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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Game Play: BioShock

I downloaded BioShock Sunday morning in the hopes of getting a few hours with it this weekend. I had downloaded the demo from Steam and since we had an In-Law weekend, I wasn't getting to Best Buy anyway, so I went ahead and downloaded the full version as well.

So it seems that despite myself, I'm getting used to Steam as a delivery method.

I can tell that BioShock is largely the game that was promised - if not completely overhyped. Which is good, because this is the kind of shooter we've needed for a while. This is the kind of shooter that Doom III wanted to be and is the first shooter that really rivals Valve's accomplishments in terms of setting mood and environment. What's quite excellent about much of BioShock is not the set pieces where there are predetermined portions of animation (although those are quite good and often very spooky) - BioShock best delivers when it offers somewhat random moments. Like when I got ambushed heading for a teddy bear by a spider slicer.

See, statements like that aren't possible with lesser games.

There's some interesting mechanics at play here, but I'll save that for a later post. Foremost my concern with the game is that it is totally bring the CheapBox++ to its knees. High detail will, in fact, crash the game more often than not. This digg thread sums up much of my experiences - long load times, erratic jumps to desktop, etc.

If Oblivion hadn't been guilty of the same, I'd be much more inclined to blame the software over the hardware - but the similarity is too much. Reducing the graphics load in either situation seems to smooth things out. So I might pick up some more RAM in the near future to see if that helps the old box out, or perhaps finally look into upgrading the CPU.

What I'm not going to do is buy a new video card, or invest in a new chassis or anything like that. Pretty much any component approaching the price of a 360. I'm somewhat pessimistic towards the future of gaming with it if Oblivion and BioShock can tear the heck out of it. However, RAM is cheap and I've wanted to try and put a proper Pentium in it for a while ... so if that isn't too expensive, we'll wait and see.


Mark said...

Steam seems like a decent delivery system, if you are ok with the concepts behind it. Pundits are predicting the demise of the box, but with broadband penetration just slightly above 50% ( its pretty obvious that boxes in the local Walmart are not going away anytime soon.

On a personal front, I don't mind killing zombies, slicers, whathaveyous, but killing little girls just isn't for me. I will wait for Hellgate London.

Josh said...

I seem to have fallen on the moral side of saving rather than harvesting the sisters as well. Course, I've only started the game, but I'm not starving for ADAM just yet.

I think it's an interesting angle for a game though - because they nest it quite well into the grey. Are little sisters really little girls? Even when released - or are they just emptied versions of ADAM factories?

Again, just started the game, but it is nice to see a game try and use such a mechanic to toss in some ethical dilemmas.

Ronald said...

You can pickup a 7600GS from newegg for $85 (with rebate).

I'm not sure if coming from your "but PC's are EXPENSIVE XBOX LOL!" confused mind will help you but there ya go.

Winkyboy said...

I've got a Fairly Decent system and, knocking on wood, BioShock runs more or less exactly perfectly for me. I recently built my system 100% from the ground up (all by my lonesome!) and it's got a good but not great graphics card. I can run the game fully tricked out, but if I were playing it PVP, I'd definitely be bumping down the graphic quality to gain extra frames. Anyway, over a collective period of time I suppose the system ran me about $1100, much more expensive than a 360, but my plan is to use it for modding UT3, so it's right on.

While VERY COOL and WELL DONE, the moral questions in BioShock don't really seem very important to the gameplay. I'm choosing not to kill the little tykes because I want to see what the "good ending" is like (and besides that I had originally wanted to play the game WITHOUT plasmids as much as possible), but the gifts of the teddy bears makes the killing-or-saving question seem kinda dumb. You probably get a LITTLE more ADAM if you harvest the slugs, but not much. So why bother one way or the other? I dunno.

Another criticism I have of BioShock is, comparing it to System Shock 2, I'm not that happy with the way the inventory system is done. You don't really HAVE one - just a bunch of numbers as to how many pieces of Ingredient X you've saved up for when you get to the proper upgrade station. For this, I blame the consoles. I mean really - the PDA from System Shock 2 was part of the "hey this game has character" factor - you could find game cartridges within the game, AND PLAY THEM. Or, you could tinker around with items in your inventory wherever you were. You could hack your gun. ALL SORTS of stuff that, in a console world, seem to be off-limits because you're stuck with that crappy controller. You can REALLY tell that the game was designed first with the Console player in mind, which flatly SUCKS.

In short: If BioShock works for you, it is incredibly fun and worth the purchase, but it is still not perfect.

Josh said...

For the record, um, Ronald, a 7600 GS would be exactly what I'm currently running.

And right now Bioshock is completely hung on a load screen. So, you know, thanks.

But I have some new parts on the way and I hope to have a more in depth technical post for those of us more on the edge, tech wise, than your average power gamer or console owner.

And yeah - the ethical questions posed in Bioshock won't fill any volumes, but they are more interesting than your average Die Hard movie - so games at least have that. You're right, though, Winky, in that the mechanics are bit of a mixed bag. More on that hopefully if I ever get to finish.

But should I forget - dear god does the sound on this game rock! Seriously, headphones. Good, really good headphones.