Dual Wielding, complex story line and the moralistic choice options.
Perhaps the fact I've been to Rapture before means I'm less enamoured this time. Combat early on is a bit homogenized and beware of the Drill Specialist plasmid
|The Verdict||BioShock 2 will enthrall and challenge any gamer especially at the higher difficulty settings. Its not perfect but neither was Rapture.|
“Children have you ever met the bogeyman before…?” goes the loading song to one level of BioShock 2 and its delightfully sums up the premise behind BioShock 2. You play as a Big Daddy, the foreboding silent monoliths of the original and with that master stroke the game is turned on its head.
If you claim to be a gamer and have not played BioShock then my question would be “Why not!!?” BioShock is a well deserved and well acclaimed Game of the Year in 2008 across many publications. It was an unbelievably well crafted game that bought a delicious sense of foreboding and menace in the style of a 1950’s theme farce. Set in the underwater Utopian turned Dystopian city of Rapture, BioShock was a triumph.
Not surprisingly we have returned to Rapture but some eight years after the first game and this time you play as a Big Daddy. A Big Daddy is the giant protectors of the Little Sisters in the original that can only exist in an atmospheric diving suit and the beginning plot line in BioShock 2 is that you are frantically searching for the Little Sister that you were programmed to protect.
Along the way you discover a twisting complex plot by Rapture’s leader Sofia Lamb to use your Little Sister to rule Rapture and beyond forever. At her command are the Big Sisters, really really agile and fast killers in a lithe diving suit like the Big Daddys, and a collection of malcontents, splicers and scientists. Combat is again divided into the use of either genetic powers known as Plasmids or conventional weaponry like shotguns, pistols and a machine gun all of which are extensively upgradeable. Gene tonics which enhance your performance are also still in the game.
This upgradeable ability is still a huge part of BioShock 2 and is very much the prize for the effort in achieving a level complete or winning a battle. As with the original the options are exhaustive and some are not particularly useful, warranted or interesting but they are there to add to the “whole” of the game. A new feature is the ability to duel wield and battle with both plasmids and guns at the same time. This is highly effective against some of the big Brute Splicers, other Big Daddys and the Big Sisters. My recommendation? freeze ‘em then shoot ‘em.
Now BioShock 2 in it’s own right is a very good game but in comparing it to the original highlights some issues that you could not necessarily criticize the game for but it does force you to consider “Is this as good as the original?” Now my old dad use to say to me “No form of comparison will give a positive result” and he was right because my expectations of the opening act of the game was set impossibly high because of the original and in the concluding scenes of the intro to BioShock 2 I felt a tad deflated.
That sense of “gulp” and “Uh Oh whats coming around the corner” was not there. The Splicers for instance don’t seem to be so predatory this time, flying at you from all angles is somewhat lessened. This is all due to the fact that I’ve been to Rapture before . Familiarity breeds contempt I s’pose and Rapture just doesn’t seem to be as foreboding as it once was.
At least not initially but then it kicks up a gear as you begin to unravel the complexity of the story. The combat that had felt a bit homogenized, that is all blended to be the same begins to gather i’ts own identity. You stop wandering through endless halls and corridors only for the sake of ADAM or EVE collection and the reason for what you are doing starts to get fleshed out. The choices you make over rescuing or harvesting Little Sisters and being merciful or not over some other key characters begins to impact the game.
The enemy AI becomes more discerning and I begin to realise that after an iffy start BioShock 2 is still better than almost anything out there. You have a menacing foe and a story that never seems to be quite what you think it is. The choices you make to progress the game are leading you inextricably to your destruction if you are to save your Little Sister. What are you gonna do then sacrifice yourself or save yourself? In the end the choice is yours or is it?
Now one thing I need to warn about is the Drill Specialist Plasmid that becomes available at one point. As a Big Daddy you have access to use the Drill as a weapon and Drill Specialist plasmid allows you to become very proficient at it but if you do equip this be prepared to lose almost all other conventional weapons. Your plasmids remain but it took me some googling time to discover why I had lost my weaponry.
My favourite plasmid was the Swarm because you just send them into rooms in advance and they take out waiting enemies. My shotgun or machine gun were my firepower of choice and I used the trap plasmids and trap rivets extensively too especially when harvesting ADAM from corpses with Little Sisters that I had rescued.
The multiplayer option in the game is a new addition. It’s set during Rapture’s civil war and although still growing is a lot of fun. The civil war takes place ten years before the original BioShock and you can get out and kill your gamer friends through the Utopian device called Rapture.
BioShock 2 still looks great but I had to adjust the screen settings to make it a bit darker and the shadows a bit scarier. The cut scenes look fantastic and are critical to understanding the story. The endings, of which there are four, run in a similar vein to the original and also look excellent. I do suggest a multiple play through to all the alternate endings. From a controls point of view I played this on the PS3 and the original on the 360. I think I prefer the 360 button map for some reason although the difference is not that much.
So if you are into the Art Deco and the Big Brother is watching you thing BioShock 2 is an excellent game. It has it’s faults but for all that you will play a game that has better design and more well developed characters than many a block buster movie. As a FPS purely and simply it’s standard fare but that should not be what you play it for because BioShock 2 is more than a sum of its parts its an exercise in moralistic design coupled with the ability to effectively kill everyone and everything that cares for you or you care about. The choice over whether that happens is not entirely upto you but you play a big part.