BioShock Tweak Guide
[Page 3] Troubleshooting Tips
This section contains specific troubleshooting tips which address some of the most common problems experienced by Bioshock players. I can't stress enough the importance of taking the time to go through the checklist of advice below if you're having a problem with the game.
Official Support: The first place to look for official support details is in the Readme.txt file in your \Program Files\2K Games\BioShock directory. Importantly, check out the minimum system requirements in that file, as well as the supported hardware list, since if any of your hardware is not supported or doesn't meet the requirements then you will likely experience problems with the game, or quite simply won't be able to run it. In particular if you don't have a graphics card which supports Shader Model 3.0 (i.e. a GeForce 6600 or ATI X1300 and above), then you won't be able to run the game at all - though see the last page of this guide for one possible solution.
If you're still having problems you should then check this Official Knowledgebase for answers to common problems. If that's of no help, visit the Official BioShock Forums to look for solutions or post a question, and while you're at it, take the time to read through the TweakGuides BioShock Thread. Finally, for general information on BioShock, including future updates, check the official Cult of Rapture BioShock Blog.
Windows Vista Users: If you're having problems running this game under Windows Vista, first make sure that you're using the latest Vista graphics and audio drivers for your hardware, and the latest version of this game (see page 4 for patch details). Next, make sure you don't change your UAC settings after the game has been installed, as due to Virtualization this can change the location of the game files and settings. I strongly recommend that you refer to the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion for Windows Vista for more information on Vista-specific settings and issues.
Crash Resets: Each time you crash in Bioshock the game automatically loses all your altered settings and any customizations (including .ini changes) you've made. This happens because it replaces your Bioshock.ini and User.ini files - which hold your custom settings - with new ones based on the standard Default.ini and DefUser.ini files. You can however prevent this reset by going into the folder where your Bioshock.ini and User.ini are stored immediately after a crash (and before restarting BioShock), and deleting the new Running.ini file held there. This file informs BioShock that an incidence of the game was stopped improperly, and by deleting it you prevent the .ini file reset. To find out more about these files and where they're located, see the Advanced Tweaking section.
BioShock Graphic Drivers: BioShock is based on a relatively new engine, and is also quite graphically strenuous. As such it requires specific graphics drivers to make sure you get the most of the game and also reduce the chance of problems. For Nvidia owners, make sure you are using the 163.44 or newer drivers designed for BioShock, and for ATI owners make sure to use the 7.10 Catalysts or newer. If you still have graphical issues make sure to do a full cleanout and reinstall of only these drivers or newer, and set up your graphics control panel correctly - see my ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide or Nvidia Forceware Tweak Guide for details.
Mouse Lag: If you're experiencing a laggy or sluggish response from your mouse in the game, make sure to read the Customize Controls area of the In-Game Settings section of the guide for a range of solutions, as well as installing the latest patch as covered on page 4.
Sound Issues: If you're having issues with audio in BioShock, read the Audio Options area of the In-Game Settings section of the guide for more details, as well as installing the latest patch as covered on page 4.
Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering: If you are unfamiliar with what Antialiasing or Anisotropic Filtering do, see this page of my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide. Details of how to enable Antialiasing in BioShock are under the Graphics Options area of the In-Game Setting section, as it can be fairly tricky. Anisotropic Filtering is also covered in the In-Game Settings section, as well as in the Advanced Tweaking section.
Background Programs: Game developers recommend that you disable all background applications - especially virus, trojan and spyware scanners and messaging utilities - before playing games. These background applications can and do use up valuable CPU resources, take up precious RAM, cause memory conflicts and crashes to desktop, but most importantly they interfere with read/writes to your hard drive effectively slowing it down and causing even more in-game freezes and stuttering. Full instructions on how to identify your startup programs and services and how to correctly disable unnecessary ones are in my TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. This is an important step you should not miss.
Overclocking: BioShock can be quite sensitive to overclocking, so if you are experiencing graphical glitches or crashing in the game, set everything back to its default speeds and see if this impacts on the problem. If you don't experience the same problems at default speed, or they're reduced in severity, then your overclock is the primary culprit. Either permanently reduce your overclock and/or increase cooling to regain stability. Don't assume that because other games run with stability at a particular speed that BioShock will do the same.
These are just a few of the common fixes for problems in BioShock. However if you follow the advice in this guide, you should be able to play the game more smoothly. Just be realistic about balancing eye candy with performance, and focus on tightening up your system as much as possible - make absolutely sure to read the guides I link to under Essential Optimization on page 2 of this guide above for more details on how to do that.
Read the remainder of this guide for specific settings and tweaks which can help improve your performance and resolve any problems. The next section looks at patches, maps and mods.