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YMMV: BioShock 1

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Andrew Ryan, a control freak out to commit suicide on his own terms... or a father trying to save his son? By the time he realizes Jack is his son and under mind control, he's basically confronted with his own flesh and blood turned into something worse than a "parasite" and turned against him. He could easily have killed Jack using his control phrase, but what does he do? He orders Jack to kill him, maybe in an attempt at forcing a Heroic Resolve to break the Mind Control. Too bad for him it didn't, though Jack does seem to take an awful time deliberating his swings.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Unless you're taking down a Big Daddy with Electric Gel/Buck, just use the wrench upgraded to ungodly levels, with maybe an Electro Bolt or two if you REALLY need to. Referred to in this Three Panel Soul comic, and Kalon Zombie of Something Awful did an entire Let's Play doing it here.
  • Complete Monster: Frank Fontaine ( AKA Atlas), gangster and supposedly deceased political rival to Andrew Ryan, had a public face of providing shelter and promotion of welfare towards orphans and the poor, in itself the antithesis of Ryan's ideology. However, he experimented with sea slugs that carry ADAM, and had no qualms of placing them in very young girls, some of them even forcibly taken from their parents for the "orphanages," to concentrate the ADAM. Also, it turned out that the poor under Fontaine's care were really no better off than they had been, and that he had in fact been manipulating them toward his own gain while getting them addicted to ADAM. He and the newly-christened Splicers initiated a civil war in order to get other inhabitants into ADAM and feigned his own death. It's also revealed he programmed Andrew Ryan's own son, Jack, the Player Character, from birth in order to force him to eventually kill his father so Fontaine could usurp Ryan's position, and then dispose of him once this was done. In the prequel DLC Burial at Sea, it's revealed that, in order to force Elizabeth to obtain the means to control his pawn, he tortured her by sticking a pick in her eye, tapping it with a hammer, and threatening to lobotomize her. When that didn't work, he threatened to do it to a little girl instead, and once he got what he wanted, Fontaine murdered Elizabeth by bludgeoning her to death.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Pretty much applies to all of the BioShock games, but "Cohen's Scherzo No. 7" is awesome due to how it captures Cohen's insanity so well.
  • Demonic Spiders: Due to the use of Enemy Scan making everything easier to kill, most enemies start out as this and get knocked down to Goddamned Bats. For a few specific ones:
    • Rosies, the first standard Big Daddy you face following the first one. Unlike the Bouncers, which don't have a ranged attack, their rivet guns and proximity mines are an absolute nightmare.
    • Houdini Splicers, who appear from thin air, hurl a barrage of fireballs, and disappear, giggling. Research makes their teleportation more obvious. Before that, better hope you spot them in time.
    • Spider Splicers, who like to crawl around on dark ceilings before attacking in a storm of thrown meathooks or gymnastic kung-fu. They're also a lot tougher than other Splicers, even with wrench upgrades, and shake off plasmids faster.
  • Disappointing Last Level: How some fans feel about the last levels of the game after the scene regarding Andrew Ryan's death and Atlas revealing himself to be Frank Fontaine. Nothing, aside from getting revenge, drives the storytelling through the hotel suites and Little Sister factory levels. As an added bonus, not only is there barely any new gameplay material at this point, the final boss battle is an absolute pushover.
    • Opinion is at least split for the hotel suites level; some enjoyed the Character Development for Dr. Tenenbaum seen throughout this portion of the game, and coming across the cause of Yi Suchong's death got a laugh out of A LOT of people.
  • Ear Worm: "In the garden we are growing, many changes will be flowing, if you wanna be a-ma-zing, see the flowers we are raising!"
  • Ending Fatigue: On account of the Disappointing Last Level; there's still several hours of gameplay to slog through after the emotional climax.
  • Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game: The game attracted much praise for its story, setting and themes, but also received criticism for its radically simplified game mechanics in comparison to the game's spiritual predecessor, System Shock 2, which were widely perceived as having been intentionally "dumbed down" for the benefit of the console market. It also attracted significant criticism for its heavy use of fetch quests and its Disappointing Last Level. Edge magazine went so far as to describe it as "an uninspired FPS with inspired presentation".
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Sander Cohen seems to be very popular among the fans, if fanart and the like is anything to go by. It may be in no small part to his memorable lines and being completely insane, even by Rapture's standards.
  • Fanon/Urban Legend of Zelda: One Audio Diary recorded by Suchong is interrupted by a Big Daddy killing him. After the release of BioShock 2, a lot of players began thinking this Big Daddy was Subject Delta. Burial at Sea shows otherwise; the Big Daddy looks extremely different to Delta, and had two little sisters bonded to him, and neither of them was Eleanor.
  • Game Breaker:
    • The Electro Bolt plasmid. The bolts will usually drop mooks in a single hit, and even for tough enemies like Big Daddies the stunning effect will keep them helpless while you pound on them with your other plasmids or weapons... at least until you have to reload. Just don't rely on it in the sequel.
      • And the Static Shock tonic. If somebody touches you, they are electrocuted. The tough ones can rapidly be dispatched with your wrench. The weaker ones just die on the spot - difficult for camera shots, good for not concerning yourself with people sneaking up on you.
    • There's a unique quirk of the Lot 192 MacGuffin that you come across in Olympus Heights and Apollo Square - when you take the first dose of Lot 192, your plasmid structure will start randomly changing. You won't be able to control what plasmid you have equipped and you can't use Gatherer's Gardens or alter your plasmids at Gene Banks (tonics can still be changed to your likings), but every time your current plasmid randomly shifts, your entire EVE meter will be refilled. Every single time, until you receive the second dose of Lot 192. Not to mention that you can randomly gain access to plasmids you don't ordinarily possess, like Hypnotize Big Daddy 2 if you're on a harvester playthrough.
    • You can obtain many, many tonics that enhance the wrench's power, as well as one which when you're hit in a melee attack causes electricity to shoot out of you and paralyzes your attacker, and yet another which heals you whenever you deal damage with the wrench. Taking all of these together means that you can pretty much make the game a cakewalk by just running up to whatever is pissing you off and smacking it with the wrench — even the final boss is easily dispatched in this way.
    • The crossbow is a fairly powerful weapon yet the standard steel-tipped bolts cost almost half as much as the 00 bucks for the shotgun or frag grenades for the grenade launcher. There's also a slight chance that the bolts won't break upon impact and an upgrade that significantly reduces the likelihood of that ever happening (save for the trap bolts), meaning you re-use the bolts again after picking them off the Splicers or Big Daddies. Combine all this with the ability of lag canceling each shot fired by switching to your plasmid and you have a weapon that can drop Big Daddies in seconds, even on the hardest difficulty.
  • Goddamn Splicers
  • Good Bad Bugs: A scripting error can spawn an extra Little Sister in certain levels.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Believe it or not, some people actually advocates the creation of Rapture-style cities, called "Charter Cities". Deconstructed in this essay.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • "Oh rise, Rapture, rise... We turn our hopes up to the skies..." Hilarious, but not foreshadowing, as Word of God claims they only came up with the "city in the sky" idea after BioShock's development ended.
    • To say nothing of the fact that that song was composed in-universe by Sander Cohen who Anna Culpepper would refer to as "Ryan's Songbird".
    • "Sea-Steading", the idea of building autonomous city-states in international waters to be free of political interference. Even better, the creator of The Seasteading Inititive - PayPal founder Peter Thiel - is a fan of Ayn Rand (and was directly inspired by Atlas Shrugged), and practically paraphrases Andrew Ryan when he said "There are quite a lot of people who think it's not possible. That's a good thing." He's chosen the impossible. He chose... Sea-Steading.
    • The off-handed mention of Fontaine disguising himself as a "Chinaman" took an amusing turn when Fontaine's voice actor, Greg Baldwin, took over the role of the kinda-sorta Asian Iroh from Creator/Mako in Avatar: The Last Airbender after Mako's death.
  • Hype Backlash: The overwhelming acclaim the game received from the mainstream gaming press has led to a few cases of "BioShock is overrated!!" outcries from some gamers and independent reviewers, not to mention those who feel that the game was recycled and/or watered down in comparison to System Shock 2, its spiritual ancestor.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks: People have been sneering at the thought of others liking this game...
  • It Was His Sled: "Would You Kindly" is a trigger used to mind-control Jack.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Frank Fontaine.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Would you kindly note that any discussion of BioShock must include copious use of this phrase?
    • "A man chooses! A slave obeys!"
    • Many of Atlas' lines:
    "There's nuttin' like a fistfolla loitnin', now is 'ere?"
    • Bioshaq/Bioshaq Slamfinite, as a reference to both 2K's BioShock and 2K Sports' basketball games.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Some of Ryan's quotations have shown up in Tea Party, Libertarian, and Objectivist circles, despite the fact that Ryan is hypocritical, insane, and evil.
  • Moral Event Horizon: If it wasn't already obvious, you know Suchong has crossed it when you find an audio diary in Rapture Central Control containing him testing Jack's mind control by forcing him to break a puppy's neck against his will — when Jack was a little kid, no less! There's also Suchong slapping a Little Sister whilst lashing out at her, but that audio diary has a happier ending.
    • For Andrew Ryan, when he kills a woman in cold blood with a steel pipe after he finds out their conceived child was sold by her, to Frank Fontaine, because she was in money trouble. If it wasn't for that, he would've been more of a Non-Action Big Bad, but the fact that the woman he murdered is the protagonists' mother, and he's the one who finds his mother's corpse, really makes this notorious.
      • It's a matter of opinion whether his Great Chain philosophy even had morals to begin with, given his stance against altruism and religion. Objectivists disagree, are delighted to see the propaganda and are saddened to see Galt's Gulch in such shambles.
  • Most Annoying Sound:
    • "WELCOME TO THE CIRCUS OF VALUES! HAHAHAHAHAAAAA!" (Though it's missing in the sequel's PC port thanks to a bug.)
    • "BIENVENIDO AL AMMO BANDITOOOOO!!!!" (Also missing thanks to said bug.)
      • Both of the above are present in the Steam version. Enjoy.
    • Anything the Baby Jane Splicer model says.
    • While the tonic that makes you invisible while not mobing is extremely useful, the sound it makes every time you move and stop, even while just exploring, gets old fast.
    • The lines said by the Little Sisters while escorted by Big Daddies are quite cute, until the penultimate level, when you escort one, who never stop repeteating said lines over and over.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Barring the whole "Would you kindly..." business, what if Tenenbaum did some suggesting of her own while she removed Fontaine's?
    • After triggering the switch to access the safe or weapon upgrade station in Sinclair Spirits at Fort Frolic, you may never look at statues of a human figure the same way again.
  • Player Punch:
    • Killing a Big Daddy for the first time leads to a scene of the Little Sister bursting into tears and desperately trying to get "Mr. Bubbles" back up. It's bad enough if you're trying to rescue her, but you're bound to feel even worse if you're planning on harvesting her.
    • The biggest one comes at Rapture Center Control. After Ryan shows you that Jack has been under mind-control the whole game, Jack kills him at his own request. Atlas then "asks" if Jack could insert the genetic key into the self destruct mechanism. The player may take notice that, during this scene, they have no goals, which would imply that Jack is free... But the doors are still locked. You are not only are being forced to carry out the actions of the person that you thought was an ally, but the game itself is actually forcing you to make this decision.
    • The area before you fight Fontaine, The Proving Grounds, has you having to protect the Little Sisters from waves of splicers. It's utterly painful to see one die, most especially when you've spent the entire game saving them all.
  • So Okay, It's Average: Some reviewers point out that the game doesn't actually add anything new to shooters. It's not especially difficult, or long, or full of replay value. But it shows how much players appreciate a well-written story and atmosphere in their games. They have said that it proves you can have good graphics, physics, sound and story all in one game, and you shouldn't believe you have to choose between them. In other words, it doesn't set a new level, but is a standard to which all games should adhere, and many people have accepted something less.
  • Special Effect Failure: If you spend some time looking out the windows, it becomes painfully obvious that not only the 2D background, if visible, is the same in every case (the large neon "Fleet Hall" sign is especially conspicuous), it's also extremely low-resolution and wraps around, which means that the "Fleet Hall" sign and the large skyscrapers appear on both sides when you can look both ways (like, for example, in the tunnels connecting the residential buildings near the end of the game). Compared to the gorgeous introduction sequence, it looks like a seriously half-assed job.
    • Even though the PC version of the game can run at 60 frames per second, animations handled by the physics engine are still locked at 30 frames like in the console versions. This results in some things (like the burning couch being pushed down the stairs during the opening level, and enemies going limp after being defeated) looking weirdly choppy in comparison with everything else.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Was this to BioShock 2, with many seeing it as a good game but still a pale imitation to its predecessor. BioShock Infinite on the other hand, completely averted it, getting praise on the same level and many players finding themselves preferring it.
  • Uncanny Valley: Think that the Little Sisters look creepy and that turning them human will make them look better? Fat chance. Turns out that thanks to bad animations (including horrendous lip-syncing), plasticky skin textures and big glassy doe-eyes, they unintentionally look just as creepy after you rescue them, if not more so due to the fact that they're supposed to be cute little human kids as opposed to demonic Creepy Children.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: Although Ken Levine hasn't expressed an explicit opinion on the subject, the game can be seen as an absolutely damning critique of the philosophy and attitudes behind Objectivism.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: The first thing you see in Port Neptune is a "smuggler" (at least, that's what written on the wall behind him) held up in a Crucified Hero Shot-type pose by chains, riddled with bullets. A suitcase below him is full of books with crosses on them.
  • The Woobie:
    • You'd be surprised, but some fans view some of the Splicer models (in particular Rosebud, Toasty, and Pigskin) as this.
    • Jack is one for being a Laser-Guided Tykebomb with no control over his actions.
    • Diane McClintock is a huge contender for the award for the "People Who Need A Hug" category.

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