Monday, August 27, 2007


After finally struggling through the 2nd Mortain level I am taking a break from Company of Heroes to play Bioshock. As predicted I managed to scoop a pretty good deal by comparing high street shop prices - €45 all in for the special edition complete with toy Big Daddy. This matches the best price I found on the internet and when you consider that this includes Ireland's hefty 21% VAT (sales tax) it was a pretty good deal all in all.

I won't give away spoilers but I will try to share some of my thoughts so far.

First off the bad news: This game is an almighty resource hog. It brings my modest gaming rig to its knees. My rig has a AMD 64 4400x2 with 2Gb Ram and a 7600GT graphics card. At 1280x1024 high detail the game crawls along at between 15 and 20 fps. In my old age I have become kind of fussy and I find that anything less than 30 frames per second hampers game-play and gives me headaches. I can get this by running at 1024x768 in medium to low graphics detail or by running at 800 x 600 in medium to high detail. Both of these resolutions suffer from the fact that they don't fit evenly into my 1280x1024 LCD monitor and I get a blurring of the image as it tries to cram the pixels in. I haven't settled on the optimum compromise yet but I am actually considering 600x480 high detail mode. This does give plenty jagged edges but at least it fits nicely into my monitor at four screen pixels per image pixel and at I do get all the graphical niceties.

Other thoughts - at first I was playing this like a shooter blasting through enemies as they arose. Death is not a problem as you are immediately rejuvenated and can charge right back into a fight before the enemy has regained health. However I realised that playing that way I was missing out on all of the atmosphere of the game. I personally think that the lack of any kind of penalty for dying is a serious mistake. "Prey" made exactly the same mistake and it robs the game of any tension. The toughest enemy in the game can be killed simply by a repetitive process of shoot, die, resurrect, shoot, die and repeat.

So I have changed my playing style drastically. I switched off all the helpful hinty things like the glowing arrow showing you where to go. Items don't glow in the dark anymore so I have to diligently search for useful stuff. I am also trying really hard not to get killed. Prior to a fight I try to suss out my opponents and prepare accordingly - planning and configuring my skills optimally for each encounter.

Although this is a slower way to play it is much more enjoyable. Playing this way the game feels a lot more like System Shock 2 and even a bit like Deus Ex. Sadly stealth does not seem to be as effective as it was in SS2 - it is very hard to sneak up on enemies and observe them unawares.


DM Osbon said...

hmm thought about getting the demo...not so sure now. May hold out for Spore before I play a new non mmorpg on the pc.

mbp said...

Hi DM, please don't be put off on my account. Bioshock is a very good game and the further I get into it the better it gets. I realise a lot of my comments seem negative so I think I will add a quick post to extol the virtues of the game.