Bioshock 2 - First Reviews
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February 7th, 2010, 09:08
The best thing about Bioshock, in my opinion, was the premise and setting. The atmosphere is amazing.
The writing was pretentious and did nothing to form any adult conclusions. It's easy to ask interesting questions, but when you don't answer any of them - you don't do anything, really. Like, say, making a game based on the theme "do you believe in God?" - would make for a great beginning, but you have to do something interesting or new with it. If you don't - people might still think great things, but that the story itself did anything is like the Emperor's New Clothes. To me, it's easy to see why Levine didn't make it in Hollywood as a writer. He's got the ideas and he knows how to copy others (it felt like half the dialogue in Bioshock was from Miller's Crossing) and every single character was painfully one-sided - but he's yet to tell a complete and coherent tale with meat on it. Great for shooters, though - certainly more than most get.
Taking innocent little girls and making you feel guilty about harvesting them, is NOT profound. Anyone really needs to think about that in terms of reality? No. We're playing a game and harvesting is a strategic/roleplaying choice - but it does nothing to ask or answer any questions. In fact, I'd say the game was pathetically black and white for something supposed to deal with morals and grey areas. I mean, your entire moral "choice" consists of saving or harvesting innocent super-cute big-eyed little girls!!!??? Wow, let me think about what's right or wrong here…
That said, the story had nothing if not potential and up and until the "primary twist" - I was thoroughly engaged. It was truly a letdown to have it turn into what it did, and the less said about the end-sequence the better.
It was really novel to introduce the ideas of Rand - and it fit perfectly with the whole notion of a city under the sea made by the elite. But introducing gene-altering drugs to everyone would have crippled any closed society - so there's really nothing told by the destruction. But still, interesting questions that deserved much deeper exploration than the Hollywood twist and the ridiculous actions of certain characters. The way the protagonist was fit into the grand plan was exceedingly far-fetched and unbelievable to me. But whatever. In fact, I'd LOVE to hear what would have happened WITHOUT the drugs. I mean, everything that went wrong based on the tape-recordings seemed more or less unrelated to the drug itself.
The gameplay was run-of-the-mill shooting, and the upgrade mechanics were dumbed down from System Shock 2 to the point where you could upgrade everything, and effectively nullify the power of choice.
Possibly the worst sin is making the levels separate theme-parks with almost no sensation of cohesion. No backtracking and no idea of a seamless city ruined much of the game for me.
Oh, and don't get me started on Vita-chambers and bright golden arrows and highlights of quest objects - or the obscene fetch filler quests in a SHOOTER.
It's a hollow shade of its legacy - but I'll admit the setting and premise lingers for me still. When I first went into that tower in the water - I was literally awe struck with expectations. But I wasn't rewarded like I hoped - but it WAS a fun ride, if only they hadn't called it "shock" in any way. Much like I expected Mass Effect to be an evolution from KOTOR - I was expecting Bioshock to be an evolution from System Shock 2. I was warned in previews - but I guess I wasn't paying enough attention.
I see both games as significant steps down, but taking as isolated games they're both pretty damn good. I don't really blame them for going the money-route, but I'll do my best to remember the brilliance that came before.
Last edited by DArtagnan; February 7th, 2010 at