Bioshock review

As a New Year’s gift to myself I have invested in a PS Now subscription (Sony is currently offering 12 months at the low, low price of around £49.99 so bit over £4 a month. The friendly peeps over at CDKeys will sell you a redemption code for the same package at £39.99 if you fancy bagging a bargain). With my clever clogs hubby about to embark on degree, and with no telling when a vaccine might make recreational Going Outside an advisable pursuit, I figure I’m going to have a fair amount of time on my hands in 2021. And PS Now has some awesome golden oldies just waiting for me! I initially looked into it to see if I could play the original Red Dead Redemption and thereby make sense of my narrative gripes with RDR2. Which I can, so expect a review of that at some point in the future. I also spotted Elder Scrolls Oblivion, which might well get a replay out of me (and if Skyrim ever shows up on there, don’t expect to see me any time soon – vaccine or no vaccine).

But having just finished 80-odd hours on Grand Theft Equine I decided to treat myself to a bit of a FPS palate cleanser. And what should catch my eye but the original Bioshock! Hurrah, I thinks to myself, I can finally complete my reverse-order playthrough of this seminal trilogy! And diving (pun absolutely intended) back into the dystopic depths of Rapture sounds like just the Tonic (also intended) to the endless hours of Lemoyne’s grassy prairie.

It starts with pretty familiar territory; navigating the hostile denizens of an underwater Art Deco hellscape. Collect some cool weapons, stock up on Plasmids & save the Little Sisters (because I’m not a monster). But after a few hours it felt really, really familiar. To the point I became convinced that I had actually played this game before. I remembered playing Bioshock 2, I had written a blogpost about it, but I started to doubt my own memory.

Apparently I’m not the only one to pick up on this. Bioshock 2 garnered some criticism for being too similar to its predecessor, a fact to which I was entirely oblivious on account of playing these games in reverse. But now I can fully appreciate the frustration gamers of 2012 must have felt; to say they are ‘similar’ is putting it mildly. They are near bloody identical! The plot is the same, the mechanics are the same & the aesthetic is the same. BS2 includes a couple of different characters, and getting to go all driller-killer is fun, but other than that it’s basically the same game split across two disks. In fact the RDR2 epilogue with its emphasis on Farming Simulatator 1899 much less in common with the preceding main story that it feels like an entirely different game bolted on to the end. With Bioshock and Bioshock 2 the opposite is true and it’s quite disappointing to see in the 5 years between games so little development was on show.

So, a bit underwhelming. But nonetheless a reasonable distraction to while away the last few days of my holiday before starting back at work, and as I effectively played this through on my 7 day free trial of PS Now I can hardly complain it’s a waste of money. Onto the next!