Bioshock Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
Bioshock box art
System: X360, PS3, PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: 2K Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: 2K Games 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 21, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Back to Rapture!
by Jonathan Marx

BioShock has finally come to the PS3. The game that helped legitimize the 360 in 2007 is back for more. PS3 owners who don’t own the Microsoft console and never bothered to pick up the title for PC will be happy to know their patience has been rewarded.

Bioshock screenshot

The PS3 version is the best BioShock release to date; the inclusion of sharper and more stable visuals and a new difficulty setting have made the experience a bit better. However, the much-vaunted, PS3-specific Challenge Rooms are not included with the retail release. As a result, BioShock PS3 is the definitive version of the title, but it is not as stellar a showing as was initially hoped for.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story of BioShock, it takes place in 1960 and follows the trials and tribulations of a survivor of a trans-Atlantic plane crash. Lost and stranded, and surrounded by flaming jet-fuel, Jack quickly finds a towering entrance to the secret, underwater city of Rapture amongst the airliner’s wreckage. Initially constructed by the aloof eccentric Andrew Ryan as a utopian metropolis where the elite of humanity could come to practice their talents, free from the constraints of governance, society, and the weak, Rapture soon began to fall apart due to societal “Parasites” and the onset of mass insanity from the use of genetics altering “Parasites.” With this as the background, players will have to work their way through the many beautiful yet hellish levels, gaining powers, choosing their path, and uncovering the mystery that is Rapture.

Gameplay in BioShock relies heavily on standard first-person shooter combat and interesting environmental puzzles. Often, players will have to use their unique Plasmid abilities (genetically enhanced powers) in interesting ways to massacre their foes and find the solution to the many obstacles presented. Moreover, there are many ways to skin a Splicer in BioShock. Players, for the most part, are not railroaded into resolving levels a certain way. The myriad abilities at your disposal can and should be used creatively; no two players will play the game the same way.

Additionally, enemies in BioShock have very unique characteristics that help tell the tale. Other than the array of insane human Splicers intent on your demise, there are uber-baddies called Big Daddies that thwart your ability to harvest ADAM (a material that allows you to alter your genetic code to increase your power) from the Little Sisters (macabre little girls that cull ADAM from dead bodies). These Big Daddies mean business, and they will readily sacrifice themselves, putting a serious hurt on you in the process, should you decide to threaten their charge. However, it’s worth risking a showdown with a Big Daddy, as the ADAM acquired from the Little Sisters is imperative for advancing through the perils of Rapture.

Bioshock screenshot

If the previous story and gameplay summaries were truly new to you, by all means, pick up the PS3 version. However, if you are already a veteran of BioShock, the PS3 version probably doesn’t provide enough incentive or compelling new features to truly rekindle your interest. In fact, what the PS3 version offers is a shinier, more stable set of visuals, Trophy support, a new level of difficulty, and, of course, the ability to play the game on the PS3.

Graphically, BioShock on PS3 is improved. A lot of care went into the game’s already beautiful, Art Deco-inspired levels, making them even more striking. However, upon first glance, the overall look is identical to what was offered in the original releases; that’s a good thing. What are readily noticeable are the incredibly shiny surfaces; the textures in the PS3 version are quite astonishing. Also, the cinematic cuts are very sharp. Moreover, players familiar with the game will notice that the humorous “twitch glitch” among the corpses of fallen Splicers, so prevalent on the 360 and PC, has been largely done away with this time around. All in all, the game is more stable on the PS3, thanks to the extra year of development. The 360 version especially, was plagued by framerate cascading; every turn you made caused the screen to ripple ever so slightly. This cascading problem has been essentially eliminated, and the game is significantly better for it. Unfortunately, not all the framerate issues were resolved though. When you get into encounters with multiple grenade-toting Nitro Splicers, the ensuing explosions still cause unruly shuddering and freezing. These enemies are tough enough as it is; getting caught in a freeze-frame is brutal!

Bioshock screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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