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Welcome Back to Rapture (4.5/5)

  • Feb 14, 2010
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In 2007, Bioshock came out and took the entire gaming world by storm.  What you ended up getting was an exploration through a dystopian world that was at one point run by a madman.  The games philisophical undertones and excellent story (among many other things) made the first Bioshock an incredible game.  How, then, do you top that?  The game was easily one of the best we'd seen this generation.  It's hard to top Bioshock.  And whether Bioshock 2 does or doesn't depends on whether or not you've tempered your expectations or not.

You are thrust back into the world of Rapture, a place created by a man named Andrew Ryan.  It's still as absorbing as it was before, though it doesn't look too different.  Not that Bioshock 2 needs to look better than the original.  The world is still absorbing in and of itself.  There are still a lot of pretty cool radio diaries out there, which will give you background into Rapture and the people who were there.  You'll also run into people who aren't crazy and corrupt, including a few cast members from the first game.  On the other hand, the story as a whole just isn't as absorbing or interesting.  The appeal of this underwater dystopia hasn't been lost, but the first Bioshock seemed to be a bit more absorbing somehow.

The narrative present in Bioshock 2 is a pretty complex narrative.  Ten years after the events of the first game, you're back in the World of Rapture.  With Andrew Ryan gone there's a new leader who is taking the city over named Sofia Lamb.  Along with the corrupt denizens of Rapture you'll also have to deal with Sofia trying to change what Rapture originally stood for in the first place.  Total freedom.  Sofia Lamb's ideas are the complete opposite of Andrew Ryan's and are trying to bring in a new way of thinking into an environment that clearly wasn't meant for it.  As Delta, the first Big Daddy created, it's your job to find your Little Sister and escape Rapture.  Of course, it won't be that easy and just like the first game there are quite a few twists and turns throughout.  It isn't as good as the first game's narrative but it manages to stand tall on its own.  This is in part because Sofia Lamb just isn't as interesting of a character as Andrew Ryan. 

Bioshock 2 plays it safe by making sure it isn't too different from its predecessor.  The problem is, strangely enough, that the first Bioshock didn't exactly have that many problems to work out in the first place.  So yeah, some will feel as though they are playing the same game.  The basic structure is pretty much the same thing.  It hasn't been changed too much, and it's not like it had to be changed.  It's just that it's also not as absorbing as a result.  You'll take the role of a Big Daddy (the very first one) but you probably won't feel like you're actually a Big Daddy.  Actually you're apt to feel exactly like the character from the first game.  Were it not for that drill you might not have actually really known otherwise.  So much of the game just doesn't do much to separate itself from the first one.  This is fine and dandy because the first game was, for all it's worth, incredible.

When I say a lot of what you see comes from the first game, I'm not kidding.  As with the first game there are several different kinds of splicers that come after you, and for the most part they're not much of a threat.  You spent a great deal of the first Bioshock fighting these guys.  More than that, you'll also encounter other Big Daddies and fight them for their Little Sister.  As with the first game you can choose to Harvest a Little Sister or not.  Instead of "saving" however, you adopt and have her gather Adam for you.  

That's not to say there are no differences.  There are.  The biggest addition to the game is the "Big Sister."  And while these battles are hectic and fun and will keep you on your toes, it's actually a little sad it's not as spontaneous.  Each Big Sister fight is actually scripted.  Those who played through Resident Evil 3 will feel like they've got Nemesis following them from one area to the next.  The Big Sister is interesting, but the appeal of her wears off before long.

For the most part the changes are welcome, but Bioshock 2 is hardly a challenge.  The first game wasn't that hard because there wasn't much of a penalty at all for dying.  Bioshock 2 is pretty much the same way.  Although you'll also find it easier to take down most of your enemies because of one of the best welcome changes, your arsenal.  It isn't just being able to use the drill (which the novelty will wear off soon, anyway) but also the fact that Delta can use a large array of weapons that Jack (the protagonist fro the first game) couldn't use.  It's pretty cool stuff.  And, of course, there are still plenty of plasmids at your disposal.  Navigating Rapture isn't that hard either.  The game itself will make sure you're headed in the right direction when necessary.  Those who played the first Bioshock will be disappointed to know that Rapture hasn't really changed that much.  The feeling of exploration is actually toned down here because, for the most part, if you've played the first game you've seen it all before.  Like I said, the game still looks good, it's just that the shock and awe has worn off.

The multiplayer mode is a new addition, though.  For what Bioshock is, a Multiplayer actually seems a little strange to include.  Here, it just seems like it was included for those who can't bear to play a First Person Shooter that doesn't have a multiplayer component.  Bioshock 2 pretty much showcases that while a multiplayer mode doesn't hurt, it doesn't exactly add to the experience either.  It just feels like they were throwing a bone to those who kept poking at how the game lacked it.  It isn't bad by any means, but unlike other games out there the multiplayer just doesn't have much of a pull to it.  There's a significant difference between the multiplayer and actual game, but there definitely isn't much that it's adding to the package as a whole.  There are five on five teams and little changes to how you'll play some of the modes.  The biggest draw to its multiplayer is that you'll find yourself in long drawn out firefights.  Bioshock doesn't do any of that regenerating health stuff and so everyone has a life gauge that can actually take a while to bring down.  That can make some of the experience fun.  On the other hand it's just hard to be absorbed in the multiplayer because it just feels like something they threw in there.  Bioshock, for all it's worth, was never about multiplayer to begin with.  The original game wasn't just an FPS, it was an adventure that had you plowing your way through a unique narrative.  It just never built itself up for multiplayer to begin with.  Just the same, the second game doesn't really either.  Case in point, the single player experience is just far more rewarding and enticing than the muliplayer is.  That doesn't mean you can't or won't have fun with the multiplayer, it's only to say that the draw of Bioshock 2 is it's single player campaign.

We've touched on how goregous the game looks, but there is also a lot of good sound as well.  The shock and awe might have worn off a bit, but the atmosphere is still all around good.  More than that, the voice acting is top notch.  As you meet some of the characters throughout the game it's hard not to enjoy some of their moments.  Yet the best part about the sound doesn't come from the music or meeting some of the denizens of rapture.  It comes from those radio diaries.  The radio diaries are what really make Rapture come to life.  You'll learn more about Rapture and the characters who inhabit it through the radio diaries than anything else.  It adds to the mystery of what happened to this place.

A lot of the time when video game sequels come around there's an incentive to play the original and Bioshock 2 is no exception to this rule.  It's a lot easier to understand and relate to after having played the first one.  There's a lot of history that, for the most part, you may not grasp without the help of the first game.  Not to mention there's a lot that will just fly over your head. 

Bioshock 2 is, sadly, not better than the original.  It seemed unrealistic to try and do so.  And the second one spends a lot of time playing it safe by trying what's worked.  Problem is, there wasn't much to improve upon.  Sequels like Uncharted 2 got by because they made such vast improvements over the original.  Bioshock 2 doesn't have much that it can improve upon.  In short, the idea that it could've been better than the original was probably just a pipe dream.  That doesn't make Bioshock 2 bad at all.  I'd rather have a game that does something right and stay the same than a game that does something wrong in its attempts to be different.  Bioshock 2 further helps the franchise establish itself.  There's quite a bit here that Bioshock can uniquely call its own.  So while Bioshock 2 doesn't try to outdo its predecessor it does at least do a good job of playing just as well.

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More Bioshock 2 reviews
review by . September 22, 2013
Thanks for the heads up on Bioshock. Keep this video in mind when you go shopping for the kids.
Quick Tip by . June 04, 2010
Just enough changed to make the experience interesting again, beautiful visuals - as with the first - some really fun story elements, and a cool photo system.
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this video game


BioShock 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by 2K Marin and Irrational Games for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 video game consoles, and the Windows operating system. It is the sequel to the critically acclaimed 2007 video game BioShock. The game was released world-wide on February 9, 2010.

The game is set in fictional dystopian city Rapture in alternative history 1970, a decade after the events of BioShock. The protagonist and player-controlled character is a Big Daddy, a being that has had its organs and skin grafted into an atmospheric diving suit. Among the first of its kind, the player-controlled Big Daddy reactivates with no recollection of the past decade's events, and scours the city in a vain attempt to relocate the Little Sister that he was paired with. When it becomes obvious that Rapture's leader Sofia Lamb will become responsible for the city's destruction, the Big Daddy attempts to overthrow Lamb and her army of Big Sisters.

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Number of Players: Single-player, Multi-player
Publisher: 2K Games, D3 Publisher
Developer: 2K Marin (PlayStation 3), Digital Extremes, 2K China, Arkane Studios
Console: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release Date: February 9, 2010
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