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"Bioshock"

9/4/07

In terms of a single-player gaming experience, it's going to be really, really tough for any other game this year to top "Bioshock."  As immersive a game as I have ever played, the world that is created in "Bioshock" is simply going to be cooler than any of the other big first-person games coming out this fall.

Set in an underwater city run by a maniac named Andrew Ryan, "Bioshock" is a first-person shooter but not in the way you are used to; you've still got access to a ton of weapons that will be solid ways to deal with the evil lurking the hallways of this 1950s-era Atlantis.  The difference is the magic system, called "plasmids" within the game, that allow you to do some pretty cool things to the environment--summons bees to swarm a group of bad guys, or shoot liquid nitrogen from your arms to freeze opponents, or toss a spell at one bad guy that makes him attack any other bad guys on the screen.  It's the plasmids, and the incredible intelligence of the bad guys, that makes "Bioshock" such a blast; I don't think the game is very hard on the normal difficulty, but it's just fun to use all of the items/powers at your disposal to get rid of the baddies.

Baddies don't take that many forms in the game; you've really only got three types to deal with.  There are Splicers, which are mutated humans who were stuck in the underwater city of Rapture when you arrive; they look like zombies but move at normal speed.  Then, there are various boss characters who are still human and that have somehow avoided mutation...and, there are Big Daddies, men in huge metallic underwater suits who have piledrivers attached to their right arms.  They are protectors of Little Sisters, who harness the magic energy that you need to upgrade your character throughout the game, and the only way to get that is to kill the Big Daddies (not easy).  In addition, there is a hacking element to the game that is basically a mini-puzzle you have to solve on occasion to open safes, or disable security systems, or break into vending machines.  It mixes up all of the killing quite nicely.

But, it's the story, the background, and the incredible visuals that make "Bioshock" so cool.  I played this game over about 20 hours on Labor Day weekend, and it was great to fall in with a game with so much time to myself...and, despite a not-so-great ending, the game was well worth the trip.  No way that "Halo 3" has an offline single-player adventure this good, so use "Bioshock" to tide you over in the meantime.

Rating:  Opening Weekend

 

Feedback?  Comments?  Salma Hayek's digits?  justin@bellviewmovies.com

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either half.com or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09