Bioshock Trailer

By Shamus
on Feb 23, 2007
Filed under:
Video Games

When I lamented the way PC games have gone sideways because of graphics hardware, this is one of the games I had in mind: (WARNING: Bloody.)

Looking way back at my original post on system shock, I listed a number of attributes that a game must have for it to really hit the sweet spot for me. The player should be more or less alone. (No companions or buddies following you around and breaking immersion.) The setting should be a self-contained world. (As opposed to outdoor areas with invisible walls or other things keeping you penned in.) The player should be an empty vessel for me to inhabit. (As opposed to a distinct character – like Solid Snake.) Finally, I’m one for persistent, non-linear worlds. (So I can re-visit previous areas at leisure.) To that, I’d add that the plot should be something primal or elemental, such as survival. (As opposed to going on some preposterous mission.) The number of games that fit these criteria are shockingly small. Bioshock is a rare entry into this exceptionally narrow niche.

And yet, I’m not going to get it.

I just can’t justify putting out that kind of cash for yet more graphics hardware. I also don’t want to play the 360 version. Console fans keep telling me how you “get used to” a joystick. Fine, I’m sure I could also get used to writing my posts on a 12-digit phone pad, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s an inferior tool for the job and results in a less rewarding experience. Meh.

To be fair, titles like this are the ones where pushing the envelope is justified. First-person games are the most demanding visually, because the world is right there in your face. These games are about immersion, and fancy rendering can help with that. Still, I’ve been waiting for a game like this for about eight years, so it’s pretty tough to miss out now that it’s finally here.

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201225 comments. Neato.

From the Archives:

  1. Zerotime says:

    I’m still trying to convince myself that AUD$3000 is a perfectly acceptable price to play BioShock, S.T.A.L.K.E.R., and the next Splinter Cell game. It’s not working too well so far.

    Incidentally, did you like the first Deus Ex game?

  2. empty_other says:

    Damn, i am tired to see the “On X-Box only” logo on every damn singleplayergame and fightergame and game with a story… :(

  3. Vegedus says:

    Hm, a damn shame Shamus. I’m just hoping my gaming rig, which I bought around a year ago for about a 1000$ and runs oblivion fine on medium settings, will be able to take it with a new graphics card and some more ram.

  4. Roy says:

    Console fans keep telling me how you “get used to” a joystick. Fine, I’m sure I could also get used to writing my posts on a 12-digit phone pad, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s an inferior tool for the job and results in a less rewarding experience

    God! Exactly right!
    What part of “I’d rather play on the PC because I have more control with a mouse and keyboard” do some people not get?

  5. phlux says:

    It’s sad that PC gaming is dying as it is. I still think the gleaming ray of hope on the horizon is Windows Vista. Not because it’s a great operating system, or anything, but because it’s a graphics MONSTER.

    All of a sudden there will be millions of computers out there that NEED a high-end graphics card just to run the fancy graphical interface in Vista. That OS can and will utilize a graphics card with 256MB of onboard memory and a 3d GPU.

    Everything is cheaper when you can mass produce it. So prices are goign to come down. It might take a year or two to see this effect hit it’s stride.

    My reasoning for why this helps the games industry is the following: Right now, game companies cannot assume that the majority of PC owners have a decent graphics card. 90+% of all PCs have onboard/integrated chipsets with shared video memory that suck balls at playing games. These people don’t even bother buying PC games. Thus the game companies cater almost exclusively to power-gamers who have explicitly purchased high-end equipment.

    Once game companies can reasonably assume that most users will have at least what is currently considered a “mid range” 3d graphics card in their system, they will stop catering exclusively to the high end crowd and make a more mainstream product.

    There is hope. And it comes from microsoft. Creepy feeling, no?

  6. Iron says:

    Bioshock is similar to those games because the same group of people are making it. System Shock and Deus Ex and the Thief games were made by the group of developers who first worked at Looking Glass, then Ion Storm, and now 2k games after the folding of each company.

  7. Jeff says:

    “God! Exactly right! What part of “I’d rather play on the PC because I have more control with a mouse and keyboard” do some people not get?”

    The part where you are cheating yourself out of a great game, because you’ve grown so used to parroting the favorite line of hardcore PC Fanbois, that you don’t even care if it’s true anymore. At least the Fanbois have the decency to realize that you need to pay for the hardware if you want to play on the PC.

    Seriously, get over it. These games play just fine on the console. I’m still a big fan of the PC, and I’ll probably get BioShock for the PC, but mostly because I expect the graphics to be better and not because of the controls. I used to be like you (“It sucks without a mouse!”), but then I grew up.

    If you think you’ll love BioShock, but are willing to skip it because you think you can’t put up with a control pad, you should just give up on gaming in general.

    I don’t think you still care much for it.

  8. Chris says:

    My veiw on graphics alters with each game. If the game is good,innovative and interesting, I see no reason for it to skip on graphics if it can do all of them.

    My porblem is when games push their sales using graphics and then have little interesting content. Or in some cases, very little content of any form.

  9. Shamus says:

    “I used to be like you (”It sucks without a mouse!”), but then I grew up.”

    Okay Jeff: Notice how others expressed their opions without insulting other people? Yeah. That is a skill you need to cultivate in a big hurry if you want to stick around. I’m not even kidding.

    Nobody is “parroting” anything. I’ve made a value judgement and said “A is superior to B”. I came up with this opinion all by myself. It was not bourne of a lack of maturity. It’s result of years of gaming, using both controllers, and realizing that each controller has its strengths and weaknesses, and that using the wrong controller for the job results in a frustrating experience.

  10. I can’t remember exactly where I saw it, but I recall a discussion about the game Red Steel for the Wii, where the developers were talking about first-person controls. They cited statistics to the effect of “A standard keypad-controlled console FPS allows the user to do a 180 in two to three seconds, a PC user can do a 180 in a half second, and in Red Steel on the Wii it’s one second to 1.5 seconds.” I may have the exact numbers wrong, but it’s something like that. (Link would be appreciated.)

    My point being, having greater control on PCs is empirical fact, not opinion. I remember during my Quake 2 days doing a 180 was just a flick that was in my muscle memory. I used a trackball, which was an uncommon choice, but I always wondered why, since a trackball does that flick better than even a mouse could; it’s always the exact same flick, no need to worry about pad position. I wouldn’t be surprised I had it down to a third of a second, depending on how you time it. Compared to that, console FPSs have always seemed klunky. They are designed around that klunkiness so it pretty much all works out, but it’s still like going through the world in a neck brace (you want to turn to see something, you must turn your entire body).

    (I also think the Wii could potentially be accelerated by taking advantage of muscle memory, but the control scheme I have in mind is beyond the scope of this message. :) )

    Despite the relatively poor reviews of Red Steel, I’ve found myself hoping the Wii can work out how to get FPS controls usably slick on a console. I’ve gone all laptop and would have to start a gaming rig from scratch, and there are so many ways I just can’t justify that. If the Wii can’t work it out, no FPS for mii. (Not the end of the world, of course, but I wouldn’t mind another go.)

  11. Rebecca says:

    I don’t get that trailer at all. You have to kill the kids to move forward in the game?

  12. Jeff says:

    It wasn’t really meant as an insult (though I see how it could be seen as such and so I apologize), more as relating my personal experience. Really, I grew up and realized that a more relaxed attitude towards the world made for healthier, happier living.

    Yes, a mouse generally works much better for aiming than a right thumbstick and a PC is a slightly better platform for shooters, because of it. But the keyboard is actually an extremely klunky interface for gaming and far inferior for walking around than a left thumbstick. A good example is walking and sneaking. On the PC have to use your pinky finger to hold down a button and then your character moves more slowly. With a thumbstick you just move the stick further forward the faster you want to move. You’re not limited to two pre-set speeds, you can move at whatever speed you want. Much smoother.

    But that’s not really the point. Yes, mouse is TEH BETT4R. I actually agree. But it’s not so much better, that you should skip BioShock because of it. That’s madness, man! (Particularly, if you consider your precise description of the type of game that turns you on.)

    Just relax a bit, overlook the slight inferiority of the thumbstick, and enjoy the world of Rapture.

  13. Shamus says:

    Rebecca: The idea is that it is one of the choices in the game. The “little girls” have these genetic resources that can make you much more powerful. They are very weak, but defended by the big robots. The interesting thing is that if you theave them alone they leave you alone. They aren’t monsters that jump you in the gameworld – they are just other inhabitants.

  14. phlux says:

    Or you could just crank the graphics down to a more reasonable level. Sure you won’t have the (as you call it) bling-mapping, but I’ve discovered that graphics, good or bad, often fade into the background after a couple of hours.

    Best most recent example is Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. This is a game that is not even of high graphical standard for a gamecube game. Nonetheless it has beautiful art direction and makes up for its lack of realtime rippling water reflections and high definition textures with excellent level design, fantastic gameplay, innovative new items and a great storyline.

    By the end of the first temple I got over the fact that it didn’t look as good as Oblivion or Gears of War and didn’t think about it again for the rest of the game.

    Bioshock looks pretty sweet. I can’t decide if I’ll get it for PC or console. I wanted to do a big PC overhaul anyway, so I might go that route. Often times these decisions are made for me though…the console game usually comes out first, and I’m not big on waiting for a game that I could have right now.

  15. Shamus says:

    phlux: If it lets me dial things down to where they will run on my dusty old gfx card, I’m sold. I still enjoy old games, assuming I can get them to run, so bling isn’t an issue with me. I have Nvidia 6600. I predict the game will demand 7000 series or better.

  16. I have to say that’s an impressive trailer. “KNO Radio”? Ho ho ho.

  17. Lanthanide says:

    I think it should run fine on your graphics card, although you’ll probably have to sacrifice some quality/resolution.

    It’s not like a 7600 is way faster compared to a 6600, the main difference is support for more shaders or whatever, but they are generally not required – as long as you support at least some shaders, you’re good to go. And there’s no way that this game would not support a 7600, so by extension, your 6600 should be adequite.

    And I just don’t buy your strange idea that a the majority of new games need to have a very-top-of-the-line graphics card that costs $400 every 12 months to run. I’m still running on AGP with an 800XT PE (which I bought just over a year ago for $150 US, prior to that a 9800Pro) and I can run pretty much any game I want, including oblivian, at reasonable quality and resolution settings.

    Have a look at the steam stats gathered by Valve, and you’ll see that the majority of game players are in the same boat you are. Therefore, game makers, if they want to appeal to a wide audience, are forced to make their game compatible with 6600-era hardware. http://www.steampowered.com/status/survey.html

  18. Roy says:

    The part where you are cheating yourself out of a great game, because you’ve grown so used to parroting the favorite line of hardcore PC Fanbois, that you don’t even care if it’s true anymore.

    1. It is true. The mouse offers far more control over the aspect of an FPS that tends to be pretty important- aiming. Yes, the keyboard offers less control for walking than the thumbstick does, but I find the keyboard/mouse combo offers significantly more control, in general.
    2. Who said that I was “cheating” myself out of anything? If I have a choice, I prefer to play FPS games on my PC. If there’s a good FPS game that’s only on consoles, I’ll play that, but if it’s similar to a PC FPS, I’ll take that, thanks.

    Seriously, get over it. These games play just fine on the console… …I used to be like you (”It sucks without a mouse!”), but then I grew up.

    See, the beauty of being me is that I don’t have to “get over it.” I have six consoles, three of which are currently hooked up to my television, and my PC. I enjoy console gaming, and I enjoy PC gaming. If a game looks good, I’ll get it. I recognize that I don’t like most FPS games on consoles. I find the controls frustrating and annoying, most of the time. There are the rare gems that manage to be really good, and I’m happy to play them, but if it’s available for PC, I’d rather play it there.
    Note that I don’t have a problem with people who enjoy console FPS games- I just find them frustrating. Years of FPS games on a PC have made me really, really appreciate the control a mouse offers. I don’t think it’s a matter of needing to “grow up.” Although, telling people to “grow up” or “just give up on gaming in general” doesn’t really lend a lot of credit to your claim that you’re grown up.

  19. phlux says:

    I’m not sure where a Radeon 9800 Pro compares with an nvidia 6000 series, but I think they’re in about the same range.

    The last FPS I played on my PC was FEAR. That was the first time I realized that my card was “getting old”. Since then I’ve been pretty much only playing old games, or low-res titles on the PC and going with my 360 or Wii for newer stuff. It’s wierd. I’ve always considered myself a PC gamer, but I’ve got a huge collection on consoles.

    The upgrade dilemma for me is a motherboard one. My old one doesn’t have a PCI-E slot on it, so I have to buy a new motherboard. If I want to spend only about 200 dollars I could get a very high end AGP card, but it still isn’t as good as a PCI-E one, and my upgrade path will be maxed out for this machine, and when I DO decide to upgrade, my AGP card will be useless again.

  20. Lanthanide says:

    The big difference between the 9800 Pro and the newer cards is that the newer cards support pixel shader 2 and 3, while the 9800 only supports 1.3 (IIRC). Which is the point I made in my post – the speeds across generations of cards really aren’t that different, it’s the extra features that matter. The 6600 actually supports pixel shader 3 (although probably pretty slowly), so from that regards there’s no problem. Most games would have pixel shader 2 support right now anyway.

  21. Thad says:

    You can watch a “demo”/walkaround of the game, with commentary by the developer, at:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IR2qJjJiAYw

  22. “The part where you are cheating yourself out of a great game, because you’ve grown so used to parroting the favorite line of hardcore PC Fanbois, that you don’t even care if it’s true anymore.”

    And yet it’s still true.

    There are plenty of games for which console controls are vastly superior to a keyboard-and-mouse, but traditional FPS and RTS games are not on the list.

    RPGs? Doesn’t make a difference. Driving games? I prefer console controls. Tennis? Gimme a Wii controller, no question.

    But if I’m playing a game where I want to be able to either target something quickly and accurately (FPS) or select large groups quickly and accurately (RTS), then the mouse is the tool for the job.

    Console FPS controls have certainly improved. For example, I consider Goldeneye to be essentially unplayable compared to PC titles of the same era. Halo, OTOH, is playable… but after playing Halo on the PC, it’s really clear the control compromise which is being made when you play it on the X-Box.

  23. Cineris says:

    Honestly, watching this trailer kind of gives me the creeps. I’m hoping actual gameplay won’t result in my character getting mutilated and screaming and agony as he does in this trailer…

    As for upgrading PCs, I expect to upgrade maybe twice in the next decade. Unless something unexpected and amazing comes along, I can do pretty much everything I want to do on my current machine. Keeping up with the Joneses as far as file/program bloat is the only reason other than games to upgrade.

  24. Wonderduck says:

    “Incidentally, did you like the first Deus Ex game?”

    The same way I like air. It may not be the best game ever, but in my little world, it’s in the top 5 or so. I actually enjoyed Deus Ex MORE than Half-Life, Unreal Tournament or NOLF2, for example.

    I’d still be playing it if it played well with my dual-proc computer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t… too much stuttering and jerking. Alas.

  25. Lanthanide says:

    When you watch the game designer run-through, you discover how much this game is really just a carbon copy of SS2, but with new graphics and water instead of space and polygonal beasts.

  26. Jasiah says:

    Incidentally, I feel the same, Cineris.Why ruin a perfectly fine game by making it terrifying?what could you possibly get out of being frightend?

  27. Adam says:

    This is the kind of thing I’ll maybe get in a few years, when My machine can run it easily, and It’s about 1/4 what it will be new release.

    (I’m cheap)

  28. Roy says:

    Incidentally, I feel the same, Cineris.Why ruin a perfectly fine game by making it terrifying?what could you possibly get out of being frightend?

    Heh.
    Personally, I like scary movies and games.

  29. Steve C says:

    I posted a comment on your “NPCs and Immersion” page as it seemed more relevant. But since that’s an old page and the comment about controllers flowed from this page I think the best thing is to add a link back:
    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=605#comment-52390

    In short: Try ICO (PS2 game)

  30. […] over at Twenty Sided put up a post about Bioshock last week. Watching the trailer for the game, and reading the conversation taking place was […]

  31. wrg says:

    For some, the scare is an important part of the experience. I started playing the Thief games as a cerebral, tactical challenge that was different from a lot of what was out there. (Unbeknownst to my then PC-only self, Metal Gear Solid is also pretty serious about the sneak, but it has its own style that also includes lots of cutscenes, boss fights, and such.) However, I soon found that sneaking though the game’s dark environments with guards out to get me can be genuinely unsettling in a way that most PC games aren’t.

    Since then, I’ve found a liking for the occasional bit of creepy gaming, playing not only System Shock 2 but also the Silent Hill games, which at one time weren’t the sort I’d ever see myself playing. (The prose of IF author Zarf has to take credit for convincing me, as he wrote sufficiently intriguing mini-reviews that I had to try the games. See for example http://www.eblong.com/zarf/gamerev/silenthill.html ) Even though it’s a bit different in how it plays than the traditional “survival horror” games like Silent Hill, Resident Evil, or (before my time) Alone in the Dark, System Shock 2 certainly produces emotional involvement as a lone protagonist faces horrific creatures, often worrying about limited resources, while figuring out what happened to the NPCs. I hope that Bioshock will deliver another great experience.

    The excitement just wouldn’t be as high in these games without the right mood, and there just wouldn’t be the sense of relief when you get out of danger. Still, as Zarf says at the conclusion of his review, “But decide from the beginning that you’re not susceptible to bad dreams. Decide it firmly.”

    I think I’ll wait for some future time for Bioshock, since I doubt my hardware’s even up to Oblivion. I’d have to see more interesting software come out for 360 before considering one, though I’ll grant that there’s some already. I don’t know about controls. Halo’s controls were ok but not superb (for my taste, which isn’t universal) on Xbox, while Resident Evil 4 and, particularly, any Metal Gear Solid, will occasionally annoy me with a struggle to aim accurately and quickly. I’ve “grown up” to the point where I’m willing to play the occasional FPS with a pad, but I won’t always like it.

  32. WeLikeShadowrun says:

    I know a pad is usually clunkier when it comes to FPSs for precision shooting but I have played Bioshock on PS3 and it’s the most precise FPS I’ve played on a console. Ever. They make it work surprisingly well on console, appealing to both PC gamers and others. The game is worth getting no matter what platform you’re used to.

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  1. […] over at Twenty Sided put up a post about Bioshock last week. Watching the trailer for the game, and reading the conversation taking place was […]

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