The Mad Gamer

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Microsoft wears a halo - while we are in Bioshock

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It's no surprise that Microsoft's highest hopes were achieved with the sales of Halo 3 this week.
More than 10,000 copies of Halo 3 (including some 8,200 pre-orders) were sold in New Zealand on the first day of release, equating to more than $1 million.
At Dick Smith stores alone, day-one stocks were nearly completely sold out, and Halo 3 has broken the chain's day-one launch records for any gaming title.
In the US, it set an opening-day U.S. sales record of US$170 million, outdoing any video game debut.
All this well deserved. I've really been enjoying the game.
And it's lasting value will be the online play. The game attracted over a million Xbox Live players online in the first 20-hours on offer, making it the biggest day for Xbox Live gaming in history. Online play is where it is all heading and Xbox Live has pretty much cornered that market so far.
The interesting key will be what it does to console sales in this critical run up to Christmas. How many people will buy Xbox 360 consoles on the strength of getting Halo 3?
Halo 3 is on sale in 37 countries in 17 languages. Will it finally cut through in Japan which has been Xbox's slowest key market because of the strength of the home country gaming giants Nintendo and Sony..
It comes the same week as PlayStation 3 rolls out its impressive title Heavenly Sword which was graphically outstanding and had great gameplay.
Sadly for PS3 it has been buried amid the hype of Halo which extended to the BBC and CNN with reports from marketing through to sales records.


And another wicked 360 title is also competing for the Halo space in the build up to Christmas.
2K's Bioshock (R16) is one of the most amazing games I have ever seen. It is a game you won't forget in a hurry due to its fascinating plot with depth of story somewhat akin to great Moby Dick. You live it through the masterful and perplexing opening cut-scenes.
It is a first-person shooter set in the fantastically dark metropolis underwater city called Rapture, built by a crazy millionaire named Andrew Ryan. This place where scientists were to do research unhindered has fallen into decadence. It is dangerous.
A madness creeps over all the lifeforms down here, all clasping at some form of sanity. Each person is dying away or enhancing themselves to become something else. You need weapons and have to keep your health up by using a substance synthesised from a deep sea parasite which modifies your genetic structure.
Some upgrades give you abilities like being able to shoot fire or electric jolts from your fingertips, or to use telekinesis to control or move objects. As you pump a plasmid and load blue lightning into you, your ferocity piques and mad burning men are quelled quickly to ashes.
Calling it a first person shooter does not convey the complexity of the gameplay as this is not just a non stop combat shootup. It is a twisted horror.
People who live in Rapture are crazed loonies. The craziest of all is Big Daddy, wearing a deep sea wetsuit and whose object in life is to protect 'The Little Sisters'. The genetically-created sisters harvest the deep sea parasite named Adam which they recycle from the dead.
When you come across a sister, you face a moral dilemma.
You can save her or kill her and in the process pick up all the Adam she is carrying.
There is so much that sets this game apart. The graphic initiatives are rudimentary but in their simplicity they reveal a grander more tense atmosphere which sets the whole thing off.
The cinematic feel and graphical fluidity with the opening city scenes reminiscent of futuristic Demolition Man or Back To The Future II.
Visually remarkable, gloomy ambient lighting that's taken straight from horror sequences like Doom3's bathroom scene, and almost blindingly the HDR (High Dynamic Range) glow effects can completely disorient you (made worse by a big screen). This is creepy when an enemy pounces on you.
The sound, dark moody and assisted with unnerving 40s and 50s music, the strange sinister story, the endless parade of multifaceted genetic misfit characters.
The twisted plot carries its motions through the game, following you and cackling with insidious laughter at your every mistake and there are those dark forboding rooms that make you feel as if you are always being watched.
Few games I have played manage to produce the raw emotional experience you get from this. If there is a better game of the year, it better hurry up and show itself!
Also out on PC, there are rumours of it being on PS3 and even the Wii sometime next year.
MadGamer's rating: 9.5 / 10

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