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Default Bioshock - Review @ GameBanshee

September 25th, 2007, 12:31
We've been avoiding Bioshock reviews for a while but this one at Gamebanshee was written by NMA's Brother None, so I thought it worth a mention. The score is 8.2/10 and here's a snip:
Then there’s the fact that this game is simply too easy. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a game being easy and BioShock does offer various difficulty options at the start of a new game. It’s just not enough. The problem with BioShock is that every level is absolutely strewn about with upgrades, medicinal, and ammo. Worse, the free-to-use Vita-Chambers mean that you’ll resurrect at no cost, so you can return time and again to any fight, often with the opponent’s hostility suddenly disappearing. This means that there’s actually no conceivable way to lose this game and, unlike System Shock, no point where you can make it too difficult for yourself to finish (short of not picking up any Adam or shooting all your EVE and ammo into a wall). If there’s any textbook definition of a game being too easy, BioShock is it.
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September 25th, 2007, 12:31
I'm sorry, I hate it when people say it was too easy. I finished it and thought it was fairly difficult on the normal difficulty setting. I was constantly running out of ammo, especially after taking out a big daddy. I don't know what this says about my shooter skills… most of the time I thought resurrecting in a vita chamber was a bad idea, because of the lost ammo.

In any case, sometimes I got frustrated with the game because of this, but not too much. Kids these days, all pro and stuff.
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September 25th, 2007, 13:21
I see it as the 'hardcore gap' … and even more serious problem than the CEO to worker pay gap!

Experienced gamers require more and more challenge, pushing genres towards more and more obscure places. New gamers have a difficult time navigating established genres, so developers try to come up with mechanisms to make it work for everyone … and seldom do the hardcore like it. They are, after all, the vocal and nearly impossible to satisfy segment of the population … especially PC gamers.

How many times have we heard "is it really worth the hassle of dealing with this crap for such a small market"?

— Mike
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September 25th, 2007, 13:29
I am not too far into the game yet, and I have a few niggels with it:

- as a shooter it is very hectic. Those splicers never stay still, add the blur and smoke, and freezing effects, and you get a gameplay that is a bit too frantic for my taste. Subjectively, combat in e.g. HL2 seemed much less frantic then here.

- I also miss the leaning around the corner of SS1 and 2. Why don't more shooters do that?

- In game logical consistency: Vita chambers, why do they only resurrect me? And while I love the narrative: why do people leave all these tape recordings with their innermost feelings lying around all over the place? And, as BN also noted: the hacking game.

- Graphics: After HL2, the (splicer) character models and wiggly ragdolls are actually a slight disappointment.

- And yes of course, playing it back to back with SS2, you miss the RPG elements. (Not all the backtracking, though!)

- I am surprised how few reviews have mentioned that this is really quite a hardcore horror game. Not something for the younger audience for sure, and nothing for my wife, either

However, it might be the best games I ever played regarding setting, art direction and voiceovers, and I certainly enjoy it.
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September 25th, 2007, 13:38
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
- I am surprised how few reviews have mentioned that this is really quite a hardcore horror game. Not something for the younger audience for sure, and nothing for my wife, either
That is my job at GamerDad … most gaming sites are heavily populated by 20-something single males for whom this is nothing shocking at all. Nor do any of them feel the angst of the save/harvest child part … to the point where some parents of young girls I know simply won't play the game.

— Mike
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September 25th, 2007, 14:19
Perhaps the reviewer should have played on hard difficulty…? This is not to say that it absolutely makes you sweat, but there are some tough fights indeed and you definitely can't call it an 'easy' game. As for Vita-Chambers, I never used any of them as I found it disillusioning to be resurrected. Instead, I loaded a save game (which was usually the autosave at the start of each level as more often than not I forgot to save my game) whenever I got killed.

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September 25th, 2007, 14:27
Anyone claiming this game is challenging simply hasn't thought it through.

1. You can' t die.

2. When you step out from the Vita chamber, enemies retain their damage but not their hostility - including bosses.

3. Resources are EXTREMELY abundant.

4. There is a hint system if you ever get stuck on those extremely hard puzzles, like melting ice with fire.

5. There is a complete map at all times without having to explore anything, which includes secret rooms and the like.

6. There is a Quest arrow pointing you in the right direction at all times.

7. Everything you can pick up gets highlighted so you can't miss it.

8. All plot related interactive stuff has an unmissable bright golden light.

9. No matter what "moral" choice (what a joke) you make, you end up with effectively identical amounts of Adam.

10. Vita chambers are not optional. You can meta-game around them by quick-loading, but you can't avoid them otherwise. There is a difference between the difficulty of the game and the difficulty resulting from restrictions you impose upon youself.

11. Hard difficulty level is functionally identical except for the amount of health enemies have. Effectively resulting in the exact same problem with no challenge, except for a bit more time needed.
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September 25th, 2007, 14:49
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Anyone claiming this game is challenging simply hasn't thought it through.

1. You can' t die.
So?

Are you claiming that makes it 'not good' or 'not fun'? It isn't all about getting fragged, you know.

And claiming anything about a '7 year old' when it comes to this game is absolutely clueless as it is a mature game not intended for kids … and the fact is that many of those 7 year olds would smoke an adult at games …

— Mike
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September 25th, 2007, 15:00
Are you claiming that makes it 'not good' or 'not fun'? It isn't all about getting fragged, you know.
I was claiming specifically that it's not challenging. Whether that's fun or good is up to the individual. I personally prefer challenge, but it's not everything.

And claiming anything about a '7 year old' when it comes to this game is absolutely clueless as it is a mature game not intended for kids … and the fact is that many of those 7 year olds would smoke an adult at games …
If you actually read what I said about a 7-year old, which you obviously didn't, you'd find that I was talking about game balance specifically, and nothing else. I even mentioned it would have to have a different setting if a 7-year old should play it.
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September 25th, 2007, 15:35
I feel that, except for bragging rights, choosing a difficulty level at the start of your game is practically the same as "imposing restrictions upon yourself." Most of the time, I too simply reloaded a saved game rather than go through that vita chamber… because I preferred it, really. It didn't bother me to play that way. At least the option was there just like the option to play the game on easy mode.

The highlighting and directional help was good to have as well. I don't find getting lost or being unable to find that quest item difficult, but rather frustrating. I see where you are coming from, though, but it really doesn't matter to me. Maybe they should've made the hard setting more difficult, I don't know not having tried it yet

In the end, I thought that the game wasn't overly easy, but at the same time not too challenging. Challenging, for me, often quickly translates to frustrating, though, as I keep banging my head on the same wall.

I actually like having a hint system in a game. Loved it in the Tex Murphy games. I don't see anything wrong with "anybody can complete this game." Is there some way you should feel good about yourself when you finish a game? Liek zomg, I'm so leet? I don't know, I mostly enjoy completing the storylines in a game.
Last edited by Thaurin; September 25th, 2007 at 15:42.
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September 25th, 2007, 16:49
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
- I also miss the leaning around the corner of SS1 and 2. Why don't more shooters do that?
Umm, you can lean around corners.

- In game logical consistency: Vita chambers, why do they only resurrect me?
There is an in-game reason for this that you discover later.

And while I love the narrative: why do people leave all these tape recordings with their innermost feelings lying around all over the place?
"High tech" (for the setting) diaries?

And, as BN also noted: the hacking game.
I didn't think that it was great but not bad either. Everyone else though seems to love it or hate it.
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September 25th, 2007, 16:51
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Anyone claiming this game is challenging simply hasn't thought it through.

1. You can' t die.
How is resurrecting in a vita-chamber different from reloading from a quicksave?

2. When you step out from the Vita chamber, enemies retain their damage but not their hostility - including bosses.
And you lose all the resources you've expended fighting them.

3. Resources are EXTREMELY abundant.
No more abundant than most other shooters. I never ran out of ammo in Half-Life 2 either, even when playing at "Hard."

4. There is a hint system if you ever get stuck on those extremely hard puzzles, like melting ice with fire.
Which you can switch off.

5. There is a complete map at all times without having to explore anything, which includes secret rooms and the like.
True.

6. There is a Quest arrow pointing you in the right direction at all times.
Which you can switch off.

7. Everything you can pick up gets highlighted so you can't miss it.
Which you can switch off.

8. All plot related interactive stuff has an unmissable bright golden light.
Which you can switch off.

[QUOTE]9. No matter what "moral" choice (what a joke) you make, you end up with effectively identical amounts of Adam.[QUOTE]

Check.

10. Vita chambers are not optional. You can meta-game around them by quick-loading, but you can't avoid them otherwise. There is a difference between the difficulty of the game and the difficulty resulting from restrictions you impose upon youself.
Which is bad, because…?

11. Hard difficulty level is functionally identical except for the amount of health enemies have. Effectively resulting in the exact same problem with no challenge, except for a bit more time needed.
Haven't tried it, so I'll take your word for it.

Seriously, though — just after finishing Bioshock for the second time, I gave Half-Life 2 a whirl. It felt just about equally difficult (or easy).

So no, I don't get the "Bioshock is too easy" critique.
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September 25th, 2007, 17:18
That's GameBanshee's Brother None, Dhruin

I work for them now.

Well, *and* for NMA (and Drakensang).

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
So no, I don't get the "Bioshock is too easy" critique.
Since easy is partially just objective experience, I think debating it is a bit silly, but I feel it's too easy by its own definition.

I find the remarks above of pro vs noob fairly odd, because I'm not a shooter pro. I'm a total shooter noob, I've played the original Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, Max Payne and one or two other shooters from start to finish. I wasn't able to finish Return to Castle Wolfenstein even with a lot of effort.

That means that according to BioShock's own difficulty definition, I should've set it to "easy". Tried that but soon had to restart because easy is like playing in Godmode. So I tried normal, which to be fair described me fairly well too. It was still a walk in the park. I don't even want to know how experienced FPS players go through this game, it must be one big laugh for 'em.

And that, in a nutshell, would be my problem. Besides, you can't lose. You can easily finish the game without saving from back to front without ever worrying of getting yourself into a situation where you made the game impossible to finish. Textbook example of "too easy".

I don't even need to save, it's pointless.

Nor do any of them feel the angst of the save/harvest child part
I do discuss that, but it's simply not interesting. If I want to be viscerally shocked, I'll just watch the Faces of Death tapes. I don't need video games to try to viscerally shock me just so they can fool me into thinking that the choice I'm making has an actual consequence when it doesn't.

The save/harvest thing is pointless, and the fact that it has no actual consequences makes it appeal to emotion superficial at best.
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September 25th, 2007, 17:31
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
I don't even want to know how experienced FPS players go through this game, it must be one big laugh for 'em.
As one of those, I think it was a fantastic game - it was a shooter, but it was so much more.

I guess I just don't get all of this focus on the difficulty … did I ever use a Vita chamber? Not that I can recall. Do I care? No. Do I think it was an excellent game? Yes.

— Mike
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September 25th, 2007, 17:35
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
As one of those, I think it was a fantastic game - it was a shooter, but it was so much more.

I guess I just don't get all of this focus on the difficulty … did I ever use a Vita chamber? Not that I can recall. Do I care? No. Do I think it was an excellent game? Yes.
I still enjoyed it, but I think it's little more than an average-to-good shooter (7.5 shooter, in fact, so not good, but above average). There's lots of things that hurt its shooter gameplay, and the difficulty is just one of 'em.

It's not like the difficulty criterium determined my entire score, it just hurt its gameplay score. Nothing to get overly focused on for me or anyone.

PS: huh, didn't even see that. "If there’s any textbook definition of a game being too easy, BioShock is it." is Buck of Gamebanshee's editorial work, not my writing. I said "If there’s any textbook definition of a game being too easy, this [as in the fact that you can't lose the game] is it." And I think that's fair, if there's one clear way to define "too easy" it's "you can't lose".
PPS: though that obviously wouldn't go for every game, like some puzzle games, but can't lose + will automatically reach ending in linear storyline = too easy
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September 25th, 2007, 17:41
I found the game very challenging at first, since I hadn't spent much time on an FPS since Quake I. But the staggering amount of resources does make it less challenging than it could be. It's more of a guided stroll through some very attractive wreckage. Although the tactical element leaves everything to be desired, I like fighting screaming (and sometimes burning) crazy people in cramped rooms at the bottom of the sea. It sure ain't anything like an RPG though.

How do you lean around corners? I didn't see that in the manual.
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September 25th, 2007, 18:00
You can't lean around corners.
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September 25th, 2007, 18:12
I feel that, except for bragging rights, choosing a difficulty level at the start of your game is practically the same as "imposing restrictions upon yourself."
I generally agree with that, but it is presented to you by the developers, and as such is not what I would consider meta-gaming. But indeed, my ideal game has only one difficulty setting which is the one it's supposed to have.

How is resurrecting in a vita-chamber different from reloading from a quicksave?
I thought that was fairly obvious, but let me spell it out then:

You can't die, and when the vita process is done, you get to fight the same enemies with the amount of health they have left. So no matter what you do, you can't possibly face an enemy you can't defeat, unless you can't damage them EVER.

Quickloading works differently, in that the enemies have the same health as when you saved. So, when you die in a fight, and you quick load, they have full health all over again.

Furthermore, most people don't quicksave constantly to avoid a challenge, and it's meant to be a matter of personal choice. Vita "chambing" is NOT a personal choice because it's forced upon you by the developers. But, as I said, some people don't mind quickloading to avoid it - and I never personally used a single Vita chamber apart from 1 (to get the stupid message to disappear). But it bothered me that I had to do that to avoid a silly design decision.

2. When you step out from the Vita chamber, enemies retain their damage but not their hostility - including bosses.
And you lose all the resources you've expended fighting them.
Thank god for that. If they actually gave me back my resources, I think it would have set a new standard for baby sitting.

No more abundant than most other shooters. I never ran out of ammo in Half-Life 2 either, even when playing at "Hard."
You say that as if it's a good thing. Did I claim Half-Life 2 was challenging? No, so it's completely irrelevant to my point.

Which you can switch off.
If you switched that off, and then stated that this particular aspect was challenging, you'd have to be a moron.

There is a Quest arrow pointing you in the right direction at all times.
Which you can switch off.
If you switched that off, and then stated that this particular aspect was challenging, you'd have to be a moron.

Which you can switch off.
If you switched that off, and then stated that this particular aspect was challenging, you'd have to be a moron.

Which you can switch off.
If you switched that off, and then stated that this particular aspect was challenging, you'd have to be a moron.

Which is bad, because…?
Did I say bad? I'm talking about the challenge the game represents.

Seriously, though — just after finishing Bioshock for the second time, I gave Half-Life 2 a whirl. It felt just about equally difficult (or easy).
To be honest, I don't remember too much from Half-Life 2, other than it wasn't my cup of tea. But you keep bringing it up as if it was a challenging game, which I've never said. It could be exactly as easy as Bioshock for all I know, but I didn't register it since I was uninterested in the game as a whole.

For the record, I played Bioshock on medium (tried hard second time, but got bored with the game as it has next to no replay value), and I switched off everything and yet I found it way too easy.
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September 25th, 2007, 18:24
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
You can't lean around corners.
This is true you cannot, I remember one of the devs saying they left it out for a reason. The game does fall short of the hype I'll agree with that - its still pretty decent though. It really doesn't deliver on the "living world" promise, as well as the story scripts resetting explored areas if you do them before the game wants you to. The level of detail in the graphics is pretty impressive and the way the plasmids work is really nice. If you compare it to say M&M DM the combat has a much nicer feel because of its immediateness.

Anyway, home time gotta shoot…
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September 25th, 2007, 18:27
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
my ideal game has only one difficulty setting which is the one it's supposed to have.
And that would be …
- The difficulty level forfolks like you that leaves 90% of gamers unable to get very far at all?
- The difficulty level for average gamers that has 25% of gamers still over-matched and 25% of people like you calling it wimpy?
- The difficulty level that will allow 90% of gamers to complete it and has people like you calling it 'made for babies'?

Of course, adaptive difficulty would be the best, but attempts at that haven't gone very well (see SiN Episodes)

— Mike
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