BioShock 2 Review
publisher: 2K Games
developer: 2K Marin
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Feb 09, 10
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As many BioShock fans are probably aware of by now, the sequel to the popular shooter wasn't developed by the same team. While Irrational Games took to other projects, BioShock 2 was left in the hands of development studio 2K Marin (mind, you five team members from 2K Boston - Irrational - worked on the B2, so there).
BioShock 2 tells a rather simple story. You step into the diving suit of the very first Big Daddy who finds himself roaming through the wrecked, once glorious, City of Rapture. Overrun by insane Splicers (which is the BioShock term for junkies evidently), Rapture is falling apart and is governed by an uncompromising woman named Sofia Lamb. Without any recollection of the past, our Big Daddy starts his search answers. The quest soon becomes much clearer, as he begins to grasp the terrible truth lurking deep within the city and just how vital his role is.
What the hell did I just do?
Diving isn't all it's cracked up to be.
I'm going to level with you guys. Getting into BioShock 2 could be a bit misleading if you're played the original. Plasmids? Check. Weapons? Check. Upgrades? Check. Damp claustrophobic corridors? Check. Yep, this is BioShock alirght and at first glance, things appear exactly the same as when we all left Rapture back in the original game. If you've played the game before, the familiarity will be there. From some angles this is a good thing, because there BioShock was indeed an excellent game. However, I think a lot of gamers will agree that most of the mystery and creepiness of Rapture is simply not all that compelling in BioShock 2.
Now don't get me wrong. This game really looks great and the crew at 2K Marin set the perfect tone for this one, complete with improved visuals, moody ambiance and spicing it all up with a great soundtrack to boot. Trouble is, with most of the mystery gone, I doubt players will be swept away by the awe of the old Rapture (from BioShock 1). It's like you jump into it too quickly and before you know it, you're already on your first assignment, blindly following some guy's orders in the hope that he might explain what the hell is going on. Now for a horror themed game, keeping most of the reasons a secret is part of the experience, but it's all about what you throw at the player. With a similar-looking environments, familiar enemies and ADAM-starved Little Sisters rummaging through the rubble of inner Rapture, you won't be as immersed as in the previous game. Of course, being a Big Daddy this time around and protecting or harvesting Little Sisters can be interesting, but basically it's the same ballpark.
This seems less of a bother as you play further, because, generally, BioShock retains every good aspect of the original. The combination of different Plasmids and various upgradeable weapons leaves plenty of room for diverse gameplay. Furthermore, enemies are relentless, from resilient, powerful Big Daddies and Big Sisters, to many types of frantic Splicers that persistently attack you, often using a wide assortment of tactics. They regularly overwhelm you, forcing you to make the most out of the equipment that's at your disposal. For example, when you set down a Little Sister to harvest ADAM (the most precious resource in Rapture), it's advisable to carefully place a number of traps before waves of Splicers march onto the scene. For the less patient, Rambo-style shooting is always an option, but it usually doesn't have a happy ending for our hero. Enemies are very cunning and use debilitating melee attacks. Getting into challenging fights and shootouts isn't the only great aspect of this sequel. The cool thing is that your weapons may be enhanced to allow for extra features such as electrical or ice-based damage. Through it all, it's about how well you use the means that are available to you.
8.8 Very Good
BioShock's well-polished and clever gameplay makes a successful comeback, visually improved, appropriately moody soundtrack, tough AI (it's a good thing in this case, as it leaves plenty of room for combat improvisation), the features allow for addictive combat both in multiplayer and in solo play;
Rapture is not as compelling and mysterious as it was in the original, too many familiar elements may disappoint, main campaign is on the short side.