Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Review No. 128 Bioshock Remastered Edition - PC (18+)

Strong Points:
Amazing, claustrophobic atmosphere
Great graphics
Superb world
Nice use of music
Great voice-acting
Lots of gameplay additions keep things fresh
Hacking is a fun mini-game
Researching is a nice addition...
Genuinely unsettling
Good pace
Interesting story
Grey morals
Vita-chambers make sure you can beat the game...
Twists and turns

Weak Points:
Some bugs
Some sections go on for a bit too long (if collecting everything)
You'll run out of Plasmid/tonic space quickly
Some ammo types are too rare, some too common
Can't aim Trap Bolt very easily
Ending throws as much as possible at you - can be overwhelming
The Remastered edition doesn't give much in the way of graphics customisability
...Although does become a bit of a chore
Big Daddy fights end up being a case of wearing them down
...Although can make the game a game of attrition

Some spoilers ahead:

In-depth Review:

Release Dates:
World Wide: September 16th, 2016

Controls: source:
Can be changed

WASD: move
Space: jump
Left Mouse Button: fire weapon/Plasmid
Right Mouse Button: toggle Plasmid/weapon mode
Middle Mouse Button: scroll weapons/Plasmid
Number Pad [1-8]: weapons
Function Keys [F1 - F6]: active Plasmid slots
M: map
C: crouch
Q: next ammo type
B: previous ammo type
E: use
F: First Aid
R: reload
V: hack
T: play *newest* unread log
H = hint screen
F8 = quick save
F9 = quick load
H = gatherer harvest
L = gatherer save
Z = aim
Ctrl = walk/run
Shift = weapon/Plasmid selection menu

Atmosphere is the name of the game here, and boy does Bioshock have that in spades. From the general claustrophobia which comes with having small tunnels underwater, to the little creaks and groans of the giant metallic structures and the whispers of conversation of the Splicers, the world feels alive and breathing. The opening sets the tone nicely, with you escaping a burning plane wreckage by entering a lighthouse with a banner hung up saying No God's or Kings, Only Men. That phrase encapsulates the game's themes very well, even if it's a slightly idealistic view.

Something else which brings you even more into the world are the logs scattered around all over the place, telling stories from the perspectives of Raptures numerous inhabitants from the symmetry obsessed (creepier than it sounds) Dr Steinman to Bill McDonagh, the general contractor to Ryan and probably the least unhinged of all the characters. These little tidbits of story and information bring you into the world, even more, making you understand and almost empathise with the choices which made Rapture fall. I'd recommend listening without subtitles for more immersion and rechecking in the radio logs if needed.

I was surprised with just how many weapons and Plasmids there were in the game and how all of them are usable and fun. The weapons range from a pistol to a chemical thrower and your good ol' wrench, all of which have three ammo changes, giving you a lot of variety when it comes to defeating Splicers. It's well-paced as well, with you unlocking weapons well into the late stages of the game. Something which did seem off though was the ammo drops, with certain ones being in excess and others being basically non-existent. Plasmids are fun to use and varied, with my favourites having to be Electro Bolt, Incinerate and Insect Swarm, but there are many, many more. And three separate tonics tracks to upgrade abilities from hacking to wrench power. And two upgrades for each weapon. Basically, a whole lot of options when the power of Adam is involved. Side note: the noise of the wrench being equipped is enough to make you shiver.

A hacking minigame where you have to match pipes and a research mini-game which involves taking photos of enemies running at you are just two of the things I didn't expect in this game. But they're actually pretty well made, and offer a nice change of pace to constantly jumping in fright. They do, however, start to become a bit repetitive and tiresome by the end but you'll have so many auto-hack tools by then and finished most of the research that it shouldn't matter too much. One note: remember to take photos of the turrets and cameras - they can be researched and make your life a whole lot easier.

Two parts of the game which have had mixed reception are the Little Sister choices and the Vita-Chambers. The latter (which can be turned off) is basically a checkpoint system and allows you to respawn after dying with a bit of health and Eve. The divisive part though is that the enemies don't replenish their health, meaning the game can become a war of attrition. Personally, I don't mind much, as it really helps with the harder difficulties, but I can see why some people don't like it. The Little Sisters and Big Daddy boss fights definitely benefit from the Vita-Chambers, turning them from being impossible to just a bit difficult. One thing which was odd, however, was the change from the Little Sisters turning from a source of horror to a welcome respite. It might have been the predictability of them being there but it definitely changed throughout the course of the game until I almost welcomed the battles.

The voice acting is some of the best you'll see in a game, and seeming as you don't really 'see' any of the characters, the game has to get the complex motives, morals and feelings of the characters across with just their voices. The voices are also all varied and different to each other, not just 'gruff male voice one', 'slow civilian 4' which is a welcome change.

The game references the entire game industry in a way by asking the question 'what will you do if a game or character asks you to?' The answer seems to be quite a lot. Writing wise this game is excellent, showing the deeply twisted motive of everyone, again adding to the reality of the absurd situation. It will make you laugh, cry, pity, despise and a whole host of other emotions via many different mediums like the aforementioned logs or even just some writing on a wall.

I've had nowhere near as bad an experience with bugs and crashes as some, probably because I started just after a patch came out. A couple of times the game has loaded up in windowed mode when it shouldn't and I have to reset, sometimes I might lurch forward (although that might just be me) but overall I've had nothing game-breaking. Just remember to save often to avoid any frustration.

Conclusion: a truly atmospheric and claustrophobic game, which manages to blend gameplay, story and world building into a great passage. Play this game if you enjoy shooters, games with a story or are interested at all in video game history, would you kindly?

Rating: 92%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

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