BioShock on PS3 has caused quite a stir in the office. On the one hand we're delighted that 2K Games has brought the game, albeit a year late, to Sony's console. Everyone and their dog should play this wonderful, intelligent and atmospheric shooter. But on the other hand, we're a tad disappointed, because the all-star four-pronged developer assault on the PS3 port hasn't taken the opportunity to right the admittedly few wrongs that shipped with the original 360 and PC game and make it a true, definitive 'Director's Cut'.
For example, the last quarter or so of the game hasn't been touched. Now don't worry, we won't spoil it for you (if you're a PS3 owner who's managed to keep your head in the BioShock story-free sand for the last 12 months then you deserve a Blue Peter badge), but what we will say is that it falls away quite considerably after the brilliant plot twist (if you saw it coming, you're lying just to look clever in front of your friends). Might 2K Marin, 2K Australia, 2K Boston and Digital Extremes (Dark Sector) offered an alternative, less disappointing finale?
And what of the game's graphics? As we've been repeatedly told by 2K Games senior producer Melissa Miller, the goal wasn't to improve upon BioShock's already astounding graphics, but to get them on a par with the 360 version. To our eyes both versions look nigh on identical. There's the odd poor quality texture here, the odd texture pop-in, as there was in the 360 version, but nothing that's going to make the PS3 massive send poo through 2K's letter box. Should the development teams have taken the opportunity to improve the game's performance, and even surpass the graphics?
Are we being unreasonable? Are we demanding too much? Perhaps. But then look at the incredible work Eden Games is doing reworking the PS3 version of the flawed Alone in the Dark. And there was a hell of a lot more wrong with that game than there was with BioShock. Still, it's a testament to the quality of designer Ken Levine's game that we can only come up with a couple of tweaks that might have improved one of the best games of 2007. There's absolutely nothing else we can think of that's wrong with the game. Nothing.
It's much easier to talk about what's great about the game. So we will. It's got the best opening 20 minutes of any video game ever. You play Jack, a passenger on a plane that crashes somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean in 1960. You miraculously survive, and swim for a mysterious lighthouse that protrudes from the sea and towers into the night sky. Inside the lights turn on, revealing a bathysphere that takes you on a journey to the ocean floor. A video from business tycoon Andrew Ryan introduces you to the breathtaking underwater city of Rapture, a city he built some 14 years previous as a rejection of all things Democratic, Communist and religious. It was to be a Garden of Eden where man was able to evolve into something better than he was above water.
You find Rapture in tatters, a city overrun by a populace gone mad through genetic engineering. Ryan's not too happy at your appearance either - he believes you're a government agent of some sort sent to bring the curtain down on his failed paradise. He sends the Splicers - normal people deranged by their pursuit of ADAM, the genetically modifying juice that everyone's hooked on - to kill you. But you've also got to contend with the Big Daddies, too: huge diving suit-wearing 'things' so pumped full of ADAM that they've become something else. All they care about is protecting the Little Sisters: creepy little girls with red eyes that stick large syringes in dead bodies in order to harvest ADAM. The powerful Big Daddies will leave you alone if you leave the Little Sisters alone, which poses one hell of a conundrum: go through the game without ADAM, and the DNA-altering power it grants to aid your survival, or kill them, and the Big Daddies, in order to fuel your growing power? It's a hell of a beard-stroker.