Posted by Deliverator on August 30th, 2007
I took the day off work (not hard, since I am my own boss) to finish up the advance order form for the Toronto Film Festival and hand it off to Fedex for overnight (AM) delivery to Toronto. As a result of the waiting around for the truck routine, I had my first chance to spend some quality time with Bioshock. Readers of my prior post regarding widescreen vertical field of view issues will be pleased to know that a resourceful programmer going by the handle of Racer_S has released a fov fix utility. You run the utility before running the game and can specify the vertical and horizontal field of view. The suggested fov for both values for 16:10 monitors like mine is .84. After setting the value, just launch Bioshock and then hit the * key to set the fov to what you specified in the utility. One can also adjust the fov on the fly by hitting the + and – keys on the numeric keypad. One user on the Widescreen Gaming Forum is apparently using the utility to play the game on a three display system using a Matrox Triplehead2Go screen splitting unit. 2k Games, Bioshock’s maker, has taken a lot of heat on this issue has just announced that they will release a patch to allow for native widescreen support with no vertical clipping, while simultaneously not admitting to the problem. They claim they intended that the major of PC players would be playing the game on wide screen monitors and adjusted the FOV on widescreen monitors to best fit the game dynamics. That owners of 4:3 aspect ratio monitors have a larger vertical FOV (despite the clipped widescreen fov being supposedly optimal) is so that they wouldn’t have to do letter boxing on 4:3, which be confusing and generate complaints from those users. Damned if you do/don’t indeed.
Anyways, once the FOV issues were fixed using Racer_S’s utility, I played Bioshock for a solid chunk of the day and finished off the first “big boss” of the game, a plastic surgeon gone mad in search of aesthetic perfection. My technique for him was to hack a security camera in an adjacent room, then lead him in sight of it, which causes the camera to call in a number of flying security drones. I let the security drones soften him up for a while, using my lightning bolt emitting fingertips on him from time to time to stun him, creating a stationary target for the security drones. After the good doctor had killed off the security drones, I hit him with a couple more electric blasts and then moved in for the kill using my shotgun. Simple, straightforward and efficient. I lost hardly any life and only two full bars worth of EVE in the encounter. I’ve heard some really creative ways of killing him. My favorite technique thus far is to hack the health dispenser in the rear of his surgery room (which has a few feet of water covering the floor). You light him on fire using the immolate power up, which will cause him to run into the water to put himself out. Once he reaches the water, you electrocute him using the lightning bolt power up. He will be very low on health from this, so he will run to the hacked health dispenser, which is now programmed to damage, rather than heal opponents. There is a particular elegance to the design of the game in that it encourages you to find creative ways to kill your opponents. This is not your father’s FPS with plentiful ammo and constant run and gun the only technique. The lack of resources (roughly broken into health, EVE (mana) and ammunition will have you searching every desk drawer and trashcan you come across and really encourages you to find creative ways to kill your opponents, using the environment itself wherever possible.
Speaking of the environment, it is as graphically rich as I have seen in a game, with great lighting effects used for your augmented powers, smoke, fire, water, etc. Screenshots of Bioshock gives you a little sense of the eye candy, but you really have to see it in full motion to get the full effect. The sound design really sucks you into the game and will make you sweat and shiver with lots of ambient noises and the muttering of Rapture’s deranged inhabitants. FEAR is the only recent game that comes to my mind where sound contributes as much to the feel of the overall game as in Bioshock.
Despite some major ranting in the last few days about technical issues with Bioshock, the game itself has sucked me in and I anticipate some very long nights spent in its thrawl in the next few days.