Assuming the form of 'Subject Dela', the first 'Big Daddy', Bioshock 2 sends us back into the underwater Utopia known as Rapture. Twisting the perspective, you will see how it feels to be on the other side of the mask. Does Bioshock 2 still have some of the magic that made the first game so special? We'll let you know as we head back to the city that truly never sleeps.
In order to give Bioshock 2 the "umph" it needed to be as memorable as the original, '2K Games' introduce a new protagonist by letting the player become a ‘Big Daddy’, and this isn’t just any 'Big Daddy’, it's the first ‘Big Daddy’-- code named ‘Subject Delta’. Playing as a ‘Big Daddy’ is exactly the type of idea ‘2K’ needed, if they wanted Bioshock 2 to measure up to the success of the first game. This twisted perspective works, and walking the halls as the very image you feared from the original is genius. 2K hasn't just thrown together a sequel here, Bioshock 2 is a full out production that mirrors the time and effort that went into the original undersea adventure from 2007.
The big question everyone wants to know, is Bioshock 2 as good as the original? Well, this question does not have a simple answer, simply because everyone who plays it will take something different away. However, we can safely say the quality of the product is the same, along with several improved features that tweak the overall performance of the game. Along with the tweaks, the storyline remains just as interesting, and even a little more emotionally driven than the first. The only aspect that is lacking is the wonder of discovering this rich undersea world of Rapture for the first time. Despite revisiting the city, Rapture still holds allot of magical with a superb amount of detail, history, and new unexplored hallways. The real question about Bioshock 2 should be, how does it feel to play as a 'Big Daddy?' and is it as cool as we envisioned?
Who’s Your Daddy?
The first thing you should know about playing as 'Subject Delta' in Bioshock 2, is that it is much better than the little stint in the original game where you dawn the ‘Big Daddy’ suit (yea! no more fishbowl helmet). This time around, you are the ‘Big Daddy’, body and soul, which mean you will have a unique relationship with the 'Little Sisters', and one 'Little Sister' more than the others. Without giving away too many spoilers, playing as the first ‘Big Daddy- Subject Delta’ you are successfully pair-bonded to a specific ‘Little Sister’. This ‘Little Sister’ named 'Eleanor', revives your character while pleading that she needs your help. In a dire situation of life and death, you must save 'Eleanor' from another emerging megalomaniac— 'Sophia Lamb'.
Now, the plot is a lot thicker than a sister being saved. However, like the last Bioshock game, it is better not knowing too many details when you head into the adventure. I didn't watch any of the spoilers before I had my run in Rapture, and I ended up being pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed the direction '2K Games' took the storyline. Bioshock 3 might be a little questionable, but Bioshock 2 defiantly works.
Back in Rapture
Returning to Rapture, you will likely have an eerie sense a familiarity as you explore the new locations of the underwater Utopia. Rapture has not changed too much since the events of the original Bioshock, and even though the plot is set ten years in the future, the same dreary atmosphere lingers in the halls. The interwoven hallways branch out into spectacular set-pieces and the narrative is kept tightly focused to keep the player moving along the rails. Even a few years later, Rapture stands apart from the majority of other shooters with its attention to detail, and creepy atmosphere. The bending architecture in the decaying city of Rapture is one of a kind, and truly worth of another visit. Even though I completed original, and had a sufficient ruin on the PS3 in the follow year, Rapture still had me wrapped in its dystopian nightmare.
Brining It, Big Daddy Style!
Fighting your way through Rapture the second time around features some new instruments of destruction, and as a ‘Big Daddy’ you are expected to bring an element of fear and intimidation to your foes. Improving on the first game, you can now dual wield your weapons and plasmids at the same time, which means no more switching it mid-battle. This makes the combat feel a lot more natural with quicker responsive times. The cool Plasmids remain in Bioshock 2, but they have been boosted it to fit the "bigness" of the 'Big Daddy', with the upgrades showing the most potential.
Of course, the Drill is a big part of your arsenal, but you can also equip your hand with other weapons such as semiautomatic Rivet Gun, Machine Gun, double-shot Shotgun, and more. Like the first Bioshock, each weapon has multiple ammunition types with the ability to be upgraded. In comparison, Bioshock 2 does a better job distributing weapons, and plasmid powers, and I am sure most of your will love tearing apart the flesh of your enemies with the high-powered drill rather than a rusty old wrench. The only criticism I have with the ‘Big Daddy’ is that he is not powerful or resilient in the begging of the game. It takes a few hours before you really start to “feel” like an all-powerful ‘Big Daddy’.
Who Wants Some?
Like the payload, the enemies have evolved in Bioshock 2. You will still be facing a selection of ‘Big Daddy(s)’ and ‘Splicers’, but some new variations have been added to those old standbys. This includes the 'Big Sister(s)', who is the polar opposite of the ‘Big Daddy’. These 'Big Sister(s)' are lightning quick with super-fast jumping abilities, stocked on plasmids they pack an impactful punch that will have you fearing their nimble bodies. The 'Big Sister(s)' are a formidable opponent for the ‘Big Daddy’, and a topnotch addition to the world of Rapture. Even with a few new enemies types, the combat remains fun, and this is partially because of the new payload, but also because of the dynamic environments. Exploiting environments is crucial, and more important it was in the original. Bioshock 2 isn't an overly hard game, but it will give you some sticky situations to overcome.
A New Interaction
Dawning the helmet of the ‘Big Daddy’ also means you can choose to harvest ATOM with the help of the 'Little Sisters'. Like the first game, drawing ATOM causes the ‘Splicers’ to come out of the woodwork, which forces your character to take a defensive role, and you will have to fight off semi-organized groups of ‘Splicers’ looking for their fix. Obtaining a ‘Little Sister’ is still done by killing their protecting 'Big Daddy'. Once you topple your steel-fitted brethren, you can either “harvest” or “adopt” the ‘Little Sister’.
Harvesting is still the same ruthless act as it was in the original, and adopting sits the ‘Little Sister’ on your shoulder to form a bond. When you are finished with them, you can escort them to their metal incased vents sending them on their way. However, before they climb into vent, you are presented with the final choice to once again “harvest”, or “save” the 'Little Sister', once again, questioning the players resolve. Bioshock 2 really plays up the ‘Little Sister’ concept, and rightfully so. The new "father/daughter" dynamic is an interesting emotionally charged subject that only helps drag your further down the rabbit hole that is Rapture.
No More Pipe Dreams
Another improvement is how hacking is tackled in the game. The first Bioshock had a ‘Pipe Dreams’ styled interface to hack machines. Well it is now gone, and it has been replaced with a faster, "stop the needle" game that might which might not be as interesting, but it is a lot quicker, fitting the nature of the game better. The only thing to watch is the time limit, but the game is easily won, so you won’t need to worry about it too much. The most interesting fact about this switch over to the new hacking system is that it doesn't stop the action. If you are in the middle of a battle and you need to hack in a vending machine for more loot, well, you had better balance each move, because you need to be in and out, quickly. Stepping it up one more step is the remote hacking that allows you to hack from a distance. This makes those security cameras less of a pain to deal with.
Photographs are so 2007
Researching your enemies return in Bioshock 2 except this time around your are simply snapping photos, you record full-motion videos. To use this device you have to activate it pointed at a target, and then use your creativity to take them out. Each time you record a kill you will be graded on your performance that will give unique bonuses against the recorded targets. The multiplayer portion (which I’m getting too) also supports research, although it is done by a hitting and holding a button by a downed opponent. Researching in multiplayer boosts your score and gives you advantage against your photographed foe. In the single player game, researching enemies is instantly more enjoyable and feels like a natural progression for the game, where as the multiplayer component feels tacked on. I could take or leave snapping photos online, but in the game, sadism sets in and you will probably get a little addicted to filming your destruction.
Now that I have mentioned the research aspect of the multiplayer, let’s get into it. Developed by 'Digital Extremes', the multiplayer mayhem is set a year before the original Bioshock. I know strange, strange, right?! As a mock product tester for ‘Sinclair Solutions’ you will head to the online arena for some fragging action. You also have your own apartment that you can walk around listing to messages, customize your load out, change your look, and hop in and out of games. It’s an interesting concept that really doesn’t feel right when you factor in the setting of the single player campaign.
Like other popular shooters, Bioshock 2 has a leveling up system that allows you to unlock new weapons, gene tonics, and plasmids. This can leave some matches to be a little unbalanced. However, the matchmaking does an okay job matching you up with players close (enough) to your level. In total Bioshock 2 includes 10 maps and 7 modes. This includes team-based games, and all out frag-fests with support for 10 players. Bioshock 2’s multiplayer feature is not going to be a selling point to draw players in whom wouldn’t normally play this type of game, its more of a commendable bonus to break the tension of the single player adventure. Digital Extremes did what was expected out of them, but honestly, Bioshock doesn’t need the diversion.
Before heading into Bioshock 2, you had to wonder if a sequel was necessary. The original Bioshock was so perfect that fans couldn’t even imagine how '2K Games' would approach a sequel. Well, 2K and its collaborating studios have pulled off a brilliant sequel that holds up to the critical acclaim of the first game. Exploring Rapture for the second time might not hold the same feeling of wonder, but wandering around the halls as a spine-chilling ‘Big Daddy’ does. Bioshock 2 has enough improvements, character depth, and momentum to make it a must have for any gamer who enjoys narrative driven shooters.
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 02.22.10