BioShock versus Halo 3

This post is more than 2 years old.

Now that the WACK is mostly behind me, I've had a bit more time to play video games. Earlier this week I wrapped up BioShock and last night I wrapped Halo 3. I've only played the single player campaign for Halo 3, but I thought I'd talk a bit about how I felt the two compared.

I played BioShock first. I had read some good reviews on it but didn't really know what to expect. It turned out to be an incredible game, probably the best FPS I've played ever. There is something magical about shooting down bad guys while Billie Holiday plays over the speakers. The basic premise is that a mad man creates what he thinks will be a Utopia under the sea, and as what normally happens when someone tries to create a Utopia, something goes wrong. Words cannot describe the atmosphere of this game. The city under the sea is done perfectly. Creaking metal - leaking water - the sounds of whales in the distance - it is just amazing. The story was pretty good as well - and actually understandable. I don't mind a confusing story if the game holds up - but it's nice to have a story that made sense to me and was actually pretty interesting. I would definitely recommend picking up this game if you enjoy FPS games. The difficulty on easy level was - well - darn easy - but I don't mind that so much as I've got limited time to play games.

One last point - and forgive me for being vague as I don't want to spoil anything. I dinged Prey heavily because of the violence it showed against children. I didn't think it was appropriate and it just didn't add anything to the game. There is something a bit similar in BioShock - although not as gratuitous as it was in Prey. The usage here I thought was appropriate and in context of the story at large.

Now to Halo 3. I really enjoyed the solo game in Halo 2. It had some of the coolest moments I've ever seen in a video game. The hype for part 3 was very high, and I was really looking forward to playing it. Unfortunately, Halo 3 is just.... meh. It definitely looks nicer than Halo 2, but it just didn't do anything for me. The game suffers from some bad level design. Many times I had absolutely no idea where to go, and a friend said he had the same problem. If you get lucky - the HUD will show an arrow, but more than once I found myself standing around having no idea where to go next. If I was lucky - I could watch some of the Marines and see where they would head off to. And if you thought BioShock was easy - Halo is even easier. My friend told me he tried to run through the game not shooting anything. Last night I ran into a level that was - finally - a bit hard and I tried it as well. I was able to run through most of the end game by just running around the bad guys. I don't know if I can adequately describe it... but the game just didn't do anything for me. It had none of the of drama of the previous game. It certainly tried to be - but it just failed for me.

Now I've heard that Halo 3 multiplayer and co-op is much better, but it is hard for me to organize a time to do that. (Although I'll be on tonight at 8CST if folks want to hook up.) But frankly I was really hoping for a lot more from the solo game.

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About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

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Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Sam Robbins posted on 10/13/2007 at 6:58 PM

Yeah Bungie said if you had played fps games before to go through on heroic. I did and enjoyed the game a lot. Normal is for people who have never played any Halo games before.

Comment 2 by Adrocknaphobia posted on 10/13/2007 at 10:19 PM

I definitely agree that BioShock is one of the greatest games ever made, but it pales in comparison to Halo 3. Halo isn't about the campaign, it's about the multi-player. Halo has become a sport, larger than just a single video game.

While I played BioShock for about 20 hours (saving every little sister, getting every upgrade and listening to all the diaries), I can't even fathom how many hours I'll log in Halo3 (probably more that 1,000).

The campaign is much better on the higher levels. I played through heroic on launch night and I've been working my way through legendary piece by piece (all co-op). In all honesty, I got bored with the campaigns of the previous games never bother to finish them. The story is crap. In fact, it was 4 months after Halo 2 came out that I first tried the campaign (because XBoxLive was down for maintenance).

So yeah, Halo3 is really two games. Campaign and multiplayer. I'd say the campaign is a 90 out 100, but the multiplayer is a 99.

I'm outta town tonight, otherwise I'd group up with ya to pwn some n00bs.

Comment 3 by Roger Benningfield posted on 10/13/2007 at 11:55 PM

I'm closer to Ray on this one.

* Bioshock is probably the best game ever made, on any platform. It has flaws: the splicers are awfully one-dimensional for such a layered game, the audio diary conceit could have been handled better, IMO, and the "bad" ending seems somehow more satisfying than the "good" version. (In a twisted way.) But the sound design and set pieces are amazing, the various combinations of plasmids and weapons are fun, and it just feels like the first complete gaming experience I've ever had.

* Halo 3 is very different. If you've spent a lot of time pondering the story from 1 and 2 (as I have), then 3 pays off pretty nicely. There's an incredibly dense and faceted fiction behind the Halo universe, and a lot of it is only suggested during actual gameplay. (There's a lot to be learned from the in-game terminals, but even that is intentionally murky.) Unfortunately for said gameplay, Bungie appears to have been a one-hit-wonder... they've never managed to design levels as blissfully organic and open as the first few from Halo 1, and Halo 3's High Charity level is only slightly less annoying than the infamous Library. I played Halo 1's camapign through probably 100 times, and Halo 2's at least twenty... but 3's will probably only get three play-throughs from me.

Comment 4 by CF Developer posted on 10/14/2007 at 1:08 AM


What's your gamer tag, mine is CF Developer. Maybe we can hook up on a game of Halo3.

Comment 5 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/14/2007 at 7:58 AM

My gamer tag is cfjedimaster.

Adrok - I know Halo is more popular for it's MP - but I really thought that part was an excellent SP game. That's why I'm so disappointed.

That being said - I played about an hour of MP tonight - and it kicks major butt. I love the Exp system, and the two maps I saw so far are cool. (Although I wish it would have mixed it up more. Maybe it's cuz I was in the newbie area.)

Comment 6 by Justin Carter posted on 10/14/2007 at 4:51 PM

Bioshock was pure quality from start to finish, it's definitely the best single player FPS I've played this year :) Everything about it was finely polished, and my only disappointment was that the last level or two were over too fast and I found myself having completed the game but wanting to play more!

Having said that, and contrary to many others opinions, I really enjoyed the Halo 3 single player campaign as well. Compared to Halo 1 and 2 I think the attention to detail was there and the level design was much less repetitive - I didn't find myself getting lost at all?! - and the scale of the environments were just huge. I found that in the last half of the game the pace just got quicker and quicker and I put in a 5 hour stint on one occasion, right up to the second last level. I could have sworn the game was going to end a few times before it finally got there because the action was so intense for so long. So even from just the single player I felt like I got my money's worth, but multiplayer is indeed where it's at!

Comment 7 by Scott Stroz posted on 10/14/2007 at 7:04 PM

I have just started playing both Bioshock and Halo 3 in the past week. Both games are exceptional. However, I have to give the edge to Bioshock.

First, and I cannot believe I am gonna make this public, I cannot play Bioshock in the dark. All the lights have to be on. The first time I played, at some points in the game the hair on the back of my neck would stand up. The game play is real nice. The graphics are incredible.

As for Halo, the graphic detail is stunning, maybe more so than Bioshock, but you know what? I have played this game before, it was called Halo, or was it Halo 2, I can't remember. Now, I have not gotten very far in the game, but so far, aside from the graphics, I don;t really see much different between Halo 3 and its predecessors.

Comment 8 by Dale Fraser posted on 10/15/2007 at 3:01 AM

I think we are living the same life.

I was playing Halo 3 & Bioshock at the same time you posted this, I thought what is Ray talking about, Halo 3 rocks (and I don't play online no time). Bio Shock is also awsome and I love them both.

But I was mainly playing Halo as it was new, and was thinking how much fun it was, driving tanks, flying space craft, excellent. Then something totally unexpected happened. It finished, at first I was in disbelief, thinking no this is just a build up for something to follow.

But no, it was finished, no massive attack at the end or anything exciting. I think I completed this game in around 10 hours, which is very disapointing for the money, these games should be huge, 50+ hours of game play to finish. And I don't mean 50 hours of shooting, I mean of different levels etc. Even if that is using the same level (set) with a different mission or task, they did this a bit, but not enough.

Part of me thinks there is a motive of more mission packs, but that aint going to fly. I have probably already done 15+ hours in BioShock and don't think im near the end.

Plus Orange Box and others are coming that will surely entertain me. I think the Halo team need to rethink their strategy, not everyone plays online

Comment 9 by Dale Fraser posted on 10/15/2007 at 3:04 AM


I agree it hasn't evolved. I saw aliens with jet packs, thought I cant wait to use them, but you never do.

It has not changed since Halo one.

1. Use Guns
2. Drive Machines
3. Run Around

That's the game. Problem is that's a lot of games, and people are looking for something new, that's why Bio Shock has so much apeal

Comment 10 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/15/2007 at 3:09 AM

@Dale - I just want to ditto the Orange Box recommendation. Half-Life 2 + extensions, plus other games. It is absolutely the best bargain out there - and darn cool games at that.

Speaking of which - the Orange Box is on my wishlist. If anyone wants to pick up for 'review purposes', I promise to write a blog entry. ;)

FYI - spent more time this morning on Halo 3 MP, and I really really do enjoy it. The game has redeemed itself in my eyes - but the SP is still a disappointment.

Comment 11 by Scott Stroz posted on 10/15/2007 at 4:10 AM

I was never a big First Person Shooter fan. But Halo changed that. How? Because it was different. Because you could do more than juts walk, shoot and open doors. Sad thing is all these years later, that all it still is. I get the same feeling from Bioshock that I got from Halo all those years ago. Yes, its still an FPS, but its so different than what is currently available its a breath of fresh air.

Comment 12 by Shuns posted on 10/15/2007 at 6:20 AM

Meh, if you think that Halo 3 is too easy play it on legandary (good luck) and if by some insane reason that is still to easy, find all gold skulls then turn them all on and beat it on legandary with those.

I debate that this is even possible.

Comment 13 by 2 Cents posted on 10/15/2007 at 6:36 PM


I'm right there with you. The first time a wrapped spider-slicer morphed from statue to killing machine (I don't play on "easy") I swear I screamed like a little girl. It was the one that is sitting facing the wall when you enter the corridor, you turn left, pick up a plasmid and BAM that thing filled my screen. Granted its a 52" DLP...but still.


Bioshock is a far superior game. Why? Because like the box says, "No 2 players will have the same experience". I have talked with many people about how they completed various tasks and all of them had a different opinion. Some people pushed Plasmids to the level while others relied on the pistol for the whole game (this guy). Halo 3 is just a big stroke off. (Mind the french). Stupid AI Marines and repetitive point-shoot mechanics. The multiplayer is superior to many FPS mutliplayers out there but if thats all that Halo 3 is then why not package it like Shadowrun?

Halo 3 Campaign (solo): 5/10
Halo 3 Campaign (co-op): 7/10
Halo 3 Multiplayer: 9/10

Bioshock: 10/10

Comment 14 by Matthew Steiner posted on 10/15/2007 at 10:11 PM

Both games have their flaws. I'm with you and don't have a ton of time to play games, so I usually play them on easy. I don't like getting frustrated. Once I master a game and if I enjoyed it enough, I'll go back and play it on harder difficulties.

BioShock was truly original. I was racing through the game too fast to figure out the different weapons. I loved the level in the theatre. Killing guys while listening to classical music felt like I was in a stylish movie. BioShock wasn't really a shooter, more of a awesome visualistic story-teller.

With Halo 3, my brother and I are on the last level (just waiting to find time to finish it). We've cruised through the game thus far. I HATED the level inside the thing, really difficult to know where to go. Halo was a great game, but they haven't made huge advancements to it. I still really enjoy playing it, but for shooters gears of war, Rainbow Six Las Vegas really put you in the action more.

(my gamertag is matthewsteiner, I'll send you an invite)

Comment 15 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/15/2007 at 10:14 PM

Matt - I find it interesting you bring up Gears of War. GoW was also an _excellent_ solo FPS. Not as good as BioShock, but darn good. The MP though completely sucked.

p.s. I'm a Private now. Wooyah!

Comment 16 by Jason Klingstedt posted on 10/15/2007 at 11:11 PM

Shameless plug, but great minds think alike:

p.s. GP is built in CF, so its pertinent at least... ;-)

Comment 17 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/15/2007 at 11:15 PM

Jason - do you run the site? I found a security issue. Ping me off blog.

Comment 18 by Tariq Ahmed posted on 10/16/2007 at 4:53 AM

Halo 3 is garbage. If you were to show Halo 2 side by side with Halo 3 and ask someone who's never seen the game they would think they're both Halo 2.

Halo 3 is just wrapping up the story, otherwise the game is the same with a few extra maps and weapons. AKA Halo 3 is basically an expansion pack to Halo 2.

Gears of War destroys H2 on graphics. And H3 had an opportunity to out do that, and they failed (GOW2 is in the works, the gfx apparently blow away GOW1).

Campaign mode of any game is blah, there's no satisfaction in beating lines of code. And A.I designed to give you a bit of a chance. Or, that you can memorize when a bad guy is going to appear. There's no challenge in that.

It's all about multi-player online, and the MP experience is sooooo yawwwwwwwwwwwn in H3. It's typical boiler plate CTF and Death Match.

If you're looking to get excited over something stay tuned for Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare, the graphics and playability, and fun factor are INSANE. They had a public beta going on and it was a huge success.

Comment 19 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/16/2007 at 4:59 AM

Well, I agree with you on the graphics of GoW, but I don't agree that campaign mode in any game is mush. GoW had a great campaign. BioShock did. Call of Duty 1 and 2 did (I thought 3 was boring).

Comment 20 by Bootsbane posted on 10/16/2007 at 8:36 PM

Adrocknaphobia is dead on with his post.

Comment 21 by TJS posted on 10/22/2007 at 4:15 AM

I think that most people would like bioshock better because it is the first in its series. mayne people didnt like halo 3 as much because there was already halo and halo2 out already. If halo 3 had been the first game in the series, i think people would have been amazed because they have never seen anything like it.

Comment 22 by Ryan Guill posted on 10/23/2007 at 6:42 PM

I know I'm late to the party (er, post) but just wanted to weigh in here too. I agree that the campaign in Halo can be kind of meh, but I didn't buy it for the campaign, the MP is unmatched in anything else I have ever played. I've had it for a week now and I've played every day. Can't get enough. I would really like to see a bioshock MP or rainbow six or any of that.

Any of you guys that want to, add me. My gamertag is baby drumstick. Team Slayer on MP is definitely where its at. Looking for 20 skill so I can rank up!

Comment 23 by Scott Stroz posted on 10/23/2007 at 7:33 PM

@Ryan - here is my issue with MP. First, I am FPS-challenged. I am just not that good at them. Second, even going into the 'boot camp' or 'basic training' levels is ridiculously hard because there are people in there who do nothing but play Halo all day.

Personally, I find nothing fun about getting killed every third step you take. It sucks actually.

Comment 24 by Ryan Guill posted on 10/23/2007 at 7:44 PM

well if you have a disposition against FPS then yeah, you aren't going to like it. And trust me, when I got started I was getting pwned just about every step I took. But you get better, and its a whole lot better when playing with a team, especially a team who communicates well and that you can trust. I personally don't care for the lone wolves (every man for themselves) very much, but the team slayer is loads of fun.

Comment 25 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/23/2007 at 7:47 PM

It is also easier to earn EXP when you are on a team. Although now that I've hit Sarge I'm not too terribly interested. ;) Hmmm, my wife is gone today - I may play a bit @ lunch.

Comment 26 by Scott Stroz posted on 10/23/2007 at 11:47 PM

@Ryan - I don't have a disposition against FPS, I am just not very good at them, but I do enjoy playing them. Kind of like golf. ;)

I was telling Ray the other day I spent an hour in Bioshock killing Big Daddies only to find no little sister. It wasn't until I decided to follow one that I realized he was looking for a little sister himself.

I used to play Unreal Tournament on XBox live all the tine with some co-workers, we were always on the same team, and that was loads of fun. Unfortunately, I can never seem to join my 'friends' in Halo MP so I just get stuck with people who are just too good.

Comment 27 by Scott Stroz posted on 10/24/2007 at 7:11 AM

OK, I just spent about 3 hours playing MP with a former co-worker, and for a little bit, Ray, and it was a lot more fun than me just running around trying not to die. But, to be honest, its not much different that Unreal Tournament from years ago.

Comment 28 by Troy Allen posted on 11/5/2007 at 11:45 PM

I agree with Ray and others here: BioShock is the first truly original game in a long time, esp in the FPS arena. I played through it twice back-to-back, just to try the "two possible paths", get every upgrade, listen to every tape, etc.

I am about halfway through H3 Campaign, and I am already bored. I will probably finish it, but it is barely keeping my attention at this point. Side Note: I have a dedicated home theater, with a killer HD projector, yet there appears to be little-to-no Anti-aliasing in H3. The angled lines on straight edges on the Pelicans look jaggy as heck...even during cut scenes. Is this a short-coming of the XB360, or the game? I have not noticed it this bad in any other game.

I can't wait for Assasins' Creed to come out on the 13th -- this is the first time in my life I have ever pre-ordered a video game (I mostly rent games for that matter). I sure hope it lives up to my expectations.

Comment 29 by Scott Stroz posted on 11/6/2007 at 1:30 AM

Last week, I finished H3 (only the 2nd FPS I ever finished) and I can tell you the end is a bore-fest. The last hour or so is divvied into 2 parts (the Flood thing and the Warthog thing) that play over and over, offering little in the way of variety. It was quite annoying, and not very creative or engaging.