“While the return to Rapture is more of the same, it supplies an overall enjoyable experience that will satisfy most players.”
Xbox 360/PlayStation 3/PC
First-person shooter; action-adventure; survival-horror
Singleplayer; online multiplayer
Impressive visuals; Brilliant art and level design; Superb voice acting; Large array of plasmids, weapons, and tonics; Gathering ADAM is a great addition; Many moral decisions and rewards that really impact the story; Improved hacking system; Extremely intense soundtrack; Improved research method; Audio diaries provide addictive side-plots; Engaging and rewarding online multiplayer
Weaker story than original; Majority of weapons and plasmids are carried over from the first; Not many changes in gameplay; Rather short; Playing as a Big Daddy isn’t satisfying at all; Less suspenseful and surprising than original; Big Sister fights aren’t innovative or enjoyable in any way; Underwater sections are rather dull and useless
BioShock is one of the greatest games I have ever played. It completely abolished the typical FPS rules and regulations and featured a groundbreaking story. With a game as perfect as that, it raked in millions of sales. Of course the Publisher, 2K Games, wanted a sequel. Unfortunately, the original developer, Irrational Games, wanted to focus their efforts on a new idea, and never intended to work on more BioShock. 2K Games turned to one of their other companies, 2K Marin, to handle the job. Enormous pressure was put on the team, for it was their job to do the impossible: make another perfect game.
One of the greatest attributes from BioShock was its breathtaking visuals. The sequel’s graphics are nearly identical to the original’s, with minor improvements here and there, although sometimes they will even appear worse. For 2007, these are fantastic graphics, but they just don’t work well in 2010. However, the art style still remains incredible. All of Rapture remains similar in style to the first game, fortunately, and the adventure really feels like it takes place in the 50’s. The developers did a fantastic job with the culture and environments, and the old music was a great touch. This is a game that will make you impressed as you play it, and you’ll feel truly awed.
Besides the amazing art and level design, the voice acting is just incredible. Some standouts are Augustus Sinclair, who serves as your guide throughout the game; Stanley Poole, who used to run the newspaper; and Mark Meltzer, who is trying to rescue his daughter from Rapture. While the voice acting you hear from the main characters is well done, it truly shines in the audio diaries. The old voice actors of Andrew Ryan and Atlas return, and they are truly wonderful to listen to. Seeing how there are 129 of these to listen to, everyone’s needs will surely be met.
Character design has also been greatly improved. Splicers are now much more individual and unique, although some voices return from the original. It is really a mystery to me why so many of the splicers have the same exact voice and say the same commands, but their outward appearance is definitely worth noting.
Ah, the story. The first BioShock truly had one of the most engrossing, interesting, and well-written stories I have ever witnessed in a game. It was completely unique, and gamers had never seen the like of it before. To their credit, 2K Marin delivers another enthralling adventure that will please most. Is it on the same level as the first? No, but it gets close. Returning to Rapture slightly ruins the feel of the game. The city is no longer the mysterious dungeon it once was. You expect the unexpected, and know what you will find around the corner. However, the story is filled with an amazing cast of characters, plot twists, and awesome moments that will encourage you to keep playing. Furthermore, the story keeps up at an impressive pace, and will not bore most players.
When you first start the game, you take the role as Subject Delta, the first successful Big Daddy prototype. You are on a quest to find your “daughter,” Eleanor. While slow at first, it picks up momentum more and more throughout the game. This is a huge step up from the original, where the plot sagged towards the end and felt like a drag.
In addition to the revolutionary story, the BioShock games are known for their innovative spin on the FPS gameplay. Rather than the run-and-gun style of play traditionally used in most shooters, BioShock 2 presents you with a far more intelligent and rewarding style of play. There are roughly nine “levels” in the game, and you can travel across the entire level as many times as you want until you choose to leave the place. This is where the RPG elements arrive. In the level, one can find upgrades and items to make themselves stronger. Enemies don’t simply rush at you; oftentimes you’ll see them in groups of two or three, and won’t come near you until you startle them. Of course, there are many variations of enemies.
The most common enemies, splicers, are unfortunately very similar to the original. Leadhead, Houdini, Spider, and Thuggish splicers all return and are exactly similar. However, the Nitro splicer has been replaced by the Brute splicer, a massive, mutated beast. In addition, more variations of Big Daddies have been added. Along with the Bouncer and Rosie from the first, there are now Rumblers and Alpha series Daddies. The amount of enemy types feels just right for the game, with splicers appearing frequently throughout the game, and with Big Daddies still sending chills down your spine.
However, the newest enemy type which is one of the main focuses of the game is the Big Sister. These are young women who have grown up from being Little Sisters. Their job is to kidnap young girls from the shore to bring them to Rapture, and to keep the flow of ADAM, the game’s power and energy, flowing. Whenever you harvest or rescue every Little Sister in the level, you’ll need to face one. The developers were hyping these fights like there was no tomorrow, even so much that they had to delay the game to improve the experience with them. Unfortunately, the Big Sisters are nothing more than a standard fight against a really powerful enemy. They are certainly not more fun than any other fights, and are not difficult to kill. This was, by far, one of the biggest disappointments of the game.
Of course, the weapons have been improved, with the game’s stronger focus on combat. Some guns return, while others have been changed. The Tommy gun is now a massive Gatling gun; the crossbow is now a spear gun; and the wrench, pistol, and chemical thrower are gone. Instead, we have the rivet gun, one of the Rosies’ weapons, and the drill. The drill is a wonderful new weapon that is extremely enjoyable to use … while it lasts. Unfortunately, the drill is powered by gas, which runs out quite quickly.
In addition to weapons are plasmids. Plasmids are enhancements to your body that grant you the power of using mystical abilities. For example, plasmids allow you to do a number of actions, such as shoot bolts of electricity and fire out of your hands, or set up a decoy to lure splicers away. However, the plasmids are nearly the exact same as they were in the first BioShock. The same applies with gene tonics, which give you more abilities. One great improvement, on the other hand, is the capability of dual-wilding plasmids and weapons at the same time. This allows very smooth combat, and will definitely give you an advantage in Rapture.
Another improvement is hacking. In the first game, hacking was a ridiculously complex activity that resulted in minimal reward. In this game, hacking is now much easier, and the rewards you receive are fitting. Additionally, hacking takes place in real time, adding suspense.
Thankfully, researching has taken a turn for the better. Rather than having to snap photos at every enemy you see, research is now done with a video camera. Simply start recording the enemy, and fire everything you have at it. Eventually, your progress will level, presenting you with fulfilling awards.
Because you’re a Big Daddy, you have the outstanding ability to interact with Little Sisters. Tagging along with these little girls will result in you getting a great deal of ADAM. While your buddy is gathering the sweet juice from a corpse, you’ll need to defend her (and yourself) against a horde of splicers that will come for you, eager for ADAM. At any time, you can choose to harvest her. Harvesting Little Sisters is another word for killing them, and collecting all their ADAM. Choosing to rescue them will only result in half as much ADAM, but you will receive compensation for your good deeds frequently.
Yes, moral decisions truly shine in BioShock 2. In the game, there are three main characters that you can choose to assassinate, or walk away from. Couple this with the ability to have your way with the Little Sisters, and the story becomes yours to shape. Your decisions have an enormous effect on the outcome of the story in the end; the game itself offers six different endings, based on the moral choices you made.
Finally, you play the entire game as a Big Daddy, the mascot of the series. These beings were enormous threats in the first game, leaving gamers (including myself) eager to play as one. However, what I found was a huge blow to me. You are, in fact, weaker than you were in the first game, where you played as an average human being. The game in noticeably more challenging than the first, and you’ll be finding yourself taking many trips to the Vita-Chamber. Your weapons won’t feel very powerful against splicers. The only differences are your ability to use the drill, and the ability to travel outside in the ocean. Like the Big Sisters, the ocean sections were enormously overhyped. They entail walking along the ocean floor for a few moments, only to return inside Rapture. These moments offer nothing exciting, nothing rewarding, they are only included to add a bit of variety. Playing as a Big Daddy had massive potential, but unfortunately, it fell short of being a great change from the original.
As I stated before, the game is shorter than the first. It will take approximately ten hours to complete, but you will add a few hours if you’re hunting for collectibles. Speaking of those, there are plenty of items to find, such as the 129 audio diaries and the fourteen weapon upgrade stations. The game rewards you for playing longer and taking the time to explore the world and make your character more powerful. I have also found the game to be almost equally fun the second time through as the first time, and to be honest, I could go for a third.
Besides the singleplayer campaign, the online multiplayer was included for the first time in the series. At first, I was understandably concerned with how this mode would turn out, due to the first game being completely focused on the story. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find this an overall enjoyable and rather addictive way to experience Rapture.
The ten maps it features are all based off of areas from the first BioShock, and all of them capture the feeling from the original game, and I certainly loved playing on them. The multiplayer is somewhat story-based. It takes lace about one year before the first game, when the civil war between Atlas’s followers and Ryan’s. In an attempt to make money, Sinclair Solutions is sponsoring the soldiers by allowing them to test out their plasmids and tonics. You can choose one of six characters (or eight if you pre-ordered) to play as, each with their own back-story, melee weapon, and catchphrases.
The various modes include the standard FPS ones, such as team deathmatch, free-for-all, capture the flag, etc. Of course, all have different names to enhance immersion. However, there are a few standouts, such as ADAM Grab. There are even a few plasmids and tonics unique to the multiplayer, making the online experience a must-have for all fans of BioShock. Overall, it’s a fun, crazy encounter, but it will get you addicted and you’ll love playing it.
If the original BioShock had never been released, and this was released in its place, it would have been hailed almost as well as the first one was. The game can be viewed as fantastic, or mediocre. While it is, in fact, an amazing game with great combat and gameplay, it copies nearly everything from the first game. There are simply not enough structural changes that are necessary to make the game stand out. Fans of the first and newcomers alike will enjoy the game, but may be left feeling somewhat disappointed. For all it tried to be, it ended up becoming too much of the same. Yes, there will be a BioShock 3, but I sincerely hope it is not another rehash such as this. Then again … Who could resist another trip to Rapture?
Graphics – 9/10
Audio – 10/10
Story – 8/10
Gameplay – 9.5/10
Replayability – 9/10
Final Score – 9.1/10
Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7
AMD Athlon 64 Processor 3800+ 2.4Ghz or better, Intel Pentium 4 530 3.0Ghz Processor or better
NVIDIA 7800GT 256MB graphics card or better, ATI Radeon X1900 256MB graphics card or better
100% DirectX 9.0C compliant sound card or onboard sound