• Bioshock 2 - Header

    When Bioshock 2 was first announced I let out a groan of dismay. There was absolutely no reason to provide a sequel to Bioshock 1. It stands as a superbly paced and immersive game that doesn’t need any further embellishment at all.

    Only…well, it’s virtually impossible to resist the lure of a return visit to Rapture. As rusting leaky crumbling undersea dystopias go, Rapture has it all and I convinced myself at the start of my play through that I wouldn’t let my disappointment get the better of me. If nothing else, I’d enjoy being a virtual tourist in Andrew Ryan’s twisted undersea kingdom once again.

    With no pomp or ceremony you find yourself once again emerging into a barnacle-encrusted world of decay and human debasement, only this time rather than being a fleet-of-foot mystery man, you’re cast as a lumbering Big Daddy. Clad in your armoured diving suit with all the grace and flexibility of an arthritic hippo, you may feel a little encumbered at the start of the game and extremely frustrated that just about everything left in Rapture can kill you with inherent ease.

    Bioshock 2 - Screenshot

    Thankfully those of you who played through the first game will know that Bioshock doesn’t leave you defenceless for long, and Bioshock 2 doesn’t either. Soon you will gain your first plasmid powers (with various items common with the first game, plus a few new ones to keep you on your toes). Your main armament at first is the Big Daddy arm-drill, but eventually you’ll find other weapons dotted around the rotting corridors and access tubes of Rapture, and again like the first game these weapons can all be upgraded turning you from Splicer-fodder into a hefty killing machine.

    I’m purposely avoiding giving too much away plot wise, because I know how annoyed I’d be if I read a review that spoiled plot and gameplay elements too much. Suffice to say that Bioshock 2 is very much more a shoot-em-up fan’s game, eschewing the intelligent character interaction and puzzle solving of the first game and focussing more on fighting your way out of trouble. On the “normal” difficulty level, I found the game unjustly punishing and seemed to spend way too much of my time staring at the glass doors of a revival booth.

    Ammo seems to be scarcer than the first game, though you can spend a lot of time searching nooks and crannies, and various containers as well as dead bodies for useful items.

    New characters and locations abound in the previously unexplored sections of Rapture and it’s these that make the game worth playing, even though you’ll probably play the entire game just waiting for that inevitable twist in the tale (again I’ll emphasize, no spoilers here, go and play it and you’ll know what I’m talking about). Your character seems easy to empathize with and like the hero of the first game, a character that’s been used and abused by nefarious villains in positions of power amongst Rapture’s higher echelons. But expect the unexpected. I will say no more than that.

    Bioshock 2 - Screenshot

    Reiterating the point that Bioshock 2 is more for first person shooter fans than RPG fanatics, there’s a tacked-on multiplayer mode to compliment the single player stuff. I say “tacked on” because despite having some superb alternatives to the usual standard multiplayer “capture the flag” or “team deathmatch” fare, there are several custom modes that bond firmly with the game’s core elements. Adam hunt is one such mode, tasking players with gathering more Adam than their competitors. Of course it goes without saying that plasmid powers feature heavily in multiplayer too, and at times the gameplay is fast and frenetic. But it still feels like an entire game mode that wasn’t really necessary, and was just thrown into the mix to keep FPS fans sweet.

    All told, Bioshock 2 suffers from having extremely large shoes to fill (and you don’t get larger shoes than those lead-lined clompers the Big Daddies wear). So much is carried over from the first game without much enhancement or change, and though that’s not necessarily a bad thing it feels a lot like the minimum effort was put in. That said, technically there are some superb spot effects and some impressive set pieces, particularly when your character gets trapped in a rapidly flooding chamber. The way the scene swiftly changes to a submerged particle-filled room full of floating debris is indeed extremely impressive.

    Inventory and plasmid handling is much the same as in Bioshock 1, as are the weapons and upgrades and of course the moral choice of helping or harvesting Little Sisters, though this time you can escort the little darlings around to gain even more Adam for your own means.

    The tedious pipe-puzzle hacking elements have been replaced with an equally tedious swinging needle “game” (which incidentally could end up being nigh on impossible if you’re colourblind). Other than that, there are minor changes to some of the HUD graphics and a tighter look and feel to the game engine. Rather nicely, you also have the option on consoles to lock the framerates (sacrificing a little visual clarity here and there).

    The star of the game though is undoubtedly the setting, and though I’ve enjoyed Bioshock 2 a lot less than the first game I am pretty sure that if 2K have got a third game in mind, I’ll be unable to resist the temptation to go back to Rapture once more.

    Score 7/10

    About The Author

    • Lisa Vol

      Please make proper use of grammar and the English language before you post any other reviews that you mean to be taken serious. Reading that was embarrassing.

    • http://www.totallygn.com Phil May

      Please use the word “seriously” instead of serious when you mean to be taken seriously. Oh and don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out, thanks.

    • Nice

      Lisa Vol has a point, but nice rebuttal there and a surefire way of getting visitors to return.

      A colourblind friend of mine has no issue with the swinging needle game in BioShock 2. Four colours are used. Red, green, blue and grey. Anyone with problems viewing colour will be able to determine the difference, especially given the picture shown during the explanation of the device. Don’t put yourself in a disabled person’s shoes just to be politically correct, especially if you’re going to get their viewpoint wrong.

      Quite how you review such an immense and amazing game in about ten paragraphs, before lumping a 7 out of 10 score at the end is beyond me. And whilst reviewing truly is a case of “horses for courses,” maybe a reviewer with more intelligence would have done the job a little better here. The gunplay isn’t complex, but by THINKING about the enemies and how to defeat them, rather than running in and gunning every weapon until you’re out of ammo (much like an eight year old child would do) – the game becomes challenging, without the frustration. With ammo being available in abundance (negating yet another of the reviewer’s fine, fine points) – I can see how its tempting to do the latter.

      Oh, and if you’d played for more than five minutes, you’d know that the lead characters are the same in both games, only by the time of the sequel, he’s been turned into a Big Daddy.

      The woodworm that were leaving after reading this review ate their way through the door, so, it won’t hit me on the arse on the way out. Ithankyow.

    • Paul P

      After reading this review (and a couple others) I have come to the conclusion that TGN stands for Total Garbage Network. What a joke!

      Nice response Phil,very mature. The review sucked hard, deal with it.

    • Lisa Vol

      Hey Phil how about you keep crying… Apparently you can type a complete hack job of a review and publish it with no regrets, but when someone intentionally makes an ironic mistake (using serious instead of seriously) to mock your pathetic use of the English language, you then catch it…… interesting.

      If you want to become anything other than a two bit journalist whose articles read like they were written by a fourth grader, please at least get your GED, and pick up an edition of Diana Hackers: A Writer’s Reference. So far making fun of your complete incompetence has been much more rewarding and entertaining then your laughable prose.

    • jarowdowsky

      Nice to find someone that agrees with my experience of Bioshock 2. It feels like a dumbed down version of the first game. Not helped by a poor choice in philosophy for the grand philosophy (are we really expected to believe that treating psychoanalysis as the loss of self is as interested as Objectivism?) underpinning the game and an almost identical plot.

      The vulnerability of yourself is strange, the logic of the world following the events of the first game is strained and the experience feels tremendously repetitive.

      Although it looks nice I’m at a loss to understand where so much praise is coming from, this is from the moment it begins, an inferior version of the original. Despite what people are saying elsewhere, it really is a knock-off sequel simply aping and not really understanding the impact of the original.

      7/10 is fair but I’d struggle to go quite so high.

    • http://origamikid.wordpress.com Josh (origamikid)

      I agree, Take 2 should be ashamed of releasing this game.

      Terrible story (are we really supposed to believe that this massive uprising and civil war happened in Rapture and at no point in the first game this was mentioned…or even hinted at? I would say that would be a rather major thing in the history of Rapture, instead it feels tacked on and forced.

      The story fails.

      Gameplay is weak. The dual wielding just doesnt work. I also have same thoughts on the time i spent alive and my amount of ammo. Plain and simple playing as a big daddy takes away any fear, danger and tension that the fights brought in Bioshock 1.

      Dont even get my started on the multiplayer. Hands down some of the glitchyest, poorest and just downright terrible multiplayer i have played in my experience of Xbox live – shocking. I want to spent a little bit more time with the game before giving my score, but it certainly wont be higher then a 7

    • Mike

      First I would like to say I am really enjoying Bioshock 2 but there are a few things that bug me. First and foremost is being a Big Daddy. I don’t really feel like a Big Daddy in the game when a couple of splicers can take me down. You still feel on the bottem of the Rapture food chain with the rest of the splicers in the beginning. Also the Big Sister could have been very cool but instead they turned her into a pointless boss fight, I thought she was going to be a awesome antagonist in the beginning when she had you running for your life. The multiplayer does feel tacked on, even though the Big Daddy gameplay in my opinion feels a lot better.

      I do like how they didn’t try to change everything up. The plasmids and weapons still feel great. I do like the dual-wielding instead of having to switch back and forth like in the first game. I haven’t gotten through much of the story yet but I’m having a blast with it so far.

      I would have given this around a 8 or 9. Mostly because it feels great to be back in Rapture but I see the untapped potential in some key elements.

      P.S. Don’t even get on me about my grammar and spelling. I’m not an english major and frankly I don’t care.

    • Hellion

      I agree, this game does seem to be a weak version of the first one. They changed almost nothing, even the things they promised. The plasmid “levels” are a joke, and the new little sister bit is annoying and tedious. However, I would give it higher than a 7, because even though it’s a weaker version of its predecessor, its predecessor was amazing.

      Also, inconsequential the review…
      @Nice, if your going to post spoilers without warning, make sure you get them right. The opening scene of the game shows Delta being forced to kill himself in 1958, while Jack Ryan didn’t arrive in Rapture until 1960. Delta is most certainly not Jack.

    • http://origamikid.wordpress.com Josh (origamikid)

      Yes! That’s so true! You in no way feel like a Big Daddy. The problem is to be a big daddy would make you unstoppable to all those except the un spliced members of rapture and the big Sisters/other big daddy’s.

      The simple fact is this: the splicers are reduced to nothing more then junkies looking for their next fix. If we were really a Big Daddy we should be able to sweep them aside with the flick of the wrist. It annoys me in games where the enemy AI will leave other enemy AI alone but will instantly attack you.

      Why is it the Splicers dont attack other Big Daddy’s? Especially when they have little sisters collecting ADAM? It is just very jarring to at one stage supposedly be a Big Daddy and then next being treated as a regular splicer by both other big daddy’s and splicers. I remember instances in Bioshock 1 where you would have Big Daddy’s fighting together against you… just another area that Take 2 have overlooked when trying to build a believable world when the original team takes off to build itself another unique IP.

    • http://allaboutthegames.co.uk Peej

      Nice to see some intelligent replies and comebacks, even the ones that didn’t agree with my “hack job”. FWIW Bioshock 2 was so lite on content that it was easy to finish before deadlines, and even if you have the motivation (and the time) to go back and try for both endings / eventualities, the fact remains that Levine jumping ship and ditching this project shows in spades.

      Josh – You hit the nail on the head with your “you don’t feel like a Big Daddy” comment. On Normal difficulty levels, just about everyone in the game can royally kick your arse. I would be the first to admit that I’m no COD-OCD fanatic and shooters aren’t my first choice genre, but you’re supposed to be a well armed protector of little sisters – and even as the prototype you should be at least able to take out a splicer with a couple of swipes of your drill. Every fight felt like a struggle until the game finally starts to drip-feed you some of the better plasmids and weapons, and even then there’s still too much emphasis on the shooting and not nearly enough on the real star of the game, Rapture itself.

      (BTW if commenters could please refrain from spoiling huge chunks of the game for others, like I did in my review, then that’d be great. Muchas gracias)

    • Connor H.

      I would have to disagree with Phil (I think that’s your name) on probably every level in this review. Yes, everything can kill you in Rapture but that’s because you’re an Alpha Series Big Daddy and not a modern Big Daddy which have more health. And did you really have that much trouble playing this game? I’ve just finished Siren’s Alley and by the end of the level I had maxed out all of my ammo and money yet I still had probably $400 collectively, 4 auto hack darts, and a lot of ammo scattered around from safes, brute splicers, Big Daddys, and the Big Sister.

      Personally, I find your complaints ridiculous in nature. A tedious hacking game?! God forbid they try and mix up the gameplay. Saying that its a problem for colorblind people is also a horrible complaint (see Nice). From reading your review I’ve come to two conclusions; the first being that you are horrible at playing games and the second being that you are a horrible reviewer demonstrated in your post in response to Lisa Vol. Whenever I see a reviewer have to defend their review it makes them look weak and you sir are very weak.

      My only complaint about this game is that its too easy on Normal.

    • http://origamikid.wordpress.com Josh (origamikid)

      I would have to disagree with your points.

      It isn’t a matter of health. At the end of the day you are a genetically enhanced dude in a big-ass diving suit with a drill for an arm. Regardless of what model you are, a prototype Big Daddy, A Rosie, or even the half-ass version you play in Bioshock 1 (which seemed to be more powerful then you in this game) it shouldn’t make a difference, if anything Bioshock 2 you should be stronger then the others because the scientists are yet to work out a proper way to have you both strong and in control. So would have pumped you with everything they got.

      How can you not expect someone to come and defend their work? Especially when being insulted and chastised by people with such rudimentary complaints and tbh you two who are posting the complaining comments are unnecessarily rude, time to grow up A little I think?

    • Connor H.

      Josh your comment didn’t make any sense what-so-ever. Honestly, I felt like I was reading the ramblings of a senile old man with dyslexia. No, it doesn’t make sense for you to be “stronger” because you’re a PROTOTYPE, why would they make the later versions of the Big Daddy weaker? Even within the story of Bioshock two it is accepted that the Alpha Series is weaker than the rest. Also why would you want to be some huge, unbeatable character in a game, that takes all of the challenge and fun straight out of it.

      “Like Subject Delta, the Alpha Series prototypes are not as heavily armored as production-line Big Daddies, and as a consequence cannot survive nearly as much damage, although they are still significantly tougher than standard Splicers.”
      http://bioshock.wikia.com/wiki/Alpha_Series

      How can I not expect someone to defend their work? Well pretty much for the reason that its HIGHLY unprofessional for anyone who is looking to be a serious journalist. Your review should speak for itself, you shouldn’t have to defend it unless its a poorly written review. (which this was)

    • http://www.totallygn.com pjmaybe

      I do actually have dyslexia Connor so if you’re actually aiming to insult with the comment you are guilty of the sort of behaviour you actually “dammed” me for. So thanks for that.

      In addition, you seem to make the mistake in thinking that I want to be a serious journalist. God forbid. I write about games for fun, unpaid, because I like games – doing it as a full time (and in most cases extremely poorly paid) job would probably kill gaming stone dead for me. I like to write about games, even stuff I don’t like and I just didn’t happen to like this one. Even on a subsequent playthrough I still don’t like it and feel that it was an extremely disapointing and needless sequel (what worries me is that enough people bought it to make 2K consider a third. Which would be a huge mistake).

    • Ronald

      This game definately deserves to get a higher score than 7. I agree that the story does have some major flaws, but the gameplay makes up for most of it. I don’t understand why you dislike the multiplayer. I think its quite a refreshing respite from the constant boredom of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

    • http://www.totallygn.com pjmaybe

      I thought it just felt like an unnecessary addition. I did like the intro and interface for multiplayer stuff, just didn’t understand why 2K felt the need to put it in a game that really didn’t require it.

      The online Adam Hunt mode is superb though, that’s probably the only multiplayer mode that felt fresh and relevant to the rest of the game.

      I think I’ve said all I have to say on Bioshock 2. I had massively high expectations of it and it didn’t meet them. You guys and gals obviously did like it so more power to you. But if the world was made up of automatons who all agreed with each other the whole time, it’d be a bloody dull place to live…

    • Dana

      I kind of agree with the review. Besides, 7 is a decent score. Why people get all worked up when a game they like does not get a 9 or 10 is beyond me.

      The game looks great and I think the gameplay is good. But for me, it just does not grab my interest in the world/story the way the first game did.

      But for the most part, they did improve the combat. But I have never like the v-chamber system and did have to rely on it more than I would have liked. And ammo was an issue more than anything else for me.

    • http://www.totallygn.com pjmaybe

      Thanks Dana. I appreciate that a lot and I’d agree that though the combat was tough, and I had similar issues with the ammo count and vita chambers.

    • http://www.totallygn.com Brandon Hofer

      I haven’t had a chance to really dive into Bioshock 2 yet, however, in the original Bioshock, you could turn off the vita chambers. Can you do that in Bioshock 2 as well?

    • http://allaboutthegames.co.uk Peej

      Yup you can but it would probably make the game even more frustrating and annoying particularly when you’re stuck in an area infested with splicers, with very little ammo at your disposal, and you’d have to return to a chapter start every time you die.

      There are people who probably played the game on the hardest difficulty level with Vita Chambers switched off but those people have infinitely more time for gaming than I do :)

    • http://jerryactricjohn.com Jerryactric John

      great post thanks very much

    • bob

      pj ur not dyslexic, get over it ur review was crap nd i dont care if you dont do it seriously…