I've just completed Bioshock. I find myself feeling completely underwhelmed. I know Bioshock has been blogged to death here but I'm not keeping this to myself.
I saw review after review proclaiming it the finest game ever. Right now Metacritic has it listed as the 11th best reviewed game on their books. I, like everyone else on here, downloaded the demo and, like everyone else on here, thought "Game of the Year, easy".
It isn't. Sorry, but it really isn't. It's good but it's not great.
The problem is that the game doesn't extend too far beyond the demo. I don't meant that the demo shows you all of the levels and the story, I just mean that all of the "WOW, THAT'S SO FUCKING COOL!" is shown in the demo. I didn't experience that same "WOW, THAT'S SO FUCKING COOL!" again.
The graphics are excellent. The art direction offers a relatively unique experience. Not since 'The Untouchables' on the C64 can I remember a game utilising the 1930s Art Deco style (I could be wrong. I've taken a lot of drugs). It all feels pretty fresh until you realise that all of the levels essentially look the same. There's a level with some trees but not a great deal else.
How about Little Sisters? They're supposed to be the children of Rapture's residents. As a father of none, kids tend to look exactly the same to me, but I can at least recognise the fat ones from the spotty ones and the smelly ones. All of these 'Little Sisters' look exactly the same. What went on here? Did one woman think her vagina was a clown car and give birth to every little girl in Rapture? Or has plasmids and splicing been used to cover up the massive incestuous gang-bang that resulted in the deformed enemies with sub-normal intelligence currently trying to eat your face? Or could the developers just not be arsed with creating more than one character model? Dare I suggest it, maybe the lack of space on the DVD was a factor in reusing the same character model again and again but sometimes changing the hair colour.
Enemies are also pretty much the same. There's a man, a woman, a guy in a raincoat and that's about it. Some carry guns, some carry bombs, some crawl on the ceiling and some disappear. It doesn't take much to work out the best way of killing them and you've seen them all by the second or third level. Big Daddies are a masterstroke, but you already knew that.
As far as the so-called moral choices go, they add nothing. Kill the little girl or don't. Hmm, let me think. Would it be morally wrong of me to murder a child? Oh, the dilemma. It's not exactly Sophie's fucking Choice is it? That said, once you've played through the level where you escort one of the little cunts to the end of the game, and you've heard her three sentences twenty five times, and you've taken damage after she just stopped still for no reason, replaying the game and wasting every one of them is a lot more attractive.
Don't get me wrong, there's plenty to enjoy in here. The story is above-par. The visuals are exceptional. But it's not re-writing what can be done with an FPS. If you really love the demo and just want to continue that experience then you'll probably feel this is money well spent. If, like me, you thought "If this is just the demo, the full game must be amazing" then you'll be disappointed. It's just the demo but longer.
Game of the year? I fucking hope not.