General Gameplay and Tips Guide (BioShock)

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This is a guide intended to give you general gameplay tips and strategies to make your escape from Rapture as smooth as possible. BioShock follows in the tradition of other great FPS' that involve an unfolding storyline, though this one includes some RPG elements (or RPG-like, depending how you see it). You will have to make decisions regarding the Plasmids you load, what Gene Tonics to use, how you spend your ADAM, and even how you deal with Little Sisters.

Note that due to how many elements are in the game, it is very open-ended in terms of effective combat and survival strategies; generally speaking, every gamer will play at least slightly different from any other gamer, beyond the standard skill comparisons that come with FPS gaming. With that said, below you can find some of the most important general guidelines to playing BioShock.

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[edit] Keep Your Eyes Open

BioShock is a very detail oriented game -- don't let its fast action fool you into blazing through each stage without properly exploring it. There are MANY ammunition, first aid kits, EVE injections, bandages, and other useful pickups that are easy to miss if you simply run through each area -- you will also miss out on key plot elements and small details that have been painstakingly designed into the game. Think of the game in terms of any other action-RPG (i.e. Diablo) which involves looting: after you clear an area you should look around carefully, search all crates, look behind metal sheets stacked against walls, look around cabinets, and look under grills. Items have a tell-tale blink (assuming you have 'Item Shimmer' turned on in the options menu), but they can be easy to miss if you aren't looking around. Sometimes items are hidden up in holes in the ceiling, or on top of beams higher in the rooms (Telekinesis will come in handy for ones like these); sometimes you will see areas that look inaccessible but can be reached if you try to look for alternate entrances and/or alternate ways of getting to them. Experiment with Plasmids! Many things you wouldn't think of are entirely possible in BioShock, so don't be afraid to mess about -- just be sure you've got a decent amount of EVE as often as possible whilst doing so.

[edit] Save often!

BioShock doesn't have save points per se (excepting the beginning of levels), and gamers can save just about any time. Depending on how studious (or inept) you are, it can be wise to save at these points:

  • before entering any room
  • before hacking any device
  • after hacking any device
  • after clearing monsters

The purpose of saves is up to you. Some gamers will want to reload a game if an encounter went bad and they were left with low health, no first aid kits, and no EVE. Other gamers prefer not to use save points as a "cheat", but can still benefit by being able to remake decisions on how to approach situations or decide what to store in the Gene Banks. In Normal mode you should be able to clear all monsters without having to resort to reloading encounters, except when it comes to special encounters like the first time you meet a Big Daddy or when you get caught in a trap.

It is suggested that if you die in these encounters you reload your game, just like you would in a normal FPS. Do not rely on the Vita Chambers to regenerate you, because any ammo and consumables (EVE injections and first aid kits) used in the last fight will still be gone. Yes, you can skulk about and hunt down some respawned Splicers for more ammo, but this can take time, and besides, Vita Chambers really suck the challenge (fun) out of the game.

[edit] Use your ears!

This is probably pretty obvious in any game with such an immersive atmosphere, but the BioShock developers have taken this to another level by having all Splicers give themselves away with their constant chatter, screaming, or other distinctive noises. Each type of Splicer has a very descriptive disposition and, if you pay enough attention, you are almost certain to be able to tell what type of Splicer is there and possibly even what weapons they have. This is especially important since BioShock sometimes shows that annoying inconsistency of spawning Splicers in illogical places after certain trigger events (e.g. if you clear a room and pick up a certain Plasmid, other Splicers might spawn outside the room, yet the corridor leading up to that room may contain a hacked turret that would have never allowed a Splicer to enter that room unscathed).

[edit] Hack Everything

This tip is an absolute lifesaver, but its not just about hacking everything, it is about saving machines to hack only when you need them. This tip involves two things:

  • Saving Money
  • Getting free health and EVE.

The second point is only possible if you have one of the Engineering Tonics that restores health and EVE every time you hack something. This Tonic becomes available early in the game (somewhere in the Medical Center). The general strategy is to leave all machines unhacked until you've been hurt AND used some EVE. Never hack until you need BOTH. This is especially important since Health tends to be easy to restore while EVE is slightly more difficult. Good players will also find that they can stay healthy much easier compared to keeping their EVE topped up, so save the hacking until you need both health and EVE. For the miserly gamer, this might mean that you will have to backtrack to machines that you have yet to hack to heal and regain EVE. You can even survive alarms easily without using any first aid kits if you use this technique against the Security Bots (Electro Bolt each Bot and then hack them).

Using the above strategy with hacking, you will find that you can save money for purchase of first aid kits and EVE against larger opponents because your healing bill will be so much less. You can also save your money for more powerful ammo that isn't lying around as frequently.

Another great tip for hacking that many gamers might miss: if you are hacking something especially difficult and seem to keep getting damaged upon multiple failed attempts - simply don't worry about it! Anything hackable can't actually kill you, it can only damage you. To elaborate, if your health is as low as it can get, and you fail a hack, your health will not change. This is helpful in conserving first aid kits (if a heal station is nearby you can just use that instead), and can free up your Engineering Tonic slots as you see fit.

[edit] Hack Healing Stations to Thwart Splicers

As described in the Splicers section of the wiki, smart Splicers will heal themselves at Healing stations - hacked Healing stations will actually harm Splicers who try to use them, so this is really handy!

[edit] Use Stealth

One aspect of BioShock that is not only more realistic, but also a very useful game mechanic, is that the enemy must detect you before they attack you. You might have noticed when you move at full speed you can hear your footsteps, but when you move more slowly (by not pushing the analog joystick or appropriate key all the way) you move quietly. Most of the "trash mobs" that you encounter tend to be roaming around unaware of your location, so you can sneak up on them and land a close range shotgun hit that will either kill them or nearly kill them. This is especially critical when you encounter Splicers holding pistols. Those Splicers do not have a lot of health, but they have uncanny aim and can whittle your health down in no time if you let them! They also tend to strafe wildly while shooting with their bot aim, and since you are distracted by the blur and other graphics effects when you get hit you are mostly a sitting duck.

The Natural Camoflauge Tonic enhances this technique tenfold, it should be noted. With this equipped, you are completely invisible to the enemy (even bots) while standing still. This can be advantegous in that when you hear an enemy nearby, you can stand still, wait for them to come near, then pop them. This is just one method that can be used with the Tonic -- experiment to find others that work for you! Just be aware they can bump into you, unaware of your presence, and then it's open season.

[edit] Use the environment to shield yourself

In combat don't slug it out in open territory. Take advantage instead of the limited options the AI has. Splicers have very aggressive personalities and will pursue you in most situations, so depending on the enemy you can use corridors, pillars, or other obstacles to block their sightlines and set up shotgun ambushes. Corridors also limit the strafing capabilities of Splicers that use pistols. As ironic as it sounds, these Splicers are simply too deadly in open areas if you fight them at a distance.

When facing "Rosie" Big Daddies which wield rivet guns, blocking sightlines is a critical necessity -- their aim and the damage of each strike is devastating in open areas unless you are very good at strafing.

[edit] Take a lot of photographs

The research camera, if you want it to, can become your best friend. Especially with Big Daddies, this can turn an experience of thirty tries to a thirty second fight (of course, the appropriate weapons help, if you have them). After getting a full 'level up' on an enemy with the camera, you will may a damage bonus, tonic, or some type of special bonus (see Splicer section for specifics). The damage bonuses can be received three times per enemy. Suffice it to say, by the time you have your damage bonus' maxed out against the Daddies, they'll be dropping like flies.

The Photographer's Eye Tonics will greatly accelerate your speed of research, so it's recommended to at least try these out and see if you like the results.

[edit] Don't hold more than ~$400 Cash

If you find that you are hoarding too much cash, try to spend some of it. You can only carry $500 of cash and some Splicers have large sums on them ($35+ is not uncommon in some parts of the game). The best balance is to spend enough to bring your money down to $250-300, usually on ammo that you can't find as easily. When you reach the end of Fontaine Fisheries especially, before you move onto the next stage, you will be quite low on ammo - buy ammo before moving forwards!

[edit] Set Traps

You can easily defeat strong enemies especially the Big Daddy by setting up traps and then provoking them to follow you.

  • Trap Bolts: Place them in areas where there a Big Daddy will follow you when provoked or a Splicer when just wandering around.
  • Cyclone Trap: Effective against splicers. This trap launches splicers into the air and makes them fall back to the ground taking a fair amount of damage. You can add to this by putting a proximity mine on the ceiling where the cyclone trap is beneath it. This causes the splicer to take extra damage after setting off the mine.
  • Proximity mines: Place them in areas where there a Big Daddy will follow you when provoked or a Splicer when just wandering around.

[edit] Plasmid use

[edit] Telekinesis

Telekinesis is by far one of the more useful plasimds in the game which has its uses from early in the game to the end. You can catch the grenades that Nitro Splicers throw at you and launch it back at them. The same goes for the Rosie's proximity mines and Houdini splicer's fireballs or ice.

You can shoot several proximity mines onto a large object, eg. livesaver, and launch the object using telekinesis to an enemy dealing heavy damage.

[edit] Freezing

  • Killing an enemy while in a frozen state will not drop any loot.
  • Freeze a security bot, security camera, safe, turret to slow the flow of water when hacking.

[edit] Burn/Shock Tactic

When a splicer is caught on fire, it usually runs towards a pool of water. Once in the pool of water, you can shock them using Electro Bolt to deal heavy damage. This trick does not apply to Big Daddies as they will pursue you instead of running for a pool of water.

[edit] Other Guides

Last edited by chautemoc on 23 December 2008 at 14:40
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