WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS
You are Booker DeWitt a private investigator for hire. You’ve been sent to a city in the sky called Columbia that has succeeded from the United States of America and is run by a man named Zachary Hale Comstock. Somewhere in the city he’s holding a woman named Elizabeth. The mysterious client states that if you bring her back, he’ll wipe away all of your gambling debt.
I originally didn’t want to review this game because it has been done to death. Everyone who hasn’t lived under a rock, or granite like substance, has noticed this game and give it perfect score. I liked the first one and is probably one of the better FPSs of its time. The originals story stood out as being completely depressing and at that time it was different because it didn’t make you a completely infallible person. Also its gripping seeing as you’re trapped between two douches fighting for a city in total chaos and all you’re trying to do is figure out why you’re there and how to freaking get out alive. The continued mystery and noir themes would build tension throughout the game without making it feel suffocating.
This takes the same premise as the first one. You’re some average bloke who can’t remember anything and goes to a mysterious place to look for answers. Sound familiar!? Good, because there are very few changes. They have their wacky characters that are entertaining, possibly incestual, but most either not explored enough or you end up killing them. This, like the previous one, has a lot of gray characters instead of being absolute good or bad, like most FPSs. This one takes a bit of a chipper tone since its colored as a racist southern version of Disneyland. It was neat to walk amongst the city, and it’s citizens, before everything was thrown into pure anarchy mostly due to their own stupidity.
The beginning was good. It took the ‘damsel in distress’ story and warped it to make her more then just a powerless girl. In fact it alluded that she might be some kind of God-like creature. Anyway, it blunders about and introduces allies and villains in awkward ways. Like I had to look for a power up in one location that was ruled over by a local gang. The only option was to go in and kill them all. So the only purpose for them to be in the story was to guard that single power up. I thought this was a bit of a waste since they were a kinda gray group (morality wise) who only wanted to be recognized for their deeds. So much more could have been developed with them and instead they were killed off really early. Then one group was introduced, they steal your stuff, and then try to kill you later despite helping them out. This irritated me because they knew you had a time traveling girl on your side. It shouldn’t surprise them if you ‘come back from the dead.’ Also they seem to flip flop on agreements with little to no warning. It’s just stupid plot twists that had me rolling my eyes a lot.
I really don’t like that I have to give this game a low score because everything was going swimmingly up until the games ending. The ending really ruined it for me. It reminded me of several 1970s sci-fi films where the good guy is somehow a alternate time version of the bad guy. In this case DeWitt if he seeks forgiveness in one reality he becomes a racist stereotype of the south and builds Columbia. If he doesn’t, in some alternate universe, he does fuck all till he gets a invitation from someone to go find Elizabeth. So in other words he becomes the villain in one universe and in the other he’s a completely depressed alcoholic in another. I don’t have any problem with the second outcome. However our wondrous dumbfuck Elizabeth does.
So as the ending roles it’s kinda open to interpretation so I can only tell you what I got from it. She basically explains that’s shes a time traveling omnipotent God like entity who can see different universes, times, and can see how everything happens. She basically leads DeWitt in believing everything happens the exact same way, in every universe, and he has no choice but to do the same stuff over and over again. This is bullshit if you’ve read anything about time travel EVER! She says everything repeats itself until he figures out what needs to be done. Eventually it strikes him that in order to prevent all the future tragedies he needs to kill Comstock at birth. So he asks her to help him kill the guy. She brings him back to some open void in time and lets him know he’s Comstock and DeWitt and in order to destroy a possible bad future she has to kill him.
I thought this ending was total and utter crap. If she wanted to prevent a ‘bad future,’ for other people, that meant she would eventually have to kill everyone else too to stop them from possibly becoming corrupt power hungry maniacs. Also if she is some kind of time traveling entity then she could have easily manipulated any instance in time to her, or societies, advantage. NOPE! Instead she, and her very narrow perspective on it all, choses to jump through time and universes to kill this same guy over and over again, regardless if he turns out to be a good guy or not. This is pretty much is what’s theorized at the end when multiple versions of herself show up. Instead of going through time, or other universes, and fixing things she has a fetish for killing this one guy over and over again.
On top of that it’s the most drawn out and pretentious thing imaginable. Instead of doing the simple thing and putting a bullet in his head and moving on, tear a spot in time and turning his brain into pudding, or letting him get killed by someone in Columbia, but she doesn’t. She instead goes all out theatrical and drags everything out so long that it makes the player wonder if everything, even Columbia, was intentionally setup to trap this one guy. She has him relive everything in Columbia (all the fighting, clue finding, tragedy, etc.) and holds this long elaborate plot to show him how guilty he should feel. In turn this makes him feel bad and she opts to kill him. She’s a fucking sadist in my opinion. If you download the DLC Burial At Sea then you’ll see that she jumps into another dimension and goes out of her way to kill him all over again. So not only does she lack a moral compass, but she lacks common sense, is exceedingly lacking self control, but on top of all that she has no fucking clue what she’s doing.
The only good things about this game is the gameplay and graphics. The gameplay is just like the last and has a lot of features added to it. It’s taken the FPS format and added battlemage capabilities. This means you basically play as mixture of warrior and wizard style of combat. You have a gun in your right hand and use your left to cast spells. This adds some great combos and make some of the tougher battles a little more strategic.
There’s a lot of variety in both strategy and kill combos. Everything can be upgraded, except DeWitt and Elizabeth. The only addition that is noteworthy is the clothing. Some areas have clothes that can give you special abilities. It’s a nice perk, but unless it’s something outside normal gameplay (like the shield) then most aren’t noticeable when being worn. Like one piece of clothing lets you run super fast after you lose 50% of your life for about 5 seconds. The only added ability that I didn’t care for was the shield. It seems to be gone after 2 hits most of the time and then health, ammo, and salts are nearly everywhere you turn so if they are going to try to make things so piss easy why bother with a shield at all, especially if it’s gone after a few hits? Also there is a hook rail system that you can jump on to run away from enemies. I found this obnoxious because it made it difficult to aim at anyone and other then some linear story progression it’s mostly useless.
Another bonus is Elizabeth acts as a companion that actually does something, other then die or get in the way. In combat she’ll throw you health, ammo, and salts to help keep you alive. The odd thing is that th AI completely ignores her. There were many times when she was crouched down behind a crate and the enemies went around her side to get to me. I thought that it was strange that there wasn’t any interaction her since the whole town was seeking me out to A) kill me and B) return the girl to her tower. Even if I did die in a heated battle she’d somehow drag me to the side and revive me, for a price. Again, she either did this ‘unnoticed’ or the enemies ignored her.
The graphics are probably a example of the best the PS3 can offer. The bloom is proportioned nicely throughout the game, it gives characters shadows on their face, and adjusts as characters walk. The animations break some of the immersion because they really aren’t expressive outside of cut scenes and give some dramatic dialog a jejune delivery. There were rarely any hangups while rendering the game. The few that did seem to glitch were light rendering errors. Other times it would seem to want to freeze the screen and load for no apparent reason. For example: it would take only a short time to load the game and then when you moved to another area on the same map it sometimes would popup saying it was loading, but not show the stagnate loading screen. Other then that they did a great job making the characters both look kinda cartoonie and lifelike.
This is probably the worst of the series to me. It takes old sci-fi stories from the 1970s and beats it like a dead horse till you see it’s bones. The cliché contrived betrayals happen, the good guy is secretly the bad guy or the other way around, blatant bad guy stereotypes are used a lot, and then it has you reflect on the previous two Bioshock games. Sure it’s fun, fast paced, and has a lot of the game play elements, and more, of the previous two for everyone to enjoy, but I hate this story.
If you want something that has good gameplay then buy this, just try your best to ignore the story.