I've been thinking about doing some posts about some of the hotter, better reviewed titles that have been released... and then saying why they suck. Not that they are bad games, but many times as gamers we tend to overlook the flaws in our favorite games and push the hype train along. When, or "if" rather, an intelligent discussion about the flaws in a popular or well reviewed game occurs, it usually quickly breaks down into "FANBOY!" and "[expletive deleted]" threads. Hopefully, we can discuss what is wrong with some great games, get all the information out there, and see what there is to improve in the world of video game design.
Now, I will never discuss a game I haven't completed or at least played substantially. That's rule one. Too often we have commentary on games that is secondary or tertiary--just rehashing what someone read in a review without having played the game.
Rule two: if you can't intelligently discuss the game, then please don't comment. If you have a relevant counterpoint, then by all means post it. But if your response is "STFU," then don't.
So, let's get started.
What's Wrong With Bioshock
For the record, I played the 360 version to completion, on hard.
1) It's too damn short
This game ends quickly
. Really quickly. And if you were one of the people who started the game on one of the lower difficulty levels, even faster than that. You can, and should, extend the length of the game by looking at all of the great art direction work in the game, but for $60, in terms of entertainment time, there are better bargains out there. The lack of multiplayer really hurts in the age of Xbox Live.
2) It's too damn easy
No penalty for dieing? Check. Simplistic boss fights? Check. Plentiful weapons, ammo, and magic? Check, check, check. Experienced gamers can easily breeze through the game on any difficulty setting, and the easier settings are even worse. People have said they would simply kill the Big Daddy's by beating them with the wrench, dieing, and repeating until dead. A little challenge would have been nice.
3) It's too damn hard to tell where you are going
The Bioshock map system has a few problems. First, by not using floors, and instead using arrows, it's often a brutal headache to figure out where a set of stairs will take you. The garden area is especially bad, with twisting corridors and multiple levels. The way the maps is drawn on the screen, you can take a step backward in the game, and you will be far away on the map from where you were, making it difficult to try to get back somewhere by point of reference.
On another note, there were times where picking up audio clues while fighting chattering monsters and music playing, I would miss a key point of the audio clue. Specifically, I missed a keycode to an elevator thanks to bad synch with subtitles and the previous audio problem.
4) The story is a derivative rehash
For a game that pushes its story as one of the main selling points, it just wasn't all that great. Especially if you played System Shock 2. If you had, you probably saw the ending coming a loooong way away, since it is essentially the same damn story, but underwater. This was probably the area I was let down the most by the game. Obviously, this is an issue of taste, and if you haven't played System Shock 2 (and you should) the story isn't as obvious, but I expected more out of Bioshock in this area. Video games have a long way to go in this department, and hiring professional writers would be a good start.
5) The open-ended gameplay ins't all that open-ended
Remember watching the video where the developer played through part of the wharf area three different ways? Not so much in reality. Often, the game is so easy as to make setting traps a waste of time. The "choices" you have in the game really aren't all that different (although there are different endings) in terms of changing the gameplay.
The open-endedness was hurt a lot by the Bathysphere system, which sort of knocked down the walls, revealing that the game is really a system of clearly delineated levels. Finish one, move one. No one likes backtracking, but in a living city like Rapture, it seemed a lot less seamless then it was sold as.
So, there you have it. I enjoyed Bioshock, but I did think the scores it received probably were a bit too high, and it will be interesting to see how it stands up next to Halo 3 (although they are very different games). I haven't thought of the next game I'll post about, it may be Twilight Princess, but I haven't decided.
What are your thoughts on Bioshock? read