I just finished Bioshock 1. The series never entered my mind because I didn’t know they were ported to the PC, and hearing that they were the “spiritual successor” to the System Shock games, I was really hoping for an immersive environment, disturbing story elements and a solid ending. For the most part, I got what I expected.
The levels are very immersive and well-detailed. It really feels like you’re rummaging through the ruins of a large complex, and you almost always are hurting for ammo enough to appreciate finding a few rounds in a trash can or cabinet. But, by the endgame, it' all gets kind of meaningless. I never got completely bored playing, but by the last two levels I was hoping for something different, instead of increasingly redundant level design, with “go here, then go here, then go here” objectives. All in all, though, it was a rewarding and interesting experience.
The ending, though, disappointed me somewhat. I only played through the “good” ending (saving all Little Sisters), and while it made sense and everything, it was very short, with a detached narrative. The last battle is ridiculously easy, which lent even more to the feeling of being short-changed.
I’m about to start Bioshock 2. From 1’s ending, I doubt the stories will be continuous in any way, save for the general lore of the world in which it takes place.
Taking all of these negative comments, though… they are based on an ideal. Compared to the stagnant, unimaginative stories of games nowadays, I guess it’s an exceptional game, and a testament to the fact that games don’t need to be “safe” or “PC” at all. They don’t need to take on the same old archetypes.
So, all in all, I was very satisfied with the experience of Bioshock 1. For the most part, it reminds me of the good aspects of System Shock 2. The only downside is that the story is a little too linear, and the narrative a little too forced. after the 3rd level or so, the element of free exploration was completely lost, and it felt as though I was just going through level by level. And the creepiness-aspect of it all was very satisfying. Maybe I just have too high a standard for the way stories are delivered throughout the game.