Wednesday, April 1, 2015

BioShock is Infinitely Better than System Shock 2

UPDATE: Click here to read the real article.

I know I said at the end of my review of System Shock 2 that I would be following it up with an article "explaining precisely why BioShock doesn't live up to the legacy of its esteemed predecessor," but when I got around to actually playing it, I realized that BioShock is actually a superior version of System Shock 2 in virtually every way possible. Scratch what I said in the previous article -- there's no reason to go back and suffer through System Shock 2's archaic interface and dated visuals when it's much easier to just play BioShock, and especially since it provides an all-around better experience, anyway. So, let's jump into the analysis, shall we?

Better graphics, better atmosphere

This one should really go without saying, but BioShock has dramatically better graphics than System Shock 2, and that's the most important feature in any video game. After all, if it doesn't look good, people aren't going to want to play it. Perhaps it's not a fair comparison, since BioShock was released in 2007 and System Shock was released in 1999, so naturally, you'd expect BioShock to have better graphics, but BioShock also has superior visual design in terms of the underwater city of Rapture. The alternate history, retro 50s vibe is totally unique, having never been done in any other game before or since, and the better, more realistic graphics help immerse you in the setting so much more than System Shock 2's blocky, ugly grays and endless corridors.

No more micro-management

Perhaps the number one problem with System Shock 2 is its cumbersome inventory, which constantly slows the action down by forcing you to stop every 30 seconds to sort through it, ditching all the useless junk you collect over the game to make room for something that's actually useful. BioShock gets rid of the inventory system entirely so you can concentrate on the action undisturbed, since the game will automatically tell you whether you can pick up something or not. In fact, it automates most of the item consumption as well so you don't have to worry about anything besides shooting dudes in the face. It's also nice that, in BioShock, you can carry every single weapon and ammo type without restriction, and easily swap between up to five plasmids, so you don't have to worry about not having a certain thing for a certain situation, since you're prepared for every possibility.  

Smoother action

Again, this is perhaps something to be expected from a game that was released eight years after its predecessor, but BioShock features way smoother, and all-around better action than System Shock 2. System Shock 2 was released around the time when modern FPS controls were still in their infancy, so it feels just a little sluggish and clunky, which only goes to take you out of the experience. And its horrendous recoil animations, as a result of the tacked-on RPG elements that force your aim to go everywhere but your target until you grind through the requisite 10 hour experience curve to level-up your weapons skill, well that's just annoying. BioShock gets rid of that nonsense, allowing you to fire basically any gun with tight precision, with far more reactive controls. It's buttery smooth, and that makes it so much more satisfying to shoot dudes in the face. 

Less restrictive perk system

Every decision you made in System Shock 2 was permanent, which was kind of bogus considering you might invest some cyber modules in a skill you'd later find was kind of useless, or you'd take an upgrade that you really didn't use as much as you thought you would, since you'd be stuck with it for the rest of the game. BioShock's use of "gene banks" let you swap out -- with no penalty whatsoever -- any tonics or plasmids you acquire, so you're never locked in with whatever decisions you make, which makes the game a lot more fun when you don't have to stress yourself out worrying whether something will be a good investment or not. Even when buying things from a Gatherer's Garden, you acquire enough Adam over the course of the game to afford virtually anything and everything you could ever want, instead of having to pass up on at least half of the game's content like in System Shock 2

Less emphasis on survival-horror 

Perhaps the second most annoying thing about System Shock 2 was that it was trying to dress itself up as "Resident Evil in Space" with its heavy-handed survival system that forced you to trudge around for the early hours of the game whacking enemies with the wrench so you can conserve your precious six bullets for when you really need them. Other things, like the scarcity of healing items, incurable toxins and radiations that slowly kill you if you don't have the antidotes, and weapons that constantly deteriorate with use until they're complete useless, take all the fun out of the action. And besides that, the game is just too hard -- it's impossible to enjoy the game when you're constantly having to load save files to make sure you're getting through every encounter efficiently. BioShock scales back on all this crap; the game is generally easier, which lets you enjoy the story without worrying about resource management, and keeps you in the action all the time. 

Simpler maps, and the quest arrow

System Shock 2 required an awful lot of backtracking through maps you'd already cleared, which was kind of a tedious pain in the ass. BioShock, thank God, features much more streamlined maps that simplify where you have to go by only allowing one possible path, so you don't have to struggle with getting lost (like in System Shock 2) or being overwhelmed with multiple paths and worrying about exploring everywhere possible. The quest arrow helps a lot, too, by ensuring that you always know where your objectives are at all times, so you can still play the game and enjoy it in its fullest on those nights when you come home tired and brain dead and don't want to have to think about what you're doing. Just go forward and follow the quest arrow, with zero risk of ever getting stuck. 

In conclusion

So there you have it: conclusive proof that System Shock 2 is an outdated pile of rubbish and that BioShock is, in fact, the superior game. I really don't feel like there's much else to say, but I like the symmetry of my paragraphs being roughly the same length, so I'm going to keep rambling for just a little while to make this abrupt conclusion seem less wanting for content. 


  1. I see what you did there. ^^

  2. I gotta say, even better than the last one!

  3. I really believed you until "less restrictive perk system". Not Bad.

  4. I understand it's april fools joke but I basically agree with everything. Every reason why Bioshock is better is valid. It's funny how you actually make more sense when you are trying to be funny.

  5. I know this is an April Fools joke but I actually prefer Bioshock to System Shock 2. I like both games but I think Bioshock is a good example of how simplification doesn't necessarily mean making it bad. It still has a lot of the core of what made System Shock 2 good.

    Infinite on the other hand is an example of simplification done wrong. Gameplay got rid of everything that made gameplay in the Shock series good and you were left with the shooting that was never very good to begin with. At least Bioshock still had some resource management, ammo types, ability to carry several guns which made upgrading worthwhile, hacking, a far better plasmid and upgrade system, the ability to play Big Daddies/Splicers/Security off each other, some level of exploration. Infinite had none of that.

    1. Infinite is certainly a disgrace of a game. Just consult my lengthy review of all its critical flaws. BioShock 1 is a masterpiece in comparison. I disagree about BioShock being a "good example of how simplification doesn't necessarily mean making it bad." Indeed, simplifying a game doesn't necessarily make the game worse, but I feel it does in the case of BioShock.

    2. You are certainly blind and ignorant. The shooting was tight and not not nearly as dated as Bioshock and definitely System Shock. It doesn't even try to have mediocre RPG elements like in Bioshock and good-but-not-great ones like in SS2. It's a much more focused action FPS that does the job right, unlike the Jacks of all trades that are it's predecessors.
      Infinite has skyhooks and skylines. It has tears. It has way more variety in the areas and the enemies. A story and characters that outclasses both SS and BS combined, Much, much better powers like Bucking Bronco and Murder of Crows, didn't made you OP by letting you carry everything (Horror elements my ass, nearly Infinite supply of ammo and eve-so scary....) All of this doesn't even begin to scratch the surface. Any real fan of Ken Levine would have admitted that this game is a freaking masterpiece.