Now, I want to make it clear from the start that this is not just a Warning Review. A number of little or not advertised facts on BIOSHOCK 2 I deem important to clarify. And commenting on the game design and gameplay follows. But first things first:
FACT 1 (UNDISCLOSED):
The game requires Internet Connection to install and play because it HAS TO BE ACTIVATED. This is nowhere to be found in the Amazon product description so be warned, you will not be able to install and play this game on a PC that cannot access the internet. This is more serious than it seems (please read on).
FACT 2 (LITTLE ADVERTISED):
BIOSHOCK 2 requires you to setup an OnLine WindowsLIVE Account in order to save the game, claim achievements and auto-update. However, similarly to Fallout 3, it is also possible to create and use an OffLine WindowLIVE account. So, this is not a major worry - unless achievements is important for your enjoyment of course. In that case, you will have to be OnLine to play even a Single-Player session.
FACT 3 (UNDISCLOSED):
This game comes with an INSTALLATION LIMIT. Some would argue that a limit of fifteen installations is large enough for anyone. I, on the other hand, would argue that the length of the chain is of little importance, as long it stays attached to one's leg. Any limit on the number of installations makes BIOSHOCK 2 a rent-a-game. For good reason.
The ACTIVATION REQUIREMENT together with the LIMITED INSTALLATIONS mean that the copy of this game that you paid full price for, well,...never actually becomes yours. The possibility of you replaying the game in the future depends on both the survival of the publisher and its willingness to allow you to so some years down the road (both major uncertainties). And, no, I very much doubt that failing corporations will have the decency and the resources - not to mention the legal rights - to develop and release an Activation-Requirement-Removal patch. The usual practice is to pull the plug and disappear into the night.
The really insulting part is that all this is done for no reason whatsoever! If "more installations are available upon request" what is exactly their purpose in the first place? Why pay for the activation servers and the phone service to give out activations upon request for ever - when you could have had a game with no Activation Limits to begin with?
And the first person who tries to answer that by using the phrase "to fight-piracy", first get me a tissue because I am laughing to tears and, secondly, please simply google to find out how that fight is going.
Most game developers/publishers (from THQ and KALYPSO to UBISOFT and EA) have realized that asking your customers to jump through hoops only for the privilege of ...buying and using your product is not the way to earn neither their trust nor their hard-earned money. Especially during a recession.
So what they did was scale back on any intrusive, draconian and (possibly) illegal forms of DRM. All except 2K GAMES and some former soviet game developers that is. Protecting one's investment and labor is only fair. Insulting your customers and stealing back the product you just sold to them in not.
Now, if anyone still cares: I tried the game on a friend's computer and it is ...not very good either. It is not even as good as the original Bioshock.
Apparently the graphics have been left to age on their own - and have done so ungracefully. Max out the details and see the...pixels up-close and personal staring back at you! (Before anyone asks: WinXP on INTEL i7 920, nVIDIA GTX260 and 3GB of RAM).
The water/dry-land transitions have been hastily slapped together (swirling bubbles but no changing level of water in the faceplate?).
The guns are slow, hold annoyingly little ammo and are either too powerful or too hard to aim. And that is not the worst part either.
The worst part is that playing Big Daddy is a cumbersome chore! You move like crusted molasses, jump (and land) like a pig that ate too many beans and have the faceplate almost constantly obscuring your view.
If venturing into the ocean floor impressed you, well, think again: you can be directed to walk around but you cannot shoot while outside Rapture.
All in all, a mediocre game that is definitely NOT worth its DRM trouble!
My advice: wait until the price matches the product.