So Bioshock pushes what is my “early years” I know, however as the game is over ten now; and it holds a pretty important place in my life as a gamer I thought, “What the hell.” I recently had a chance to play it again, this time the remastered version, and honestly, the hype and the love is still there.
When I first played Bioshock, I was iffy about that generation of console. I was still spending more time playing my PS2 than anything and not overly interested in either the PS3 or Xbox 360. Worse was the fact that I was starting to pull away from gaming overall. I still did play games, but I had hit a point where I was potentially going to walk away from the hobby. Still, something about Bioshock spoke to me, and I wanted to give it a go. From the moment I was in the bathysphere, and the curtain opened to show Rapture I was in love. It remains one of my favorite introductions to a game, and every time I see it, I begin to get excited to explore Rapture once again.
Going back to Rapture once again I was reminded of all the things I loved about this game. The gameplay is solid, with the plasmids adding something unique to keep it from being just another shooter. It also encourages people to find their own way of playing. I personally love using the powers and stick to just a few guns. I have watched other people who rely mostly on weapons and use ones I hardly touch. I’ve seen people even attempt a more stealth playthrough. The game pretty much allows each player to play how they want, and I appreciate that. There are also a lot of things to experience and explore. Going from point a to point b the game is rather quick, however, if you are willing to go off the beaten path, there is a lot to explore. It’s a slightly limited game now, but at the time it felt rather involved.
If I had to complain about one aspect of gameplay it’s hacking. I got tired of it the first time I played, and I get tired of it each follow-up time. By the end of the game, I stopped hacking anything and started buying every machine out. Crafting also makes an appearance in the game but doesn’t feel needed. You can use U-Invent machines, but it becomes a matter of why? There is a limited amount of what you can make, and it just feels a bit forced it. Unlike hacking, I wouldn’t call it a negative to the game, but rather something entirely unneeded.
Rapture itself remains one of my favorite backdrops for a game. True, I love the ocean and most things water related, so the game already had a solid chance with me, but I think the developers really managed to do something special with it. The game is dark, it feels a bit claustrophobic at times, the idea that the city itself is falling apart sticks with you as you move throughout. Each area of Rapture also has its own appeal to it. Hephaestus feels different from the Farmer’s Market, which feels different from Olympus Heights. Some of the related areas will share common themes, but you do feel like each place is something different to explore. Not only does each world look different, but the use of art deco is perfect. Bioshock feels and looks different from most games I had played, and it’s all due to the art style and design choices. Even the enemy choices feed into the overall feel of the game. Every chance was taken to give this game a unique look and an impact for those viewing it.
Honestly, after all this time Bioshock still looks and feels beautiful to me. Sure, I have explored much larger worlds, but Bioshock is perfect for what it is and how it is. There might be small maps, but so many great choices were put into each area that you can explore that it’s a treat to look at.
The story is great, especially if you take the time to explore and discover the audio diaries. There is a lot happening in Bioshock that is easy to miss if you allow yourself to get in a hurry. If you take the time to look around and find the extras though it’s more than worth it. It gives you deeper background into the characters, their motivations, how Rapture changed them, and how they changed it. There is also the fact that simply put, this city is filled with the worst. Diane is arguably the only decent character you “meet” in your travels, and it stands out more and more as you explore and try to dig into the backgrounds. The game has a strong message and a lot to say about the city and the types of people that would flock to it, and none of it is good.
Bioshock felt like a horror game to me the first time I played, and it still does. It’s not always classified as horror, but there is a lot of “horrific” things happening as well as a number of creepy moments and jump scares. Beyond that, the entire experience is just unsettling. For my money, this is a good horror experience. Feeling trapped, hunted, seeing the troubling things about Rapture, facing the truth of what horrifying things have happened, the violence, and lack of humanity, all of this spells a horror experience for me. Not to mention a few parts of the game still make me jump after all these years.
In truth going back to play, Bioshock just confirmed how I felt the first time I played it, this game is fantastic. It remains one of my favorite games, and I feel it has aged wonderfully. Yes, playing the remastered edition helps as far as looks, but even replaying it on the 360 is a great experience. I loved Bioshock then, and it helped to reignite my passion for gaming, and I love it now. Some of its age has started to show, but honestly, I don’t see this game ever feeling “dated” to me. Now the nostalgia love is strong for me with this game, but pulling back that veil still reveals a great experience.