Sunday, 26 May 2013

Game Review #1 - Bioshock

Hello ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to my first ever post of this spanking new awesome blog! The name's Salmon, I will be the guy who does game and movie reviews here, and I will also occasionally help my fellow authors on their respective posts. Well, what are we waiting for?

As this will be my first post of the game review section, let me briefly introduce this particular section on what the readers would be expecting. Game review is a section where me and my fellow authors review games on various gaming platforms that I think are worth making a review on. For my first game review, I have chosen Bioshock 1 to be in the spot-light here. With that out of the way, lets get down to business. There are five basis which I deem important that a game must master in order to be a successful game; Plot, Gameplay, Graphic, Tone, and Replay Value. The final verdict will be based on these five basis, and of course, my mood as well. A friendly reminder that there will be spoilers everywhere in this review, but I try not to spoil anything big or game-changing.

( 10/10 )
Before I get into the plot itself, I would like to remind you guys that this game is marketed as a horror/action game, so what the game needs to do is to balance the horror aspect and the action aspect with a good plot. Not an easy thing to do at all, considering many games have tried to do that and failed to do so successfully. *cough* Resident Evil 6 *cough*. 

In the beginning, it's simple enough, right until you go down on a bathysphere, down to Rapture. That's when everything went to shit, real fast. I won't say too much about the actual plot itself, but what I will say is the chapters of this game are divided to different sections of the city you travel as the game progresses. These sections are associated with a certain individual or NPC, and you have to help them in order to proceed. How do you help them, you say? In most cases, you kill them, because they are all mentally ill and insane. However, all of them does not only provide memorable, important and relevant keypoints in the game, they also contribute to the overall main plot in the game. Not one part of the game did I feel like they are just fillers and they are there just to prolong the game.

I must say that this is one of the games that has shocked me with the kind of plot they have invested in, partly because I had low expectations for the game. The part where I meet Andrew Ryan at his office left me so shocked and speechless that I was thinking what the hell actually just happened. I genuinely thought the game was gonna end right there and then, but it was clearly not the case. Definitely a top tier twist plot that I would have never seen it coming. Hell, I still remembered it as clear as day.

( 8/10 )
As most of the time you are supposed to blow splicers up in the game, it is important to have a strong mechanics in the gamplay section, and Bioshock 1 delivers. Players have two bars they need to take care of, a health bar which shows you your hit points, and an Adam bar, which is basically shows you your mana. In the combat department, players have a physical weapon on one hand, examples would be wrench, machine gun, shotgun, grenade launcher and crossbow. The weapons stay with you as you go along, but you can only use one at a time. On the other hand (pun of the day), you are able to use plasmids, basically spells. You can equip a limited amount of plasmids you can carry, and you can only use one at a time.

For me personally, I have a bit of an issue with the way you can keep all the weapons. I believe the player's reflex timing should be tested as this is one of the features that make action games so exciting, and rewarding too. I think a better alternative is to let players keep only four weapons, and let their preference, experience and intellect to figure out which ones to keep and swap for the appropriate situation. In this case, its like Oh I see a group of splicers charging at me? No problem guys. Instead of letting my reflex come in and instantly select the weapon I wanted, let me just open up my weapon radial, which pauses the game conveniently for you, then slowly decide which weapon best suits my need, selects it which unpauses back the game, and blow them away.

There is currency in this game, and it is used to buy almost anything you would need, from health and mana items, ammunition, upgrade/purchase plasmids or upgrade/purchase tonics . Currency is obtained mostly from dead splicers and hacked safes. It's a straight-forward way of utilizing the currency, and as I progress through the games, I could get money quite easily. When I am rich, I could buy whatever I wanted, and this will relieve a big chunk of the pressure and tension from the gamplay as I don't have to worry about running out of supplies or dying, something you don't want to do in an action horror game, although indirectly so. But it's not that big of a deal, just put extreme difficulty if you feel the game gets too easy, and you should have a hell of a time.

Another thing worth talking about is the interaction of Big Daddy - Little Sister. The game encourages you to defeat the mighty Big Daddies wandering around the area, rewarding you with huge sums of money, rare ammunition and occasionally new plasmids. Additionally, you get to either free the little sister, or harvest her after you defeat her guardian. However, fighting with Big Daddies are optional with a few exceptions, being when the activity is tied directly to the main plot. You might ask, why is it optional, and why wouldn't I want to kill them if I get rewarded for killing them? Because they are f**king difficult to kill with a ridiculously long health bar. And they deal massive amounts of PAIN. You actually need a good plan to take down just one of these f**kers. Sure, you have grenade and rocket launchers to blast them at the later stages of the game, but god damn, you WILL die a lot before you reach that stage.

Little sister,

( 9/10 )
The design of the whole game was fantastic. You could see that they focus a lot of their time and energy in trying to make a fitting environment for the game, and they succeeded. They managed to blend a 20th-century style environment with an underwater city theme, added with a creepy aspect to it. I call that ingenious.  Every part of the chapters have a totally unique environment with the same amount of high quality details added into them.

The designs of the splicers were great. Their horribly disfigured face, pale skin, thin limbs. If you just listen to them talking for a minute before blowing them to pieces, you could actually feel the sadness from their voice. In the end, they are just humans, humans that had a mental disorder that could not be cured, humans who had lost all purpose of life, just waiting for someone to end their miserable life. The Big Daddies were great too. The  metal suits are fitting, so does the whale-like sound they make. It was weird at first, but it does give the impression that the thing inside the suit isn't human anymore. The Little Sisters were creepy, with their pink dresses, their bright eyes, their unnaturally pale skin, and the giant syringe they always carry around. They also sound oblivious to the fact that the world they live in has turn to shit, and that they are stealing adam from dead corpses. The physical appearances of the NPCs in the game aren't particularly impressive, but the sound acting makes up for it. Convincing enough to make the characters stick out and create a sense of importance around them.

Big Daddy defending little sister,

( 7/10 )
Bioshock was able to set a tone where you can feel both the tension and creepiness as you go around Rapture. They also managed to pitch in some oldies and jazz when you walk past a PA system or a radio. It doesn't seem much, but the songs do somewhat give a creepiness factor to it too. Another thing to add is sometimes you could hear violins playing a melodic tune, and you just feel sad for Rapture. Not angry at what they did to the orphan girls, not scared at the splicers trying to kill you, just sad, at Rapture itself. The feels, man. Other than that, not too much to say here, except they did a good job on hyping up the tension and tone of the game, although I do hope that they had more variety of tunes to further impact the game more. I'm confident enough to say you won't be buying a Bioshock OST album anytime soon, but the theme song is still very memorable.

Replay Value
( 7/10 )
You can say there's a touch of RPG elements to the game, so it will naturally boost up the replay value. The various plasmids that you can purchase or upgrade makes every fight different. Same can be said for the tonics. Bored with your shotgun and grenade launcher combo? Upgrade your machine gun and crossbow next game! Another point of replay value is the choice of harvesting or curing the little sisters. That choice will directly determine the ending of the game, so choose wisely.

With that being said about the game having RPG elements, it's still a scripted game at the core. Once you have completed the game, the suspense won't be as much anymore, because you roughly know what's going to happen. The area you roam around is also limited since you need to complete that chapter in order to proceed to a new area.

Big Daddy helping little sister,

( 8/10 )
If you're looking for a game that is original, has a mindf**k plot, exciting combat, beautiful and at the same time creepy environment, lots of choices for weapons and plasmids, and has different endings? This game is for you then. I strongly do not recommend this for people with symptoms of heart attack or is claustrophobic, you will mostly likely die before finishing the game. I also do not recommend this for people who tends to rush games, the beauty of Bioshock is not on the action of the game, but rather on the intricate details itself. No one expected this game to be good, much less a contender for game of the year. Definitely one of the best games I have ever played. So that's it for my game review for the first installment of Bioshock. Please give some feedback and also share this out to your friends, would you kindly.

Some awesome Bioshock fan arts for you guys to see, go support the artists by visiting their gallery at the link below the pictures :

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