BioShock 2Review (X360)
With BioShock being one of the greatest games to hit the Xbox 360, the sequel has a lot to live up to if it's going to win even half the number of awards as its predecessor. The world of Rapture was beautifully created and the story of BioShock always ensured that even people who watched others play the game, would never leave their seats. A game that mentally challenges you, as well as being pit in an environment that will frighten the life out of many; all of this is what BioShock 2 (BS2) has to keep up with.
Before we go deep into the key aspects of why BS2 is a worthy successor, here is a little reminder of what the story is based on. A man named Andrew Ryan builds an underwater city, Rapture, that consists of abnormal species which produce ADAM. ADAM is a liquid which, when injected into someone, can genetically modify them. ADAM is what money is to us. With it, other materials such as Plasmids can be purchased. Plasmids give us abilities. ADAM can be obtained via Little Sisters. However, Big Daddies are created to ensure that nobody can harm these Little Sisters.
It all sounds confusing for those who have no clue about BioShock. However rest assured, the story, although it can make you think at some points, is still pretty straightforward. BS2 is also set in Rapture, ten years after the events of BioShock. Big Daddies still rule the city and hungry citizens, also known as splicers, are still after more ADAM. However, the main difference between BioShock and the BioShock 2 is that you finally get to play as one of the main Big Daddies. Your task is to find your Little Sister, who is taken away by Sophia Lamb.
Those who have played BS will have always imagined what it would be like to play as a Big Daddy. These creatures are superior in size, strength and abilities. After all, being able to play as a monster who has a drill for an arm would be incredible. Unfortunately, although we can finally achieve this, playing as a Big Daddy isn't as exciting as I had hoped.
Many aspects of the previous game have returned. You can still find Plasmids and unlock new abilities. You can still find new weapons and use them. Many are new but most of them will be familiar to those who played the original. I would have assumed that a Big Daddy would have more unique abilities, besides the drill of course. Although the weapons are held differently to suit the Big Daddy's needs, it feels as if you are playing as an overgrown human, rather than a totally different creature.
Missions are very similar to the previous game too. Instead of hearing Andrew Ryan's voice, you now hear Sophia's voice as you make your way from area to area, defeating splicers who have been injected with overdoses of ADAM!
So far, it feels as if the game is simply a copy of its predecessor with a few tweaks. However this is not the case. The city has changed in terms of places that you visit and the weapon upgrades have been improved too. You can use your plasmids to throw people around. Upgrading your weapons enough will allow you to fire electrical bolts simultaneously. Dual-wielding plasmids with weapons is also a welcomed idea which wasn't possible in BioShock. This is a first person shooter and due to that, it is important that the weapons are upgraded. As mentioned before, there aren't many new weapons, but there certainly are more upgrades that the prequel. The larger variety of weapons and unlockables means that you now need to apply different strategies when approaching a hostile environment.
As a Big Daddy, your task is to protect Little Sisters from being taken. With a variety of tools, weapons and abilities, you can now deploy sentries and traps to assist you. This makes BioShock 2 a more tactical game than its predecessor. Setting up a defence mechanism might take a while. Occasionally you might want to give up and refrain from playing the role of the hero. In that case, your ending will differ.
Those who have played the original BioShock will remember just how frightening it was to see a Big Daddy for the first time. They were huge, powerful, strong and certainly not the type of creature that you were willing to fight right away. Although BS2 puts you in the shoes of a Big Daddy, he is relatively weak at first. You only get stronger as the game progresses, you unlock more weapons and gain plasmid powers. In the first game, you had the Big Daddy to worry about. As a Big Daddy in the second game, you now have the Big Sisters to worry about. These are created by Sophia in order to assist her in capturing Little Sisters. These Big Sisters are even tougher and meaner. It's just a shame that there isn't much else to them in terms of information. Due to this, it feels as if the Big Sisters have simply been added to give your character more of a challenge.
The story is as compelling as the first title. Therefore, if you felt that the plot in BioShock was weak, then you will most likely feel the same way about BS2. The story is clearly not the main focus of BS2. The world of Rapture and its inhabitants are the main focus, with a story slapped to give the gamer a sense of purpose. Having said that, the dialogues are superb and voiceovers are great. The fact that Rapture is in an even worse state than what it used to be in the first game makes the gamer feel as if the events of the first game were redundant.
One of the newest additions to BS2, that assures us gamers that this isn't a simple mockup of the first game, is the all-new multiplayer online mode. Many of us who have heard about the online modes would wonder what the developers can possibly do to make BS2 an enjoyable multiplayer experience. However, surprisingly enough, there is a lot of depth to this.
Although you can play the usual modes such as team deathmatch and 'capture the sister', there is also a detailed levelling up system similar to Call of Duty. As you level up, you unlock new items and messages that teach you about what happened before BioShock. The multiplayer is based in a period before the first game, so the more you play, the more you learn about the splicers.
The gameplay can be a bit tricky at first, but with enough practice, anyone can improve. The system is created in such a way that you cannot simply inject yourself to earn more plasmid power. You need to refuel yourself at specific areas in the map. Due to this, you cannot always abuse your special powers. You can only use them at the right times.
The beauty of the online multiplayer is the fact that one player on the team will randomly spawn as a Big Daddy. Although you are limited in terms of powers or weapons, you have armour that is much tougher than your peers, meaning that your opponents need to work as a team to take you down. Also, your weapon is very powerful. In order to take a Big Daddy down, you need to work as a team. Unless the person controlling him is a complete moron, you will always die if you try to kill the Big Daddy by yourself. The feeling of playing as the Big Daddy online is what we should all want to feel when playing the single player mode. Unfortunately this isn't the case. Having said all of the above, the multiplayer is actually very enjoyable and a brilliant addition to the BioShock series.
In conclusion, BioShock 2 is a good, but not great game. Perhaps as a standalone title, it deserves a higher score however after having played the original game, I feel that the single player could have offered so much more, especially since we finally get the chance to play as the Big Daddy himself. Thankfully, the well-structured and thought-out multiplayer mode will ensure that gamers cannot accuse BioShock 2 as a copy of its predecessor. If you loved BioShock, then this is definitely worth a purchase, otherwise it might be worth downloading a demo before making your mind up.
Lasting Appeal: 8.0