When 2K decided to return to Rapture, many gamers were hesitant to react. Should 2K return to the site of one of the most popular games in history? How would it compare to the classic feel of Bioshock? One thing we learned in the first installment of the Bioshock series was that the underwater city of Rapture was not only vast, but barely even explored the first time around. What surprises and treasures would await gamers as they made their way through the cold, dark, watery city of despair? Could anything that happened even touch the epic ending of the first game? Gamers are getting their chance to return to Rapture to find out exactly what other mysteries lies beneath the waves in the failed city of hope.
When Bioshock 2 opens, it is 10 years after the first game and you find yourself in a prelude to the action. You are the one thing that haunted your dreams from the first game, a Big Daddy otherwise know as Subject Delta. Your body is being taken over by mind powers from one Sofia Lamb, the new leader of the city of Rapture. As your Little Sister Eleanor looks on, Sophia has you remove your helmet and shoot yourself in the head as the horrified little girl looks on. Looks like the end of your playing as Big Daddy, but oh no, not in Rapture. You are mysteriously reincarnated in your Big Daddy suit and begin a quest that will end with finding your beloved Eleanor and the evil Sophia Lamb.
Upon entering the city for the first time, you find that nothing much has changed in a graphical sense. Very similar art deco everywhere you look. The times have been rough on the underwater metropolis. One thing you do notice however is that being a Big Daddy not only makes you a little slower, but also has armed you with an assortment of heavy weapons. Starting out with a high powered drill is not considered a bad thing by any means. Plasmids and tonics are once again used to enhance your Big Daddy to give him powers ranging from Electro Shock to Telepathy. You will see the ever present Splicers behind every corner as well as a few other surprises Rapture has in store for you. I won’t give away what you will see, but I will say being in the huge Big Daddy suit won’t make you feel too big.
It’s the game play in Bioshock 2 that keeps what could be potentially be a redundant experience, fresh throughout. Through all of the weapon upgrades as well as the plasmids, you’re constantly learning of new and creative ways of taking down your foes. So while some aspects of the game’s progression can get stale at times, especially when you consider how much you’re doing the same thing over and over, it’s the combat (maybe just as much as the story) that keeps you engaged all the way through. Big Daddies are still plenty of fun to tango with, and even though they are still quite scary, for some reason they just aren’t as threatening as they were in the original. I’m guessing that maybe it feels like that because you know you’re playing as a Big Daddy as well?
The “Big Sisters” on the other hand, are a whole different animal all together. I mean, they never show up unannounced really, but just by knowing that they’re coming, and usually by this time you’re running low on health (and ammo), you can’t help but sit in a corner and try not to soil yourself. They come in screaming and shrieking and chase you anywhere and everywhere you go, all the while attacking with deadly accuracy. Yeah, it’s pretty intense. And while they may seem intimidating earlier on in the game, once you get used to setting up traps for those devil bitches (sorry they just anger me), it makes beating them feel like that much more of an accomplishment. They are imposing creatures that look as dangerous as they really are. Just remember when you harness the Adam from a Little Sister, be prepared to hear the call of the banshee and to prepare for the fight of your life. They will not give up until you, Subject Delta, has been eliminated and their master Sophia Lamb is happy.
When it comes to the visuals, Bioshock 2 is a game that is hard to critique. Allow me to explain as to why I felt this way. At first glance, when you see it in motion, I think the average (or casual if you will) gamer will look at the it as just another run of the mill first person shooter. There’s nothing that pops off the screen that makes you say, “Wow, I want to play that.” However, after a short time with the game and you begin to realize that while Bioshock 2 may not be as pretty as other shooters out there, although through it’s incredible art deco style it is without a doubt amongst the most intricately detailed. Does it look that much different than it’s predecessor? No, not really, but that’s not why you play this game. You know how they say anyone can look at a painting by Monet, but only certain people can appreciate it, that pretty much sums up Bioshock 2 in the visuals department.
The controls in Bioshock 2 feel very comfortable and everything is where it needs to be. Have to change a plasmid for the particular enemy your facing? Simply press down L1 and it will stop game play until you have selected the correct Plasmid and are ready to do battle once again. While your running around Rapture wreaking havoc on the locals, you will figure out the best combination of weapons and plasmids to work together on specific enemies. Firing and drill controls are as common as other games of the first person shooter. Right trigger fires weapons and runs your drill. Left trigger fires your Plasmids. If your familiar with the first Bioshock, then there should be no problem whatsoever.
One of the best features of the game, is perhaps the way your actions throughout has a direct affect on how the game will end for you. The choices you make, whether to let a character live or die, how you handle the Little Sisters, will ultimately decide how your time in Rapture is spent, and exactly what your legacy will be. So as your playing along, and a decision comes up, make sure you make the right decision, or you may go down the dark path that Andrew Ryan and Sophia Lamb went before you.
The multi-player mode of Bioshock 2 is one of the most interesting aspects of the game. It is different to see a story driven multi-player mode in a game. You play as a citizen of Rapture in 1959 fighting in the civil war just before the events of the original Bioshock. You are sponsored by Plasmid manufacturer, Sinclair Solutions, to test out their weapons and you gain rewards as you progress through the war. Getting to see the story of the civil war changes the way you see the story of the Bioshock series. Gamers can choose between 6 characters: a welder named Jacob Norris, a housewife named Barbara Johnson, a football star named Danny Wilkins, a businessman named Buck Raleigh, a pilot named Naledi Atkins, and an Indian mystic named Suresh Sheti. And as an added bonus, if you preordered the game you received an additional code for two bonus characters a fisherman named Zigo d’Acosta and an actress named Mlle Blanche de Glace. There are multiple modes to participate in multi-player and they are both team driven and single player:
- Survival of the Fittest: A ‘free-for-all’ mode where each player gets points for killing each of the other players. Whichever player has the most kills or 20 kills at the end of the match wins.
- Civil War: Similar to ‘Survival of the Fittest,’ but in this mode players are divided into two teams and the team with the most collective kills at the end of the match wins.
- Last Splicer Standing: A variation of ‘Civil War’ in which players do not respawn after being killed. Each match consists of several rounds in which players attempt to outlive the players on the enemy team.
- Capture the Sister: A ‘Capture the Flag’ style mode where players are divided into two teams. One team has to protect a Little Sister while the other team tries to steal her and place her in a vent on the other side of the map. The team protecting the little sister will have a randomly chosen player be a Big Daddy. After a pre-determined amount of time, the teams switch roles. Whichever team has the most captures at the end of the match wins.
- ADAM Grab: In this mode there is one Little Sister on the map and the player must seek her out and maintain possession of her as long as possible. The first person to hold onto the Little Sister for 3 minutes wins.
- Team ADAM Grab: A variant of ‘ADAM Grab’ where players are divided into two teams. The objective is the same, but victory is determined by a collective score rather than individual scores, and the first team to hold the little sister for 5 minutes wins.
- Turf War: Players are split into two teams and each team must reach pre-determined points on the map to capture that point. The team with the most control points over the longest time wins.
Bioshock 2 follows the typical sequel pattern of being more dark and more in depth that the first go around. Many of you will play it thinking “I have seen this before”, as the only real change in the game is the fact you are the Big Daddy and the storyline. It all goes back to the idea of someone trying to make a great thing out of a really bad idea. Rapture was doomed from the start and the more you play the more you realize this. If 2K does indeed make a 3rd installment of the game, then they had better come up with something new and exciting or they might have a hard time selling the idea again. Gamers love a challenge, but one done in the same arena, even with a different enemy, can get boring and in turn not enjoyable.
Title: Bioshock 2
Developer: 2K Marin, Digital Extremes, 2K Australia, 2K China, Arkane Studios
Publisher: 2K Games
Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360
Release Date: Available Now
Review Copy Info: A copy of this title was provided by the publisher to DualShockers Inc. for reviewing purposes