So I completed BioShock (PC version) yesterday and though I have to admit that it was a good game, I certainly don't think it was the 2nd best game of all time (check out that gamerankings.com score). What it boils down to is that I was expecting something revolutionary, but what I got was an FPS with an augmentation system that wasn't quite as good as that of Deus Ex, an environment and structure that wasn't nearly as immersive or frightening as in System Shock 2, and an extremely impressive graphics engine with TRUCKLOADS of cash pumped into it to make it as cinematic as humanly possible. In other words, the graphics and effects are amazing but the gameplay is somewhat meh, at least from my perspective.
Anyway, here is a list of issues I have with BioShock, off the top of my head:
1. The game is not scary at ALL, at least to me. I think this is due to a number of reasons, the primary factor being a lack of inspiration in character design. Basically, we only fight five very similar but different kinds of enemies in the game: Splicers and Big Daddies who run at you and hit you, splicers and Big Daddies who shoot at you, splicers who throw grenades at you, splicers who hit you and throw knives at you, and splicers who teleport and shoot fireballs at you. There are also gun turrets, floating gun droids, and the final boss, but those don't count. Anyway, all the splicers look more or less identical. They are just humanoid, ugly people from the 60s with bad hairstyles and cut up faces. And a few of them have partly swollen faces, but it doesn't really make a difference. Considering the IMMENSE potential for horror when given the capability of limitless genetic engineering, I was extremely disappointed. I was expecting to see people who had literally turned themselves into monsters. People with fish-like heads or animal-like bodies, huge unnatural body parts, extra limbs and eyes, the list could go ON AND ON. But despite all the gene tonics the citizens of Rapture have consumed, you can hardly tell any physical difference whatsoever. There was no point at which you could see what a Big Daddy looked like underneath his suit (I was expecting something horrifying). There was also no point toward the end of the game where you could look into a mirror in horror and see how genetic modification had turned YOU into a monster.
2. Almost every area in the game looks and feels exactly the same. Although the graphics are shiny, they got old fast. There was also no point in the game where you were forced to swim underwater, or threatened by the ocean flooding part of the city and destroying you. Considering that the game takes place at the bottom of the ocean, water should really have played a larger role in the game. Large puddles on the floor do NOT count. There was a huge potential for scary mutant shark-people that was TOTALLY missed!
3. The gameplay became highly repetitive after a while. Basically, most of the plasmids/genetic modifications do not affect combat in any meaningful (enough) way. The offensive plasmids tend to be useless (except for stunning enemies), and although the pheromone types can be useful, it is faster to just shoot all your foes until they die. Since there are only about five different normal enemies and they get introduced fairly rapidly, this gets old fast. Big Daddies also have extremely simple AI, and you can kill them easily by shooting a full clip of grenades at them anyway.
4. I didn't think the story was particularly interesting, but that might just be me.
5. The hacking pipe dream
minigame becomes unfathomably mind-numbing after doing it about five times.
Summary: BioShock is a good game, but not a great one. It didn't push the boundaries of the genre nearly as much as I hoped it would. Honestly, I think System Shock 2 is a better game in every respect other than its graphics.
If you really want to play a revolutionary FPS, then try System Shock 2 or Deus Ex.
The above is just my humble opinion. Please do not come to my house and kill me. Thanks.