Now, what's with ‘equipped’ plasmids? While the variety of ways in which you can handle any given situation is certainly vast, anyone who spends any amount of time experimenting with the different possibilities will quickly realise that certain combinations work best for certain settings. It then becomes a matter of assessing a situation and running to your nearest gene bank to swap out for the plasmids/tonics of your choice. Therefore, instead of having to figure out the best survival method for a given situation using the tools you have chosen you can basically switch weapons at will. You just have to run to a station to do it rather than just pushing a button to switch; and this brought to mind casting spells in Oblivion
Limiting the number of slots you have for active plasmids is negated by the cost-free ability to switch them out at any given time. Still, the joy of experimenting with the different combinations and using them with your surroundings is not lost, and - in spite of knowing a simpler and direct way of defeating a particular enemy- I often found myself compelled to try more ridiculous and outlandish methods for fun.
Gene Tonics are, on the other hand, passive abilities that just affect the game by having them equipped (they are more like magical armour in Oblivion
). For example, they affect your sneakiness, and/or the efficiency of items used. Unlike the plasmids, however, I found that I often maintained a certain set of tonics equipped without regularly exchanging them because they either suited my particular play style (i.e. defence tonics because I tend to rush in during a fight) or because they where just the most powerful I had available to me at that moment.
Now on to ‘EVE’. It is a substance (much like magic/mana) that powers all your plasmid abilities. It is represented by a blue bar located just below your Health bar. The bar shows how much you have equipped/injected at that particular moment, while a number to the left of it tells you how many refill injections you currently have in inventory.
This brings up one of the more curious design decisions of the entire game, the lack of an inventory screen. At any given moment you can have a selection of rubber hoses, screws, chemicals and any number of other odds and ends - not to mention your unequipped plasmids and tonics - but you have no way of checking them out on the fly.
The only place you can see these different things is at the appropriate stations associated with each. A trip to a Gene Bank to look through your plasmids and tonics, or a run to a U-Invent station for all your found what-nots is a bit of a chore when it should be doable through the back button. It’s a strange (and irksome) decision not to be able to refer to the menu when so many other aspects of the game are available there (maps, goals, found recordings, help files).
Speaking of the U-Invent station, (I am the king of the segue) throughout the game you will occasionally find the aforementioned ‘what-nots’ (rubber hoses, screws and suchlike) lying in trashcans (translation: litter bins) and other random locations such as, well, the corpses you loot. These items can then be used at ‘U-Invent’ stations to create your own special ammunition varieties.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Sadly, however, in reality these items and the stations themselves turn out to be little more than a different form of currency and products. Rather than going to a vending machine to buy ammo, you take your found junk and convert a certain number of it to ‘invent’ things you can pick from a list – that’s not invention, it’s shopping.
It’s the sort of thing that, had it not been there at all and I could have purchased all those items at vending machine, I would not have minded. However, since the notion of ‘invention’ was attempted and just rather weakly executed, I have to cry foul. Of course I then bear in mind it was just such sales pitches as ‘U-Invent’ that formed part of the downfall of Rapture in the first place – so I am somewhat placated.