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Bioshock 2 Review
Posted on February 21, 2010 by Oscar Gonzalez

With the Bioshock 2 announcement, immediately gamers every where wondering how they could possible live up to the greatness of the original Bioshock. Bioshock changed video game storytelling by mixing in philosophical undertones into a game. It's a daunting task to follow-up a game that was proclaimed GOTY by many outlets, so I'm sure no one envied 2K Marin's aspiration to make Bioshock 2 a worthy sequel.

Bioshock 2 takes place 8 years after the events of Bioshock 1. The city of Rapture has changed under the leadership of Dr. Sofia Lamb who believes in the community rather than individualism of Rapture's creator, and now deceased leader, Andrew Ryan. Throughout the game, you'll be presented examples of the differences between the two leaders' philosophy drawing comparisons to the ideology disparities between communism and capitalism.

You control the first Big Daddy that was bonded with a Little Sister, called Subject Delta. Back in 1958, Subject Delta was forced to commit suicide by Lamb who was disgusted that her daughter had been used as an experiment. Ten years later, Lamb's daughter, Eleanor, has found a way to revive Subject Delta via the Vita-chambers found around Rapture. Eleanor, being a formal Little Sister, still has the powerful bond with Subject Delta, and strives to reunite herself with her Big Daddy. For Subject Delta, finding Eleanor is imperative, not only to calm the bond he has with Eleanor, but to also prevent the fail-safe mechanism that would kill him if he remains too far away from his Little Sister.

In comparison to the original, Bioshock 2 improves upon various gameplay elements of the original game. Being a FPS, 2K Marin addressed the biggest complaint about the first Bioshock which was the lack of dual wielding. Throughout the game, you find a slew of weapons and plasmids that could be considered the magic of the game, and now, you can unleash both at the same time without having to switch like you did in Bioshock 1. Hacking and research also return, and like the dual wielding, they're designed to make the game far more fluid than the original game.

Plasmids and weapons have been both improved and increased. Improvements comes in the form of more upgrades. In the case of weapons, the third upgrade provides an added effect to the weapon, and in the case of plasmids, increase the potency and usefulness of the plasmid. Weapon upgrades are done at the Power to the People upgrade machines while plasmids can be purchased, and upgraded, at the Gatherer's Garden vending machine.

A majority of weapons and plasmids from the previous Bioshock game carry over to the new one including weapons like the shotgun and machine gun along with plasmids such as Electro Bolt, Telekinesis, and Incinerate. Some of the new weapons added to your arsenal are the spear gun that can send enemies flying into the wall where they will hand, a grenade launcher that is always good to have, and the signature Big Daddy Drill which will do some major damage, but you have to keep it filled with enough fuel to use it. Winter Blast is a new plasmid to freeze opponents and even shattering them after they're frozen, and the Scout plasmid where you can leave your body to check out what's ahead. Tonics are also available to improve various weapons, plasmids, offensive, and defensive effects.

While cold, hard cash is needed to keep your weapons stocked up, ADAM is needed to get new plasmids and tonics. ADAM, the prized currency in Rapture, is primarily available through Little Sisters. In most areas, Little Sisters will be accompanied by a Big Daddy who will attack anyone that becomes aggressive to it or the Little Sister.

That leads to the biggest addition to Bioshock 2's gameplay: adoption. When you defeat a Big Daddy who's protecting a Little Sister, you can adopt that Little Sister as your own. With a Little Sister, she can lead you to a body where she can gather ADAM. This won't be easy, however, as Splicers will come from out the woodwork as she's sucking up the ADAM. You'll have to fend off enemies for this amount of time since your Little Sister can't die, but you sure as hell can.

I know what you're thinking, A GODDAMN ESCORT MISSION!? TO HELL WITH THAT! Well, like Bioshock 1, you have a choice here. In fact, you have multiple choices. You can forgo and business with the Big Daddy/Little Sister in an area, but prepare for an incredibly hard game. On the other hand, take out the Big Daddy, say screw it, and take the Little Sister straight to the vent, or get even more ADAM by doing the gathering with her. Or, if you're a dastardly, son of a bitch, you can just harvest the little brat to get plenty of ADAM and save you time. Obviously, the moral choice is there, and the results of your choices are much more distinct and emotional than they were in Bioshock 1.

Speaking of Little Sisters, the Big Sisters are the notable inclusion to the Bioshock enemy roster. Big Sisters are former Little Sisters that have grown up into these awkward teens who are both fast and powerful. Facing the Big Sisters will be the most demanding fights you will have to face. Other enemy added to the game are Big Brutes who are buffed up version of the traditional human Splicers you find all around Rapture, and the Alpha Big Daddy who do not have a Little Sister with them and move a little faster than the regular Big Daddies. In general, enemies have better AI taking advantage of cover, a willingness to back-off to wait for help, and even find healing station to recover their health.

As the announcement for Bioshock 2 was a huge shock itself, the declaration that a multiplayer was going to be included was just as much of a revelation. Sadly, this shocker was far from impressive. As a whole, the multiplayer is simply taking the standard game multiplayer game modes(CTF, death match, and oddball) with a Bioshock 2 spin to it. You may think that's this is what the multiplayer modes for most games is, and you're right making it completely average. Developed by Digital Extremes, Bioshock 2's multiplayer has nothing to really grab you to make you play for hours on end.

If there's one point that makes the multiplayer interesting is that is has its own storyline. Taking place right when the battle for Rapture begins, the characters have audio diaries that will give yo background to what |Rapture was like before it all went to hell. Those who decide to play the multiplayer can level themselves up by gaining ADAM, might as well just call it xp, from winning matches, defeating enemies, and so on with those who do the best rank higher than all others. Truly, this is for those that are hardcore Bioshock fans rather than those looking for a great multiplayer experience.

New, and returning players, will find plenty to look at in Bioshock 2. The city of Rapture is such a marvel with it's combination of art deco and technology. In comparison, not much changed at all with Bioshock 2. Graphically, it's almost identical to the original with the exception of the ability to travel on the ocean floor to see Rapture from the outside, and the animation as the water flows in different parts of the city.

Just like the visuals, Bioshock 2's audio is more of the same, but the norm for Bioshock 2 is excellent. Licensed music from the 40s and 50s can be heard around the city adding to the atmosphere. The score will cause an emotional response in accordance with the events occurring on screen. All the voice actors provide an exceptional performance while the sound effects make fit perfectly.

So the question for everyone is whether or not Bioshock 2 lives up to the legend of its predecessor. The answer is no. Bioshock 1 changed how games can tell a story by bringing in philosophical undertones that translate to true moral decisions. It's hard eclipse a stellar game like that. Nonetheless, 2K Marin should be proud that they produced a didn't sully the Bioshock legacy which would have been a much easier task to accomplish.

- O.G.

Oscar Gonzalez - Editor-in-Chief og (@) | all author's articles

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