Daily Archives: September 19, 2007

Trying to prove that your conclusions should be more drastic

I finally got around to finishing Bioshock last night. It’s a terrific game, but I found it peaked somewhere around halfway through, and I slightly lost interest and didn’t have a desperate urge to finish it off particularly. Apart from anything else, it suffered an all-too-common curse of first person shooters of starting you off with a toy pistol that launches a flag saying “BANG”, making combat something of a challenge, then gearing you up with ever more devastating weapons as you go through the levels until you’re toting a Gatling hyperlaser with under-barrel tactical nuclear grenade launcher, reducing the challenge of encounters ever so slightly. The difficulty level was perfect for a while (playing on medium, I s’pose I should’ve looked into changing it towards then end), with ammunition being scarce but not to the point of reloading the game if you ever missed your target, but towards the end I was machine gunning my initials into walls just to make space to pick some more ammo up (I could’ve left it on the floor, but where’s the fun in that?)

Without giving away the plot, in case anyone’s still playing through, the dramatic tension unwound a bit as well. There’s the Big Revelation (and doubtless anyone who’s played the System Shock games was looking out for the twist… Everyone’s a ghost, they’re all clones, he’s his own brother, you think it’s the future but actually it’s set in the past, it’s not earth, it’s all a dream!), and then it’s hi ho, I s’pose I’d better get off and kill my nemesis, some bastard who is presumably responsible. You flesh out a few details, but other than that I didn’t feel the narrative was as strong. Still, the game as a whole is a cracker, and probably the first single player FPS I’ve played to completion since Far Cry.

Buoyed up by this heavyweight literary inspired FPS, I thought I’d carry on the theme and play some of the Quake Wars demo, with the thought provoking and densely-layered theme of “kill as many of the other team as you possibly can” “(with guns)”. Having played against bots enough to work out more or less what was going on, and realising that their attacking scripting was like playing with the worst pick-up group ever (“HELLO! WHERE AM I? HELLO! LOOK, MA, I’VE GOT A TANK! I’VE BROKEN IT, I’VE BROKEN IT! HELLO! MY HEAD IS STUCK IN THE CUPBOARD! HELLO! OH SORRY I RAN YOU OVER! HELLO!”), I actually went online and found some real people to shoot (or more frequently be shot by, but still). It was a blast, and though a few rounds were disappointingly one sided most were good old slugfests. I don’t think I embarrassed myself entirely, apart from my sole feature on the scoreboard being for “Most Team Kills” in one round, but in my defence they ran in front of the tank gun, your honour…