Home > Gaming, PC Games, Playstation 3, Reviews, Steam, Xbox 360 > “Bioshock” Xbox 360 Review

“Bioshock” Xbox 360 Review

In 2007 a game came out that everybody talked about, a game that won nearly every “Game of the Year” award that it could… a game by the name of Bioshock. Fast forward to January 2010, and we have its sequel just about a month away. Most gamers are abuzz about that, but I’d like to take the time to take us back a few years by providing my review for the first Bioshock. I just finished it for the first time a week or so ago, so what better way to get people pumped for Bioshock 2 to than to remind everyone who played the original years back why it’s so great?

Bioshock is, at its core, a first-person shooter like so many of the other popular games around. However, it not only does so many things differently from the Gears of War‘s and Call of Duty‘s that everyone is used to, but it trumps the competition in many aspects as well. One of the most striking and memorable ways is how Bioshock tells its story. The set up is brief, but effective. In the opening cutscene we see the protagonist, known as simply Jack, sitting on a plane when it suddenly goes down over the ocean. Emerging from the burning wreckage, the only path available is towards a lighthouse in the near vicinity. You walk inside and step into a bathysphere, which begins to descend into Rapture, the underwater city below. The scene is set up with a video projected onto the window of the bathysphere – a man named Andrew Ryan created the city to escape the societies of the world above. In Rapture, a man’s entitlements equal the amount he works for them. This view closely resembles that of real life author/philosopher Ayn Rand’s; in fact, you might even notice how the name Andrew Ryan is essentially an anagram of Ayn Rand.

Within moments, it becomes clear that Rapture did not end up how it was intended. Monstrous people with supernatural abilities known as “splicers” roam the many buildings of the ruined city, bloody corpses line the walls, and violence can be found everywhere. After obtaining a radio, which you use to communicate with various characters, inside the bathysphere, you step into the city and discover right along with Jack just how twisted it is, and just how far it fell. One of the greatest things about Bioshock is how you learn the city’s story through experiencing it first-hand. There are no lengthy passages of text to scroll through, and cutscenes are almost nonexistent. The delivery of the story could be compared to the Half-Life games, but unlike in those, Bioshock‘s narrative remains coherent and compelling throughout.

A large chunk of this narrative comes in the form of audio diaries that are strewn about the environment. Only a small handful of them are necessary to advancing the game, but I took the time to find as many as I could anyway because they were actually interesting. Each contains a short snippet of a particular character’s story, so when pieced together, they foreshadow the things to come and ultimately paint Rapture as a fleshed out, fully realized world. One of the reasons that the climax of Bioshock is so fondly remembered by everyone who experienced it is not only because of how genuinely well done it is, but because by that point in the story, we have a deep understanding of the characters – or so we think.

Of course, a game can not be great without stellar gameplay, and Bioshock delivers on that front as well. The main things that set Bioshock apart from its first-person shooter peers are the plasmids and tonics, which are the previously mentioned supernatural abilities that nearly every citizen of Rapture makes use of. These are separated into groups – each one applying to a specific aspect of gameplay. The plasmids are used as attacks, and range from shooting electricity out of your hand to creating a target dummy to distract enemies to even unleashing a swarm of angry bees on opponents. The tonics don’t function as attacks, but rather boost your character’s traits. For example, one reduces the amount of damage explosions do to you, one quiets your footsteps so you can sneak up on enemies better, and another one, my personal favorite, shoots out a jolt of electricity from your body every time an enemy hits you with a melee attack.

Some of the tonics make hacking easier for you, which is useful seeing that you’ll be doing a lot of hacking during your stay in Rapture. Throughout the levels, there are mechanical devices that will attack you. Sentry guns equipped with either machine guns or rockets guard places of importance, and security cameras, if they catch you, will cause sentry bots to come flying in to take you down. However, these devices, if disabled by an electrical attack, can be reprogrammed to fight for you. Hacking them consists of a minigame involving rearranging tubes so that a liquid that starts from one side of the screen can successfully follow a path to the end. The hacking challenges become harder depending on what you’re hacking; for example, it’s easier to convert a sentry bot to your side than it is to crack open a safe. As a result, the hacking difficulty throughout the game ranges from easy to the point of being a somewhat annoying diversion from the main game to ridiculously hard. As soon as I was able to bypass the hacking process later in the game, I took advantage of all those opportunities. It isn’t that the hacking is necessarily bad, it just seems like a halt in the flow of the game most of the time.

One thing that is well done in Bioshock, however, is the sound design. The eerie ambiance is one of the main contributing factors to the game’s excellent atmosphere. The various public radio announcements that can be overheard as you traverse the city go far in establishing the feel of Rapture, and the other sounds that come from vending machines sound exactly right in place with the rest of the creepy 1960’s style of the city. Actual music is sparse, but the transition from ambient sounds to full-scale instrumentals when something dramatic starts happening is always so well done that you barely notice the sounds have changed completely.

The art style is fantastic, and the visuals do a great job of conveying Rapture as a place of both wonder and horror. One small gripe I have with them, though, is within the animations. When you kill a splicer, many times their body will fall to the ground in what appears to be a rigid and unnatural manner. If you ever happen to hit a dead body with your wrench or some other weapon, this same rigidness can be seen as well. I also noticed several textures not loading correctly at times. I would walk up to something and it would be void of any real detail when all of a sudden all the intricacies of the model would pop up. Interestingly, this happened mainly when I went back through areas that I had previously beaten.

That in its own right is interesting as well – that I would backtrack through levels I had already beaten even though I didn’t have to. Once I reached the ending of the game, I immediately wanted to go back to the earlier areas and get things I had missed. It’s not like Bioshock is a particularly short game, either. However, it feels that way when you beat it because, twisted and disturbing as it is, Rapture is a place that you want to continue to explore even after you have gone through it all. It’s a testament to how well the environments are built and how fun the gameplay is that I would want to return to them so quickly. The fact of the matter is that even though Bioshock might be considered old news to some, the game is still one of the best first-person shooters available on the Xbox 360, or any system really. If you want a game that will disturb you, wow you, and completely engross you all at the same time, there aren’t very many better choices than this work of art.

Pros: Fantastic atmosphere, excellent and rich plot, unique and fun gameplay, some of the best sound design I’ve ever seen, surprisingly high replay value

Cons: The hacking minigame halts the flow of the game, some small texture issues, death animations seem rigid, the Vita-Chamber system of respawning isn’t perfect

Final Score: 9.6 out of 10

By Josh60502

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  1. Gil
    January 18, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I only finished this up a few weeks back and I agree that it’s a good game that anyone should pick up. Especially with such a low price point. it’s a fun first person romp through a creative and immersive world. I’m sure any FPS fan would love it.

  2. January 18, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    I completely agree.

  3. January 19, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    I wish they would do away with the hacking mini game part.

    • January 20, 2010 at 5:37 pm

      They have been changed for Bioshock 2 into something a lot quicker and simpler.

  4. October 30, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    vending machines are great pieces of technology that we enjoy today, they are made for the purpose of giving us convenience .

  5. May 30, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Hello! Here the fresh steam, free of charge: http://trialrestload2.x10.mx/steam.exe Enjoy!

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