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Bioshock 2 Review

Bioshock 2 pack shot
Developer:2K Marin, 2K Australia and Digital Extremes
Publisher:2K Games
Genre:First Person Shooter
Platform:Xbox 360
Official Site:http://www.bioshockgame.com/
Release Date:February 9th, 2010 (UK)
Reviewer:Andrew Hemphill (Bandit)
 

When the first Bioshock was released it was something of a trendsetter in the world of first-person shooters, offering a bleak, intense experience in an environment untouched by previous titles in the genre - naturally it did rather well. Now, three years later, 2K have again invited you to return to Andrew Ryan's dystopian city of Rapture, and you're sure to be hooked all over again. So, would you kindly climb into your bathysphere and hold on tight?

It's been ten years since Jack arrived in Rapture and tore the place asunder, and the years haven't been kind to the place - most windows having sprung a leak, and the insanity of the splicers (residents who played God with their DNA to use superpowers, and subsequently went insane) still running wild amid the art deco buildings.

This time around the player steps into the watertight boots of 'Subject Delta', one of the first Big Daddies to be sent out with a Little Sister. The story picks up around the time of the first game, before jumping to a decade later, after the fall of the once mighty city. Awakened for some nefarious reason, Delta is tasked with recovering his Little Sister, Eleanor, as theirs is a love that can kill - If Delta is too far away from Eleanor for too long, he dies.

This sets the player off on another adventure through the doomed city, building towards a dramatic and satisfying face-off with the new boss of Rapture, Dr Sofia Lamb, occupational psychologist, leader of a gang of splicers known as 'the family' - and Eleanor's mother.

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Standing in your way is a whole host of enemies, ranging from splicers new and old to more Big Daddies, turrets, cameras, flying security bots and perhaps the worst enemy of all, the Big Sisters - Little Sisters who grew up, donned diving suits like their 'fathers', spliced up to the main brace and hate you with a passion. Bit rough eh?

In all honesty while the plot is pretty good, it's not quite as cleverly written as the first game, and suffers a fair bit of familiarity. The same could be said of Rapture itself, as well. That's not to say it's boring, it's just gamers who braved the journey last time won't find anything they haven't seen before under the sea - just more of the brilliant gameplay the series does so well, the game remains faithful to the original.

Delta has to battle his way through what's left of Rapture, moving from environment to environment via a train system. Along the way you run into a cast of interesting characters, ranging from a dowdy and disillusioned blues songstress to a pair of nutjob preachers who treat splicing as a religion, and Sofia Lamb as God.

Rapture does look sharper this time around though, textures are more detailed and the lighting system has been better implemented - the beauty of the buildings steeped in the shadows cast by burning bodies and flickering light bulbs.

The combat has also been improved. As well as wielding an unusual selection of weapons, ranging from a Gatling gun to a brutal spear gun (which sticks enemies to walls), Delta can dual-wield a plasmid as well, offering a much smoother experience and one that makes combat all the more satisfying.

As for the plasmids, all the old favourites make a return - like the power to shoot lightning from your fingertips or summon a swarm of bees - but there are also a new set to play with, as well as a whole load of new gene tonics - passive enhancements that offer a variety of powers to keep you alive. As before the best way to level up and evolve to is to acquire ADAM, which is gleaned from sea slugs implanted into the Little Sisters.

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Both weapons and plasmids can be upgraded at Rapture's creepy vending machines, which can again be hacked, but thankfully the developers did away with the Pipe Dream-style hacking minigame, making the whole process much less irritating.

Of course if you want to get the ADAM out of the Little Sisters in the first place you'll have to kill the Big Daddy with her, and that sets the stage for a titanic battle every time. And once you've got the Sister it's up to you what to do with her. You could kill her and take the ADAM, or you could adopt her and have her gather ADAM from corpses for you - but be warned, doing either attracts the attention of the family- and the wrath of the Big Sisters.

As well as the battle inside Rapture, the game also makes great use of your Big Daddy-issue diving suit, with several sections set outside on the sea floor or inside ruptured sections of the city. These moments, while a break from the action, are eerily tranquil (despite the bodies drifting past you), and offer another angle of Andrew Ryan's creation. The graphics and sound have had an overhaul for this new journey under the sea, showing the grime of the decomposing corpse of the city in all its brutal glory.

The sound is of particular mention, doing its best to use creepy 'creaks' and the cackle of the insane splicers to their full effects. It can at times be incredibly unnerving, especially when played at night in the dark.

As well as the single player campaign, Bioshock 2 also comes with a little added bonus - multiplayer. Rather than just tacking a simple shooter into the mix, 2K have cleverly produced a team-based game set in 1959 - the year Ryan's dreams began to collapse in Rapture's civil war. A host of modes are on offer, ranging from team deathmatch to objective-based games like capture the Sister - a crazed brawl to grab a screaming Little Sister and drag her to your base.

There is also the chance to become a Big Daddy mid-game, turning you into a wrecking ball amongst the spliced-up players (and the number-one target for everyone.) But, while the multiplayer is pretty good, it can't hold a candle to the big names like Halo and Gears. It's entertaining for a while, especially as you can take photos of your defeated opponents for posterity.

Summary

All in all, Bioshock 2 is a brilliant, if familiar romp through the shattered dream of Rapture. While the storyline isn't quite as exciting as the first game's, there's more than enough to see and do to keep each new part of the city feeling fresh and interesting. The family, crazed though they are, are brilliant opponents, especially the terrifying Big Sisters, and Lamb herself is a constant blight on your mission, watching you through the cameras and trying to stop you at every turn. With the multiplayer added on, and a good 12+ hours of adventuring to be had, it's well worth checking out.

Would you kindly go and buy yourself a copy?

The bottom line
8.5 / 10

Good stuff

  • Great gameplay
  • Good plot and character development
  • Decent multiplayer

Not so good stuff

  • Familiar to Bioshock veterans
  • Vita Chambers return (but can be turned off)
  • Slow to get going


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