Will I like Bioshock?
July 2, 2009 8:32 PM   Subscribe

How first person shooter-y is Bioshock? Will I like it?

I heard great things about Bioshock, but I didn't realize it was considered a FPS until I went to buy it (for PS3). I'm not a big fan of shooters. I find them boring and repetitive, but mostly, I can't aim for shit. Killing and gore is a-ok, though.

Games I love: Portal, God of War I and II, all Ratchet & Clanks, all Grand Theft Autos, Heavenly Sword.

OK games: Uncharted (starts out sort of adventure-y, turns into almost total FPS by the end), Metal Gear Solid 3, Splinter Cell (PS2).

Hate: Halo, Resistance: Fall of Man

Do you think I might like Bioshock? Is there other stuff besides shooting? Puzzle type stuff or anything? Please no big spoilers about the game, if possible.
posted by peep to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There is some light puzzling in the hacking - basically, you're playing Pipe Dreams - but really, it's an FPS. An FPS with "RPG elements" in that you have upgrades you can make, and in doing so customize your approach to the game, and an FPS where heavy use of the environment is a big part (eg, setting oil slicks on fire, lightning-zapping enemies standing in water) - but, still, it's absolutely an FPS.

I mean, I hated Halo's single-player and loved Portal too, but if you say you can't aim for shit... well, I don't think you're going to have a blast with Bioshock.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:38 PM on July 2, 2009

It's basically an FPS so no, you probably won't like it.

Also, which is correct: "a FPS" or "an FPS"? "A FPS" is strictly grammatically accurate, would have been my thought, but yeah, it looks and sounds dumb. One for the ages I suppose.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:42 PM on July 2, 2009

I personally gave up on BioShock about a third through. I found the story and atmosphere really interesting, but the gameplay didn't work for me at all.

I found the pace and gameplay (from the section I played) to be quite different to most normal first person shooters. Enemies tend to respawn (if you don't like respawning enemies in games you'll really dislike BioShock) and randomly wander around levels until they encounter you, so you don't get the sort of pacing you'd expect from Call of Duty or Half Life. I understand they were trying to go for a more organic, emergent gameworld, but it just felt random and pointless.

Also you're not as powerful in comparison to enemies as you do in most FPS, but you don't feel quite as helpless as you do in survival horror games either. This made the combat feel extremely unsatisfying, especially the numerous suicide runs required to whittle down the health of the Big Daddies.
posted by fearthehat at 8:42 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

The occasional puzzle, great graphics/design, great sound/music. But it's still an FPS. Don't open the box.
posted by iconomy at 8:43 PM on July 2, 2009

Sorry, should be "in comparison to enemies as you are in most FPS" above.
posted by fearthehat at 8:44 PM on July 2, 2009

Very first-person shootery. You advance by shooting enemies and clearing levels. A few little mini-games are 'puzzles' and there are some non-shooty obstacles, but mostly you're just scavenging for upgrades and material to make ammo/weapons out of in between periods of intense combat. The enemies are very tough and effective ammo is hard to come by, so you'll want to change the difficulty setting if you do pick it up -- it's a hard FPS but the combat is very well-varied and thoroughly playtested so I doubt you'll find it repetitive in case you're on the fence there.
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:58 PM on July 2, 2009

The difference between something like Halo and Bioshock is that Halo is more or less nonstop action, which you don't seem to enjoy. The action in Bioshock tends to be short-lived and in spurts. When it's quiet you're expected to wander around, scavenge for supplies, solve minor puzzles but most importantly pick up pieces of the story. When there's action though, it's pretty hardcore.

Judging by your taste in games, you seem to like being able to plan a strategy and initiate the action on your own terms (Portal, GTA, Metal Gear, Splinter Cell) instead of being constantly ambushed (Halo, Resistance). I don't think you'd really enjoy Bioshock. If you're looking for something new to play you might want to try something like Hitman: Blood Money (PS2, PC, X360) in which you can beat the game without ever firing a shot, or you can go guns ablazing.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 8:58 PM on July 2, 2009

I'm not big on FPS either, but Bioshock demonstrates that these types of games can actually contain good story telling. It's not just a shoot'em up, get to the cut scene, reload, and shoot'em up again. In fact, there are no notable cut scenes. The game really plays out more like a maze game with some resource scavenging and enemy take-down / exploitation strategy.

In other words, if you going to give any FPS a try, start with Bioshock.
posted by wfrgms at 9:02 PM on July 2, 2009

Oh, and I've played Bioshock through twice. It's really a lovely game. The setting, the event timings, the freedom to roam around, the interesting enemies... just a stellar game.

Don't get hung up on game-play style. The top tier fan-favorite games that are out there are good because they are good games, and good games are good because they transcend their style, and thus appeal to everyone.

If I rejected all FPS games, just based on their style, then I would have never picked up Fallout.
posted by wfrgms at 9:06 PM on July 2, 2009

especially the numerous suicide runs required to whittle down the health of the Big Daddies

Dude, you were doing something wrong. I played the game through twice and never needed to respawn. Reload, yes, but respawn? No way.

posted by wfrgms at 9:08 PM on July 2, 2009

Not to derail, but I found the first few Big Daddies extremely difficult; as soon as I had access to electric and exploding buck, etc, BD encounters went from terrifying ordeals to exercises in resource management.

To return to the topic: There's a free demo; I'd suggest you try it. You probably won't like it, but the pacing really is very, very different from Halo or Resistance, and the story and atmosphere are top-notch. I found it not very repetitive, and it's pretty short anyway; you may have a different take, but still, I'd definitely encourage you to at least give it a shot.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:22 PM on July 2, 2009

I usually avoid FPS games like the plague, but I found BioShock to be very rewarding. You do have to be willing to work with it a bit, as yes, the inability to aim is a liability here, but it's designed so that there aren't any set ways to win particular encounters most of the time. It isn't just that you sometimes have choices to make (though you do, I assure you) but that you are given almost entirely free reign to accomplish your stated objectives. Whether that's simply gunning down everything in sight or hiding in the corners while your enemies die in the cunning traps you've laid or turn on each other is largely up to you. For example, though you do probably want to kill a certain number of the aforementioned Big Daddies, you can ignore most of them if you so choose. You don't gain XP or anything for killing stuff, so there isn't an automatic incentive to go around killing enemies.

Beating the game with a minimum of combat skill is difficult but entirely doable.
posted by valkyryn at 9:38 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I also only play FPS games if they have a good single player game. I also thought Halo was pretty crappy, but Halo 2 was better. I like to think that I'm a pretty good FPS player, but I found Bioshock frustratingly hard on the normal setting. I set it aside and finally got back to it later. I sucked it up and just changed the difficulty to easy. Unfortunately it's a little too easy (especially after, say, the first 25% of the game) but it makes enjoying the story and atmosphere immensely better. I also played through it twice to see the different endings, and I rarely do this on games.

It looks like you can get it for ~$16 on Half or Ebay. Then you can probably turn around and sell it easily for $10-12. I think it's probably worth the risk.
posted by sevenless at 9:39 PM on July 2, 2009

I'm terrible at FPSs and I almost always hate them, but I like BioShock. Play it on the easiest mode and you'll probably find it moderately challenging.

The coolest stuff is really the atmosphere and the story.
posted by Nattie at 9:40 PM on July 2, 2009

> Also, which is correct: "a FPS" or "an FPS"? "A FPS" is strictly grammatically accurate, would have been my thought, but yeah, it looks and sounds dumb. One for the ages I suppose.

If you mentally pronouce "FPS" as "eff-pee-ess", it's "an".
If you read "FPS" as "First Person Shooter", its "a".

A/an is an auditory thing.
posted by Decimask at 9:44 PM on July 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

I am not a huge fan of FPS myself. However I found the storyline in Bioshock to be quite compelling. In fact, I just finished it early this afternoon. If nothing else, it is quite approachable on the easiest setting.
posted by Silvertree at 9:48 PM on July 2, 2009

Its just a FPS. If you dont like Halo you wont like this. The puzzles are just excuses to move through a level and shoot people. Incredibly over-rated.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:56 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Normal FPS is based on rapid action, surprises and hair trigger reflexes. Bioshock isn't like that. The mood of Bioshock is well done, and balances a feeling of you being in control with despair. The biggest threats in the game are creepy, ominous, and ever present, but mind their own business until you decide to piss them off. The minor enemies respawn, and are of the zombie variety who spring to life and kill you RPG style: a stupid head on charge at you, and then take turns trading blows. Except they have a lead pipe, and you have guns that shoot lightning.

Gameplay is kind of like Metal Gear Solid 3 without the cutscene radio; communications come in Heads Up, so you can look around and enjoy the atmosphere of utopia in decay.
posted by pwnguin at 10:11 PM on July 2, 2009

If you connect with story and atmosphere... you want the game to take you someplace... then BioShock is awesome. It's why I love it. And why I'll probably buy BS2. It's not perfect, but it's overall pretty excellent.

On the other hand, if you're interested in the gameplay mechanics primarily, BioShock is just a dolled-up FPS from a team that made a pair of really excellent RPGs back in the day.
posted by Netzapper at 10:18 PM on July 2, 2009

It didn't even occur to me to look for a demo. I didn't purchase the game yet; I was looking at it on Amazon when I saw it listed as a shooter. I'll download the demo tomorrow and check it out before I decide whether or not to buy, then I'll post an update here. Thanks everyone!
posted by peep at 10:29 PM on July 2, 2009

I gave up on Bioshock like the above poster probably about a third of the way through. I can't really tell you why, but it just didn't grab me the way say Dead Space did (I was playing both games, borrowed from a friend, at the same time). I'm not really sure what I didn't like about, but it may have something to do with the fact that is wasn't like Halo. So maybe you'll like it.

On a side note, I was not a fan of the Objectivist overtones of the game (Atlas Shrugged is the worst thing I've ever read). Is the story supposed to be an indictment of Objectivism? I couldn't really tell, since I never got all of the way through the game.
posted by runcibleshaw at 10:58 PM on July 2, 2009

> On a side note, I was not a fan of the Objectivist overtones of the game (Atlas Shrugged is the worst thing I've ever read). Is the story supposed to be an indictment of Objectivism? I couldn't really tell, since I never got all of the way through the game.

Yes, the entire game is very critical of it, which is more or less the whole point.
posted by cj_ at 11:27 PM on July 2, 2009

I think it was a pretty clear denouncement of objectivism. The city of Rapture was built by a Rand-ian ideologue, and look what happened to the place.
posted by Team of Scientists at 11:32 PM on July 2, 2009

I think that, whether or not you like it, you as a gamer owe it to yourself to at least play through Bioshock once. Borrow it from a friend or rent it, but do it. You'll enjoy it.
posted by InsanePenguin at 3:13 AM on July 3, 2009

Bioshock is a run-of-the-mill FPS. It's got:
* Jooking and jiving to zap baddies.
* Repetitive encounters with same limited pool of baddies.
* Lots of small, very fake-feeling set-piece encounters to compensate for boring baddies.
* Annoying ammo management gathering/requirements. Ammo == fun, yet gathering ammo == not fun, so ... take your pick of not-fun activities!
* Obnoxious amounts of visual darkness.
* Plot and level-design so linear you can cut yourself on it. You'll be offered the illusion of choice, only to have it removed by contrivance, again and again.
* A lot of money spent on art and a "kewl" style.

That all said, it manages to execute pretty well. It's not a shitty FPS, but it's in no way atypical.

Me, I gave up on it. I cannot take any more wandering around in darkness rooting in garbage cans for ammo to suffer through the next stupid encounter with yet more goddamn zombie-variant creatures. I just can't!
posted by fleacircus at 4:35 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Tangentially related, but if you're on PC and have Steam, you can get BioShock plus a fuckton of other, non-FPS games for 54 bucks.

Me, I'm hoping for a BioShock/Civilization crossover. That'd be sweet.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:49 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Bioshock gave me a headache. I'm not sure why: I was perfectly fine with HL, HL2, TF2, Far Cry, Doom, Quake, etc., but the Unreal engine seemed to be tuned a little "smooth" or something. I gave up on Bioshock after a few hours, mainly because of that. I loved HL2, though.
posted by chengjih at 5:04 AM on July 3, 2009

I am not an FPS person (boring and repetitive), but I like the puzzle/plot elements of Bioshock a lot. I wish it was a whole lot less linear: the fact it's always pushing you ahead to the next "level" on pretty rigid rails is the biggest minus.

That said, Bioshock does a decent job of adding variety just in time. Just as you're getting very sick of the underground forest, you're done that level and you get a new and different looking stage for the next bit.

It's worth playing through for the art and story (well done, esp. for a videogame, with actual good twists for once). Set it on "easy" and your aiming issues won't matter much.

And based on your other-games-liked list: get Saints Row 2. It's a better GTA than GTA IV, because unlike Rockstar, they didn't suck all the fun out to make it "realistic".

It felt more like the sequel to Vice City than any of the actual Rockstar sequels. Great game.
posted by rokusan at 7:02 AM on July 3, 2009

And oh, yeah: I hate Halo and Resistance too. I returned them.

Bioshock is almost exactly like Uncharted, in the mix of thinking (some, but not enough) and shooting (a lot), and especially in the way you're shoved forward with very few options on how to proceed.

But Bioshock has a better art and story.
posted by rokusan at 7:04 AM on July 3, 2009

If aim's your problem, just use the wrench. By the time you're halfway through the game, it'll be the most powerful weapon you have.
posted by Oktober at 7:43 AM on July 3, 2009

Ok, I played the demo. Bioshock is not the game for me. It is lovely to look at and I would enjoy watching someone play it, but even running through the demo on easy was more work than fun.

I also realized one more thing about shooters - some seem to have a much more restricted perspective than others. Bioshock's field of view felt small and claustrophobic, and I was moving the controls around constantly just to see my surroundings. This might be why I liked Uncharted; as far as I remember, you had almost 180 degrees of vision.

There were a ton of best answers. Thank you everyone!
posted by peep at 3:02 PM on July 4, 2009

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