Tuesday, August 21, 2007

BioShock Demo Review

I'll jump right in by saying that this game has some great things going for it, but it definitly has some faults that keep it from being spectacular. At least, so far from what I've witnessed with the demo.

My frustrations start off with my attempts to download the game. For whatever reason, my 'Preload' of the demo via Fileplanet.com did not work, and in an attempt to get it working, the IGN Download manager eat it up. After waiting in the download queue for a third time, I quickly gave up with trying to download the entire game again via Fileplanet - the speeds were just too slow.

Finally, I had some luck and Softpedia.com started to host the demo on their servers, and using DAP 8.5, I had the game fully downloaded and installed by midnight.

Next, I installed the Bioshock nVidia beta drivers for my Geforce 8600GTS and restarted my computer. Upon reboot, I noticed my computer had no sound! After fooling around a bit with trying to get it to work, I resorted to unstalling my sound drivers (Soundmax intergrated), and reinstalling them. Problem solved, finally.

Onto the demo, with default video settings, and slightly modified controls, I plunged into the world of Rapture...


My computer specs:

GF 8600GTS 256
Sempron 3000 @ 2.5ghz
1GB Corsair RAM
Windows Vista 32bit
19" Samgsung LCD

I was surprised to see the game looking so good and running so good when it started. But then again, there was very little to process, as the game begins with the player in the ocean after his plane crashes. I had the visual settings on their highest.

As I continue to play, especially when it comes time for me to start trying to shoot weapons, I notice that despite the decent frame rates in this early part of the game, my mouse is responding with super lag. It feels like when I move my mouse, the game doesn't respond for half a second later. It made shooting the baddies really difficult.

A second thing I noticed was there was a lot of tearing on the screen. Frames would only half show up before the next frame would start.... As the game progressed, I could literally see each frame being rendered to screen, raster to raster, and only getting half way down before the next frame would start. THE GOD DAMN FRAMES WERE LAGGING despite still getting decent frame rates! Totally unacceptable.

So, into the video options I went. I turned on Vertical Sync, and like magic, there was no more tearing. Because there wasn't any more tearing, it was harder to see each of the frames lag, but I could still notice them being rendered from raster to raster very slowly. Turning on the Vertical Sync also dropped my frame rates. grumble.

By midway thru the game, I was finding it increasingly hard to hit baddies with the guns I was starting to find all over the place. Swinging a wrench around didn't require quite the accuracy needed of a magnum. The mouse lag was getting to be too much to handle. So, back into the visual settings...

I dropped by quality from high to medium, and dropped my resolution from 1280x1024 to 1024x768. The game instantly looked like shit in comparison to what it did look like moment's ago, but my frame rates were back up and my mouse lag was slightly reduced. There was still unacceptable amounts of mouse response lag, which was even more apparent when trying to navigate the main menus with a cursor. Seriously heavy mouse response lag. It really began to distract me from the game play, and caused me to start focusing on other annoying aspects of the game...

I tried both wired and wireless mouses -- the wired mouse had slighly better response rate, but even then, still so sluggish it made trying to adapt for the recoil of the tommy gun near impossible.

When playing around with the video settings, I started to notice how TERRIBLE the antialiasing was in this game. Even with the nVidia drivers set to 16xQ, and at any resolution, the jaggies were distracting! This game uses a lot of sharp lines with high contrasts, and the jaggies really stand out because of it. It makes the game harder to play when there is so much detail and jaggies everywhere -- I started to find that quite annoying.

Adding to that fact, the game reminds me of Doom 3 in one regard... the lighting. This game has LOTS of contrast. VERY INTENSE CONTRAST. Half the screen is pitch black, while the other half is very bright. My eyes did not appreciate it at all, and it made the game look unrealistic. I know they wanted to add a sense of surprise and whatever else, but the highly reflective surfaces and the intense sharp lighting didn't do it for me. I wish the lighting was softer in this game, with less intense lighting effects. More realistic effects...

The guns do not respond well. They are not enjoyable to use. In attempt to make them feel realistic, they made them feel actually more clumsy and heavy.

There are very few different types of monsters in this game. Its a bit disappointing. Variety among the models would of been better -- even if it were just differences in their clothing colour scheme or superficial changes. Would it of been that hard to do? Oh well...

The game really dives you right in to the choas -- it is intense and a bit scarey actually when everything is working like it is suppose to with the game. I might of liked a bit more of a prelude into the game then just starting out in the ocean... but oh well. And of course, it starts off at night with fireballs everywhere -- just the type of intense lighting they continue on thru the game with. Aren't they lights switches any where in this game you can turn on?!


But, on the bright side of things, the actual game play seems to be looking up. Hacking one of the security robots was the most fun I had in the game, which was comprised of a silly mini game you had to win. If they take more cues later on like that from System Shock 2, like the telekinsis weapons (it does!), the full version might be quite the winner. If the game continues to take cues from the likes of Doom 3, this game will still be quite the hit, just not as rememberable as all the hype led me to believe.

I give the game, at first impression, an 8.5/10.

pros: Some great gameplay cues taken from System Shock 2. Really nice graphics. Interesting story line and some neat weapons.

cons: mouse lag! screen tearing! too much intense lighting!


~steve

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