BioShock 2: Official Review
Developer: 2K Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Date of Release: February 9, 2010
Trophies: 1 2 8 40
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The city of Rapture, the underwater utopia destroyed by civil war and genetic manipulation, was perhaps one of the most unforgettable worlds ever created in gaming history. It was a setting that often left you in a state of constant unease, awe and wonder. BioShock was an instant classic and it was a game that was always going to get a sequel. So, in comes the cleverly named BioShock 2. Can the sequel improve on what many consider one of the greatest games of recent times? Is Rapture still an unnerving environment to play through? Has it lost a bit of that haunting mystery that made it so memorable? Let's find out...
So what has changed in Rapture since your last visit? Well to be honest, not a whole lot. There's various small tweaks and slight modifications that have been added to proceedings. Also, new environments have been added to help create a slight air of freshness. Now much was made about the fact that you're now a Big Daddy and that you'll have all the powers and attributes associated with one. This doesn't alter the gameplay half as much as I was expecting and in all honesty, it's pretty much like playing through the original. All the changes I took note of were relatively small but some of them were pretty neat. Firstly, if you upgrade your shotgun to the max, you'll fire an electrical charge with each bullet. Secondly, a powered-up Telekinesis Plasmid lets you lift and throw living people, which proves very helpful when in a tight spot. Thirdly, hacking is now done in real-time, which creates a real sense of urgency as you're helpless while you're doing it. Lastly, and perhaps the most notible addition, is that you're now able to wield a Plasmid power and physical weapon simultaneously. This means no switching is necessary and gameplay flows a lot faster, and can be more hectic.
Rapture's distinctive atmosphere from the original remains. While you get a sense of deja vu
while wondering through the halls, the Big Sister will keep you on your toes...
Another main element in the gameplay is that you can now adopt Little Sisters. Well, in saying that you don't have to, but if you want to get the most ADAM (which obviously means the best upgrades later in the game), you have to take the Little Sisters you meet to designated Splicer corpses and drain them of that ever so valuable ADAM. These sequences are very exhilarating and you have to employ a series of tactics if you're to walk away with some juicy ADAM. Weapons and abilities, such as the Trap Rivets, mini-turrets and summonable security robots can be set up as a perimeter and make standing guard a much simpler task. While it is initially enjoyable, I found it to get slightly repetitive after a while and needlessly time-consuming. All in all, the small changes make the combat and gameplay just a tad better, but the sense of "been there, done that" is very difficult to ignore.
Well the first thing that I have to say is, Rapture is every bit as atmospheric and eerie the second time as it was in it the brilliant original. The corridors and halls still have an unnerving feel to them and the howls of the Splicers still echo through the environments. Firstly I'll talk about what I consider the main element of a BioShock game, its story. BioShock 2 is set nearly a decade after the events of its precursor and it seems things have managed to get even worse than they were before. The steep decline of Rapture is the predominant element of the story, although it focuses in on what exactly went wrong and why the place is in its current state. Don't worry, I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that the story is fantastic again. Although it's definitely not at the same level as the story of its sire. There's no stunning revolutions as there was in BioShock, but I suppose that that twist was always going to be hard to top, or even match. To put it in some sort of perspective, M. Night Shyamalan has been trying to recreate the mega-twist from The Sixth Sense for years with no success. In saying that, there's still plenty of shocks and twists to be found here. It's also nice to gain an insight into what excatly went wrong with the golden city of Rapture. If the story was rated as new, with no relation to the original game, it would be brilliant. But, it falters slightly under the huge expectation that the first game created.
You'll be faced with moral decisions throughout the game. Will you harvest or adopt a Little
Sister? Bear in mind, each decision has its own pros and cons.
Now on to the type of quests you'll find yourself doing. While Andrew Ryan is no longer in charge, the city is still packed with Big Daddies, crazy splicers, and the people who want to take control of Rapture. The main jist of the story is that you're one of the original Big Daddies, and you need to reunite with the Little Sister taken from you by central antagonist Sophia Lamb. Audio diaries play a huge part in gathering all of the back stories, as they did in the first game. Through these tapes, you learn about Lamb and her cunning plans. I'll say no more on that matter though. A lot of your goals will feel very familiar if you've played the first game. You'll even find Plasmid powers in pretty much the exact same sequence as when you first ventured into Rapture. The weapons are pretty standard-fare and most of them can be found in the original, although I suppose they are at least modified aesthetically to fit your new Big Daddy physique.
Well if you've played the first you'll know what to expect here. Graphics, sound production, voice acting and sound are all top-notch. Creepy noises, howls and 50s style music all return and are as great as they were in the Rapture of old. The multiplayer holds up relatively well too. I didn't experience any serious problems while playing and the graphics are pretty much up to the singleplayer's level.
I'm going to admit that I'm not fond of the multiplayer aspect. It's decent but my main quim is simply... why? What I loved about the first game was that it didn't need to follow FPS norms and include multipalyer. It wasn't neccesary, as it isn't here. I feel like was simply slapped on to keep the online FPS guys happy. There's all the modes you'd expect (deathmatch etc..) but the main appeal for me was in the story based modes. Set during Rapture's Civil War, before the events of the first game, you're a product tester for Sinclair Solutions fighting for either Fontaine or Ryan. As you progress through matches and the Modern Warfare-style leveling system, you also receive messages and upgrades that flesh out a little of the story behind all the splicers you meet, and provide an interesting prologue to BioShock.
Plasmids and guns can now be used in conjuction with each other. As a result, gameplay
feels a lot smoother and faster.
The combat takes some getting used to, but offers fast-paced combat once you're accustomed to it. You can only equip two firearms and two plasmids at a time, and you can't replenish your Plasmid energy supply with hypodermic injections - you must find the refill stations in each stage. The single-player game encourages you to use your powers whenever necessary thanks to those handy needles; the multiplayer is more about carefully managing your powers. Also, being a Big Daddy during fights is a lot of fun and you actually feel like a proper badass while you plow throught the maps. Multiplayer's decent, still just feel like it's completely unneccesary...
Subtle improvements over the original much for a fun, enjoyable experience.
Not quite as good as its sublime predecessor. It's still one of the most immersive and intriguing settings ever to grace a game, but I got a sense that I'd seen it all before.
The sights and sounds of Rapture are as fantastic as you remember.
Don't get me wrong, the multiplayer's solid and matches are entertaining. But, I'd rather they didn't add multiplayer. I feel it's just unneccesary and isn't what BioShock is about.
How can you follow one of the finest games of the generation? Well, you try to recreate what made the original so bloody amazing obviously. BioShock 2 doesn't fail on delivering a great addition to what I can only assume will be a long series. While I do feel the multiplayer was a pointless addition to proceedings, the singleplayer is once again superb. If you've played the first game and liked it, then I highly recommend you get lost in the city of Rapture once more.