I finally finished Bioshock 1 (the remastered edition). I had never actually gotten very far the first time I tried it, due to some of its issues, which were still present, but I pushed through and finished it. Overall, I liked it, but also had some seriously annoying issues, partly amplified because I chose to play on one of the harder diffculty levels. Anyways, my full review from steam:
Well, this review is coming in almost 15 years too late, but what the hell. While I had completed Bioshock Infinite ages ago, and loved it, I never managed to finish the original Bioshock. Due to a lot of reasons and some of them, issues with the actual game, that are still present in the remastered version, and which I'll mention down below.
So why not just start with those negatives, since while my final review is a positive "recommended" and surely loads of people already know about the positives, the negatives are a bit more personal and probably not shared by everyone.
One thing which probably exacerbated every other negative issue is that I made the misfortunate decision to play on the second to hardest difficulty. And this really puts a light on how delicate the enemy health balancing is. For the first half of the game, I managed ok, but the other half, I'm not sure what happened, but I would constantly stumble onto enemies that were huge sponges for damage. And it also didn't seem consistent for every situation. I made my character build to use shock/frost and the wrench a lot of the time, and as I said, during the second half, I would constantly encounter enemies which would either die in 2-3 swings, or they felt like they would take forever. Just as an example, freezing enemies was especially weird, since sometimes they would fall over in 2-3 swings from the wrench, other times it would actually take 10+ swings. On the other hand, using the tommy gun seemed a lot more consistent on frozen enemies. But non-frozen were huge bullet sponges for the tommy gun. This is of course also since the iced version has a different lifebar than the non-frozen. But even disregarding this, it was weird like that, and I'm sure it's not a bug, but a balancing design decision the developers made, and which really shows its teeth on the higher difficulties. This is also surely tied into the fact that each weapon has 3 ammo types for each enemy type, and you constantly have to switch between them, to min-max the damage you do to each of them, especially on the higher difficulties.
The main reason though for me not managing to complete the game ages ago, is the very clunky gameplay and especially shooting mechanics. This coupled with the fact that enemies constantly respawn, and playing on the higher difficulties where enemies are sponges for damage and where min-maxing is very important, made the combat to be quite a chore some of the times. Other times, it felt acceptable, but still nothing to mention. And just to compare, I played Bioshock Infinite close to when it came out, and it felt like such an improvement. In every gameplay dimension. And if I remember correctly, Infinite also made the UI, the world, the 3D models and the first-person weapon models are lot better proportioned to the screen. Not to insult anyone, but in Bioshock 1, a lot of the things felt very consolized. And the level design feels especially like it suffered due to its release on the UE3 on the Xbox360 ages ago. A lot of the levels feel very cramped and corridor like, which does fit the underwater city setting, but it also feels very claustrophobic and annoying when chaos ensues during combat.
The only other significantly negative aspect that I think bears mentioning is one point in the plot, and without spoiling anything, they basically meddle with some of your arsenal, so you can't use the exact tools you've been using for most of the game, and this coupled with playing on the higher difficulties really made for some especially annoying couple of levels. But hey, egg on my face and I'm surely to blame for this, at least partially, since I chose that difficulty.
One last partially negative and partially positive aspect is the game's storyline. I enjoyed it overall, and the plot twists are sort of interesting, but once you analyse it a bit deeper, it kind of shows its issues. But I did enjoy the positive ending, even though it might feel a bit hokey. But only a little bit. The worst part of the story though is that it really feels like you're constantly on a fetch quest. And they really milk that, where you constantly have to retrieve parts of things, to make another thing, to then advance the story a little bit, and then back to finding parts of another plot device. It feels like there's a boat load of combat, with very little plot advancement. This, in comparison to Bioshock Infinite, where I felt the storyline was amazing start to finish, with significant plot advances and believable plot twists that you never expect. But it might be worth mentioning that I haven't played Infinite in a long time, so replaying it might prove me wrong slightly. But I suspect only slightly.
But also in terms of story, it does have a very nice story hook right at the end, with gameplay implications, which I enjoyed for the little time it was there.
Now that I got all o the bad stuff out of the way, it's time for the good stuff.
And I have to start with the setting and premise which is just fantastic. Aside from some of the level design issues and graphical shader issues due to the Xbox360 engine, it looks beautiful still. Some of the locations are downright mesmerising. I especially loved the Fort Frolic levels.
In the grand setting of Rapture, another thing worth mentioning is the relationship between the Big Daddies and the Little Sisters. Partially twisted by the background against which all of this is set, but partially full of warmth due to the paternal image it builds. Plus, the Little Sisters calling the daddies Mr Bubbles is a stroke of genius. And from what I hear Bioshock 2 builds more on top of this characterisation. Another game I've yet to finish, so that'll be next, most likely.
Then you have the nice economic and political commentary on what would happen if Ayn Rand had her way, and the disastrous consequences of that complete libertarianism were to be made real. I especially loved the way they show Ryan, the originator of Rapture, and how he slowly moves away from his beliefs, in terms of his actions since they no longer keep him competitive, but keeps hypocritically spouting his initial beliefs while slowly going against the ideas he now only pretends to support.
The music and atmosphere is also pretty great, very similar to other settings, like fallout, which also took the 50',60' atmosphere. Voice acting is again pretty great, with no negatives.
So, all in all, a nice enjoyable game, with some stumbles in terms of gameplay and the story while overall nice, it does have its issues, especially when it comes to how short it is and how long it takes to advance, while having most of the in-between moments padded with a boatload of combat.
And I started Bioshock 2, and it's ok, I like the relationship between you and the little sisters, but I'm also starting to feel burned out. Might be because I just played too much.