My disdain for Bioshock is well-documented, and a lot of that comes from the fact that it red-ringed my first 360. And so we’re clear, I don’t HATE it, but for a game that was at the top of most top ten lists of 2007, I’ve always found it to be less-than-stellar. Adam Dorsey Detractors have always claimed that I just don’t like it because it scares the shit out of me, which is, well, kind of true.
I don’t like Bioshock because it scares the shit out of me, and as a rule, I don’t like games whose main goal is to just scare me. Although, there are ways for games that scare me to still win me over. I like Resident Evil 4, even though that head-bagged chainsaw guy sends me running everytime, because they give me and Leon copious amounts of lead to pump through his burlap face. I like Half-Life 2, even though the facehugged zombies make my heart jump out of my chest, because the cinematic storytelling and gameplay is simply unmatched, and I have a huge virtual-crush on Alyx. Bioshock, however, never really shined for me in a way that made the fear worth it.
That said, maybe I just didn’t play it enough. I was snowed in most of last week, with an under-the-weather girlfriend who couldn’t do much more than lay in front of the television, and therefore was at the will of whatever I threw at her. Being the stand up guy that I am, I took advantage of the situation, of the idea that I had a partner to walk with me through the dark halls of Rapture, and we played Bioshock for five hours straight.
Most of my previous complaints remain:
1. All the bad guys look alike.
2. I really only use the lightning bolt and the wrench.
3. Things are gory and scary just to be gory and scary, and therefore a tonal monotony sets in pretty quick.
That said, I am now engaged in the game, and here’s why:
1. I love how the diaries advance the narrative.
2. The research camera I just got helps me notice the difference between the bad guys, plus I love taking pictures in any game, especially if it helps me out.
3. Taking down a Big Daddy is an inventory-wiping-out challenge, and somehow manages to be one of the most rewarding experiences in modern gaming.
So yes, now I might kind of be hooked. I still love the location, themes, and art direction just like I did when I saw the first promotional images. The things that bug me still bug me, but I plan on plowing through it, girlfriend in tow, because now she’s just as interested in seeing the twists and turns as I am.
So, okay, I won’t call it Biosucks anymore. How about Bio-could-have-been-better-but-is-still-kind-of-interesting-just-not-quite-my-style?
Someone get Ken Levine on the phone so we can change the box art.