Bioshock 2 (PC, Mac, PS3, XBox 360)

This review assumes that you’ve read my previous review for Bioshock. So check it out unless you’re comfortable with your knowledge on the subject.

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In the end of Bioshock the hero of that tale left Rapture, alone, with a some Little Sisters, or a legion of splicers — the stories differ. But Rapture was still down there, still biding its time, still going crazier and crazier. Before Rapture’s fall Andrew Ryan hired a psychologist, Sofia Lamb, to stem Rapture’s growing instability. In the absence of Ryan, Atlas, and Fontaine she sidled into power as no one but her could read and control the minds of the splicers. What are her plans? No one is quite sure but it requires the accumulation of large sums of ADAM, something made complicated with the disappearance — or rescue– and age of the first batch of Little Sisters. Older Little Sister’s can’t scavenge the powerful stuff from corpses any more and there are no more little girls in Rapture. So off the Big Sisters go to Iceland and Europe to steal children to become new Little Sisters to continue her experiments.

You play as Subject Delta, a ghost from Lamb’s past, sworn to protect her daughter Eleanor as her Big Daddy. Grown up as Eleanor may be, Delta must find her or he’ll die as part of his Daddy conditioning. Brought back from the dead by Eleanor and with drill at the ready Rapture’s fate will fall to you as you decide what is just and right by Sofia’s sympathizers and the new batch of Little Sisters. The splicers would do well to steer clear of the only Big Daddy who can think, feel… and wield plasmids.

History

Hot on the heels of Bioshock 1 2K started working on Bioshock 2. Originally subtitled Sea of Dreams, this moniker was dropped. Plot and gameplay details were revealed in a 2009 issue of Game Informer. Alongside this 2K launched a website called ‘There’s Something in the Sea’ explaining the tale of Mark Meltzer who was investigating the disappearance of girls who lived on the shore.

Fun Fact: Original designs only contained one Big Sister who would harass Delta for interacting with Little Sisters and would flee when dropped to low enough health. Lead Designer Zak McClendon said they cut it becase it would be unsatisfying to have a foe that the player couldn’t finish off.

Bioshock 2 was released on February 9th 2010. It’s competition was Stalker: Call of Pripyat (PC), Deadly Premonition (XBox 360 and PS3), and Heavy Rain (PS3)

Experiences

One of my favorite parts of Bioshock was the section in which Jack has to disguise himself as a Big Daddy. He gets a special uniform that reduces the damage he takes and gets to guide Little Sisters around to get them to an escape Bathysphere. It was an incredibly frustrating part of the game as the little ones are very fragile, thankfully it was also very short. But like Road Warrior’s Tanker Chase to Fury Road, this game took that short section that people remember prominently and turned it into a full experience. The focus and design expands the idea into everything I wanted it to be. It made me feel powerful and even a little reckless at times, everything I witnessed in Bioshock’s iconic Bouncer Big Daddy archetype.

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I can’t count the number of times I charged a splicer and shouted, “get away from her!”

Gameplay

The gameplay itself has not evolved much since Bioshock 1. The story is one that’s completely original but it all leads to the same end, a wild romp through Rapture filled with a few puzzles, moral decisions, gun-play, and hacking. It’s really difficult to talk about it because there’s not much that’s actually different. It’s got the same plasmids and functional reprints of weapons from the first game.

The big new innovative gameplay elements would be walking on the sea floor — which is pretty cool and fun — and adopting Little Sisters. Delta can either harvest Little Sisters on the spot or adopt them to score more ADAM from nearby corpses. Then, Delta can either rescue the poor girl or harvest them anyway. Either way, after Delta has handled the Little Sisters a Big Sister will arrive to attack him. And get ready for a big damn fight. Big Sisters are lithe, small, fast, and have a variety of attacks and methods designed to wreck Delta’s slow lumbering ass. — Oh yeah and Delta’s Eve is fed intravenously so for those who were totally grossed out by all the needles before there are slightly fewer.

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That armor might look ramshackle but ADAM has a lot of long term effects.

The Gush

I hope you’re ready for more moral decisions because Bioshock 2 wants to add another layer to things. Delta will be judged for harvesting or rescuing Little Sisters as well as taking the lives of certain defenseless characters — note that I say defenseless, not innocent. Kill too many and well… let’s just say that it might set a bad example.

The character designs are stellar once again. Lamb, Delta, Big Sisters, Little Sisters, and the Splicers are all visually distinct and interesting. Everytime I look at them I see more and more. A lot of work was put into them, I can shoot the bowler hat off of the big muscly guys and that’s just fun.

The new weapons are fitting replacements for Jack’s arsenal. They’re like Jack’s stuff… but for a Big Daddy. A shotgun, machine gun, utility launcher, and spear gun — as opposed to the crossbow — but bigger and badder. And of course, the incredibly powerful wrench has been replaced by the iconic drill. A weapon that will render your opponents into a meaty pulp so long as the fuel lasts.

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Yes, this double barreled shotgun does in fact have three chambers for each barrel.

The character models in this game are much improved from the original. They’re smoother, slicker, and generally better looking. I didn’t even realize it, however, until I saw them side by side.

Brigid Tenenbaum goes from this

to…

Very Different. I much prefer the latter.

The Kvetch

The game still tries to play like a horror game sometimes and it just doesn’t fly. In Bioshock 1 I was Jack, a dude with a wrench in a shirt running around getting blown up, clawed at, or shot at by anything I looked at the wrong way. Jack may have been capable enough to defeat those enemies but he was also vulnerable in such a way that I didn’t feel indestructible in his shoes. When I’m in that Big Daddy suit though nothing else matters. When I’m Delta I don’t care what it is, it had better step off me and/or my Little Sister or I’m gonna take it for a spin on the end of my drill and use its flailing torso to bludgeon more splicers to death.

Most of the plot left me a little baffled. It’s totally possible to miss some journal entries and then not know what the Big Sisters are, where the new Little Sisters came from, and how/why Sofia Lamb is trying to take over Rapture. I guess none of that plot is really necessary for the story of ‘you are Big Daddy, save Little Sister’ but it was the secondary draw for the first game and it’s odd for it to be so buried or borderline incomprehensible here.

The hacking minigame is a thing of the past. No longer will we be able to silently play pipe dreams to hack a turret in the middle of combat. Now we must have a slider bar stop on certain sections in real time during a fight. Those elbow joints will be sorely missed.

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I guess this is… mer… really normal and not unique at all.

Yes this game has multiplayer… no I don’t know why. I’ve never played it and I’m entirely uninterested in giving it a shot. I came here for Big Daddy action not capture the flag with douchebags on the internet.

Vending machines no longer obnoxiously bellow ‘Welcome to a Circus of Value!’ or ‘Ammo Bandito!’ and I miss that.

The Verdict

If nothing would please you more than the experience of being a Big Daddy, or a shield bearer, or a bodyguard with a license to kill then I can’t recommend Bioshock 2 enough. That being said I didn’t find it as narratively, philosophically, or politically compelling as the original. Not to say that it’s a bad game, I don’t think that it’s objectively bad but compared to the original it comes up short. It retails for $20 on Steam but I think, six years after the fact, it’s worth more like $15 so I’d recommend getting it on sale.

Next Week: Bioshock Infinite

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One thought on “Bioshock 2 (PC, Mac, PS3, XBox 360)

  1. Pingback: Bioshock 2: Minerva’s Den (PS3, Mac, PC, and XBox 360) | Rose Tinted Reset

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