Bioshocked- FPS for the Non-Gamer

Samm May 26, 2010 1 Comment »
It should be noted that I’m not a gamer. Yes, I play video games but I do it with the attention span of a goldfish. It’s hard for me to play through an entire game without getting frustrated and giving up. So to put myself into the same category as actual gamers, whose skill and focus far surpasses my own, seems wildly inappropriate.

Despite my lack of gaming prowess, I just have to say that 2K’s Bioshock is, by far, one of the most groundbreaking games of our generation. The gameplay is fantastic, the graphics are amazing and the story is intricate, original and downright phenomenal. All this from a game that was released in 2007.  If you haven’t played it before you can find a great synopsis of the story HERE: WARNING THERE ARE SPOILERS!

As a writer and holder of an English degree, I’m always a big fan of things that have detailed and original storylines. Bioshock is one of them. I played the game through twice (on Easy mode) before I caught on to the minute details the writers threw into the plot. Even if you aren’t the one playing (it’s single player) you can sit and watch it like a movie. Kudos to the writers of this game. You have done an excellent job.
The gameplay for Bioshock is relatively simple. Ok, so it’s simple if you’re experienced with first person shooters (FPS). For a novice like myself, it’s still isn’t bad…once you get the hang of it. Before you get the hang of it you’re pretty much frelled. For me there were several moments, usually during battle, when I’d get myself turned around to the point where I would be looking at the ceiling as I watched my health meter drop. It was frustrating and I admit, I panicked several times.
The “right stick controls your sight/left stick controls your motion” method seems to be the standard controller configuration for first person shooters. Once you get the hang of it, and believe me it takes a while to get used to it, it’s not that bad. After a while looking and running almost becomes second nature. Some people catch on to this faster than others. For me it took at least half the game for me to stop inching along, turning my “head” and inching forward some more.
You’ll wish you had more fingers when it comes to using your weapons and plasmids! The right bumpers control your weapons, allowing you to select your weapon and fire it. The left bumpers control your plasmids following the same format as your weapons. However, you can only work with one hand at a time. In Bioshock it isn’t possible to fire your weapon and your plasmid at the same time. This makes for tricky battle sequences when you really could use both hands. This is especially difficult when you’re a player like me who has problems aiming at moving targets.
Speaking of moving targets, there is an auto-aim option on Bioshock! Oh how I got my hopes up with this! Actually it falls short…seriously short. I expected auto-aim to mean that if I pointed my gun at a splicer the target would lock on and I could fire away no matter how much the little bugger wiggled. Wrong! All it means is that your target turns red and it kind of stays locked on the target. I’ve died many times screaming “But I was hitting it!” Only to have my husband reply that I was in fact hitting the wall next to the splicer even though my target was red.
Gameplay as far as your controller goes is pretty much the same in Bioshock 2. There are, however, two awesome things about Bioshock 2 that almost make up for the lackluster plot. #1. You get to be a Big Daddy. I can’t tell you how awesome this is. Finally you’re one of those lumbering hunks of metal that sends fear into the hearts of the bad guys. The added Big Daddy bonus is that you now get to adopt and carry around your very own Little Sister! While on your back this adorable little munchkin spits out some pithy sayings so make sure you’re listening to her.
The #2. most awesome thing about Bioshock 2? Finally you can use your weapon and your plasmid at the same time! I say this is awesome as though I’m coordinated enough to actually manage to use both at the same time. I imagine though that this would be a very good thing for those out there that can actually play the game on Normal mode.
Despite the lack of a detailed plot in Bioshock 2, the place where it did surpass the original Bioshock (aside from graphics and the fact that you get to be a Big Daddy) is with the boss battles. I’ve always had problems with boss battles. I’m not very good at figuring out whatever sequence I need to perform in order to kill the boss. Bioshock 2 was no exception. However, unlike Bioshock it also didn’t make the bosses easy to defeat.
Your primary boss in Bioshock 2 is the Big Sister. Big Sisters get very cranky when you take one of their Little Sisters and carry her around with you. Generally the Big Sister attacks are extremely fast paced. The Big Sister can climb on walls, leap tall buildings in a single bound, throw stuff at you using telekinesis, and generally just beat the snot out of you before you even realize what’s happening.
In the original Bioshock your boss battles were, for the most part, with citizens of Rapture. Lets face it, a person, no matter how psychotic they are, is going to be easier to beat than a superhuman, armor clad Big Sister. It’s just the law of common sense. The last thing I expected to be easy was the boss battles in Bioshock. I was sorely disappointed. I often found the boss battles to be easier than killing the Big Daddies!
Fighting off the Big Sisters might sound like a piece of cake to all of you real gamers out there. It probably is! You’re warned that the Big Sister is approaching and you’re given plenty of time to set up traps. Sometimes those traps just aren’t enough and the AI of the game is smart enough to have the Big Sister change her route, often avoiding some of your traps. The programmers didn’t want to take pity on you though. Instead of having the Big Sister take more damage they threw in some added splicers to spice up the party.
Most of the time when you’re battling a Big Sister you’re getting hit from all angles; so if you’re like me and can’t aim at moving targets, load up on ammo and things that make a big boom! This will help you fend off those splicers and hopefully deal some damage to the zippy Big Sister.
Here are my tips for FPS newbs playing Bioshock and Bioshock 2:
1. Read a summary of the plot before you play. It will help you. By knowing generally what’s going on you won’t be as distracted trying to pay attention to plot points.
2. Take your time! Get used to the controls and how to use them. It might take you a while to feel comfortable but your patience will be well worth it.
3. Make sure you look around! Look for treasure in all of the nooks and crannies. You’ll be surprised what you find. Just because the “story” tells you to move on to the next room/level/etc doesn’t mean you have to do it right away!
4. Try not to get frustrated. We all die a million times. Don’t let it discourage you. If you find yourself being discouraged have a friend get you past your sticking point and continue playing!
Happy Gaming!
NOTE: Bioshock and Bioshock2 are rated M for Mature.

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