VOGONS BioShock Review

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VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby DosFreak » 2007-8-26 @ 18:56

Well, it's been a long time since I played Thief1/Thief2/SS1/Deus Ex.

I replayed SS2 last year and I finally got around to finishing Deus Ex:IW (shudder).

I mention the above because it's going to be hard to compare since I didn't live and breath the previous games like the people at TTLG. I have too many games to play without devoting all of my gaming time to those games. :)

So what did I think of BioShock?

The Pickup

Dropped by Best Buy when it came out on a lunch break. Was currently making up some drill days for the Guard so picking up the game was the best part of the day. Picked it up for $49.99 and there was no line at Best Buy! Also picked up South Park Season 10.

The Box

Game comes in a small cardbox box (like they do with most games nowadays) with the front being a foldout that has a picture of a Big Daddy.

The box also has the "Games for Windows" logo emblazoned across the front. Whatever...I didn't even look at the box until about 3 days later when I got around to throwing it away.

Installation

Game comes on 1 DVD. Whoah! So far that's the best thing yet.

I'm running 2003 Server on my computer (Vista is too annoying and sluggish for gaming for me). I insert the DVD into the drive and start the installation.

Installation takes....well I didn't pay attention but let's just say 15 minutes until it gets to the "Autopatcher". So I of course cancel it because the last thing I need is having to contact some server on the game release day and having to sit there for hours on end. So I cancel it.....and the installer undoes the install and quits. Awesome.

I start the installation process again and when I get to the "Autopatcher", I make a backup copy of the BioShock directory.

I then connect my work Verizon USB720 modem to my home computer (I don't have internet at home), connect to the net and let the "Autopatcher" connect.

It seems to take awhile and IIRC it tries to connect to different sites but eventually it gets finished doing whatever it's doing and the install is done!.

During the Install I was monitoring my TEMP directory and the autopatcher did place the "patch" there. The file was "BioShock_patch.gz), unforuntately when the "Autopatcher" finished it moved the file out of TEMP before it could be copied and then unpacked it into the game directory.

I wanted to make a backup copy of it incase the installer couldn't contact the server in the future so I went to my "Temporary Internet Files", made a backup of this directory and then searched it for the bioshock_patch.gz file and copied it to a safe location.


THE GAME

I eject the game DVD, crossed my fingers and execute the game. A big honking SECUROM window comes up complaining that it couldn't find the Bioshock DVD. (WTF did I activate for again? I have to have my DVD in the drive as well? Assholes). I stick the DVD in the drive and hit retry and the game loads.

A very small "Bioshock" logo pops up. I guess it's like all the other splash screens you get with shitty copy protection. What exactly is the purpose of putting the games logo on a copy protection program? I remember the default back in the day that SecuROM/SafeDisc would actually show their splash screens but I guess it was decided that using the game logo as better off. It looks tacky to me.

The game loads up after showing the lame spinning CD that let's you know the copy protection is currently in the process of FUBARing your CD drive (your OS was already FUBAR on installation of the game) and now you have to go through several advertisements that are not skippable. EVER. There may be a way to remove this from the game's .ini files like other UNREAL engine games. There better be. What was the name of this game company again? Irrational?

Hmmm, doesn't appear to be any intro movie. Game just goes to the main menu screen. Okkkay...

I look around in here making sure to turn on the subtitles. (I like subtitles usually because alot of dialogue gets drowned out in the mayhem...or mabye because I going deaf....probably both).

Also turn on EAX, made sure all of the graphics were set to the highest and switch the game resolution from 1024x768 to 1600x1200. (I'm using 2407FPW monitor w/ native res of 1920x1200 but I "only" have a Geforce 8800GTS so I wasn't sure if the game would run well).

Now I begin the game....

PLAYING THE GAME

I'm trying to remember all the way back to Tuesday of last week but it's a struggle...I'll do my best.

IIRC, there was a movie that showed your character in the passenger section of an airplane. The airplane crashes into the ocean without explanation as to why (explained later in the game), and then the movie shows you underwater swimming to the surface. It is then that you take control of your character.

So I'm swimming in the ocean with debris from the airplane surrounding me and pretty much only one way ago. The crashed airplane is currently sinking into the ocean towards the NorthWest. There is flaming debri to my West, East, and South. The only way to go is North towards a big lighthouse in the middle of the ocean.

The fire and water graphics are very good. Plenty of reflections and ripples. There is a gripe though. Like alot of newer games today the graphics are "shiny". When you get towards the lighthouse and look at the steps they look shiny...too shiny, IMO.


MY THOUGHTS


HACKING

Much like SS2 whenever you run across an electronic device such as a door lock or vending machine then you can "hack it". Hacking in the context of this game means that when you come up to one of these devices you will get a prompt to press the "V" key to "hack" the machine. Pressing the "V" key will reveal a screen that is full of tiles. Clicking on these tiles will reveal tubes (You know what the internets is made up of!), you must connect these tubes to the destination but you must hurry! Water (I think) travels along these tubes and if you do not finish the circuit then you will get bumped out and it will effect your health.

If you do not hack the machines then you will have to pay the full price or you will not gain access. If you do hack the machines then you will not have to pay full price. My biggest question while "hacking" was if I'm "hacking" then why the hell do I still have to pay? The only answer I could come up with is that the game designers didn't want you to be able to get alot of stuff. My answer would have been to just analyze the # of items left in the level compared to what you have on you at the time and them limit the # of items in the machine but what do I know.....

You do not have to hack the vending machines manually all the time. If you wish you can get "AutoHack" tools that will....automatically hack it, or you can pay off the machine to hack it, or you could just buy the good without hacking the machine.

I personally hacked every single machine in the game and yes it did become repetitive....very. It was still kind of fun though.


FIGHTING

First and foremost. This is an FPS. Say it with me. F-P-S. That's First Person Shooter. It was designed from the concept stage to be an FPS. Anything else added to the game is just icing on the cake. If you don't like FPS games then most likely won't like this one. (Although I do recommend at least trying it just to make sure that you REALLY do not like FPS's).

This game is primarily about Shooting Things. Yep, that's it. You can shoot things with weapons and you can shoot things with "magic" aka plasmisds.

Some of the weapons are a wrench, pistol, shotgun, machine gun, chemical thrower, and a grenade launcher.

There are also alot of Plasmids. "Ice", "Fire", "Electrical", "Insects", etc.
The Ice one freezes your opponent. Fire burns them, Electrical stuns them, the Insects one annoys them with a swarm of bees.

When you get into a fight it's best to use your Plasmids in conjunction with your weapons.

So if you run across a "Splicer" (one of the enemies), then you right-click on your mouse to switch to "Plasmids", use your middle mouse button to switch to "Insects" plasmids", and then throw some insects at your enemy. While they are running around trying to get the insects off you are then free to choose your pistol (or any other weapon) and eliminate them.

You can also use your plasmids on the environment. If your enemy is standing in water then you can use your "Electrical" plasmid to shoot the water and electrocute them. If they are standing in an oil slick, then you can use your "Fire" plasmid on it and burn them.

Also certain weapons are only effective against certain enemies. For instance the Big Daddies are very vulnerable to the Electrical Gel thrown by your Chemical Thrower. Splicers are easily taken down by using AP rounds with your pistol.


ATMOSPHERE

This game has tons of it. Probably so much that you'll likely miss alot of it unless you backtrack through the levels (which I recommend even if you were very thorough the first time through). There are tons of posters, decorations and architecure to look at.

There's one level where I was in an apartment complex. Outside I had hacked into the turrets and was listening to one blasting away at some Splicers. (Turrets are effective but not that effective...I found them more usefull as detection devices than anything else). While I was listening to this turret blast away I noticed that I was in a photo room and there was also some news clippings on the wall. So I sat there for a minute or two looking at the photos and the clippings. It would have been nice if you could zoom into them and actually read them in depth but it was nice to actually be able to see and read some of them. (Alot of times in games these things would be blurred out so much there wasn't a point in even looking).

To give you a feeling that the city is under the sea and is in a state of disrepair in alot of places you will see the city leaking. Rooms will be flooded, water will be pouring in from the ceiling. (Although strangely it doesn't rise except in one instance....I was thinking this was odd until I thought that if a place this huge didn't have a decent pressurization system then they wouldn't have lasted this long). A neat effect is when you walk though the water and it distorts your screen. It's also highly annoying when your fighting enemies....

STORY

Compared to FPS like the Quake/Unreal series BioShock definetly has a good story. Obviously comparing to Quake/Unreal storywise doesn't do the game justice since there really wasn't much of a story in those game.

Okay, how about Thief1/Thief2/SS1/SS2/Deus Ex? Well...it really doesn't do too bad. It's got the same elements. You can interact with the environment. You have audio logs you have to listen to. (Am I the only one that listens to these logs long after I picked them up?). You barely ever interact with other NPC's. Actually in the Deus Ex series there are some NPC's I think....

If you've ever played SS2 then there's a twist in the game that you can see all the way from the beginning of the game. I was anticipating it. In fact there were like 2 points of the game that I saw MILES away. I think it's neat that Levine still makes these games but it would be nice if he would not recycle story elements from last games. (I realize that nothing is truly original but these plot points were very recognizable either from last games or from stories in general).

Also like the past game you are pretty much just an observer. During one of the points in the story where you meet Andrew Ryan you can't even do anything! You don't even have a choice! hahaha

So basically you are just a passive observer in the story and the only effect you have on the game is 2 things. What you shoot and if you do or do not harvest Little Sisters.

Little Sisters are the pre-teen girls in the game that are protected by big guys in diving suits who are called Big Daddies. The Little Sisters look for dead bodies from which they can draw Adam from using their big needles. (ADAM is what you need to power your plasmids).

Once you kill a Big Daddy then you have a choice. You can either harvest the ADAM from the Little Sister (which will kill them) or you can Save the Little Sister.

The choice you make effects the ending sequence of the game in the long term. As for short term if you harvest then you get more ADAM, but if you save them then you get less ADAM....but if you save them you will also get extra benefits and some help from them later in the game.

There was a post in another forum...mabye on the 2k Forums where they went into exact detail on which was worth it more in terms of ADAM. So head on over there if your interested.

I personally saved them, if I ever play the game again then I'll harvest them....or mabye I'll just watch the different ending on youtube or the like.





SUMMMARY

This game is much like the games before it. System Shock 1/2, Thief 1/2, Deus Ex and IW. If you like those games then you'll like this game. Remember those games are FPS games with RPG aspects. They are not just straight shooters like Quake/Unreal. If you like those games then you'll probably be put off by BioShock. For those people that like something more in an FPS than just shooting things then BioShock is definetly worth playing but remeber, it's an FPS. It's not a pure RPG or an adventure game.

The game's atmosphere is much like the previous games. The art/gameplay/story/audio work all are as detailed as the previous games in the series.
Last edited by DosFreak on 2007-8-27 @ 15:31, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby eL_PuSHeR » 2007-8-26 @ 19:17

A nice review. I enjoyed reading it.
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby SysGOD » 2007-8-26 @ 19:59

wow the first time a review is posted on vogons and a great one too. :)
So basically you are just a passive observer in the story and the only effect you have on the game is 2 things. What you shoot and if you do or do not harvest Little Sisters.

Little Sisters are the pre-teen girls in the game that are protected by big guys in diving suits who are called Big Daddies. The Little Sisters look for dead bodies from which they can draw Adam from using their big needles. (ADAM is what you need to power your plasmids).

Once you kill a Big Daddy then you have a choice. You can either harvest the ADAM from the Little Sister (which will kill them) or you can Save the Little Siter.

The choice you make effects the ending sequency of the game in the long term. As for short term if you harvest then you get more ADAM, but if you Save them then you get less ADAM....but if you Save them you will also get extra benefits and some help from them later in the game.
thats exactly what i wanted to read. it gives good motivation to play it again.

and i agree with you, bioshock is not as revolutionary as many people think but it can be compared with system shock 1-2 in some way.
another point i like is the fact that it has relative "moderate" hardware requirements for an unreal 3 engine game.
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby DosFreak » 2007-8-26 @ 20:10

Yes, I've heard on many forums that people with single processors are playing the game just fine. The Unreal engine has been pretty good at running on older hardware. Only release that I can think of that didn't run decently compared to the competition on release was Unreal 1.

I think I saw a comparison on ExtremeTech between DX9 and DX10 of the game and there really wasn't enough of a difference to worry about. Makes you wonder what the game would have looked like if they had focused on DX10. Well actually I have the answer there, it would have looked the same but supposedly faster. Even though all tests of DX10 games so far prove that they are actually slower. heh.

Of course if the games was designed for DX10 it would have been even worse than the current situation of people complaining because they don't have SM3 and there's no SM2 path for the game!.

I think the game looks fine the way it is. I'm glad they went with SM3 and DX9.0C. SM3 has been out forever and it looks like all Unreal Engine 3 games use it.
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby eL_PuSHeR » 2007-8-27 @ 13:31

I am still at shader model 2. Do you think I can run it?
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby DosFreak » 2007-8-27 @ 13:57

I believe there are some people working on an unofficial patch for SM2 cards but there are graphics issues with it.

Here it is: http://forums.2kgames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5680
Part 2: http://forums.2kgames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8393
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby Freddo » 2007-8-27 @ 19:02

DosFreak wrote:I think I saw a comparison on ExtremeTech between DX9 and DX10 of the game and there really wasn't enough of a difference to worry about.

Firing Squad got a better one. The main differences seem to be the smoke and the shadows.
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby DosFreak » 2007-8-27 @ 19:42

Looks like I could have played the game fine in 1920X1200. Dammit.

heh. Not use to having so much power in this computer.
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby leileilol » 2007-8-27 @ 20:27

Freddo wrote:
DosFreak wrote:I think I saw a comparison on ExtremeTech between DX9 and DX10 of the game and there really wasn't enough of a difference to worry about.

Firing Squad got a better one. The main differences seem to be the smoke and the shadows.


So there's lazy sorting on the smoke effect and a resolution bumped up on a shadow texture? Not very innovative to me
by the way, DOSBox is not for running Windows 9x
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby DosFreak » 2007-8-27 @ 21:07

heh. Mabye we'll see a bigger difference with games like Farcry 2, Crysis and Unreal 3.....mabye.
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby DosFreak » 2007-8-28 @ 19:35

Bioshock's Launch Aftershocks
http://games.slashdot.org/games/07/08/28/1420250.shtml

Put it all to the side
(Score:5, Interesting)
by SilentChris (452960) on Tuesday August 28, @10:46AM (#20383907)
(http://slashdot.org/)
I used to write for GameSpot. When we came across a game like this, we reviewers would tend to "lean" the score higher. Don't misunderstand me -- it's a fantastic game. My point is those rating points you see on reviews translate into sales which become big dollars, and we WANT games like this to financially successful. Games like BioShock keep the industry alive. So we would give them a little help.

The gaming community needs to "lean" BioShock higher. We need to stop focusing on the (lack of) a rootkit. We need to stop complaining about the install limitations (in all honesty, who is installing this game on more than 5 machines anyway)? In particular, we need to really fight against those focusing on the "child killing" aspect. (Which, to be frank, is completely disturbing in-game and meant to make the player feel awful).

We need to focus on the art of the game, and try to forget all the tangential stuff. Yes, I know, it's hard for Slashdot folks. "Rawr rawr DRM... rawr rawr install limitations... rawr rawr never going to support this company again." Just put that to the side if you can. We NEED to support games like this. otherwise it's back to horrific Madden clones and movie-licensed drek.


Wow. I never did like Gamespot. Now I know why. That pretty much describes my hatred of all reviews. They tend to gloss over everything else except the in-game material. They ignore installations, copy protections, rumours, controversy going on around the games and just concentrate on the game itself. Games do not exist in a vacuum jackass. There's more to it than just the "game".
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby dh4rm4 » 2007-8-28 @ 23:01

What he's saying had some validity 10 years ago. These days the games industry doesn't need any help in making money or cementing it's market share. Irrational do great work but they don't fine tune their product enough. Tribes : Vengeance has some the same gameplay balance issues that are present in this game. I will be buying BioShock but I really want to see more playtesting and less hobbling of features.
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman » 2007-8-29 @ 03:18

DosFreak wrote:Wow. I never did like Gamespot. Now I know why.


Meh. Never love gamespot. Maybe it's just me, but IMO they're always too lenient in giving scores. I always get the impression that they actually care more about gaming companies than the consumers who bought the game.

Or am I just being Captain Obvious?
Never thought this thread would be that long, but now, for something different.....
Say no to online installer.
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby ADDiCT » 2007-8-29 @ 11:43

Game companies pay Gamespot for advertising. With a little thought, it's quite obvious why games from certain developers are rated quite kindly sometimes (would you talk badly about the person or the company that pays you?). This problem is much more present in print publications, though.

On the other hand, there are the user reviews. I think when you compare the professional reviews with the user reviews, you get a pretty good feeling about the quality of a game. That's one point that makes online reviews much more useful than printed ones.

Question: DOSFreak (or anyone else that has played Bioshock on PC), how's the performance on your machine? I played the game on a XBox 360, and it's very smooth and good-looking. I only have an old PC (P4 2.6 Ghz/Radeon 1650, the CPU is no match for the GPU), so i think my playing experience is better on the XBox 360, even though i have to use the gamepad (it works quite well after some Halo 2 practice, Hehehe).
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby DosFreak » 2007-8-29 @ 12:00

I'm playing on a:

C2D E660 400mhz FSBx 8 multi=3200mhz
4gb 5-4-4-12 Gskill @ 800mhz
Geforce 8800GTS with latest beta drivers
Windows 2003

Played the game @ 1600x1200 with all graphics set to high (didn't use AA).

So...yeah performance was great!


Now from what I've heard the game does run well on single core processors with good video cards but I'm sure these are reports from people using more modern single core processors than your P4 and better video cards.

If I was in your situation I wouldn't even play the game at all until I had a decent computer but you shouldn't listen to me because I am utterly incapable of playing an FPS on a console. (I feel like I have both hands tied behind my back and I literally want to take the ******* console and throw it out the window while trying to play an FPS), I've hear the game runs well on a 360 assuming your 360 actually works. ;) From what you just said it runs smooth and looks good so there ya go.
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby ADDiCT » 2007-8-29 @ 12:18

Thanks for the info! I guess my CPU would be the limiting factor. I've got the new GPU some days ago (had a crappy Radeon 9600 Pro before), and i've been trying previously unplayable games on the rig. It's amazing how good even quite modern games like Quake 4 run now! But it's quite obvious that the CPU and 4x AGP bus (crappy SiS chipset) can't cope with the speed of the GPU. Guess i'll have to save on a new machine. (:

Btw: when playing my first console shooter, i had the same feelings you had (throwing the console out of the window). But with a little practice, it works quite well. The experience is quite different from playing with mouse and keyboard.
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby eL_PuSHeR » 2007-8-30 @ 10:15

I usually play games at 800x600 or 1024x768 so I am confident this game will still run at a useable pace on my decrepit PC:

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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby njaydg » 2007-8-30 @ 12:45

@ eL_PuSHeR :

Glad I'm not the only one! :happy:

I too play at 800x600 or 1024x768, having an old AMD Athlon XP 3200+ with 1GB RAM and a X800 PRO with custom cooling system (overclocked @ 540Mhz core and 1080Mhz memory). What is yet to be know is wether players with such PC specs can have a reasonably enjoyable experience with such a machine.

Personally, I'm not buying the game until I'm sure it's REALLY good and having a kick @ss machine that can bring the game to its knees, and not the other way around... :wink:
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby eL_PuSHeR » 2007-8-30 @ 12:55

What concerns me most is tha activation/protection/DRM thing. Look at another post by DosFreak.
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Re: VOGONS BioShock Review

Postby DosFreak » 2007-8-30 @ 13:40

Personally, I'm not buying the game until I'm sure it's REALLY good and having a kick @ss machine that can bring the game to its knees, and not the other way around... Wink


About the only way you can bring the game to it's knees with a kick ass machine is if you run the game at 2560x1600 with stupid high FSAA (which means any AA at that res). That's about it.
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