BioShock 2

Status: Completed BioShock 2!
Achievements: 36 of 50
Gamerscore: 725/1000
DLC Purchased: Pre-order Bonus Characters

Ah Rapture! Your 1950s posters, music and clothing still makes my heart skip a beat after all these years. It’s been nearly ten years since I was kindly asked to kill Andrew Ryan, then broke free of my chains and saved the Little Sisters from the twisted mind of Frank Fontaine, aka-Atlas. And now I am back, this time as the original Big Daddy companion, hoping to save my Little Sister Eleanor and all of the little girls kidnapped by the spry and deadly Big Sisters so that Sofia Lamb can create her own kingdom in this underwater city.

Sofia Lamb was brought in to help with some of the issues people deal with when they choose to live the rest of their lives confined to a city with no natural sunlight and surrounded by water that could kill them if so much as a hairline fracture in a pane of glass was to occur. She was also heavily involved in the Little Sister program, with her own special protege, Eleanor, whom she is grooming to “save the world”. But since the Splicers are too busy jacking themselves up with Adam to be procreating, there haven’t been any births in Rapture, and Adam purifiers need to be brought in from the outside. Enter the Big Sisters, Lamb’s kidnapper lackeys. Bringing in new blood from the outside, Lamb turns them into Little Sisters, sets them up with a Big Daddy, and keeps producing Adam and Eve.

Somehow Eleanor has resurrected you and needs you to find her. In a city filled with people and abominations waiting to kill you around every corner, you are not completely alone. Tenenbaum still haunts Rapture, atoning for her sins and hoping to rescue these new girls. Sinclair just wants to get the hell out, and is willing to give you radio assistance in exchange for your help.

Starting my journey on the opposite side of Rapture, the mode of transportation between areas is handled by train (built before everyone wanted a personal Bathysphere) and in the wreckage of Adonis Luxury Resort, I awaken as Delta. Wearing a Big Daddy suit is just as clunky as I recall it being when I took down Atlas at the end of the first game. Your movements feel heavy as you slowly jog around the room and find your first Plasmid tonic gift from Eleanor. You will find these gifts at set junctions throughout the game, all dolled up in a red wagon and accompanied with children’s chalk artwork on the floor and wall surrounding it (saying things like “Come soon to come and find me” and “For Daddy”).

Gone are the days of the wrench and in are the days of the drill. This handy smashing tool is standard issue Big Daddy equipment and is great for a quick bash to the head or putting a hole through a nasty Splicer who thinks they have what it takes to bring you down. Eventually you will locate other handy attachments for your right arm. Particularly useful is the Rivet Gun, which has an alternate ammo called Trap Rivets, security beams that burn up incoming Splicers and great for securing a perimeter when babysitting. The new Hacking Tool attachment is all the rage if you are looking at turning turrets and cameras into your friends. These have Distance Hack and Auto-Hack bolts available, with a third mini-turret option for when you need that extra fire power in a fight.

And what about Plasmids? Without these Eve-sucking abilities, surviving in Rapture would be near impossible. Bioshock 2 features 11 different plasmids available to collect or purchase from the Gatherer’s Garden machines. Our tried and true favourites from Bioshock are back, this time allowing you to hold down the Left Trigger a bit before letting loose on unsuspecting victims for some extra juice. Tonics are also back to help with the trivial details like hacking and getting more health from Pep Bars. Booze Hound is particularly helpful as imbibing will give you Eve instead of take it away should you choose to sample the gins, wines and absinthe from the local brewers.

Vending machines of all shapes and sizes are back in Bioshock 2. Both the ammunition and standard vending machines have returned, as well as the Gene Swap Banks, Health Stations and Gatherer’s Gardens. Hacking these machines (with the exception of Gene Swap and the Gardens) is different this time; instead of playing the pipe swap mini game you are given a needle meter where you need to push A while the needle is in a green or blue space anywhere from two to five times successfully in order to hack the machine. If you manage to hit one of the blue spaces during a hack you will also gain extras, whether it be money (from safes) or health/ammo items. Bioshock 2 also has 14 Power to the People weapons upgrading stations scattered around for you to use. As with the first game, each station can only be used once, so choose wisely.

All of my favourite Splicers are still lurking around the watery hallways of Rapture. Still trying to kill Big Daddies in search of Adam, you’ll start off seeing the low-end Thuggish variety, and have an early introduction to the Brutes. These guys can really do some damage. Be on the look out for broke furniture or trash cans flying at you and getting rammed from behind. If you find a good hiding spot you can overhear some great one liners or watch as a couple dances to jukebox tunes. The Little Sisters also have some highly entertaining quips, so take some time and enjoy all the hard work from the voice team.

As a huge fan of the original game, I have enjoyed going back to Ryan’s utopia. The story has been delightful, in that “I’m a fan of stories about crazy people” kind of way. However they did not have to make this sequel. There isn’t much from the original tale that comes through during the actual events of Bioshock 2, and the bits of nostalgia that do sneak in are told via hidden audio recordings scattered around Rapture. Missing from the game is the scare factor. I didn’t experience any of those “Holy carps!” jump out of my seat moments I loved in the first. I could see where they tried to bring that element back, but it just didn’t work on me this time.

The one thing I was most leery of was the addition of multiplayer mode. From the moment it was announced I was not happy that they could be taking away from the single player aspect (ie: making story mode shorter) to make space for something that doesn’t add to the overall story of Rapture. In this mode, it is New Year’s Eve 1959 and the Rapture Civil War breaks out just after Andrew Ryan toasts the city. You can choose from a variety of male and female avatars (there were 2 special characters available as a pre-order bonus through certain retailers) and battle it out against other Rapturians in several different modes.

There are three customizable Loadouts in which you allot two weapons, some with bonuses, two Plasmids and up to three tonics to aid you in battle. New weapons, bonuses, Plasmids and tonics are unlocked as you progress through the ranks. At the end of each round of play you participate in during public matches you will gain Adam for performing certain tasks, kills, picking up Adam vials, as well as completing Trials goals. The accumulated Adam adds up and is what will boost your overall point total and Rank Up. Trials will appear when you unlock items in the game or reach various ranks. Most of these trials can take place over various games, while some need to be performed within a single match.

I waited until I finished story mode to delve into the multiplayer experience. While I have been enjoying the Survival of the Fittest and Adam Grab modes (both individual and Team modes-Capture the Flag with Little Sisters), I have noticed that right now public matchmaking seems to be unbalanced. Quite often I am finding myself in game rooms with people who are at least double the rank I am, and therefore have better weapons and tonics than are available to myself and the other lower ranked players in the room. Hopefully this will be fixed with a patch, but nothing has officially been announced as of the posting of this review.

The collector’s edition of Bioshock 2 comes in a giant box with Sophia Lamb’s butterfly motif emblazoned across the front, a beautiful hardcover artbook featuring concept art, storyboards and more, a vinyl record of the original Bioshock soundtrack, a CD for the Bioshock 2 soundtrack, and 3 mini Rapture promotional posters. If you really love Bioshock as I do, Neca Toys has released a Big Daddy Plush Toy and an Eve Hypo Toy that would look stellar beside that big beautiful box. There are also some gorgeous Big Daddy and Big Sister figurines to collect.

I have some thoughts on things, all of which are merely observations that make no sense but I suppose is most likely just me nitpicking certain things. First off, why don’t the Splicers age or run around pregnant? And where are the children? I’m going to guess that Splicers can’t have babies and that’s why little girls had to be stolen in the first place. But they should at least get older. Senile Splicers would be hilarious to watch fumbling around. Also, how did so much of Rapture manage to remain somewhat habitable after the first trip we made? The very few non-jacked up people living there don’t seem like the type to be fixing the place up. What happened to the U-Invent machines? Those were all over the place before. Did some vending machine junkie come and haul them all away to a secret room? (I’m reminded of the Nuka Cola girl from Fallout 3 now.) A few torched machines to pay homage would have been nice.

Finally, because I’m sure you are getting sick of my ramblings by now, multiplayer definitely was not needed to make this game. I would have been happy with completing the story as I had and not having to slug through a multiplayer mode in order to gain another 12 or so achievements. Multiplayer doesn’t add much more to the history of Rapture other than some voice recordings from the avatars included for you to choose from. That’s not to say it isn’t fun. It’s just that I feel this was more of a “everyone else is doing multiplayer, so we’d better do it too” move.

Bioshock 2 is still a wonderful sequel experience and it was great to explore another side of Rapture. Let’s just hope they leave the franchise with this and don’t attempt to stretch it out with a third and completely unnecessary adventure.

(Reviewed for GamingAngels – Feb 23, 2010)

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