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Bioshock 2 Review

Genres: FPS
Year of Release: 2010
Developer: 2K Australia 2K Marin Digital Extremes 2K China Arkane Studios
Publisher: 2K Games
Review Date: 15-3-2010
Review Platform: PC
Review Region: AU Available In Australia
Est Playtime: 8+ hrs
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Review By: Bradley Beeck

Subject Delta, one of the first Big Daddies, wakes up after ten years. His Little Sister is gone and Andrew Ryan is no longer in control of Rapture. Sofia Lamb and her family now run the city and Subject Delta will have to fight his way through them if he ever wants to see his Little Sister again.

bioshock2_009Bioshock 2 has the unfortunate fate of being released after games like Assassins Creed 2 and Mass Effect 2. Two games which went so far beyond their original inceptions as to alter what people expect from a sequel. Thatís why whenever people seem to talk about this game, itís tinged with disappointment. Itís not because itís a bad game, itís because it didnít go far enough to be something more than the original.

bioshock2_012Taking place eight years after the first game, Bioshock 2 puts you in control of a Big Daddy. The old-school diving suit clad protectors of Little Sisters. The trouble is the game never made me really feel like a Big Daddy because you donít do anything different from the first game. The player still rescues or harvests Little Sisters, and the player doesnít move like a Bid Daddy should. The mouse controls are just too light and you move too fast for it to be a Big Daddy. Youíre also very weak, being able to take less damage than a Splicer (common enemy). This forces you to rely extensively on med kits which you carry around with you. It makes the game feel dated in this age of regeneration and no health bars.

bioshock2_007A neat addition to Bioshock 2 is the dual wielding of plasmids and guns, one in each hand. The Plasmids are much the same as they were Ė lightning, fire and bees remain. While the array of weapons has expanded to include the drill, rivet gun and spear gun. The drill is a fun weapon but itís hampered by its intensive fuel usage. Youíre constantly savaging around for more fuel/ammunition, as with all the weapons. Every weapon can also be upgraded via stations scattered throughout the game and each upgrade is cleverly reflected in the appearance of the weapon.

bioshock2_002A big appeal of the first game was the story and the city of Rapture. The city was designed in a 1920s style that was impressively depicted. A few years later and the city still looks great, with adverts for plasmids and messages dedicated to the cityís new ruler. However I never really bought into the idea that people actually lived here, with crazy gene Splicers and Big Daddies running around; that this was a living/functional city. The story is told mostly through voice overs/radio messages and audio diaries although there are a couple of flashbacks. Itís not very interesting because everyone speaks in such a monotone way and I find it hard to absorb what theyíre saying when Iím being attacked by Splicers. Compare this to System Shock 2, this gameís spiritual origin, where you have Shodan and audio diaries saying things like ďIím holding my guts inside me with both hands; I'm almost done. ResistÖ Humanity demands it. ResistĒ. The binary moral choices that pop up occasionally during the story are also not very interesting in this time of Dragon Age: Origins and its moral ambiguity. The story did however improve near the end when you finally meet your missing Little Sister.

bioshock2_025Graphically the game looks pretty good, better than Wolfenstein 09 although thatís not saying much. The real appeal of the graphics comes from its environmental design Ė the city of Rapture. I did notice some texture bugs; sometimes the low quality distant textures would stay around for too long and then suddenly change over to high quality versions as I got closer. Sometimes period influenced, sometimes not the music in Bioshock 2 is decent to good. Although the main theme song stands out and is very evocative.

Bioshock 2 faces the tough challenge of living up to its predecessor as well living up to its peers. In the beginning it never really grabbed me and made me feel like a Big Daddy. The story is also not that interesting and I never bought into Rapture as a living city. And while there are some nice action set pieces, the arrival of a Big Sister for instance, itís a game that should focus on building atmosphere and story. It doesnít have the feel of a top notch first person shooter. However by the end of the game I had gotten into it more and I was enjoying the experience for what it was.