Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bioshock- I just killed a Big Daddy with my wrench

Well actually I only got him down to 50% health before I got bored with the whack, die, resurrect and repeat cycle I was using to kill the monster with the humblest weapon in the game. However with a bit of persistence it can certainly be done.

The point of this experiment is that I think the resurrection system is a big flaw in Bioshock. Instead of penalising a player for dying the game rewards you with an instant resurrect and a quick shot of health and eve. The enemy you were fighting won't even have recovered health by the time you get back to them so it is possible to whittle the toughest enemies down in a repeated cycle of hit, die and resurrect.

If you reward players for dying then death has no fears. If death has no fears then the game loses most of its tension. This is a crying shame for a game which should be an edge of your seat nail biting ride through a nightmare.

The recent shooter Prey made the same mistake of rewarding players for dying and in my opinion it totally spoiled that game. At least Bioshock has sufficient depth elsewhere to compensate but I think it would be so much better if there was a genuine fear of dying.

The further I get into the game the more I realise that Bioshock bears many striking similarities to it spiritual pre-decessor System Shock 2. SS2 still stands out as one of the tensest games I have ever played - at times I was literally terrified while playing the game. SS2 also had resurrection stations but they were much less forgiving. Firstly you had to find the resurrection station on each new level - not always easy to do given the very nasty enemies that you might encounter on the way. Secondly resurrection was not free - it cost precious nanites to and that was disincentive enough to make players want to stay alive.

I am not against the idea of resurrection in itself. If it fits into the game lore as it does in Bioshock it make a refreshing change from the abuse of quick save. I just don't think the player should be rewarded for dying, there should be a penalty instead.

One suggestion would be to make resurrection cost a small amount of adam. That would certainly make death unpleasant and would also add a new strategic consideration into the game. Do I spend all my adam on upgrades or do I keep some for resurrection?

Another solution would be to automatically reset all enemies to full health after you resurrect. That could be incorporated into the game lore by saying it takes time to resurrect during which the enemies can heal themselves. This would certainly eliminate victory through repeated deaths. It would greatly increase the challenge of the game however. Trying to kill a Big Daddy without dying is extremely hard a task I admit I have only accomplished a couple of times - after managing to call in the assistance of nearby splicers and security bots.

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