The one common statement I've seen in the beginining of the reviews I've read about about BioShock 2 is that "BioShock did not need a sequel." That might be true, but this the video game industry. We all know if something sells like hot cakes, there will be more. Let meintroduce BioShock 2, a game that not only met my expectations, but exceeded them.
BioShock 2 starts off in 1958. You of course play as a Big Daddy. But not any Big Daddy, the OG Big Daddy named Delta. You are escorting your little sister named Eleanor around protecting her while she collects ADAM(Yeah I know "Well duh.") For the sake of spoiling the opening, let's just say the opening cinematic grabs your attention. Ten years pass and you all of a sudden wake up from a deep coma, or possibly just a long ten year hangover. From here on, you'll discover what's been going on in Rapture and what happened to Eleanor.
The story of BioShock 2 is a lot different from the story of BioShock. BioShock's story was all about Rapture - the mystery behind the city, it's founder Andrew Ryan and its citizens. The mystery is gone in BioShock 2. You know what Rapture is; you know what happened to the citizens. BioShock 2's story is more personal. Your major objective in the game is to find your Little Sister, the one who was taken from by Sofia Lamb. On your way, you'll meet characters that will help you, including Sinclair(who sort of is like Atlas) telling you where to go and what to do, and Tennebaum, whom you met near the end of BioShock. Sadly while I enjoyed the story, the characters on the other hand are not quite as memorable. Lamb does not have the same charisma as Andrew Ryan had. And Sinclair will sometimes get on your nerves. One memorable character is Gil Alexander, someone you meet more than half way through. He sort of has a Sander Cohan/Claptrap vibe(Don't ask me how or why I combined those two.) You'll encounter audio logs, which explain what has happened to Rapture during your hangover, including some which talk about the events of BioShock 1. These will also inform of the back-to-back war between Lamb and Ryan, which is actually pretty entertaining.
Rapture is, well, still Rapture, which is still a good thing. You'll travel to areas in Rapture; my personal favorite being Ryan Amusements. You'll run into your fair share of ADAM addicted splicers and Big Daddies. There are of course a couple of new enemies. The Brute Splicers are the eqiuvalent to Left 4 Dead's Tanks; huge, juiced up looking people who will throw crap(Not literally) at you and will charge you. Then you have the Big Sisters. They are the only true difficult enemy in BioShock 2. They don armor similar to Big Daddies, they are more agile to Big Daddies(Go figure) and they are psycho. The one negative about the battles against the Big Sisters is that you know when she's going to attack. The game will let you know when the Big Sister will beat the living crap out of you, so you can set traps and such. I honestly want to be surprised by her arrival. And again, she's the toughest enemy in the game. There are no big boss battles. What 2K? You couldn't give me a juiced up Sofia Lamb to fight?
Thankfully the outstanding gameplay is intact, and 2K Marin and the other 100 teams that worked on the game improve on ten-fold. The ability to dual-wield weapons and plasmids makes BioShock 2 a more fast paced/action packed game than the original. The new weapons, including the Drill and Rivet gun, feel good and are effective. The upgrades you get for your weapons ACTUALLY improve them. The "Pipe Dreams" hacking mini-game is gone in favor of a more streamlined "land needle in green zone to control/blue to win a prize/red to DIE" game. You'll find your favorite plasmids still in here including Incinerate and Electric Bolt, plus new ones like Scout where you'll have the ability to "scout" ahead for enemies. I haven't actually used that one yet. To summarize the gameplay in BioShock 2: Everything you wished BioShock 1 had.
Oh I almost forgot. BioShock 2 has multiplayer. If you're surprised, again don't be. Apparently every game in this generation must have multiplayer. But to my surprise, it's actually good. The multiplayer sort of has a story attached to it; being set during the fall of Rapture. You have enrolled in the Sinclair Solutions Consumer Rewards program to basically serve as a guniea pig to try out the new plasmids and gene tonics. The multiplayer has the standard "Call of Duty" progression system. As you rank up, you'll unlock new weapons, plasmids, tonics, trials(challenges), etc. You'll get ADAM(i.e. experience points) for the usual kills and assists to hack turrets and vending machines and taking research photos of dead enemies. All of the match types are the usual types, just with a BioShock feel; my favorite being Capture the Sister.
I had my doubts. I thought BioShock 2 was not going to have the same feel that the original had. But after playing it, color me shocked(no pun intended). While it may not have a mysterious story or equally memorable characters, BioShock 2 still grabs your attention with a faster paced game, and a more personal/emotional story. And with the added multiplayer, you might find some replay value past the single player.
- + Personal/emotional story
- + Improved gameplay/hacking
- + Still looks great
- + Fast paced/action packed
- + Multiplayer is actually fun
- + Rapture is still creepy
- - Characters aren't as memorable
- - Not enough new enemy types
- - No big end boss battle