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  Where ‘BioShock’ Lost Me  
Posted 2007-08-30 by Tony Walsh
Cold flecks of brine grinding against my lungs, I swim for dear life from the burning wreckage of the plane crash, flames painting deadly daubs of orange on the slick, black waves. I spy something massive, solid, unmoving despite the seas, and crawl desperately toward the oppressive structure for safety. But there would be no safety in the belly of this man-made whale, I was soon to discover.

The Bioshock game demo had me at "hello," but it lost me almost as quickly. On the one hand, I'm immersed in a gorgeously-rendered, wonderfully-crafted storyworld. On the other, any mysteries concerning the nature of my enemies are dashed: when spotted, their names are superimposed on my screen, like exotic zoo animals subtitled in an educational video. Gone is any illusion that this undersea city is teeming with individual, unpredictable threats. My assailants are like an army of robots, each having a specific name, function, and set of characteristics. Which makes no sense given BioShock's biotechnology-gone-horribly-awry storyline. Each enemy in this story should be unique. And if not unique, then God forbid a precise taxonomy can describe their limited variations. My immersion destroyed, the game becomes just another shooter.

On first glance, BioShock seems like a mismatch of intentions. From my perspective, there's absolutely no reason for the game's level designers to have added such a high level of detail in the environments if the game is basically just a shooter with some role-playing elements flimsily pasted on. I wanted to play BioShock like Myst, but instead it plays like Doom 3, or worse, Galaga. Highly-detailed environments in an action-based game are pointless, given that we as players don't have time to smell the roses. What a waste of design talent.
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Comment posted by meekrat
August 30, 2007 @ 2:53 pm
I don't know what you are talking about. This game amazes me in every way. The detail put into the environments is fantastic and only adds to the depth of this game. It isn't a simple FPS, with RPG veiled on top. It is a deep multilayed game and I am having a great time playing.
Comment posted by Dezro
August 30, 2007 @ 3:48 pm
Yeah, its got lots more layers! You forgot the immersion-killing puzzle layer! Or how they took Bioware's crappy "good or evil" choices and removed the dialogue! And the whole "very limited opportunity to use plasmids outside of battle" thing. And despite the variety of combat options available, the player ends up using only the few that actually help him win battles.

As shooters go it's very fun, but it's not the promised messiah by far.
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