Would You Kindly Read This Review?
Believe it or not, I have never played Bioshock, despite its large fanbase and classic status. After receiving the collection on PS+ I checked it out for the very first time, so how does it hold up?
Let me start off by saying that I am fully aware of this game’s cult following and if you’re someone who loves this game enough to bombard someone with hate over their opinion on it, then save yourself the carpal tunnel because I’m gonna tell you right now, I found the game to be very boring in a lot of places and I’m not a huge fan of the aesthetic.
But, that being said, I can appreciate what makes people love the title and I’m 90% certain my boredom came from trying to grind out the platinum.
Under da Sea
The game carries a pretty unique aesthetic. That’s “pretty unique” not “pretty, unique” because the game is, quite frankly, far from pretty. Every room is wet, covered in rust, carries a greenish-blue hue, and is very poorly-lit.
As we’ve learnt from more modern gaming, you need diversity in your visuals to create an exciting world which people want to spend many hours exploring. If every room looks the same, suddenly you’re not really bothered about checking every room, and the diversity in Bioshock just isn’t there to the extent it could be. In-fact, one of the first things the developers, 2K, let you do in Bioshock 2 is step outside of “Rapture” into the open ocean, suddenly creating a momentary level of excitement and wonder, showcasing the power of location diversity – though only for a moment.
However, Bioshock came from a time when everybody was putting dirty bland colour filters over their games and making their textures as grungy as possible because there was some idea at the time that in order for things to look realistic they had to be filthy, desaturated, and slightly blurry. Because of this, I have to forgive them a little, they didn’t know any better.
The developers actually had a pretty neat concept in terms of the theme; 1940s Capitalist America, except underwater with a lot of Subnautica neatly woven into the aesthetic. The game’s story is dark and gloomy but the technology left behind has a cheery vibe to it. You’re given tutorials and information from cute little 1940s cartoon characters and the 40s excitement and enthusiasm for capitalism contradicts the depressing and derelict surroundings.
Wait a second… This sounds familiar, right?
That’s right! It sounds just like the Fallout Series, except for the underwater part….
Well, let me set your suspicions to rest here for you, so you can get your beauty sleep, we don’t want the obvious question here keeping you up at night.
The Fallout series’ aesthetic really came into its own with Fallout 3. Looking back at Fallout 2 you wouldn’t have guessed it was the same series and it certainly isn’t comparable visually with Fallout 3 or Bioshock.
Bioshock launched in 2007 while Fallout 3 launched in 2008. But, given the impressive size of Fallout 3 and the sheer number of activities to enjoy in said game, it’s highly likely that both games were in development at the same time. So, no, I don’t think either developer “Did it first”. It looks as though it was just a strange coincidence and both teams were clearly influenced by something at the same time, be that popular culture or a societal, political, or technological event. I hope that sets your mind to rest.
In Bioshock, there are 7 weapons at your disposal, which already opens up the FPS gameplay up with a few different approaches to each combat scenario, but what really sets it apart and adds a greater level of strategy to any combat scenario are the Plasmids; genetic upgrades giving your character super-human abilities, similar to magic in your typical RPG game.
With plasmids, you can set enemies on fire for damage over time, or stun them on the spot with a quick blast of electricity, but they also allow you to hypnotise certain enemies to fight for you and launch physics object telekinetically.
The most potential with plasmids comes from cleverly placed environmental objects, like large puddles you can use to electrocute multiple enemies at once, or oil spills you can ignite, objects you can throw, etc. But it feels like the developers didn’t really think about it that extensively and that kind of strategy is unnecessary for the most part. It would have been cool to see a few stand-off moments where you need to use the environment against the enemy.
In fact, I barely even used my Plasmids at all unless I needed them to reach another area or needed to stun a machine to hack it.
Now, hacking machines is something which I found much more useful than the plasmid system itself.
Puzzle, Tonics & Upgrades
You can hack vending machines to reduce equipment costs or safes to acquire some decent loot, but the best use for hacking was against turrets and security cameras.
Throughout the game, there are turrets dotted in various areas which will absolutely pound you with munitions, but if you can get close enough to stun them with an Electrobolt Plasmid you can press to hack them, making them shoot at enemies instead. Similarly, hacking security cameras will make them send security bots after enemies instead of the player, and even the security bots themselves can be hacked to follow the player around, shooting enemies for them.
Hacking is actually a pretty neat minigame too. It’s one of those pipe & fluid puzzles where you need to get some liquid from point A to point B using the available pipe parts. The only real problem with this is that pretty much every puzzle for each hackable object has the same start and end-point. The available parts are randomised to a degree, but the solution is almost always the same as there seems to always be the same number of parts in a certain configuration.
Every now and then, though, you’ll get a really BS puzzle which boxes you in with tiles which will make you fail the puzzle immediately and you can’t avoid it unless you get the right part to swap out right at the start and somehow know to change the flow from the beginning. Which is ridiculous because all of the tiles need to be revealed by pressing with them selected, so there’s no way you could know before it’s too late.
Each puzzle has a difficulty, with puzzles later in the game being more likely to be hard. All this means is that the fluid will move faster, giving you less time to complete the puzzle.
Hacking puzzles can be made easier by use of “Tonics”, though, which are similar to Plasmids in that they modify you genetically, but the skills they bestow are passive. These skills can be as simple as slowing down hacking puzzles or making alcoholic beverages restore EVE.
EVE is basically mana, and as long as you have EVE in your EVE bar you can use your Plasmid abilities. Along with EVE, there is also, of course, ADAM.
ADAM is essentially EXP and can be used to purchase Plasmids, Tonics, Health upgrades and EVE upgrades from special vending machines called “Gatherers Gardens”. You don’t just get EVE from killing enemies though, you need to find and “Harvest” or “Rescue” little girls found all over Rapture called “Little Sisters”. These Little Sisters are always accompanied by an enemy I am sure you have all heard of before; “Big Daddies”.
These big MFers in early diving suits are real tough to take down in relation to other enemies, but they don’t attack on sight. A Big Daddy will only attack if you threaten it’s Little Sister and since we need Little Sisters for ADAM then we obviously need to take down any Big Daddy we see.
Big Daddies and Little Sisters actually play a huge role in the story so I won’t go much deeper than that, but look out for these big dudes. Trust me, you will know when there’s one close by.
Twists and Turns
The story in Bioshock is certainly interesting, and I think that even most of the die-hard Bioshock fans will agree that it is the game’s biggest selling point.
The story is told pretty well and you’re certainly taken on quite a rollercoaster. There are many big twists to rival even Shyamalan himself and one in particular even had me feeling plenty blown-away. It’s certainly a story worth experiencing, even if it’s the only reason you play the game.
I do feel like it gets side-tracked a lot, though. Clearly by design, but still… Pretty much any time you reach a new area you’re told: “Put a hold on that important objective of yours, we need to do this other thing now”. Which I suppose is pretty standard but it’s just very blunt and lacks much creativity.
My Bioshock Platinum Trophy Experience
Collection vs Story
My main issue with the story is that because I was going for the platinum trophy, I spent more time checking every nook, cranny, crook, and nanny looking for audio diaries and research photo opportunities than I did actually enjoying the story, so the pacing was all over the place.
I highly recommend that anybody looking to platinum the game – who has the time for an additional unnecessary playthrough – do a quick easy-mode run-through of the story so they can properly take it in and get the most out of it.
Because, while I certainly enjoyed the story, it was so broken apart that I feel like I barely even witnessed it.
Speaking of research photo opportunities; get ready for the game’s most irritating and time-consuming trophy.
At a certain point in the game, you will receive a research camera, which is a neat little toy. You can take pictures of different enemy types and earn Tonics and damage bonuses based on how much you research them.
Just like Pokémon Snap, you can get a better grade on a photo, based on different variables such as; whether they’re framed well, whether there are multiple enemies in the shot, whether they’re mid-attack (action shot), and so on. Depending on how high the grade is, you will gain research experience for that enemy-type. You can do this until research is maxed out and the camera tells you not to bother taking that enemy’s picture anymore.
This means that at every combat scenario once you have the camera, you’ll be pulling that out instead of a weapon, and snapping away at the enemies whilst they fill you full of bullet-holes or beat the ever-loving capitalism out of you.
You’ll also go through the majority of the game with a sense of anxiety that you haven’t taken enough photos of a certain enemy type and you haven’t seen one in a while; “Will they never show up in the game again?”, “Will I need to do another entire playthrough just to get this trophy because I screwed it up the first time?”, “Have I already researched this enemy?”, “Am I missing one?”, “I haven’t seen a Nitro Splicer in so long, oh god, I’m going to have to start again, aren’t I?”.
Of course, hindsight is a blessing because I now know that the trophy was actually pretty easy and as long as I kept taking photos of everything from turrets to Little Sisters, I was going to get those trophies and have plenty of time to do it.
Time for Beddy-Byes Mr. B
Aside from hundreds of Photos and 122 Audio Diaries to look out for, you also need to make sure you rescue every little sister. You can easily track these in the pause menu. There are a set number of Little Sisters in each level, and if you don’t have one yet you can just listen out for a Big Daddy and follow him around until he has a Little Sister with him.
In fact, of all the collectable trophies this was by far the easiest and I even found a pretty fool-proof method for farming them when I had one or two missing, you can find that in the tips section further down.
The most important thing to remember is to NEVER harvest a little sister. You gotta rescue them every single time for one of the trophies so be careful to always press and never when you’re stood in front of a Little Sister, once her Big Daddy is dead.
A Man Chooses… to Cheat
Alright, confession time.
I really didn’t want to play this game twice. I have other plats I want to get to and I like to get as many of these posts up as I can. I saved myself a whole lot of time by not having to play the game on the hardest difficulty.
There’s an exploit you can do right at the end of the game once you’ve reached it on Easy which allows you to pop the Hard mode and Survivor mode trophies all at once. Details on this method are in the tips section below.
If you turn off “Vita-Chambers” (basically respawn points) in the settings at the start of your playthrough, too, you will be able to pop two more trophies for completing the game on Hard and Survivor without using Vita-Chambers.
You don’t really need Vita-Chambers anyway, as long as you save often but you’ll probably never die on Easy anyway, I didn’t.
All in all, I got 7 trophies during the final cutscene; for beating the final boss, for saving all the Little Sisters, for beating the game on Hard, for beating the game on Survivor, for beating the game on Hard without Vita-Chambers, for beating the game on Survivor without Vita-Chambers, and the Platinum trophy.
Bioshock Platinum Trophy Tips
Get Snapping! – Research Photo farming
Something which I didn’t realise until a little later in the game, is that you can really abuse the research camera for a while. You don’t have to stop after your first photo on a single enemy, you can photograph the same individual enemy 4-5 times before the camera will refuse to take any more because the resulting score is too low. Sometimes it will say the score is too low, but if you zoom in/out on the subject with [R3] it will let you squeeze one last photo out of them.
Doing this on every enemy you encounter will speed up the trophy progress exponentially, and you’ll have it in no time. So keep that in mind, it’ll take a lot of the pressure off.
Another good thing to note is that when you kill a Big Daddy, a new one will spawn in the area that you killed the last one. So if you need more photos of a “Rosie” or “Bouncer” Big Daddy then you can just kill the one you’ve photographed to make a new one spawn, letting you get 4-5 more photos of it.
As an example, in the large courtyard of the mall where “Cohen’s Masterpiece” is, there will be a Bouncer Big Daddy. If you kill it, you will immediately hear a new one growling and stomping nearby. This is the perfect place to farm research photos for this enemy type. Look out for locations like that because you’ll save yourself a lot of time.
You’re really going to want to check everywhere for Audio Diaries. And I mean everywhere. Check corpses, boxes, desks, everything. And makes sure to look up, too. Most of the Audio Diaries which I missed turned out to be on the top of filing cabinets, which I missed because I never bothered to check on-top of tall objects. Do so, often.
You should really be checking everywhere anyway because you’re going to need a lot of loot for the Avid Inventor trophy…
Become a Hoarder – “Avid Inventor” Advice
As I said you will want to grab anything and everything you can from desks, drawers, corpses, boxes, shelves, safes (if you can be arsed), filing cabinets, anything that can be looted should be looted.
Not only will you always have way more money and ammo than you’ll ever need, you’ll have a crazy amount of crafting materials.
In honesty, I didn’t do this, I didn’t think to hoard supplies and I ended up spending hours gathering supplies near the end of the game so I could get this trophy:
Successfully invent at least 100 items
It’s also good to note that you should save all of your supplies, don’t use them on a U-Invent machine until you have a Tonic called “Clever Inventor”. This will reduce the number of items you need for each crafted item by 1. If you hoard your supplies, get this tonic, and then hack a U-Invent machine before using it (to further reduce costs by 1) you will have a wayy~ easier time with this trophy and be able to pop it in one U-Invent use.
You Can Cheat if Ya Wannew – Difficulty trophy exploit
The difficulty exploit is very, very simple.
First up, remember to save manually once you feel you’re close to that last boss fight. This way, if you somehow mess up the exploit, you can just load your save for infinite chances at it.
Even if you don’t manage to save, I’m pretty sure the game auto-saves not long before the fight so you’ll still be able to try again.
So, after playing through the game on easy mode, with “Vita-Chambers” turned to “Off” in the game settings, reaching the boss, and saving your game, you can go ahead and kick his ass.
You need to do something to the boss 4 times to beat him. On the 4th time that you press to do this thing, pause the game, change the difficulty setting to “Survivor” and then un-pause. The boss will die and the final cutscene will play, filling your hard-drive with trophy screenshots which I can’t show you because they all contain spoilers!
If you enjoyed reading this review, please do let me know, it means the world to us when we hear feedback and I love engaging with people over the game I just platted. It’s basically the only thing motivating us at the moment!
We also just started a Twitter account @GetPlat (no idea why twitter wouldn’t let us have PlatGet) where I’ll be sharing updates, upcoming reviews and general gripes about the games I’m working on so feel free to follow us or use it as another channel for feedback!
Check back soon for a review of the Bioshock 2 platinum which I’m working on right now, if I make it through hard mode… No exploits there!