I was first introduced to BioShock by a friend of mine, who was telling me how this game was going to have realistic water simulation. He sent me a link to the trailer video, which showed me a violent, yet exhilarating underwater world. I played the demo shortly after that, but my PC wasn’t up to spec, and the game ran choppy, so I knew it wouldn’t be a game I would be playing any time soon. In 2008 the game was featured as a weekend deal on Steam, and I purchased it. That was when I was introduced to the world of Rapture. Still, I was using the same computer, so it wasn’t until I swapped out my video card that the game really performed well.
BioShock 2 is not a direct sequel to the original game, but it is still set in the underwater city of Rapture. This time around you play as one of the drill-endowed defenders of the Little Sisters, a Big Daddy. Before the game was released there was a lot of concern about this, being that the Big Daddies of the first game were basically mindless, slow moving, but tough to kill denizens of the underwater world. However, this game is not going to disappoint.
First of all, when we talk about the Big Daddy being mindless, it really isn’t much different from the main character, Jack, of the original BioShock. Because in the first game, other than Jack saying, “They told me, son, you’re special. You were born to do great things. You know what? They were right,” during the intro sequence, he didn’t have much of a personality throughout the game. So there really isn’t any difference in this game, you basically do what your told, and never say anything to anyone.
As for Big Daddies being slow moving, well you’re not a traditional Big Daddy, you’re called Delta, and you move fast, and attack hard. One thing you are missing, however, is toughness. You are easy to kill, very easy, especially at the beginning of the game before you get the upgrades necessary to survive. This isn’t too big a deal, though, since you still get resurrected in Vita-Chambers every time you die, so you won’t be out of the battle for long. By the end of the game, you’ll be tough enough, that you probably won’t get killed at all, and, in fact, you’ll be able to take out most enemies, including Big Daddies, with a simple plasmid-and-attack combo, such as freeze then drill drive.
With that said, combat is the weakest part of the game. Most of the weapons are useless, and the only reason to equip them, is if you run out of ammo for the better weapons. Which you’re going to do a lot at the beginning of the game. The beginning of the game is definitely the toughest part. Ammo is sparse, cash to buy ammo with is even sparser, and EVE, the substance that powers plasmids, is in short supply. That’s only the first few levels though, later in the game, you won’t even need to buy anything, you find plenty of supplies. Still combat is never really that fun, and it can get very annoying and aggravating at times. The same was true in the first game, so I don’t know that any better could be expected in this game.
The world of Rapture is not like other shooters where you play through a level, instead you are put into a level, and you’ll go back and forth between different areas as your tasks change. Enemies spawn periodically, so as you walk around the level you will constantly be fighting. This only adds to the annoyance of combat.
What the game does well, is environment. I remember as a child sometimes I would make-believe about living in an underwater world, pretending that the porch in my backyard was a docking bay leading to the depths of the ocean. This game lets you live that type of childhood fantasy. You are basically put in an underwater world that has spent years in disrepair, with all the leaks and floods that you might expect. The same as in the first game, only this time, since you are in a Big Daddy suit, you actually spend some time walking around on the ocean floor. Quite frankly, it’s an exciting world to spend time in.
As for the narrative, you will learn a little more about the world of Rapture, and even learn some things about the events of the first game, but overall it’s nothing spectacular. You’ll face several decisions throughout the game, which have an effect on the ending video that you see. I personally played the good route, and got a good ending. If you want to see the alternative endings you can always play through the game again, or, if you’re playing the PC version of the game, just open up the game directory folder and watch them. If that isn’t an option, you can always do an internet search. This is a game that you might want to play twice, but not twice in the same year, so seeing the alternate endings by another means is probably something you will want to do.
I’ve mentioned that many of the weapons are useless, and I want to discuss the plasmids as well. The plasmids are basically the magical abilities that the player has. Most of them are the same as the ones found in the first game, and most of them are useless as well. I really only used one plasmid, the freeze plasmid, because it makes it easier to attack the enemies. Some of the plasmids are required to progress through the game, such as the electro-bolt and the telekinesis plasmids, but in general they don’t help you with combat. You also upgrade your character with tonics, you can equip quite a lot of these and some of them provide useful abilities.
Like the first game, you still do research on your enemies. This is done with a movie camera, but unlike the first game, you don’t have to purchase film for it, so it is not as inconvenient to use. Still, doing research on enemies is not a particularly fun task. One good thing about it, is that once you start the camera, the game does automatically switch back to the weapon you previously had equipped.
I suppose the final word on this game is that if you played BioShock you will find that the experience of BioShock 2 is very much the same. So, however you felt about the first game, you’ll feel about this game. It has the same feel, with the same stylized graphics. Other than the fact that you have a drill, and you can have Little Sisters harvest ADAM for you, it is very difficult to tell the two games apart. If you never played the original BioShock try the BioShock demo. I don’t think there is a demo for BioShock 2 at this time, but there really isn’t much of a difference for it to matter. If you like the demo, you’ll like this game. I would say, however, that you are better of starting with the original game. It is a little more interesting, and there really aren’t any improvements in this game to make it worth skipping the first. Then, if you had fun with that game, try this one.