Developer: 2K Marin Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PC and Xbox 360
Rating: Mature Release Date: 02.09.10
Even though Bioshock was more or less a steam punk remake of Irrational Games’ previous PC classic System Shock 2, it scored big with critics and gamers alike for its moody, atmosphere; twisted dystopian storyline and innovative gameplay that seamlessly mixed supernatural powers with gunplay. Not only did Bioshock sell well, but it ran away with numerous Game of the Year Awards as well.
However, the roaring acclaim left the development team in somewhat of a precarious predicament for the inevitable sequel. After all, how do you manage to top a game that many regarded as being near perfect?
The answer is surprisingly simple. Remove the frail, inadequate human from the role of protagonist and replace him with hulking, drill equipped scuba suit of Behemoth rage and paternal affection—the Big Daddy. Set a decade after Bioshock, gamers assumed the role of Subject Delta, a Big Daddy who awakens from a gunshot-inflicted coma in the ruins of the underworld city of Rapture.
Despite being helmed by a new studio, 2K Marin (which is comprised of a number of developers from Irrational Games), Bioshock 2's storytelling is every bit as well conceived and executed as its predecessor. The plot slowly reveals itself through strategically placed, scripted events, radio communications and audio recordings scattered through Rapture that chronicle the events prior to the game's opening. The story is well written, full of twists, turns and epic set pieces, and it's easily one of the game's strongest assets.
Once a utopian paradise constructed to allow man to escape from the world's problems, the city of Rapture has degenerated into anarchy and ruin. The city is falling apart at the seams, and splicers, denizens of Rapture who have been driven insane from excessive genetic modifications, roam the shadows, waiting to ambush you.
Like the original Bioshock, combat in Bioshock 2 is all about using plasmids and guns. The Big Daddy comes with a Rivet Gun and a huge, gas-powered drill, but he'll also discover a plethora of other weapons, including shotguns, machine guns, rocket launchers and more. On top of that, plasmids come in a variety of different flavors. You'll find ones that allow you to unleash arcs of lightening, launch balls of fire, freeze enemies into icicles, etc.
Fortunately, in Bioshock 2, the developers allow gamers to use both weapons and plasmids without having to switch back and forth. For instance, one trigger will blast an enemy with a bolt of lightening, and the other will use Big Daddy's drill while your foe is still incapacitated. The controls are less cumbersome and, as a result, make combat substantially more manageable and enjoyable.
Weapons and plasmids can still be upgraded and new types of ammunition can be equipped for deadlier results. However, funding these upgrades require money and Adam. Cash can be scavenged from abandoned registers and dead corpses, but the main source of Adam comes from the army of Little Sisters. Upon killing their Big Daddy guardian, you'll have to choose whether to harvest the Little Sister for quick, easy Adam or adopt and lead them to safety.
Your normal armaments are more than enough for even the most powerful splicers you'll run in to, but the Big Daddies and Bioshock 2's new enemy, the Big Sisters, pose a much bigger threat. Big Daddies are slow and plodding, but they pack a humongous punch. Inversely, Big Sisters are fast, agile and considerably creepier than intimidating. While you'll often hear Big Daddies roaring and stomping in the distance, the shrill shrieks of a Big Sister are enough to make your skin crawl.
You can run into these fights guns blazing and hope for the best, or you can actually plan out a strategy that will make the fights easier. Laying down mines or setting up traps is always a good plan, but you can also hack various security devices (like stationary and flying machine gun turrets) for some invaluable back up.
If you end up falling in battle, you automatically respawn at a designated checkpoint and jump right back into the action. If you’d prefer the challenge of having to reload after each death like a traditional first-person shooter, though, Bioshock 2 also offers that option.
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