Bioshock Review

January 8, 2008

Bioshock Review

Overall Rating : 9.8/10

Pros: Fantastic story, Innovative combat style

Cons: Frame rate issues, Limited replay value

It goes without saying that Bioshock has developed a following since it’s release. People hail it as revolutionary, and they’re right. The game grabs hold of you from the moment you step into the bathysphere and never let’s go. The premise is interesting enough- a failed underwater utopia created by distinguished industrialist Andrew Ryan. You find yourself trapped in the city of Rapture, and must fight for your survival. I won’t delve to deeply into the story (it’s something that needs to be experienced first hand). That being said, there are plenty of “holy #$&*” moments to be found throughout, moments that will stick with you as you continue your journey.

Obviously, the story is fantastic. How does the game play hold up? The answer: amazingly. This is a shooter; and that means, at its core, it’s all about the guns. The weapons dazzle, from the simple pistol to the cobbled together grenade launcher. All of them are upgradeable, by the end of the game they look otherworldly, keeping with the game’s steam punk art style. But the game is more than guns. Throughout the course of the game, you will be able to modify your character using genetic treatments known as plasmids. These powers truly make the game stand out with a wide variety of death dealers at your disposal. Light on an enemy on fire with a snap of your fingers, cover them in ice and smash them pieces, send a swarm of bees ripping out of your arms to destroy your enemies, the choice is yours. Encounters play out differently each time based on what means you choose to decimate your foes.

Speaking of your foes, the twisted citizens of Rapture, known as splicers, look as if you can easily tear them a new one. Wrong. The splicers are no pushovers. They know when to fight and when to run like hell. The different types of splicers fight with their own unique style; some will lob grenades at you while. Others will attempt to beat you to death with a lamp. Of course those are just the basic enemies; the true stars of the game are the big daddies. These giant, hulking, monstrosities clad in diving suits offer some of the most exciting and challenging moments in the game.

You’ll be fighting them quite a bit. If you want to improve your character, the only way is to buy more plasmids. Plasmids can be bought using Adam, the key to genetic modification. What’s the only way to get Adam? The little sisters, the creepy little girls that are protected by, you guessed it, the big daddies. Once you finish fighting off their guardians you have a choice: harvest the girl for maximum Adam, or save the girl for half the Adam but a chance at more rewards later. The choice doesn’t have as much impact as promised, but its an interesting idea that helps further the story.

The game’s graphics are top notch; the game looks amazing and creates a beautifully twisted world you won’t want to leave. The sound inspires awe as well. This is some of the best voice acting you will ever hear in game. Splicer’s screams and big daddy moans will get you every time. The presentation is perfect, right down to the piano keys you hear at the main menu.

The game is not without flaws. It’s something of a one trick horse. There is little reason to play through a second time. There are also minor frame rate issues, though these are kept to a minimum.

Bottom line: This is a game everyone needs to experience. (Especially those who say games can’t be considered art) You’ll try, you’ll love it, and you’ll never forget it. Welcome to Rapture…

 

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Review
Overall Rating: 8.7
Pros: Great story, Awesome multi-player, Kickin’ graphics
Cons: Terrible AI, Can’t open doors???, boring linear levels, innovative idea but poorly executed
    Infinity Ward, to the joy of gamers everywhere, decided to switch up the story of their award winning title, Call of Duty. Call of Duty 4 is not only set in modern day, but it is the first of the series to get a Mature ESRB rating. CoD4 uses the familiar cinematic storyline. It follows the lives of “Soap” MacTavish from the British SAS, and Paul Jackson from the USMC. There are other instances when the story switches to other characters in order to tell the story. The racing, testosterone-packed story is backed up by intense firefights in which you kick the asses of the Arab Ultranationalists. However, there is poor execution here by the AI. They offer little support in intense firefights and constantly bark orders at you. As a result, there is little deviation and there is usually only one way to accomplish a mission. And, you are babied through it most of the time. Somehow Infinity Ward left out the ability for you to open doors by yourself. So, you must either wait by the correct door for the team to catch up with you, or try and find them. Multi player uses a weighted class system. There are five default classes with cliche abilities such as sniper, heavy gunner, and demolitions. As you gain a higher rank other classes are unlocked, and once a certain level is reached you can create your own class. A nice touch allowing you to play to your personal style of combat. XP is earned by completing objectives and killing enemies. It works like every other game. More XP, higher rank. It’s a blast to play games of Deathmatch, Free-for-all, and sabotage. Infinity Ward made up some serious points with the multi player aspect of CoD4.
Bottomline: If you are looking for a easy shooter, Call of Duty 4 is worth a rental. If you like to play online, it’s worth a buy.

Portal Review

December 20, 2007

Portal Review
Overall Score: 9.6
Pros: Innovative puzzle playing, short and sweet
Cons: Limited plot, moaarrrr maps please?
Portal, originally developed by Valve as a bonus game for the Orange Box, has developed into a huge pop-culture phenomenon. The gaming world is humming with talk of the Orange Box and, as a surprise to Valve, much of it deals with Portal. It has even spawned a flash game created independently from Valve. It can be found here: http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/404612. And while it pales in comparison to the real thing, it operates on the same premise… and well..it’s free (sorry Valve). The plot of Portal is very simple. You are a test subject in an Aperture Science laboratory; and, you must complete a series of puzzles using a specialized gun that creates portals. Each level presents a new set of challenges. You must manipulate space-time by creating portals to get you to the end of the level. The catch is only some surfaces are conducive to portals. And, you must use a “Companion Cube” to press down strategically placed buttons which trigger doors that stand in your way. This game requires a keen mind and ingenuity to navigate through out all 18 levels. GLaDoS, the head of research at the factory, helps you through your first few levels and provides some comic relief. Let me just scream this, “Watch the end credits!” Sliding in at just over 4 hours for one play through Portal is short and sweet. The game offers some “bonus maps” once you beat the game. But, you can’t help but feel ripped off. Valve just has taken the same maps and altered them slightly making them harder by adding water, fewer boxes, timers, etc.
Bottomline: Simply a must play. You can NOT afford to pass up this game. At least play the flash game. It truly is mind bending.