You know the feeling when you suddenly realise that you’ve done something stupid and need to check just to make absolutely sure in case you’re not? My 360 gave me that last week.
I’m not talking about the red rings – although that would certainly induce a sinking feeling two weeks before Halo – but how I lost EVERY SINGLE ONE of my saves. Ten hours of BioShock gone: start again; my nearly-maxed-out Crackdown character: lost; halfway through the last mission in GRAW 2: nope, try again. BioShock is the one that really got me because most of my games are finished and I always have the cheat mode in Crackdown if I want to mess around, but still. It’s my record of hundreds of hours that’s just vanished.
For no apparent reason my 360 started logging me out of Live whenever I tried to get into the online modes of a game. It would let me access my friends list and such, but just dropped the connection when I tried to play. I tried the usual tricks – logging in again, restarting, connection test – all with no joy, which left the option of recovering my account to see if that worked.
Before you delete the account it gives you the option to either delete just the account itself or to delete all the saves, DLC, and such associated with it. I chose to delete the account only and then proceeded to recover it, a process that inexplicably takes up to an hour.
That done, I logged in fine and went into the beta which now worked fine. Then I noticed that my custom class was missing, and the eponymous notion kicked in. I loaded up BioShock since it was in the drive where I was only given the option to start a new game, and a random XBLA game (Symphony of the Night) was the same. Fuck.
I even went as far in my recovery efforts as buying an Xport 360, hoping that they had persisted somewhere in the depths of the drive but no, they were gone. As great as BioShock is I don’t know if I want to go all the way back to Fort Frolic from scratch again, taking the time to find all the secrets that I discovered the first time, and the rock to that hard place is that I don’t know if I’ll go back later when I have Halo 3 and COD4 to play. I don’t even know if getting a save from someone else will work since they tightened up the save security in the last Dash update.
Still…at least I’ve still got the touch in Call of Duty.
It’s not often that you sit waiting for something to happen because you’re not sure whether or not you’re watching a CG cutscene, but this exactly what happened to me when I played this demo. Water and fire are both the supposed stuff of nightmares for computer graphics and the opening scene of the demo (and, I assume, the final game) manages both to spectacular effect. In real time.
It had me enRAPTUREd from the start, you might say if you liked bad puns. Sorry…
My main concern with BioShock was and still is that I’m a massive pussy when it comes to any game that’s remotely unsettling. I have the Silent Hill Collection on my shelf which remains largely unplayed, and despite buying two copies of the Resident Evil remake (Japanese and US) I’ve never made it past the first boss. It’s a secret shame of mine that I’m exorcising by outing myself on here.
For all the beauty in this game there is a constant and deliberate ominous atmosphere permeating everywhere. You can hear enemies talking and scraping their blades (!), you can hear heavy footsteps of Big Daddies that may or may not be about to cross your path, and even when there aren’t enemies you have giant bronze statues watching you and the groaning of the failing structure as the sea comes to reclaim Rapture. Creepy is an understatement, but it’s beautifully so.
I’m going to work through my little complex when it comes out, though, both because it tries to do something different with the most overdone genre since the 2D platformer and because the buzz and current review scores seem to peg this as one of the games to beat for game of the year. With Halo 3 and Mass Effect to come, I’d be shocked if the GOTY isn’t on the 360.
But still, while the demo didn’t knock my socks off like some will profess (opening sequence aside), I still want to give it a proper go and really try to play it my own way. Even in the demo there are clearly plenty of options on how to approach encounters that it must be quite overwhelming once you’ve done more than scratch the surface of the available Plasmids and weapons.
Just a quick addendum: BioShock needs a photosensitivity warning. I’ve had a couple of game-related seizures (not for nearly ten years now) and the fact that there were two scenes of extreme strobing in the space of a short demo makes me fear for the final game more than all the diving suited giants in Rapture. It won’t be the oppressive atmosphere that forces me to play with the lights on. Well…mainly.