Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Backlog: Bioshock

People may have noticed by now that I pretty much never review first person shooters. While I'd be lying if I said I didn't have something against a large majority of them, I don't hate all of them. But even among the ones I do like I rarely have much I can think of to say in regards to the game.  However in the case of Bioshock I have some things to say, some of which also applies to other games.

Let me start by saying I do not hate Bioshock. I actually like it quite a bit, so anything I'm about to say including the negative should not be taken as me trying to bash on the game.

One particularly positive thing to note is that Bioshock, even though it's a FPS actually feels more like a survival horror game then the more recent Resident Evil games. You'll rarely be short on ammo once you get past the first area or two but that's not where the true moments of tension come from because you can have all the ammo in the world but it's not gonna matter if that Big Daddy just powers through it and rips your head off anyhow.

The game has a great atmosphere and it's often very quiet. The kind of quiet that keeps you on edge because it makes you always worried there is going to be something just around the corner.

But what is my main issue with the game? While the game does have a great and unique setting, the story itself feels a little flat at times. Not because it's poorly written or that the characters aren't interesting but rather because of the main character himself... Jack. Would it surprise anyone to know I didn't even realize his name was Jack until I was looking information up after beating the game? It was only then that I recalled him being called that a few times, but the thing is the name Jack is often times a name you'll throw at people you don't know. So since they never really straight up said that was his name, it never even occurred to me that it was his name.

However his name isn't the real problem. The problem is that he's a silent protagonist. There aren't any defining traits to his character and it makes him rather boring. This is a similar problem I had with games like Half Life (hate to quote Yahtzee on that). There are many genres that have had games with silent protagonists at one point or another but I think it sticks out the most in first person shooters. Because in other genres where you can at least see the character you have something to look at and you can make assumptions about their personality based on their behavior even if they never speak.

Do you think Duke Nukem would have been anywhere near as popular if he never talked? The answer is no. Now I'm not suggesting that Jack should have been shooting off one liners left and right but it certainly would have helped to hear something, anything in response to what was going on throughout the game. Even ignoring the story moments, if say there is a loud noise all the sudden it wouldn't be much of a surprise if Jack were to suddenly say "What was that?" or something similar in response.

Now don't think I don't understand why they do stuff like this. They do it to make the character a blank slate so that the player can view them as a self insert for themselves. But it makes the character boring, especially in a non RPG setting where you're not even making dialogue choices like you do in Fallout.

Once again these are just my thoughts. Bioshock is still a good game, however with a more memorable character it could have been elevated to a greater game then it already is. Then again, the character also could have been shit and completely ruined it so I know my position on the subject isn't flawless either.

But those are my thoughts on Bioshock, definitely worth a look for any FPS fans who haven't already because lord knows in spite of my complaints it still has a million times more personality then Call of Duty.

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 BioShock (NA)

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