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BioShock 6-Years Later Review



After six years, BioShock is definitely showing its age. At a distance you can occasionally spot the limited polygon count on some environment objects, and close up the textures look stretched and smudged in many places. Of course, in 2007 high definition televisions and monitors were not as common as they are now, so the textures may have looked quite good then. Guns and many characters models still look good though; not great, but good.

As Rapture is a collapsing city on the bottom of the ocean, the game can be very dark. This can make following enemies like the Spider Splicer somewhat difficult, as it crawls along the ceiling and walls. Fortunately some enemies have lights on them, such as automated drones and Big Daddies, making these particularly lethal foes easy to spot.

As dated as the graphics may be, they do not fail to express the Art Deco design of the environment. Neon lights mark business establishments and just about every door and gate has a pattern of geometric shapes on it like what you would expect on many real buildings of the style.

Being under the sea, it is not surprising that water is fairly common in the game. Sometimes it has pooled to be inches deep in a room, or is just a puddle caused by a leak in a glass roof. For the large pools, the surface is highly reflective to the point that you would almost believe it could be liquid mercury instead of water. The reflections are very satisfyingly distorted by ripples, giving the water some life, but it is still not living. Nothing disturbs the water or the ripples, including you and enemies. The puddles and leaks also are not disturbed by characters, but they can disturb you. Walking through a leak will cause water to splash onto the camera and briefly distort your vision. Though the falling water is just an animation on a plane, they are hard to miss and thus can be easily avoided. Also you can watch for the puddles beneath them, which are constantly splashing and foaming as the water falls. 






Fire is another common element to the game, in part because you can cause enemies to spontaneously combust. The most intense example of fire, though, is right in the beginning, as wreckage from a plane crash burns. While this is the most spectacular example in the game, it also shows that one fire in the game is not very different from another. However, this is not very easy to notice when just an enemy is being incinerated, and when that is happening, you can believe they are being immolated. The fire consuming their flesh is nice and thick, making it hard to believe the enemies can still run around before their health disappears.

There are another two elements I would like to discuss before moving onto performance, namely lightning and ice. Bolts of electricity are believable in small bursts, but once you are able to stream them out at an enemy for an extended period of time, you can see how simple they really are. They will look more like blue and white strings attaching you to an enemy than arcs of lethal energy.


The ice that envelopes a frozen enemy is almost comical, but is still effective in its appearance. A layer of reflective and semi-transparent ice will form around the model, with some hard edges and icicles. Really what makes ice weird though, is that when you freeze an enemy, they freeze exactly where they are, even if that is in the air. Until the ice breaks, the enemy will be hovering above the ground


Now we can look at performance, but first my system specs:

  • Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
  • Cooling: Corsair H110
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
  • GPU: EVGA GTX 770 2 GB
  • PhysX: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
  • PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
  • OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit

As one would expect and hope for a six-year-old game, BioShock ran perfectly on my machine, at maximum settings. The only two issues I experienced were black boxes appearing and the mouse settings having some odd behaviors. The black boxes only appeared a few times and only in one area, so I am not sure what to make of them. Obviously a glitch, but also minor as they did not disrupt gameplay and did not lead to any other issues. The mouse behavior, however, has been irritating.


I do not know why, but often when a save game or new area was loaded, the mouse seemed to lose sensitivity. After a bit it returned to where it should have been, but until then it was slower than I preferred. I do not know why this happened, but I did notice that sometimes changing the sensitivity of my mouse with its hardware buttons helped, so perhaps it was some weird interaction between the game and my mouse's drivers.

The years have not been kind to the graphics of BioShock, but its style survives. It does have some places that still look good, but at this point it is best described as 'dated.'

  1. BioShock Review: Introduction
  2. BioShock Review: Graphics
  3. BioShock Review: Story
  4. BioShock Review: Gameplay
  5. BioShock Review: Additional Gameplay Images
  6. BioShock Review: Conclusion
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