Monday, October 06, 2008

Bioshock demo review for PS3

So after the demo that was Monster Madness I turned to Bioshock. As the game is the story I don't want to give anything anyway - you're in a plane, it crashed next to what appears to be an underwater city, you head in to find it's in a state of social collapse. There you go.

The game menus set the scene of a 1940's/50's American Art-Deco style, pre-silicon cyberpunk with the tone set by the first screen asking you to set the brightness level - yep expect things lurking in shadows.

The demo starts right at the beginning with a first-person perspective as you sit as a passenger aboard a plane. This can't be in-game rendering can it? Woah! The screen goes black you find yourself under water and manage to get to the surface where you find yourself surrounded by fire with only one escape route. Your controls kick in and you left stick your way forward while right-sticking to look around, standard stuff. You find a structure, head up from the dock and make your way in.

Ah hell I'm going to leave it there, the sheer sense that the game is only nudging you, that you can take your time and look around, and that you're meant to look around reveals this game's origins as a spiritual successor to System Shock 1 and 2 (and those two games can be found at the top of the gaming pantheon).

The controls are intuitively simple the left buttons control your plasmids (you'll find out) the right buttons your weapons. Square reloads, Triangle Jumps and Circle is dedicated to first aid which should give you an idea of how vulnerable you are.

Just in this demo alone I flambéed an enemy, electrocuted another before smacking them with a wrench, electrocuted another two who standing in a pool of water, hacked security turrets and drones to work for me, sloshed my way through a leaking corridor listened to recordings left by inhabitants, saw a ghost, and watched a Big Daddy called Mr Bubbles smack one of my erstwhile enemies repeatedly into then through a reinforced glass window.

As this was the demo existing on my hard drive alone, load times between levels was very quick, but that didn't seem like it could be a problem even if the Blu-ray loading is worse - from the crash to entering the underwater city was seamless, then one load and through various other large locales until the demo ended. Graphically the water wasn't perfect with one leak spraying across you having zero thickness, and one dead enemy ragdolled insanely as her hand was caught up in a pram until the game caught on and kicked it out. That was it though everything else was just beautiful, the detailed textures, the homicidal lunatics charging at you, everything played out silky smooth with no jarring or vertical tearing to be seen.

Atmospherically superb I expect to purchase this immediately on its release, no quibbling, no hesitation.

As an aside this game uses the same underlying engine as Monster Madness - Unreal 3; what a difference.