(reposted from Life in Review)
Available for: $13.99 at Amazon.com
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
One-Line Summary: Philosophical debates are much more entertaining when delivered via a grenade launcher.
Bioshock means many things to many people. To my wife, who is currently playing through a game with me, it is a game based on Ayn Rand philosophies gone horribly wrong with an interesting plot and enough creepy ambience. To me, it is a game where I can electrocute someone with a gesture before bashing their head in, or pick up a fish and use it to telekinetically slap someone to death.
I've been looking for more games like this -- action games with a good plot -- and they're starting to happen with more regularity. Now that game designers don't feel like they have to just focus on pretty graphics, they can focus more on plot and voice acting, which makes for a much better game. No matter how pretty the explosions are, I want to feel like my actions matter to someone, and Bioshock delivers.
Atmosphere is the name of the game here, and while the ramblings of the residents occasionally become repetitive, there are plenty of unique encounters to surprise you and make you feel just a little bit more like you're trapped in a cage at the bottom of the sea. The voice acting is excellent, with an extensive amount of dialog, and the ability to replay (and read) previous conversations is extremely useful when you're too busy shooting to listen to something that might prove to be important later. (Hey, it happens.)
Some nitpicks - the enemy chatter does eventually get repetitive, as do the enemies themselves; while there's enough diversity that you won't notice at first, it becomes more telling later as the enemies become more plentiful. Also, while some of the special powers seem interesting, I found myself never having the opportunity to use them. Why attack people with a swarm of bees when setting them on fire kills faster? Why drive one enemy into fighting his companions when I could get the job done better with my own guns?
Still, the story is good, with just enough bends and turns to keep you from finding things too routine, and considering the price, it's definitely worth the money.