Review: BioShock 2 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)February 12th, 2010 | Written by Alex Quevedo | Topic: PC, PlayStation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360
When we first stepped into the world of Rapture, we were met with a wonderful and fully realized underwater world that gave us an immersive experience. BioShock was incredibly well received (we gave it one of our rare 10s) and gave us most everything we needed from it. So how do you build on it? How can you really differentiate a sequel from its predecessor when the world is more confined and particular than most? Well, the 2K group of developers found a way and has succeeded in BioShock 2. With a deeper story told in a more powerful of a way, there is no reason to not continue your underwater exploits.
Rapture was last seen filled with splicers fighting like hell for all the ADAM they can get. Things haven’t changed much. You re-enter Rapture to more or less the same situation, but things have gotten significantly worse. It is nearly a decade after the events of the original game. Rapture has fallen and is now under the control of Sofia Lamb. Lamb is a powerful rival of Andrew Ryan, and with him out of the picture, she guides Rapture through a very different mindset. She stresses collective efforts rather than individual thinking. As a result, splicers become more of an army when attacking you because they are under her control. The Family, as they are referred to, have more advanced AI built into them than what was seen in the last game. Splicers aren’t quite as mindless. It will require you to employ more tactics than before.
Your advantage lies in you playing as a Big Daddy. You are Subject Delta, the first Daddy to be successfully bonded with a Little Sister. You’ll find that has its advantages and disadvantages but we’ll leave the latter for you to discover. After traumatic events at the start, you are brought back to consciousness by your grown-up Sister, Eleanor. Lamb is doing all she can to suppress your free thinking and stop you from reconnecting with your Sister. All the while, Rapture is starting sink further into insanity.
Being a Big Daddy does not mean you’re good with the rest of them. You’ll run into plenty of others types you’ll have to deal with. They will not attack you first, but you’ll have to fight them when you want to rescue or harvest little sisters. Some types are easier to deal with than others, but you’ll almost certainly rather face a Big Daddy than a Big Sister. Big Sisters are the stoppers and are essentially agile Daddies on steroids. They are faster, can jump as high as they need to and do far more damage. You’ll be given fair warning when they are on the way, as a high-pitched sound will go off and a message will flash across the screen.
You’ll have essentially everything you had from the original game to defeat your foes. But to keep things a little fresher, 2K tweaked some things. All weapons are able to deliver melee attacks now. While not sounding like the biggest deal, it will give you a little breathing room when you need to reload and lets you shock or set your enemies on fire by touching them, should you be using those tonics. You also have traps at your disposal, including mini turrets and proximity mines. And being a Big Daddy, you’ll get to use the drill. It sounds better than it works, if only because you have limited use. It runs off of fuel, which even after upgrading, drains relatively quickly. And to really make it impactful, you have to charge it, and with an enemy in your face it’s a little hard to get it going. We recommend using it primarily for catching Houdini splicers and when you’re really in a pinch. Despite being a Big Daddy, you aren’t hindered by its size. You move relatively well and can even use a tonic to move a little faster.
ADAM is a little easier to come by this time around. You’ll be able to carry Little Sisters around this time, so they will guide you to bodies with gatherable ADAM. Each Sister leads you to two, so you’ll gain plenty. And again, you’ll have the choice to rescue or harvest the Sisters.
As we mentioned with the weapons, plasmids and tonics, everything about the game is tweaked from the original. Now, that sounds like it could be bit drab. Obviously you don’t want to be trudging through the same old environments. You aren’t, but in some ways you are. If you’re playing this, you’ve almost certainly played the original. So you’ll have a familiar feeling all the way through without a repetitive feeling. That extends to activities like hacking as well. Instead of the pipes, you work off a meter. Timed yet again, but it feels more comfortable. And that comfortable feeling is constant throughout the game.
BioShock 2 looks just as great as the original and in some ways is more detailed. As we said, Rapture is going to hell. That is definitely reflected in the details. Walls are falling. Leaks are almost everywhere. It blends together to form another beautiful environment. And the sound matches it every step of the way.
Obviously, it’s not perfect. With the subject matter, BioShock 2’s story is told in a more powerful and emotional way. But it is more secluded than its predecessor. It doesn’t advance things much, but on that same note, it can be argued that this ends it all. That can be up for interpretation.
But once you’re done with the single player experience, you’ll move into somewhat of a prequel mode with the multiplayer. It takes place before the events of the original game (1959, as Andrew Ryan mentions in a video) and put you in the shoes of a splicer as plasmids and splicing start to evolve. Being treated as a test subject gives the experience some more depth. It works well and keeps the aspect from feeling more than tacked on gameplay.
You have all your standard types of multiplayer with the Rapture twist. Instead of capturing a flag, you’ll fight to capture (or defend) a Little Sister. And in here you’ll be able to upgrade your weapons and use up to two plasmids per load out. While the mode is more or less your standard stuff, it is still reasonably fun to play through.
After some multiplayer, you’ll probably end up back in the single player to pick up on things that you missed. And while it surpasses its predecessor in certain respects, it just doesn’t quite have that little extra to really put it over the top. It’s definitely a great game and will likely be on top ten lists at the end of the year. It’s just not a perfect 10.