February 22, 2010

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BioShock 2 is certainly one of the most anticipated games of early 2010 but is it worth all the hype?  We’re back in the undersea city of Rapture although much has changed.  Once a paradise, Rapture lies largely in ruins and crawling with Splicers, and you awake 10 years after putting a bullet into your own skull…somehow alive, and now as Subject Delta, one of the Big Daddy’s of the original game.  Rapture reeks of Art Deco in its décor and architecture and throughout the game 1930s jazz music keeps you company…all a bit strange considering it’s supposed to be 1959, but who’s complaining…While having played the original would help understand basic plot elements, it’s not a prerequisite.  My review after the jump:

Bio Shock 2 video game image PS3 (1).jpgStrictly a shooter gives way this time around to more horror, sci-fi, and mystery elements.  The main villain of the original, Andrew Ryan, is replaced by Sofia Lamb, who is looking to replace Ryan’s utopian ideal with a totalitarian world where there is a complete lack individual freedoms and expressions.  There’s lots of ground to cover in the game although it is mostly linear and you’re helped along by the returning Dr. Brigid Tannenbaum and others who communicate with you and give you your goals.

Big Daddy can be equipped with a variety of weapons and abilities to battle Splicers.  Including his trusty drill, rivet guns, machine guns, and hack darts.  He also has various Plasmids at his disposal which provide attacks such as lightning, telekinesis, fire, and more.  Much of the game involves searching virtually everything you come across to locate ammunition, first aid kits and food to increase your health, EVE which restores your Plasmid level, and money for purchasing items from vending machines.  There are also weapon upgrade machines scattered about which can increase the effectiveness or damage of weapons, allow you to carry more ammo, etc…be advised…choose your upgrade wisely as these machines are single use.  You’ll also find numerous audio diaries throughout your explorations.  While they are not required listening, they do offers some clues as to what’s happened in Rapture and add depth to the storyline.

Your main goal will be to locate and bond with Little Sisters and eventually locate and rescue Eleanor who is actually your daughter.  Once you’ve found a Little Sister she can lead you to bodies which contain ADAM, those special cells which can give your character a wide array of powerful abilities.  Set Little Sister down, and she will begin to harvest the precious material from the corpse. But get ready, as soon as you set her down, Splicers will attack in force…LOTS of them!  Fortunately you are able to prepare for the onslaught.  Lay down a series of trap rivets all about the area, these will take out many of the Splicers allowing you to pick off the rest with your weapons and Plasmids.  A Little Sister can harvest ADAM from only two parties and then you have a choice to make…you can either rescue her and allow her to escape through a vent, gaining a small amount of ADAM, or you can drain her completely of ADAM for a larger boost.  Again, choose wisely.

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Once you’ve bonded with all of the Little Sisters on a level you’ll face off against a new enemy, The Big Sister.  These opponents are fast and agile and present a difficult challenge for the player.  The game allows you an unlimited amount of saves.  Just press the start button and you can save your game and begin again at the nearest cell chamber.  Save before big battles just to be sure.

The visuals in BioShock 2 are thoroughly engrossing.  Small tweaks such as water that drips and puddles on floors and short-circuited machinery that sparks all provide wonderful nuances.  The sounds and music are also a treat.  You’ll often hear Splicers arguing in the distance…sometimes with themselves.  Take a moment just to listen and enjoy the colorful dialog…before you blow them all to Hell!  The period music strangely fits with the overall feel of the game.

BioShock can’t really outdo the original because that was a true classic and it stood well on its own, not requiring a sequel.  That said it was a treat to return to Rapture as a Big Daddy and waste the legions of Splicers.  The new opponents help set the game apart from the first one and it’s truly an intoxicating gaming experience.

BioShock 2 also comes with an online, multi-player mode but it’s not a strong selling point as in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.  The game offers seven different modes including:

Survival of the Fittest: a Free-for-all match

Civil War; Free-for-all Team match

Last Splicer Standing: Civil war played in rounds with no respawning until a new round begins

Capture the Sister: a standard Capture the flag mode

ADAM Grab:  Find and possess a little sister as long as possible

Team ADAM Grab: same as above but played in teams

Turf War: Capture a territory and hold it to gain points.

Grade B+

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