Bioshock: A Beautiful & Deadly FPS for Mac

It used to be that the world of games on the Mac was an open wasteland, populated by software that was more appropriate for children than for console-loving adults. But now, that’s not really the case. Yes, sometimes the games take slightly longer to come to market, but they come to the Mac all the same, ready for some hardcore action.

So here we have Bioshock, a very popular game for the PC and consoles that was released several years ago. In fact, it’s even seen a sequel, which isn’t yet available for the Mac.

So is this game worth the $40 price tag? To find out, I downloaded the demo and gave it a shot. The results are after the jump.

Enter Rapture

Let’s take a moment to explain the concept of Bioshock, which is quite a bit out of the norm. The game opens with a plane crash deep in the ocean, where you awake to find yourself at the gates to the city of Rapture.

This is an underwater world developed by a man named Andrew Ryan to be the best of the best. Unfortunately, things go a bit awry, and now Rapture is full of crazy characters thirsty for blood – yours.

The ominous opening screen.

The ominous opening screen.

There is an advantage to being in a city of genetic freaks, however. You have the ability to play around with your own genetic code, giving you built-in weapons called plasmids that each produce different effects. There are also typical weapons at your disposal as well, such as a wrench and various guns.

One of the first rooms in Bioshock is an elevator entrance, ready to take you to Rapture.

One of the first rooms in Bioshock is an elevator entrance, ready to take you to Rapture.

The big deal here though is the Big Daddies, characters wearing underwater suits with drills attached to an arm. These characters protect Little Sisters, which are girls who all have their own skills.

When this game was first released, the big concept was that you as the player get to decide whether you kill the girls or not, and the ending of the game reflects your moral decisions. A fascinating concept, and an intriguing way to play a game.

What BioShock Does Well

A quick sidebar to illustrate a point:

I remember when the original Resident Evil came out for the Playstation. My friend Clint bought it on the day it was released, and that night we stayed up well into the night taking turns playing the game.

Each of us would play until we got so scared that we just couldn’t handle it anymore, then we’d pass it off to the other. It was an absolute blast though, and we loved every minute.

Rapture is beautiful, but deadly.

Rapture is beautiful, but deadly.

Bioshock is a FPS – first person shooter, for the uninitiated – designed to scare the crap out of you. It’s reminiscent of that original Resident Evil, in that everything is dark and you’re never quite sure what’s behind the next door or corner.

Because the game is so beautifully rendered, every corner becomes another scary moment when you worry that you’re going to get attacked by a character that’s so realistic that it could be sitting next to you on the couch.

It’s that realism that makes Bioshock more than just an FPS; You’re meant to care for the people wrapped up in the mess that is Rapture, not just blow them away.

What Makes Bioshock Difficult

The game itself is scary and complicated, but there’s another aspect here that needs to be discussed. I tested this game on a 2009 MacBook Pro with a 27-inch LED monitor. The MacBook Pro has a 2.4 gHZ Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 4GB of RAM, with the dual NVIDIA GeForce cards and 256MB of VRAM.

I tuned the game to run at lower graphics levels (took out some shading and the like), then set the resolution to fairly small for the screen. The result was a game that was definitely playable and fun, but not console smooth. That was a bit frustrating.

Rapture from another angle.

Rapture from another angle.

Now that doesn’t mean that everyone will have the same results that I did. I’m positive that with a better video card and more RAM that Bioshock would fly on the Mac just fine. But just know that this game isn’t going to work on your MacBook with integrated Intel graphics – not well, anyway.

Dark and Scary - That's Rapture.

Dark and Scary - That's Rapture.

The Final Word

I have two problems with this game. First, there’s the price. It’s $39.99 for a game that’s almost four years old. That’s a little steep, right? Compared to other offerings on the Mac Store, this game is double what it should be. Granted, the Mac App Store is still an experimental marketplace of sorts, so I have hope that the price will come down.

Second, I’m a bit frustrated by the performance. My MacBook Pro is two years old, yes, but it’s not a slouch with anything else. I just figured that my computer would be up to the task, and apparently, it is – but barely.

Even with all that, this is still a great buy for the Mac. Why? Because even if you played Bioshock on the console when it came out, the replayability of the game is legendary. There are so many tweaks and twists available that you could play it again and again with different results. My issues with hardware just show how much they’re pushing the boundaries for Mac games and that alone is worthy of applause.

Yes, it has its kinks. But this is one of the best games out there for the Mac, and it’s worth the price of admission.


The popular console and PC game finally comes to the Mac, but is it a little too late for this already ageing title?



Add Yours
  • The problem is that this 3 year old game is available on any other platform for a fraction of the price, why should it be charged at full price just because it has only been released on Macs now?

  • Bioshock is a great game. A very innovative approach to FPS with a cool storyline and brilliant art direction.

    The trouble, in my opinion, is that it’s too long. Usually, I don’t want a game to end, but this one just kept going and going. The progression games like this are usually somewhat linear — as it progresses, it gets harder, but you get more weapons and skills to compensate, but this game felt like it had strong bumps, throwing you into intense situations unprepared, and then dragging out levels well after you learn how to dispatch enemies with ease.

    The end boss was really easy compared to other parts of the game. I didn’t even die fighting him.

    On the Mac-related front, you need an Intel Mac to run it. But if you have an Intel Mac, you can also run Boot Camp and buy Windows versions of games, such as Bioshock 2, which is available on amazon for $7. I imagine the original Bioshock will be available for even less, especially if it’s used.

    In conclusion, it’s worth a play, if only for the scenery and overall concept, but see if you can find a used copy, or play it at a friend’s house on Windows, especially now that the sequel is out.

  • You guys should definitely look into getting editors who’s main prospect is you know… gaming — because, this article is humorous beyond belief.

    Either that or you’re a luddite, sir.

  • Not okay to be several years behind.

    Not okay.

    Nice article though.

  • Wow, one of the worst posts/articles i’ve seen on Appstorm yet. It baffles me that you actually paid $40 for this game. Just so you can say you’ve bought it on the Mac App Store? The very same game can be bought through Steam for half that price. And imho the game is still worth that price.

    As far as games eventually making it to the Mac, who are you kidding man. Seriously we’ve had only a handful of games for this platform. If you want to play games, get a windows box or a console. There’s just about nothing out there for OSX. Right now there are only a few “big” games available on the mac. Valve has made a tremendous effort to get most of their games on our beloved macs and so has Blizzard. Sure we get BioShock and Call of Duty 4 now too…

    The fact that you had unsatisfactory results with lower “tuned” settings for your game has nothing to do with the fact that the game is pushing the boundaries of what is possible on Macs. It just goes to show that most macs are absolutely overpriced pieces of hardware. Sure they run great, but in the end that graphics card you bought with your macbook pro 2 years ago was already 2 or more years old. So in fact you are running a nearly 4 year old game on over 4 year old hardware. Still unsatisfied with the results your macbook pro got from this game ?

    Don’t get me wrong, i love macs just as much as any other mac user, but i don’t go around trying to fool myself that macs are a good gaming platform or that eventually all games will end up on the mac.

    • Before you complain about the performance of mac hardware I’d suggest that you see what the same game was like running on windows under bootcamp on the same hardware. I’ve reached the point that I don’t bother with mac game ports any longer, they show up late and barring very few exceptions, their performance is very poor. Get the Windows version, you’ll find that the hardware is really quite fast enough but somewhere between poor drivers or poor ports, the mac version ends out sucking. My only exception right now is Steam games, and that’s mainly because with Steamplay, if the mac version sucks I can just switch to the WIndows one.

    • Yeah, Guy there has it right. Its not a hardware issue – its an OpenGL v DirectX + drivers issue. I have BioShock for my BootCamp partition and have a similar hardware setup – and it runs perfectly fine on medium-high graphic settings.

    • “It baffles me that you actually paid $40 for this game. Just so you can say you’ve bought it on the Mac App Store? The very same game can be bought through Steam for half that price.”

      Bioshock isn’t available for Mac via Steam. People like Sebastiaan need to go away.

  • Next up, we review “Chess” for Mac!

    Bioshock has been out for SOOOOO long! When did the Mac version come out? October 2009? What is the point of this review? There are plenty of games that have just come out or are being released soon that actually deserve a review.

    “…more appropriate for children than for console-loving adults.” You said it.

  • I’m actually wondering whether the reviewer even played this. The screenshots are all from the first 5min of the game.

  • Uhhh… I reviewed a game here in Mac.AppStorm and I have to say I’m a little confused as to what the point of this article is…

    I love the whole Envato network, but I have to agree with the commenters today. This wasn’t a review, hopefully it wasn’t the sharing of a just story, and hopefully not just a way to promote BioShock?

    In any case, I really agree with “You guys should definitely look into getting editors who’s main prospect is you know… gaming — because, this article is humorous beyond belief.” Mcdevy has a point. Gamers are very knowledgeable and demanding — not to mention the trash-talking bits. Articles like this make gamers laugh. Well written and greatly structured, but fails to delivered to the key audience: Gamers.

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