BioShock 2 ReviewMatt Andrews
BioShock was the ground-breaking game released in 2007 by 2k Games that has been the gold standard of video game creativity ever since. The game pushed the limits of innovation in every aspect of their game, and thus created one of the most creative, original games of all time. 2010 is here now and so is BioShock 2 to rock the gaming world once again.
Welcome back to Rapture! The city under the Atlantic Ocean is still kickin ten years after the first game ended. For the unacquainted, Rapture is a city created by a man named Andrew Ryan that exists completely at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. His aim was to create a truly free world, and oh did he get it done. Rapture is free of government, free of social standards, free of limits. This utopia of humanism founded on the ideals of pure freedom now runs ramped with the abuse of Adam, a gene-altering substance discovered in Rapture that had huge potential to change the world for the better, and for the worse.
The abuse of Adam has nearly completely wiped out the human population with the exception of a few key characters from the first game: Andrew Ryan, Dr. Tannenbaum (the discoverer of Adam), Sinclair, and a handful of slightly less important characters. Besides the few remaining humans in Rapture, there exist only three species so to speak of: Little Sisters, Big Daddies, and splicers.
In BioShock 2, gamers get to play as a Big Daddy named Delta, a big guy in a scuba suit with an arsenal of deadly weapons attached to his arm, or something like that. This is the first major change in the game, and it is big plus, leaving players with a feeling of superhuman strength. Each Big Daddy has a Little Sister partner who has more or less been brain-washed into loving their Big Daddy. Regardless, the two share a sort of sentimental attachment to each other, and Deltas Little Sister has been kidnapped. This is where the storyline kicks in. Almost immediately, BioShock 2 will have you roaming the city of Rapture, both inside and outside of its walls, searching for your Little Sister, uncovering the mystery of her kidnapping, and saving other Little Sisters on the way from their captive duty of harvesting Adam.
As you roam Rapture though, you wont be alone. Enemies youll encounter in BioShock 2 are superficially creative, but are pretty familiar with a few exceptions. Splicers are pretty straight forward, coming in traditional melee, ranged weapon, and oversized forms. The Houdini and Spider splicers add a much appreciated challenge and scare factor to the enemy variety in BioShock 2, climbing on walls, and disappearing and reappearing in mid-combat. The real highlights both in creativity and ability are the Big Daddy and Big Sister fights youll encounter.
Soon enough youll fight your way through the splicers and come across your first Big Daddy Little Sister team. Big Daddies were created to protect Little Sisters while they harvest Adam from dead splicers. Since Delta is currently without a Little Sister, he (you) can attack Big Daddies, and temporarily adopt their Little Sisters, who will accept you as their Daddy without hesitation. Cool, but why? Well get there. First you need to worry about killing the Big Daddy. Big Daddies are just as heavily armed and armored as you, so be ready for a fair fight.
With each time you defeat a Big Daddy, youll be presented a Little Sister to carry around for a while. Little Sisters can be used to gather Adam from two dead splicers each, while you protect them from wave after wave of all types of splicers. Whats the big deal though, why bother? Well, because youll need Adam to modify your genes whereby granting you new tonics and plasmids. This character development and customization is a huge highlight for BioShock 2. The customization includes the basics: more health, stronger weapons and so on. The developers really went to town on coming up with some truly unique self-improvements for Delta, and all the choices allow gamers to make Delta into whatever type of Big Daddy they want him to be.
By design, there is a limited amount of Adam in Rapture, and passing up any chance at Adam is a choice not to be taken lightly, especially for those gamers interested in maxing out their characters abilities. Regardless of whether you choose to gather Adam or not, youl soon need to part with one Little Sister to pick up the next. You can do this by either harvesting her, granting you the largest Adam gains in the game and in turn killing her, or taking only half of the Adam by releasing her into a vent, where she will no longer be forced to gather Adam for others gain. Choose wisely, because whether you choose to save her or kill her, your actions will have repercussions later in the game, making this a great game dynamic in BioShock 2.
Whether you share a heartwarming with your Little Sister, or kill her for your own benefit, you better get prepared for the most intense combat action yet. Snatch up near by ammo, and turn on some pump-up music, because, after youve either adopted or harvested all of the Little Sisters in the level, a Big Sister will find you and unleash hell on you. Big Sisters are mysterious creatures, who arent spoken much about by the characters who guide you through Rapture. They are by far the most challenging enemies in BioShock 2, wielding blades and plasmids in abundance, moving faster than any enemies thus far, and essentially combining the abilities of all of Deltas enemies thus far. These battles will force you to find the most effective combat strategy for the fight, and be prepared to do a lot of searching.
Oh yes, just like its predecessor, BioShock 2 is loaded with combat options. The game offers ten upgradable plasmids, forty-five tonics, and six weapons with three upgrades and three ammo options for each. While some of these are plucked straight out of the original BioShock, which is yet another small knick in the sequel to a game that got its high marks for originality, BioShock 2s developers did a good job of providing some fresh variety. Many plasmids weapons and tonics were designed to compliment each other, so players wont get bored any time soon with plenty of combinations to experiment with.
If youre wondering why Rapture itself, the buildings, the streets, the actual city hasnt been mentioned yet. That would be mostly because I dont know where to begin! Moments of pure genius and beauty are found all through BioShock 2. Rapture manages to feel futuristic and retro all at once. Its littered with cash registers, garbage cans, suitcases, and countless other cookies to search through for resources. Textures are out of this world. Perhaps the most awe-inspiring moments in the game come after a leak sprays water on Deltas glass visor. When the water runs off of it, you cant help but want to reach out and touch the water running down your screen. BioShock 2s developers deserve all the credit in the world for creating one of the most visually stimulating and impressive worlds gamers were ever asked to explore.
Being the sequel to a game that prided itself on its storyline, it would seem that BioShock 2 would appeal more to gamers who played the first game right? This isnt the case. BioShock 2 develops in a shockingly similar manner to the first game. The game starts players in just about the same position they started the original game in, confused, and with very limited abilities. Though this time around you play as a Big Daddy, you develop the ability to use plasmids, weapons, and tonics at just about the same rate as the first time around. The point here is that fans of the first BioShock might be bored for the first two hours of game play as they have to play through two levels without any real taste of what they loved so much about the first game. What Im eluding to are features like character customization, weapon upgrades, new plasmids and tonics, and all of the other combat options that the game will present.
Despite the fact that this game will feel almost a bit too much like the first game, it is hard to find a reason to complain. The first game was nothing short of incredible and most gamers would love a second time around with just a few new features. The real point here is that BioShock and BioShock 2 were designed to live or die on their stories, and their originality. Though it is impossible to duplicate the originality of the first game in a completely new series, BioShock 2 gives us just enough new material, and a great new perspective to pay from making it as original as a sequel should be. The level of immersion in BioShock 2s storyline far surpasses any first-person shooter released to date. Rapture is the most convincing fictional location with the most detailed history any one game has ever presented.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.