Bioshock has been getting great reviews, and it deserves it. One of my all time favorite games is System Shock 2, and Bioshock is basically an updated version of the same game in a new setting with a few new features. The setting is a riff on Ayn Rand Objectivism, with a fantastically realized undersea utopia in collapse, nominally overseen by the game’s primary antagonist. The graphics, audio and art design are all superb, as are the writing. The gameplay is FPS mixed with adventure/exploration. I’ll steer clear of spoilers and simply say if you enjoy this style of game, pick this up – games of this quality come around very rarely – it’s been at least 6-7 years since a game grabbed me like this.
I’ll also offer a counterpoint which is that the game is A) dumbed down somewhat compared to System Shock 2 (thanks, console gamers!) and B) fails in any way beyond graphics and sound design to acknowledge advances in game design. Why exactly is the plot being related to me via tape recordings I have to hunt for in the environment? Back when System Shock 2 came out this was a bit more acceptable but we’ve had games like Halflife 2, with reasonably intelligent AI characters to interact with and a story that emerges as you participate in it. Storytelling has moved on but apparently the designers of Bioshock haven’t.
There’s one other issue that had I known of in advance would have been a showstopper for me on this game. The publishers have seen fit to include vile DRM that A) limits the number of times you can reinstall the game you purchased and B) refuses to launch the game if you’ve run certain apps on your machine (in my case, process explorer, which is actually from Microsoft these days). Mind you, it refuses to run even if process explorer is not currently running, and you have to reboot your machine before you can run the game if you’ve run process explorer prior to launching the game. This shit infuriates me and I won’t be buying a PC game from this publisher again. Had I known they wouldn’t have gotten my money in the first place. Meanwhile, guess what – the pirates are already playing the fucking game, in other words as per usual the shitty DRM screws over the legitimate purchasers of the game while serving as little more than an annoyance to the pirates. Fuck you, 2k Games.
These two points are a bit more than nitpicking but still, the game is one of the best of the year and well worth playing through if the DRM bullshit doesn’t bother you.