
quidybo wrote
It's just a number bro relax. Different time periods as well. Games out when it was released on 360 compared to games out when it was released on PS3...higher quality now.
There just seems to be a general bias against ps3 games, I've played both gears of war 2 and resistance 2 and they're both great games, but gears is averaging 95 and resistance 88, Gears is not that much better than resistance if at all
Well for a start you appear to be bias as well. It depends on the reviewer and what the reviewer has played etc. Also, as mentioned, it depends on when it gets released. BioShock is a great game, but I bet if they reviewed it again on PC or 360 it would probably get a 8.5 or something. An extra mode isn't gonna make a game "better" then the game without it, just longer. Remember that there's more then one reviewer in the world, and if you like a game who cares what a reviewer thinks?

...Good review Jeremy
5 years ago
RXWAG wrote
Well there you go, you have just proven to yourself that the number slapped onto a review shouldn't affect how much YOU enjoy the game, so no need to worry about it
Fair point, I loved uncharted and that didn't get the best reviews and i've got littlebigplanet and I don't really like it, I find it really frustrating
5 years ago
I think it's odd how poor that first screen looks. I've seen it in motion and as an on-rails introduction to Rapture it's definitely sub-par. It detracts from the atmosphere with its shoddy textures almost enough to say it ought to have been omitted entirely if not vastly improved.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  17/10/2008 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $109.95 AU
Publisher:
  Take 2 Interactive
Genre:
  Survival/Horror
Year Made:
  2006
Players:
  1

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