Review: Bioshock 2

From the moment that I heard that a sequel to Bioshock was in the works I felt that strange mix of apprehension and excitement. Could a sequel to one of the greatest games ever hope to deliver on all the expectations that come with just mentioning the original? And what if it can’t? And so, after months of dizzying anticipation I took my first steps back into the decaying underwater city that is Rapture.

Bioshock 2, like its predecessor, does an excellent job of pulling you into the atmosphere of Rapture. Stunning graphics, sound effects and haunting music make the environments that you visit feel eerie, cold, and dangerous. The chalk marks and carvings on the wall all around you proclaiming “Fallen Fallen is Babylon” you get a sense that the world of Rapture has fallen into an even greater state of disrepair since your adventures through in the original.

Placing you into the heavy diving boots of one of the iconic Big Daddies your goal is, in essence, to re-unite with your Little Sister. In a similar fashion to the original you are helped by a “voice over the radio” type character that shares similar goals to yourself, giving you the direction you need to move forward. As with the original Bioshock, you are given some flexibility as to the development of your character, you can choose which abilities you want to buy, which weapons you want to upgrade and in essence decide how you want to carve a swathe of destruction towards your goal.

Of course developing your character requires you to obtain precious ADAM, which in turn means that you need to interact, at some point with the Little Sisters, and their beloved Big Daddy guardians. Once again you are given the choice of how to deal with the creepy little girls, only this time, instead of simply saving or harvesting them, you can now Adopt them. Adopting a little sister allows you to pick her up and have her lead you to ADAM rich corpses, where you can then put her on the ground and let her do what she does best. Of course having her leave your protective shoulder is a global invitation for any nearby splicers to drop whatever they are doing and charge madly towards your tiny charge.

When your Little Sister has finished gathering ADAM, you are once again given the choice of either harvesting the ADAM in her, giving you a big boost of the stuff and killing her, or saving her and not getting as much ADAM. The designers have done a good job making the Little Sister look less creepy then they originally did in an effort to impress upon you the consequences of your given choice, which like the original will effect the world around you.

All through this rapidly increasing wall of text, I have been comparing Bioshock 2 to the original Bioshock, so how does it compare all in all?

Bioshock 2 is very similar to the original, which unfortunately works as a double-edged blade. On the one hand it remains true to the original, delivering the same atmosphere and gameplay that I loved. But on the other hand it feels too similar, the gameplay, environments and enemies feel like I’ve been there and done that before, I even caught myself re-using the same tactics as I did in the first one against the tougher enemies with devastating effect. This left me feeling a bit disappointed at the end, I guess I had hoped for something as memorable as the original.

Of course Bioshock 2 also has something else which I have failed to mention thus far, and that is a Multiplayer component. Set during a period of time before the original, players take control of a series of volunteers testing out a line of plasmids. The actual bones of the multiplayer is a lot like other games, you earn points which you can use to buy items/abilities that you can then equip to your character in order to customise them how you like. In actuality the game-modes themselves are really fun, running around chasing after your enemies with a handful of fire, or electricity, trying to accomplish whatever the maps objective is, and the sudden panic when you find out that someone on the other team has turned themselves into a Big Daddy, using a suit that is thrown into the map at random points.

Overall I was rather disappointed with the Single Player, and pleasantly surprised by the Multiplayer. Though despite my disappointment, I couldn’t help but like Bioshock 2 for bringing back to a place that loved so much. I can’t help but think that it would be much more interesting to play through without the burden of having played through the first. Despite this fact, Bioshock 2 is a well-made and enjoyable game, which is worth a look at for Rapture veterans and newcomers alike.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

About the Author

Dan co-hosts the Gameolio Podcast and handles the administration of the website. Occasional poster and frequent deleter with a strange love of the colour green.