Platform: Xbox 360
Category: First Person Shooter
Developer: 2K Marin
Publisher: 2K Games
1 Player Offline
2-10 Players Online
Downloadable Content Support
The original Bioshock was an amazing achievement in visual design and story-telling, unfortunately I didn’t care a ton for the gameplay as I found it too repetitive and too dependent on searching every single item to keep me interested after the ‘newness’ of the game wore off. Enter Bioshock 2 and the premise of playing as a Big Daddy. This definitely renewed my interest in Rapture for me. So how does Bioshock 2 fare? Honestly? It is a little too much of the same thing for me, wrapped up in an extremely pretty package, but for many this is not such a bad thing.
I simply cannot think of another game that does a better job of creating an atmosphere than Bioshock. Building on the already impressive visuals of the first game, Rapture is recreated in even greater detail this time around. I found that characters sport a new level of detail as well. From a visual standpoint creating this dark, damp utopian atmosphere is truly an impressive feat and it is done with the complete range of colour palette too. Bioshock certainly does not get caught up in tones of greys or browns as there are lots of bright colours to be found beneath the ocean’s surface. The texture work is solid, lighting is impressive, and the special effects are well done. Overall there is lots of eye candy here and those attracted to great graphics won’t be disappointed.
Complementing the game’s terrific look is sound that excels in all categories. The musical score sets the perfect tone and matches the atmosphere aspect I have been talking about perfectly. The same goes for the voice acting which is quality stuff. Even the audio logs found throughout the game’s environment are convincingly acted out. But the single most impressive thing to me when it comes to the game’s sound is the attention to detail. As much as the game looks the part, it sounds like it too. From the creaks and groans that make Rapture sound substantial, yet fragile, as the pressure of the deep sea press upon it to the rumblings of other Big Daddys and their Little Sister’s creepy chatter, the attention to detail is clearly evident. Kudos to 2K Marin for putting so much work into this area. It shows a level of polish that many other games could definitely learn from.
Set 10 years after the original, Bioshock 2 puts you in the role of a prototype Big Daddy as you search for your “connected” Little Sister. There’s an extremely strong story to the game, especially considering that it is a sequel and a lot of sequels can often be light on story. In that regard, Bioshock 2 does not disappoint. There is great character development, and although I did find it a little too similar to the first outing for my liking, there is also some truly great moments throughout. I’ve never been one for spoilers but if you enjoyed the story of the first game you will certainly enjoy this, perhaps even more so.
Playing as a Big Daddy, while alluring, didn’t really fully meet my expectations. The game does a really good job of making it feel like you weigh a lot without sacrificing the smoothness of the controls. I found the controls were a bit slower than the first game. I really liked this because I thought the original Bioshock moved just a bit too quickly for my liking. This benefits the game in such that it shows off the great character details much more then the original. That being said, as a Big Daddy I didn’t feel as invulnerable as I thought I would and this was somewhat disappointing. I can understand it would make for a terribly unbalanced game to go around and absolutely destroy normal people, but I felt somewhat underpowered in combat given the behemoth that I was.
Aside from who you are playing as, there are few changes to the core gameplay experience. You still have access to plasmids and can upgrade them and your weapons to your heart’s content. Finding combos of plasmids can be fun. I always seemed to gravitate back to the freezing ones just because I found shattering baddies incredibly satisfying and one of the easier ways to dispose of people quickly; however this is part of the allure of the Bioshock 2 as you may find other plasmids that provide a specific way for you to enjoy killing enemies. As with the original, you still must find ways to harvest ADAM. This time you are given the additional choice of adopting Little Sisters if you kill their associated Big Daddy. Adopting them gives you the opportunity to allow the Little Sister to extract more ADAM from dead people with the catch of having to defend her while she completes this task. This sort-of mini game can be fun and is a good way to play with some of the more novel weapons and traps in the game. I like how Bioshock 2 gives you the choice of what you can do. You are inevitably faced with the morality decision of saving the Little Sister with a modest ADAM gain versus killing her for a considerable ADAM gain. Like the first game, these decisions will result in what ending you see. Completionists will likely see this as ample reason to play through the game more than once.
Bioshock 2 also introduces a new character into the myth, that of the Big Sister. My first encounter with the Big Sister left me unimpressed. I kind of thought it was a rip off of the Big Daddy since the game needed a new bad guy, or girl, to fight. As the story played out I found that this initial opinion changed. I won’t say any more other than that as you only need to give the story a chance to play out with the newly introduced Big Sister to see what I mean.
I criticised the original Bioshock because of its extreme dependence on having to search everything. That certainly has not changed this time out but for some reason I didn’t seem to mind it this much. I can’t put a finger on why but I thought it worth noting
The other big addition to Bioshock 2 is that of online multiplayer play. Supporting up to ten players and seven different game types, there is some good variety here. What I found most interesting is how the multiplayer is not continuous with the events and setting in the single player portion of the game. The multiplayer environments are based on a time before the original game’s story unfolds. This setting is a better context in which to play multiplayer as it just makes more sense, but the online aspect overall lacks the depth that we are seeing out of the better online games today (e.g. Halo, Modern Warfare 2 or MAG come to mind). Everything works well enough, but I am not sure the online play has the depth to give it legs. I`m not even sure a game like Bioshock needs an online component, but that is a debate for outside the context of this review. Would I score this game less if it didn`t have online play? Nope, and I think that speaks volumes. On a plus side here is that Bioshock 2 supports DLC and it will be interesting to see what the developers offer in this area.
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