Let's Talk Bioshock

Many years ago I played System Shock 2 and had one of those fundamental gaming experiences. To quote from a previous post, it went something like this:

[One day] I was talking with a friend of mine about great classic games, and he brought up System Shock 2. I had actually never played the game, and when I told him that, it was all he needed to hear. The next time I saw him he had found his old copy of SS2 and told me to take it home and play it. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. System Shock 2 is entirely unique in the experience that it provided me with. Never before, or since then, have I loved and hated a game so much and all at the same time. The reason for this was the story. It was gripping, to the point where I played the game just to find out what the hell was going on. I hated it, because it had me scared and on the edge of my seat the whole time while playing it. It was so eerie. Especially the “midwifes” and when they’d say “oh the little ones, they grow up so fast…” Because you knew when you heard that sound that you were in for a beating. But I loved the game also because of the fantastic story, ambiance, and atmosphere it created. I just couldn’t stop playing. I had to find out what happened there. And when I did, when at last I had defeated the true cause of all this terror, I was jubilant. I rejoiced for having overcome the game’s obstacles, and I rejoiced because I knew I didn’t have to play it anymore. I vowed never to touch System Shock 2 again.

Some time after that I came across the announcement that BioShock was in the works. This got me both excited and apprehensive as a result. I posted again, voicing my concern for the fact that I may yet again be unable to stop playing this game, SS2's spiritual sequel, and be entirely frightened throughout the whole experience.

In the meantime, a lot of hype was being generated for BioShock because, well because of SS2 of course. SS2 is a bit of a legend in the gaming world, and it raised the bar very very high. So then BioShock came out, and everybody was raving about it, including Nick. His subsequent post didn't help things much.

Eventually I just downloaded the 1.5 GB demo, since I did have a shiny new video card installed and ready to burn some polys. Naturally the demo wasn't all that long, but it was plenty to give you an idea of what the game was all about. It was more than enough to make one thing abundantly clear to me: System Shock 2 it ain't. That is to say, it's pretty much the same game, made pretty, yet stripped of it's difficulty and complexity. Basically, I'd have to agree with most of Ben Croshaw's points in the video above. But he just makes it that much funnier, so watch his review and you'll get the idea.

Maybe it's just that the game didn't live up to all the type, and maybe it just couldn't quite clear the SS2 hurdle the developers so gloriously raised themselves. I suppose that if the game had received minimal advertising it would be the next awesome cult phenomenon, so it might all just be in "the image." Whatever the case me be, I still maintain that if you want the real experience, just go back and play SS2 with all the graphical mods in place. You'll love it, or hate it, or both. But I'd say SS2 is more likely to be worth what they're charging for BioShock, even now, than the latter itself.

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