Another casualty of over hype!
sharpfish wrote this review on .
Before it was released I'd been following it's progress for what seemed like years. As a fan of System Shock 2 (PC) I was convinced this game would be every bit as good, well perhaps even better. I loved the theme, the concept, the initial promotional videos.
However, when I bought it it all went downhill.
Firstly, there was a massive fuss about the lack of true widescreen support in the game. I was one of the major users involved in that debate over at the official forums. We as PC gamers didn't really want that 'zoomed in look' when playing 2 feet in front of a Monitor... it's 'ok' on a HDTV/Console (I know because I've had a 360 and have a PS3 at the moment and lots of games do that 'bad widescreen' possibly to look more impressive in videos, possibly to gain a few tiny extra frames per second).
So that was a big deal to me and many others, 2K were in denial for ages about it, calling it 'artistic vision'. Yeah right, it was the same as all other Unreal Engine 3 games at the time, each and every one of them had 'bad widescreen support'. EPIC used to be great on the PC but really things went downhill with UE3 and the games that used it. It was annoying as it was so simple to implement the correct projection matrix for the 16:10 aspect ratio. It's just a bit of simple math, and then everyone would be happy. It's not even as if it had multiplayer so there could be no cries of 'waah that widescreen guy can "see more" competitively than me'. In fact the irony was that 4:3 users were 'seeing more' vertically, a fact that escaped many who still use the incorrect argument that people who want proper widescreen handling just 'want more picture'. It's far more complicated than that. It comes down to factors such as immersion, ergonomics, motion sickness (in some) and pity the guys with 3 monitors who wanted to play super-wide.
Eventually 2K relented, saw the error of their ways and released a patch with an 'optional' setting, still calling their original decision an 'artistic' one (it had the exact same field of view as all the other unpatched UE3 games, it was NOT about artistic vision it was about laziness).
That lazy attitude also extended to the PC port of the game. The controls were pretty sub par for a 'AAA' PC game. You could tell it was a rushed port. Also it was scattered with sound bugs and other quite major problems. This killed quite a lot of the spirit of the game straight away.
Finally when I got to play it, I was disappointed. Big time. And this isn't just a mindless rant. I was disappointed because the game had such potential, and a great premise. Unfortunatley someone had made some pretty poor design choices back at base.
Firstly the Vita Chambers were.... somehow 'wrong'. Removing quite a lot of fun from the game, making it seem all quite trivial.
Gun play was, frankly, terrible. So much so that all weapons felt horrible to shoot with, instead most would resort to just using the wrench and whacking splicers (it was easier). It really did turn into the 'art deco whack a mole' game. A Phrase I coined 2 days after it's release that I've seen used quite a bit in the time since (I'm not saying they 'copied' my phrase, merely that others felt the same).
Splicers, the enemy, were horrible. Not in a 'scary' way but in a 'not at all fun' way. They were spindly, weightless, jerkily animated much like the rest of the games physics, I even had to 'tip off' one of the coders on the 2K forum to uncap the physics updates on the world; stuff like the barrels moving around at aprox 1/4 the frame rate of the rest of the game, also animated textures were updating very slowly - the whole environment felt hastily constructed and didn the setting no justice. I don't know if any final patches truly sorted the game because I gave up playing just over 2/3s of the way through.
I'd seen enough. It's rare I don't finish a game. Especially one I'd waited so long for. It just all got too 'horrible' to play. The reasons mounting in my mind like the maggots multiplying on a dead dog left in a ditch.
The lasting impression I got from the game was, it really tried to be something great. In places it looked gorgeous, in others it looked almost amatuer. It was that lack of consistency and 'ad hoc' design that really killed the immersion for me. Some real cheap level design tactics were in place. None of that would have mattered too much had the gameplay been stellar. It was barely fun to play for me.
Overall it was really just a prettily disguised corridor shooter with many loose edges, poor gun play, over blown story and littered with design problems and bugs.
In light of it getting 10/10 (best game ever; this week) reviews all around the net I was shocked to find such a superficial mess of a game behind those scores. This is the game where I finally started distrusting professional review scores. And since then I've become something of a cynic. Once bitten twice shy as they say.
One of my friends is hyped up for Bomberma... sorry Bioshock 2, I told him to lower his expectations and he MAY enjoy it, I'll probably take a look at it there and see if they've fixed the massive amount of problems in the original. Underneath the problems was a great idea waiting to be fully realised. For me Bioshock stands as the most disappointing game (In relation to my pre-release expectations) ever.
Overhype is killing the fun for many of these games. They can not live up to it, even if perfectly fine games. I guess initial hype and sales count more than long term player enjoyment or else the companies would realise a fairer scoring system would actually help people love their games for what they are, after playing, than on what all the sites/reviews are demanding we believe before the game is even released.