Bioshock 2 Review

We return to Rapture!

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 22nd February 2010

Bioshock 2

  • Developer: 2K Marin
  • Publisher: 2K Games
  • Release Date: 9th February 2010

When a new franchise becomes an instant classic like Bioshock did, it can be hard for developers to come up with a successful sequel that stays fresh but doesn't lose the focus of what made the original game great to start with. This can often result in a sequel feeling rather familiar but still providing a good playing experience, which is exactly what has happened here.

Bioshock 2 places you in the role of a Big Daddy, but not just any, one of the first, a prototype only known as Delta. The game starts with you roaming the halls of Rapture with your Little Sister Eleanor, when you are ambushed and killed. Ten years on you are revived and must trek across the crumbling underwater city in search of Eleanor, unlocking your past as you go.

Apart from the obvious change of playing as Big Daddy 2K has also introduced some more subtle changes that refine the playing experience of the original game. Firstly, the splicers A.I seems to have been upped, and they now pose much more of a threat making better use of their weapons and abilities. As you progress through the game and upgrade yourself with various Plasmids and Tonics, individuals still won’t pose much of a problem however mixing it up with a group of enemies can often result in an unscheduled trip to a Vita-Chamber. The A.I tweaks do provide more of a challenge, but the developers didn’t simply stop there, as Bioshock 2 introduces some new enemies for you to tussle with. Big Daddies have had an upgrade for Bioshock 2. The new Rumbler model sees them armed with rocket launders on their shoulders which also deploy mini turrets around the surrounding area often leading to you taking damage from various directions. To further increase the stakes, 2K has also introduces an Alpha version of the Rumbler Big Daddy, with much greater speed and very high aggression. These aren’t the only new enemies you’ll encounter as you walk the halls of the derelict Rapture. The new Brute Splicer can be quite a formidable foe. This Adam addict has mutated to become a hulk, but surprisingly is quite agile and can cause you problems. However, the biggest challenge in terms of bad guys comes from the Big Sisters. These new foes are Little Sisters that have grown up and become very aggressive then given the Big Daddy treatment, however, instead of being lumbering oaths they are highly agile killing machines that pose quite a threat to you. Even their entrance is sure to get your adrenaline pumping, with ear piercing screams signalling their imminent arrival.

Apart from the new enemies and the game being more challenging, Bioshock 2 also features some other changes, not all of which improve on the original. Firstly, the hacking mini-game has now gone only to be replaced with a simple meter in which you have to stop a pointer in some colour coded segments. Whilst this new approach serves to get the job done, it’s far less enjoyable than the Pipe-mania style mini–game we saw in the original Bioshock.

Obtaining Adam has also changed slightly, instead of just killing a Little Sister’s Big Daddy and then freeing or harvesting her, as you’re playing as a Big Daddy you can adopt her and have her gather Adam from specific corpses around Rapture allowing you to upgrade your plasmids to a greater extent. However, this is not as easy as it sounds. Having your Little Sister gather Adam will attract the attention of splicers who will attack with force during the process. This results in some fairly intense staged battles where more often than not you’ll end up paying a visit to a Vita-Chamber. The game is much more generous in this sense and it feels as if the game throws plasmids and tonics at you much earlier than in Bioshock. Probably one of the best enhancements to the gameplay is the ability to use plasmids at the same time as using your weapons allowing you to come up with some devastating combos. Speaking of weapons as a Big Daddy you now access to some new weapons, such as the iconic drill which enables you to perform some gruesome kills and a huge grenade launcher that can clear whole groups of Splicers with ease.

Another new twist that the developers have thrown into the mix, is the ability to walk on the sea bed, sadly this aspect seems a little underdeveloped as it only serves as means of travelling between areas, with no combat or real interaction of any kind. It does however give you a glimpse of Rapture from the outside, however, in a very limited fashion.

Apart from the aforementioned changes introduced in Bioshock 2, the game offers pretty much the same experience as the original. As a result Bioshock2 feels very much more like a refining experience rather than a typical sequel which throws major new features at you, concentrating more on expanding the story of Rapture and the various characters that inhabit the fallen city. Despite this, though, new players shouldn’t be put off and should be able to follow the game even if you haven’t played the original, its just certain aspects may not make much sense to you. This familiar feel is something that is also reflected in the games visuals, as there pretty much the same as in the original game. Yes the city is much more derelict having fallen into a state of severe disrepair as the ocean penetrates it defences, but apart from that there’s very little different in terms of looks between the two games.

The game however is not totally devoid of major additions, as Bioshock 2 introduces a multiplayer option. The game types included are fairly standard and include all the first person shooter mainstays such as deathmatch and control and even a take on “Capture the Flag” in which the flag is a Little Sister. As is the norm nowadays with FPS multiplayer games, Bioshock 2 features a basic levelling up system which is used to give you access to new weapon, plasmid and tonic load outs giving online matches a real edge. The developers haven’t just stopped there, as the matches are full of other Bioshock twists! You are able to hack turrets to aid you or your team during matches and perform research in order to get a damage bonus for a limited time. Big Daddy suits are even dropped into games from time to time and the player who captures it gets to play as a Big Daddy, giving him or his team a “Big” advantage. The multiplayer aspect of Bioshock 2 also gives players the chance to see Rapture before the city went to hell, again revealing more about the under sea haven. However, it must be said if it wasn’t for all these “Bioshock twists” than the multiplayer aspect would feel very standard. That’s not to say the shooter action is substandard, as the mechanics are solid it’s just that the game modes are all fairly old school and nothing really exceptional. Multiplayer also feels quite different than the action in the single player campaign, almost as if it’s lacking a little edge. Overall it’s a good addition to the series, but maybe not one that will quite live up to the expectations of Bioshock fans.

Whilst Bioshock 2 may feel very similar to the original game, it does expand on the characters and story that were introduced in the original game and once again allows you to create a very customisable playing experience through the use of Plasmids and Tonics. The constant references to the original game may make it slightly inaccessible to new players, but fans of the first game will once again be hooked until the end.

Review Score: 8.5/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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