Platform: 360 (Also PS3, PC)
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: 2K Marin
Review by: Kevin Haverty
It’s time to revisit Rapture in BioShock 2. It has been eight years since the events of the first game and Andrew Ryan’s old political rival, Sofia Lamb, has taken over. Gamers take control of Subject Delta, a Big Daddy, as he must get his Little Sister, Eleanor, daughter of Sofia Lamb, back before he slips into a coma. Augustus Sinclair, a businessman of Rapture, directs Subject Delta and fills him in on some of the changes that have taken place.
The storyline of BioShock 2 is unfortunately trimmed to cram into the mold of its predecessor. It’s like the Psycho remake directed by Gus Van Sant. It wants to be like BioShock so bad it squanders chances of expanding the universe. In BioShock, the player was at will to follow the commands of Andrew Ryan. In BioShock 2, Subject Delta is told he is free but must follow Sinclair’s commands. Realizing that it was light on the Objectivism and Utilitarian ideas of the first one, BioShock 2 lays them in heavy towards the end. The moral choices are back to determine the story’s ending, but are still as obvious as “killing is bad and saving is good.”
In BioShock, players had to defeat a Big Daddy to get the Little Sister, then choose to save or harvest her. Now Subject Delta can kill a Big Daddy, then adopt the Little Sister. After the adoption process, which is much faster and uses less paperwork than real-life adoption, the player can let her harvest Adam on specified dead Splicers. The player must protect her from attacking Splicers to keep her safe while she probes away for delicious Adam. After all Little Sisters in the area are dealt with, the cries of a Big Sister can be heard, and she is pissed at Subject Delta. Big Sisters are tougher, ninja-like and pose a bigger threat than the Big Daddies did in the first game.
Rapture looks and sounds even better with age. Everything still has the touch of 1950s Art Deco style, and the city’s decay of the past eight years really shows beautifully. Garry Schyman has returned for a soundtrack that is the perfect complement to the setting and era. It really add to the atmosphere and sucks the player into Rapture.
Everything else in BioShock 2 has little upgrades, additions and adjustments. The weapons are a little different, because Big Daddies get rivet guns and a big-ass drill. The drill is fun and rewarding, but ultimately useless. Just like the last game, upgrade stations can be used to boost the abilities of a weapon. There aren’t enough in the game for all upgrades, so upgrade wisely. Plasmids from the first game are back with a few new ones. Upgrading plasmids this time around increases the ability of the plasmids and increases the fun. When Insect Swarm is upgraded to level 3, bodies of splicers are turned into proximity mines of angry bees. Hacking has been changed from a Pipe Dream clone to a stopping-the-needle-in-the-proper-zone mini-game that pisses in the eyes of the colorblind.
The biggest addition to BioShock 2 is the multiplayer mode. What separates from the typical first-person shooter multiplayer is that it tells a story different from the single-player campaign. The multiplayer allows gamers to play through Rapture’s civil war. Players take control of “normal” citizen of Rapture fighting for Adam to climb the ranks, while unlocking weapons, tonics and plasmids. The game modes come in the variety of deathmatch, team deathmatch, last man standing, capture the flag, capture the point, hold the item, and team hold the item.
What makes these modes special is how they are adapted to Rapture. The variation of capture the flag, dubbed Capture the Sister, has a single Little Sister the team must get back to their vent, or protect. In most modes there is a randomly spawning Big Daddy suit that gives a lucky player the ability to shoot rivets and toss proximity bombs. There are some lag issues and server disconnects, but aren’t frequent enough to discourage playing multiplayer. Recently, many fun and innovative titles have lost their multiplayer fanbases quickly after launch. Hopefully 2K has a plan to keep the community together.
BioShock 2 plays it safe within the confines of the franchise, but it is still an enjoyable experience back in Rapture.
For more info, www.bioshock2game.com
Pads & Panels received a copy of the game courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.