Good evening! It's been a while since I've written a game review. I want to take the time to discuss and analysis BioShock: The Collection. Initially, the BioShock games were released on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 systems. The complete series was remastered in 2016 for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. This was very exciting news for me because I didn't own the previous generation of game systems. I heard a lot of great things about BioShock and this was my chance to experience the games first hand. The disc includes BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock: Infinite. It also includes the original downloadable content. Sixty dollars for three games and the DLC. What a deal! I'll explain the best and worst elements of each game below. This is going to be a lengthy review because I'm going to talk about all three games. If you feel fatigued, just come back later. You can read my blog any time.
What on earth is BioShock? It's a dystopian first person game that takes place in an underwater city called Rapture. The player is a mysterious character named Jack who crash lands in front of a lighthouse. He enters the lighthouse and accidentally takes an elevator ride to Rapture. Unfortunately, Jack's interesting journey becomes a nightmare when he realizes the entire city has fallen into chaos with deformed enemies called Splicers and their experiments; Big Daddies. The player needs to escape while uncovering the strange reason why everything went wrong.
I totally understand why this game is so popular. It's very original compared to the majority of modern games. The story, gameplay, and enemies are unique. BioShock has an intricate and complex plot that would be great for a movie. It's not a typical video game plot that simply moves a character from one place to another while he or she kills enemies. The story takes a lot of influences from Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. In short, Objectivism says people should pursue their own desires without regret and view this ideal as the only moral way to live. That means it's a virtue to live as a selfish and callous person. BioShock takes this philosophy and shows what would happen if an entire civilization lived this way. The citizens tore each other apart and that's probably not far fetched from reality. Apparently, the citizens of Rapture became addicted to mutagens known plasmids and gene tonics. These mutagens give the characters cool abilities like telekinesis, the power to freeze objects or living beings, the ability to throw fire, and more. Plasmids are addictive like drugs, causing a combination insanity and genetic mutation if it's used excessively. It brings a whole new meaning to drug abuse. As the player moves along, he or she will find clues about Rapture's history and residents. The story has some red herrings and unexpected twists. Parts of the story are disturbing and heartbreaking, but it gives a powerful message. It's a satisfying story for an unconventional game.
The gameplay is a lot of fun without giving the player too many headaches. I can tell the game makers tried to be somewhat realistic with certain elements. For example, it doesn't take a lot of hits to kill many of the characters. Firearms and blunt weapons can dish out a lot of damage because the enemies were just ordinary people at one point. Tougher enemies like the Big Daddies require more effort to kill. BioShock has a decent amount of variety because the player can use multiple weapons and other methods to handle enemies. The gameplay gives the player the option of hacking droids. This gives the player a temporary ally who can eliminate Splicers or Big Daddies. The player can also hack vending machines to obtain plasmids, health packs, ammunition, etc. Luckily, there is quite a bit of money scattered throughout the environment. That's the easiest way to get treats from the vending machines. The plasmids are a lot of fun to use against those pesky enemies. There's something disturbingly entertaining about freezing Splicers into a block of ice or incinerating them with fire. Plasmids also have important functions to help the player reach new locations. Don't worry because the plasmids won't turn you into a bloodthirsty mutant. Unusual beings called Little Sisters accompany the Big Daddies and are the harbingers of Adam. It's very important to gather Adam throughout the game because it's how the player uses the plasmids. The game allows two options with Little Sisters. Curing them and obtaining a certain amount of Adam or killing them and taking a much larger quantity. Honestly, it's more ethical to help the Little Sisters instead of killing them, but the choice is entirely yours and it affects the game's outcome. BioShock is accessible to different kinds of players. There's a difficult mode for advanced gamers and an easier option for beginners. Overall, anyone can have fun playing BioShock.
This game has really interesting enemies. The Splicers are the red shirts we see in other games except they're mentally unstable. They can be equipped with any type of weapon, including firearms, blunt weapons, explosives, and plasmids. I find the Splicers a bit amusing because they ramble a lot of nonsense. Occasionally, one of them will run if they believe the player seems frightening enough. It's also pretty common for the Splicers to turn each other into collateral damage. They can also travel in mobs, which is frustrating. I'm fascinated with the Big Daddies. They're ferocious when confronted, but generally docile if the player avoids them. Big Daddies are really large mutants who's bodies are grafted inside iron diving suits. They can have drills or rivet guns for their primary weapons. Big Daddies are tremendously strong and they can charge quickly at the player. I feel kind of bad for the Big Daddies because they appear to be the unfortunate victims of experimentation. There are some key enemies who play important roles in the story and I don't want to give away spoilers. However, they help the player learn more about the overarching mystery and I appreciate it.
I also want to give praise to Rapture's overall design. It's actually a beautiful environment with a lot of dieselpunk elements. Rapture has a fancy art deco design and each area is unique. It's a throwback to the 1930s and 1940s. Dieselpunk fans should be really happy with BioShock because it incorporates the basic aesthetics of the genre. Too bad the city is lying in shambles. All of the underwater scenes are beautiful too. It's definitely not cutting edge graphics on today's standards, but I still think Rapture deserves a nod.
BioShock doesn't seem to have many glaringly obvious problems. Sometimes the gameplay becomes repetitive later in the story. The player must return to several locations and it feels like redundant trekking. Also, enemies continually respawn. Every time I returned to a previous location, Splicers were waiting for me. It became kind of annoying. In fact, more enemies appear if the player stays too long in most locations. The player also needs to rotate the different plasmids around frequently. That means the player needs to find vending machines in various locations to swap out each plasmid. Eventually, the player can add extra slots to keep more types of plasmids, but it takes a while to reach that point. I spent a lot of time backtracking to find the right plasmids. If you're looking for amazing boss fights, BioShock doesn't have them. Most of the boss characters are just Splicers who have specific identities. The only true boss fight is at the end. Watch out for security cameras. Tripping them will unleash a couple security bots and it's pretty irritating. Supposedly, BioShock is a survival horror game. Personally, I didn't find it scary at all. There might be a few jump scenes and that's about it. But the lack of scares doesn't ruin the game. It's still very enjoyable and well made. Overall, my complaints are relatively minor.
BioShock 2 takes place a handful of years later in Rapture once more. The protagonist is a Big Daddy known as Subject Delta and he guards a Little Sister named Eleanor Lamb. Her mother, Sofia, orders an assassination attempt on Subject Delta. Ultimately, he survives and battles through Rapture to find his Little Sister. Sofia Lamb is the leader of a cult called The Family and they have taken control of the underwater city. Along the way, The Family and hoards of Splicers try to foil Subject Delta's journey.
I was somewhat disappointed with BioShock 2 because the first game was amazing. There are a few things I liked about it. First of all, I got to play as a Big Daddy! It was so much fun! The player gets to power up Subject Delta's drill and plough through bunches of enemies. This game also has some new Big Daddies for combat. A new type of Big Daddy has missiles instead of a drill or rivet gun. It's quite a bit easier to fight the Big Daddies in this game because the characters are more equally matched. The player still uses the plasmids and that part is cool too. It's also fun to explore new areas of Rapture. BioShock 2 isn't a simple retread of the first installment. The puzzles are a little easier in this game too. I found the hacking system kind of frustrating in the first game, but it's somewhat different in BioShock 2 and that part can be helpful for the player's progress. I'm still impressed with the visuals. Rapture is a gorgeous, although tragic city, and it remains that way in BioShock 2.
Beyond that, I don't have a lot of positive things to say. Aside from more Big Daddies, the other enemies were already in the previous game. That means the villains are less interesting and the novelty is done. The weapons and plasmids are mostly the same too. There might have been a few new plasmids, but I don't remember anything special. The gameplay is considerably harder. Even the easy mode is challenging. The player is swarmed by more enemies and some of them are really tough. There's a new enemy called Big Sisters and they're an older version of the Little Sisters. The Big Sisters wear diving suits like the Big Daddies and use a syringe as their primary weapon. They also seem to have telekinetic abilities. Personally, I found these enemies incredibly annoying. They're difficult to kill and shriek continually through the battle scenes.
I wasn't impressed with the plot and primary villains either. The story in the first BioShock game was thought provoking and surprising. BioShock 2's story is less interesting, slow, and doesn't have any big revelations at the end. The Family just seems like a generic cult, except most of them are also scientists. Let's move onto the next game.
BioShock: Infinite is a big improvement from BioShock 2. However, it doesn't take place in Rapture. Booker Dewitt is a PI who's searching for a young woman named Elizabeth Comstock. He travels to a huge flying city called Columbia and discovers similar dystopian chaos that occurred in Rapture. Together, Booker and Elizabeth have to escape from her tyrannical father, Zachary Comstock, and his aerial version of the Big Daddy known as Songbird. Along the way, Booker puts together pieces that reveal important parts of his past. He blocked out major parts of his identity and there was a reason for it.
The gameplay is really in fun in BioShock: Infinite. It's similar to the previous games, except there's a much bigger emphasis on firearms. I tried out different guns and upgraded my favorite ones throughout the game. The player has a Sky Hook that can help Booker travel on metal rails through the environment. It's a method of taking the player from one location to the next. The Sky Hook is really fun and it also doubles as an effective blunt weapon. We don't have the plasmids in this game. Instead, the player uses drinking salts that basically have the same effects as the plasmids. I guess it's like drinking potions instead of using genetic mutation. There's a big variety of enemies and we finally got rid of the Splicers. I enjoyed the Splicers in the previous BioShock games, but it was time to fight something else. Infinite also includes a co-op play between Booker and Elizabeth. The player uses Booker while Elizabeth gives him money and ammunition periodically. She's a really helpful character and I didn't have to waste my time protecting her against enemies. Songbird is an entertaining enemy. He chases Booker and Elizabeth all over Columbia and it's a fun experience. Elizabeth creates oddities called Tears. In short, Tears are portals that can move the characters through space and time. Sometimes I traveled into other dimensions, the past, other locations within Columbia, and more. It's a completely new element to the BioShock series. The pace feels a little faster and energetic in this game, which I appreciate.
Some of the characters have interesting development. I find Booker Dewitt and Elizabeth Comstock more substantial than BioShock's earlier protagonists. They have unusual backstories, several quirks, and a good partnership. I've seen characters in movies with considerably less development and personality. They even have some influences from noir tropes. Songbird might be a monster and henchman, but he's an interesting character too. He has a symbiotic relationship with Elizabeth for some reason. I wonder if part of him was human at one point.
Once again, I want to praise the graphics. Columbia is a very detailed and elaborate steampunk airship. This game takes place several decades before the other BioShock stories, so it has a distinct steampunk feel instead of dieselpunk. Columbia is an industrial metropolis with quite a few Victorian and Southern gothic elements. The aerial design is a nice contrast to Rapture's underwater graphics. It holds up quite well, even though the game was released several years ago.
Infinite has a great plot. It takes some influences from the American Revolution, noir mysteries, time travel fantasies, and classic steampunk. Believe it or not, this story has a brief connection to the original BioShock games. I won't give away the details, but players of the original games will understand. It becomes a little bit confusing for a while, but the puzzle pieces eventually fit together. There's a really big twist at the end and I think it should be satisfying for most gamers. Even though it's very different than the other BioShock games, this one still fits in the franchise's image very well. Infinite could also be a successful film adaptation. I just think film makers should take a chance and stay close to the source material.
I don't have a lot of criticism for the third BioShock game. It has a ton of satire and some people might find the subject matter offensive. You need a tough skin to play this game, even though it isn't particularly gruesome or scary. Some players might find the plot weird or confusing. Naturally, some people will miss Rapture, the plasmids, the Big Daddies, the Splicers, and some of the philosophical elements. It still has a strong political and social commentary, but the story heads in a totally different direction than the earlier games. I still believe Infinite is a genuine BioShock game, although some gamers will disagree with me. It depends on the player's individual views and gaming experience. I also feel like the game wasn't quite challenging enough. Expert gamers might be a little disappointed unless they choose the most difficult setting.
That's my commentary about the entire BioShock trilogy. I'm not sure if this collection is still available at popular retailers like Target or Walmart, but you can definitely find it on Amazon. The BioShock games are not appropriate for younger gamers because the subject matter is so dark and mature. If you're curious, try it out! These games are very unique and influential to many current franchises. I'm heading to WonderCon this weekend and it should be an awesome experience. You can check out my WonderCon photo gallery in the near future. Keep watching and I'll see you next week.
Welcome back. This week's blog post is a double feature review for A Wrinkle in Time and Tomb Raider. Both of these movies have a big emphasis on adventure, but beyond that, I wouldn't say they have much in common. What film impressed me more? Read this post to find out. Let's charge ahead!
I really enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time, even though it has some issues. It was based on the book of the same name by Madeleine L'Engle. The film focuses on a girl named Meg Murry and her brother, Charles Wallace. Both of them are struggling to adjust and move forward after their father disappeared. He was a brilliant scientist who wanted to uncover a method of traveling through space and time. Three interdimensional beings named Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which take the Murry children on a wild adventure to rescue their father from an intergalactic darkness. It's definitely not a conventional fantasy.
Firstly, I'm glad to see a movie with such a positive message. It promotes self-acceptance, love, courage, strong family values, and compassion. The story also points out many difficulties that young people face in the real world. It's the type of film that could help an audience connect emotionally and spiritually with the characters. Overall, it was a really good effort from the film makers.
Let's take a moment to point out some key performances. Storm Reid was fabulous as Meg Murry, the story's protagonist. She really knocked it out of the park with a strong and emotional performance. It might be easy for young ladies to identify with her character and she has a lot of positive qualities. Deric McCabe was entertaining as Charles Wallace. Meg's younger brother is a child genius who's quirky, funny, eccentric, socially awkward, and overly trusting. McCabe does a really good job of bringing out these elements. In fact, Storm Reid and Deric McCabe make a really fun duo. I also got a kick out of the three interdimensional beings who were played by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling. They're very strange, but cool in an odd way. The three characters bring out a lot of great fantasy elements and bind all of the central themes together.
A Wrinkle in Time has amazing world building elements. It's a great fantasy that has many similarities with classics like The Neverending Story and The Chronicles of Narnia. I have to admit some technical weaknesses in the visual effects, but they're still very creative and awesome. This movie brings a unique cosmic fantasy to the viewer and I doubt we'll a similar film in the near future. The visuals have a decent amount of depth. Some scenes are very bright, warm, and fun. Other scenes are darker, more suspenseful, and a little bit scarier. Ava DuVernay directed A Wrinkle in Time and I appreciate her effort. This is not an easy adaptation to film and DuVernay brought out a lot of creativity.
I can't ignore some noticeable issues with this movie. Even though I appreciate the uplifting message, it becomes very preachy and redundant sometimes. The film makers are hitting the viewer on the head with a hammer. It's not subtle at all and I assume a handful of audiences will resent this approach. The characters have a lot of exposition and awkward dialogue that point out this problem.
The writing is one of the film's biggest weaknesses. It has significant plot holes and some elements just didn't come together very well. I'm not saying the movie is confusing, but it doesn't answer certain questions and some of the scenes are very peculiar. The third act also falls apart to a certain extent. A better screenplay would help the characters transition from one scene to another without making the audience dizzy.
Unfortunately, this film isn't very accessible to adults. I liked it, but many adults will think it's just a kid's movie. Certain franchises like Marvel, Harry Potter, and Star Wars find ways to entertain both children and adults. There are many ways to make it work, but A Wrinkle in Time can't seem to find enough middle ground.
I noticed some major flaws with Calvin O'Keefe, played by Levi Miller. He goes on the journey with Meg and Charles Wallace. This boy has a huge crush on Meg, even though they hardly know each other. He's literally awestruck by her without much of a reason. Calvin is a generic sidekick and he also serves as a damsel in distress. The film easily could have survived without him. However, I have to point out some good things about his character. Calvin is a really good kid with a big heart. It's refreshing to a see a trustworthy boy who isn't a delinquent.
Don't get overly turned off by my criticism. I believe A Wrinkle in Time makes a terrific family outing. Will hardcore fans of the book like this movie? I'm not totally sure. Some fans of the original story might feel disappointed. Others might appreciate Ava DuVernay's creative vision and uplifting themes. I recommend this film, except small children might find a few scenes a bit frightening. Despite its flaws, I'm willing to be forgiving because it has many good elements.
Tomb Raider is a lot different than A Wrinkle in Time. It's an action film that's based on the video game series of the same name. Specifically, it takes many influences from the reboot games that kicked off in 2013. This movie has a very different target audience than A Wrinkle in Time. It primarily caters to adults, gamers, and fans of the action genre.
Here's a basic layout of the plot. Lara Croft is the daughter of a corporate tycoon and adventurer. He disappeared seven years ago and she strongly believes he's still alive. She examines his menagerie of documents and discovers plans to search for a mythical tomb. Queen Himiko of Yamatai supposedly caused death to anyone who touched her hand and she was entombed alive to save countless lives. Richard Croft (Lara's father), disappeared while he was searching for Himiko's resting place. Lara finds a map that will lead her to the tomb, giving her a chance to find out what happened to her father. Her situation becomes dire when she encounters a band of mercenaries who work for a mysterious organization called Trinity.
I wish this film was more impressive, but it has some merit. It definitely has great action sequences. The action scenes are exciting and quickly paced with decent editing. There's also a good variety of action. You might expect all of the action scenes to look alike. However, each scene is different with various outcomes. Much of the action is taken straight out of the video game series. That's actually not a bad thing. It translates to live action cinema surprisingly well.
Alicia Vikander is a great fit for Lara Croft. Her performance is very convincing and she seems like a real person. She's brave and determined, but not flawless. Lara makes several mistakes along the way and learns from the experience. I feel like Vikander's performance is authentic and believable. A lot of action heroes seem fearless and far too perfect for any sense of reality. Vikander is very athletic and her character undergoes a lot of training, including MMA fighting and archery. So, the action builds off the character's skills and instincts.
Unfortunately, the story is pretty thin and predictable. It would work fine in video games, but we usually expect something more substantial on the big screen. The story follows the typical tropes in the Tomb Raider franchise and just moves from one puzzle or obstacle to the next. It has some plot holes and could benefit from a little more complexity.
The other characters weren't particularly impressive. Daniel Wu plays Lu Ren, one of Lara's allies. He's a decent action hero, but not the best actor. Lu Ren just seems like a generic sidekick who knows how to fight. I felt really disappointed with Walton Goggins who portrays Mathias Vogel, the film's antagonist. He's one dimensional, bland, and basically a typical video game villain. Vogel has very little character development and he's simply uninteresting. These characters would have benefited from better directing and writing.
I also have some criticism about the visual elements. The budget for this film was around ninety-four million dollars. But it seems like the visual effects were somewhat cheaper. Most of the visual effects seem artificial and a step backward from today's technology. A lot of the CGI is grainy and unpolished. I have a problem with some of the lighting too. We should expect a tomb to be dark, but the audience should still see what's happening without a lot of trouble. Certain scenes were dark to a fault and it took a while for my eyes to adjust when the movie finished.
Does this movie fix the video game dilemma? The short answer is no, but it's a step in the right direction. This version of Tomb Raider has a strong lead actress, entertaining action scenes, and it's not hokey or goofy. I'm just not sure if Tomb Raider works in cinema. Some stories are fine for games and it doesn't always work in a movie. Personally, I believe film makers are picking the wrong game adaptions. They should take games with more complex and intriguing stories. Games like BioShock, The Last of Us, Deus Ex, Dishonored, Horizon Zero Dawn, and The Evil Within might be better film adaptations. That's just my personal opinion. Although Rampage is coming out next month and it might blow everyone away. We'll see what happens.
I would rank A Wrinkle in Time slightly above Tomb Raider. Both films have comparable quality, even though they come from different genres. I enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time somewhat more, partly because it has such an uplifting message. It's definitely nice to see strong female leads. That seems to be a big trend in 2018 cinema. Ironically, both of these films feature missing fathers and strong willed daughters who need to recue them. It's an interesting, although unimportant observation. All together, I would like to see better writing and visual effects. That was a noticeable weakness in both movies.
You're probably going to see a double feature review of Pacific Rim: Uprising and Ready Player One in the near future. I hope both of those films are going to be really fun. Have you seen A Wrinkle in Time or Tomb Raider yet? Leave a comment and let me know what you thought. Thanks for visiting my blog again and enjoy your night at the movies. Bye!
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