By Neil Schneider
I’ve played a lot of games, and Bioshock by 2K Games is by far one of the most memorable.
Set in 1960, your character’s plane crash lands in the Atlantic, and gasping for air, you happen upon a mysterious entrance smack dab in the middle of the ocean. What waits inside is a portal to “Rapture”, a secret underwater world of an elite society gone terribly wrong.
It is a bizarro world where 40’s class and style gets mixed with unheard of technology in any day and age. Technology like genetic enhancements that let you shoot fireballs from your hands, machine gun turrets and automatic cameras that whir and beep like the hokiest of bad movies, and handheld weapons that even Rambo would be jealous of.
Rapture started out as a community seeking progress without the barriers of authority. With its desire for improvement and perfection, genetic manipulation became commonplace. This genetic manipulation went too far, and Rapture turned to ruin; filled with a deformed and mentally disturbed population of wrench and gun toting maniacs. Now that you got yourself in, you have to figure out how to get yourself out with the assistance of Atlas, a friendly voice guiding you through this twisted world.
The best part of the game are the environments, with each getting more elaborate than the last. Rapture is in a constant state of decay and repair. Walking through glass hallways and seeing fish swimming about outside, you never know when a crack will open up and the ocean will spill in. With 40’s style music playing in the background, you can’t help but marvel at the beauty, wanting to explore more and admire every visual detail.
This game looks spectacular in stereoscopic 3D with the water effects in the windows, the elaborate rooms and environments you can’t help but explore, and the dynamic nature of your surroundings. Sparks, smoke, dripping water, steam, it’s all there and well rendered with the right S-3D solution.
Perhaps my favorite element of the game is the voice of Andrew Ryan, the entrepreneur who founded and runs the decaying Rapture. Armin Shimmerman (Quark from Star Trek Deep Space 9!) offers the classic voice of a visionary; his words, excitement, and conviction making the idea of Rapture almost seem real. He speaks with such passion and confidence, you are left wanting to hear more.
Everything relates to everything in this game with every character and enemy having their own story of how they came to be and how they molded in to being part of Rapture. You will come across “Splicers”, people who have modified themselves with genetic enhancements to the point of mental illness. You will need to capture seemingly harmless little girls (“Little Sisters”) who are protected by massively powerful “Big Daddies”, and of course, you will need to come face to face with Andrew Ryan himself.
This isn’t a standard shoot’em up either. Every gamer will have his own style. You can electrocute your enemies, you can use telekinesis to fling objects and fireballs at targets, you can command swarms of insects to eat your attackers alive, etc. etc. Who knows? Maybe that’s too much work, and you’d rather hypnotize your enemies to fight each other?
Taking advantage of your environment is everything in this game. You can hack cameras and gun turrets to work for you instead of your enemies, and there are all kinds of vending machines to buy ammunition and weapons upgrades as you go through the game – you can hack those too for better pricing. A note to the wise: when you go to the “Fort Frolic” casino, don’t waste ALL your money on the electric fortune teller.
Bioshock is a single player game with no multiplayer options. It is deceivingly simple in that when you think the story is about to end, it is really just beginning. I would estimate twenty plus hours of game play out of this one, and I think you will find it is worth every penny.
At the time of this review, NVIDIA has not yet released their new stereoscopic drivers yet, so this experience is based on the iZ3D S-3D solution. I will update this review to reflect both solutions when I can.
As it stands, Bioshock can be played with all settings on full with very playable frame rates. I was able to play at 1680 X 1050 resolution without noticeable speed loss with an 8800GTS 512MB (G92 chip), and with a slightly reduced resolution, I was also able to play on a 7900GTX GPU. As I am running on XP SP2, and as the S-3D drivers do not yet support DX10, this review is 100% based on DirectX 9 results.
The only stereoscopic anomalies I found were occasional shadows on walls that seemed to be floating against the surface, and the navigational arrow at the top of the screen is separated too far. The shadows are a rare problem, and the arrow separation is barely noticeable in the game. The majority of Bioshock is rendered with perfection. For example, your weapons don’t get separated to excess when you find the right settings, the cross-hair is accurate in stereo mode, the interface is uniform, and most importantly, the S-3D is immersive and not distracting.
Bioshock allowed full flexibility on how much depth and convergence or screen pop-out I wanted, and I think you will find it to be an excellent S-3D experience. I would go so far as to say that the nature of being an underwater environment with most rooms having an outside view to the infinite depths of the ocean really added to the stereo effect, and while it may not have been intended, this game really compliments stereo technology.
If you don’t yet own an S-3D solution, find yourself a pair of red/blue anaglyph glasses and download the iZ3D 1.07 or later drivers from mtbs3D.com. You won’t get full color results, but you will get a sense of the stereoscopic 3D effect that is being discussed here.
In the MTBS Game Reviews gallery section, you will find full sized side by side S-3D images and an anaglyph movie sample ready for download.
In conclusion, would you kindly post your thoughts on this review HERE, and let me know what elements would make future reviews better and more helpful to members and gamers interested in S-3D?
Stereoscopic Effectiveness iZ3D
Stereoscopic Effectiveness NVIDIA
How Memorable Is This Game
Overall rating: 8.83