BioShock 2: More of the Same
Before installing BioShock 2, I had only played a tiny portion of the original BioShock but I had enjoyed what little I had and only stopped to do bad computer technology. The whole plasmid, shooting not-magic stuff from your hands was always an entertaining idea, not to mention shooting up Rapture’s various shooters up, so I decided to give the sequel a try.
From what I have gathered thus far the 2 games are linked only by title and location, so no need to read the Wikipedia article for the first just yet.
BioShock 2’s intro cinematic is, behind only the F.E.A.R. franchise, the creepiest thing in a game I have ever seen. It starts out with you looking into a vent shaped peculiarly like an eye (some kind of symbolism, perhaps, that goes right over my head) out of which crawls Eleanor, a little girl with incredibly vivid glowing yellow eyes. After you get her out of the vent she runs off and you chase after her to discover that she is draining what looks like blood (which I now know to be ADAM) from a corpse and then drinking it from her giant syringe.
She then climbs on your back and you walk through a party. After you frighten most of the party-goers you rough up some guys with your giant drill arm. Did I forget to mention that you play as a Big Daddy? The Alpha series model, to be precise, the first Big Daddy to be bonded with a Little Sister (The girl you just watched drink a man).
After you drill through a man you are hit with some green glob which freezes your monstrous form. Then you are introduced to Sophia Lamb, the girl you’ve been spending your time with’s mother and defacto leader of Rapture, who informs you that the girl is her daughter and she will not let you have her. Sophia then orders you to shoot yourself in the head, to which you agree and do. Normally, this would permanently put someone out of commission but you only take a ten year nap. After that, it’s time to get up and get back to work in a now ruined rapture. Why no one threw you out with the garbage rather than save you in a closet for sentimental value is beyond me, but I’ll ignore this plot hole, the only hole not caused by the drill on your arm.
The rest of the story, or at least as much as I have seen, if fairly straightforward. Eleanor is trapped by her mother and misses you so you need to spring her but to do that you need ADAM which you can only get by stealing another, modern Big Daddy’s Little Sister, which leads to the awkward line: “New Goal: Pick up little Sister”, which is probably why the newly introduced Big Sister’s are after you.
The Big Sisters (formed from a discarded Little Sister) are just like you except smaller, faster, and harder to kill. Really it’s only the helmet that’s the same, so expect to get punched in the faceplate more than a few times by these clever girls.
Honestly, I would expect someone covered in metal to be better equipped to take a hit than the protagonist from the previous game, a mere human (with some gene implants), but you to go down after a few taps with a crowbar. In fact, very little has changed from the previous BioShock. You still have EVE powered lightning shooting plasmids (and presumably bee shooting ones as well), still fight the same drug addicted splicers in the ruins of Rapture, and are still drenched in neat water effects and too many religious references. Even the Ammo Bandito and Carnival of Value are still there to comfort the weary fighter in the night. The only real difference I’ve found thus far are that you now lack a right hand and, like a 50s era machine girl, you strap guns and drills to your right arm to kill everything.
One real thing the developers did change was the “hacking” system. In BioShock, there was a neat pipe laying mini-game where you lined up pipes to flow the hacking fluid from the in port to the out port which resulted in control of the system. In BioShock 2, hacking has been reduced to a reflex based “land the arrow in the green part” task. Hacking is no longer a challenge because anyone with any timing can complete them, rather than the minor puzzle of old. I will miss that viscous blue fluid that flowed through the machines.
Now to take a step back for a moment, the two most annoying qualities of BioShock are things not attributes of the gameplay. The first, and the lesser, is a minor glitch that I hope will be fixed in updates that causes a remapped use key to be displayed incorrectly. At first this doesn’t seem like a major flaw but when spending ten minutes trying to hack a door when the on screen text tells me to press ‘F’ when I should have been pressing my remapped ‘E’ can be frustrating. The second, and by far the worst, is the Games for Windows/Xbox Live integration. I realize that Microsoft wants to extend their Xbox Live system to computers and not just their consoles but I don’t want that, that’s what Steam is for. Having to jump through hoops (including entering the product key repeatedly and signing up for Xbox Live) just to start the game, not to mention the drama ruining achievements. The new overlay may be fine for some but I do wish that I could not have to deal with it.
Overall, if you beat the first BioShock and enjoyed it you probably will enjoy the sequel. If you haven’t, play the original BioShock instead. It’s cheaper and more or less the same, but doesn’t have the clanking of your giant metal feet. If you do plan to get it, I would suggest obtaining a copy for console so that you can play it even when you don’t have an internet connection, otherwise you’ll have to stop the next time the network goes down.