13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
More than just a sequel cash-in...,
This review is from: BioShock 2 (PS3) (Video Game)
Console games are funny things, often in the world of film and books sequels are viewed with suspision and treated with derision (not always of course). Unless it's a pre-conceived trilogy for example, it can be assumed that a sequel is just a cash in. However, in gaming, no matter how good the original was, people want more. Uncharted 2 was a huge success as was Mass Effect 2, and Batman AA, Infamous and Dead Space amongst others have sequels in the works. Yet, with Bioshock, news of the sequel wasn't as well received - and this, I feel, goes to show just how uniquely brilliant the original Bioshock was - unlike so many other games, it was more about the story than the actual gameplay (though that's not to say it didn't play well). The whole atmosphere of Rapture was something unique and special, so it is understandable that there has been some negativity towards Bioshock 2, despite my view that it really is an outstanding game.
I'm sure the majority will be aware of the basic premise, but for a quick recap, you're the original Big Daddy, the game is set 10 years after the original, and you get to dual wield plasmids and weapons, boom! The array of splicers return, and we are introduced to a new enemy called a Big Sister, I won't too much as the origin of the Big Sisters are revealed throughout the game, all I will say is that every so often you will hear a shrill scream that indicates a Big Sister is coming to get you, and it's genuinely terrifying! While the feel of the game is largely similar to the original, there are a few changes - for example hacking has been improved/ruined (delete as appropriate) by removing the pipe hacking system and replacing it with a simple 'press the buttin when it's in the right zone' game. A nice touch with this is that it doesn't pause time, so you have to hack when you're sure you're safe!
A criticism I have seen reported a lot, both in magazines and on webistes, is that Bioshock 2 suffers because it is just TOO familiar, and to an extent it's hard to argue against this. However, I'm going to do just that anyway - while I appreciate that some may find this game Rapture overkill, at the end of the day in no other game do you have such a wonderful creation as Rapture - the whole ethos of the game is stunning, while it may be too familiar for some, for me it was like returning to an old, slightly damp, friend. The music, the audio diaries, the crazed splicers, the 1950s/60s aesthetics, there's nowhere quite like good old Rapture. Many other games revisit similar places and themes, however I feel it may be due to just how special and unique Rapture is that the familiarity is being viewed as a negative.
The main story is once again excellent, while the emotions never quite hit the heights of the original, I have to admit it IS better than what I was expecting, the second half really picks up and if you take the time to search every corner for those audio diaries (in my first playthrough I managed to find almost all 128 of them), not only the plot of the game, but of the whole Rapture universe, begin to piece together and make sense. While there isn't anything as memorable as the Atlas situation, there are a few really interesting ideas presented (towards the end of the game there's a section where you'll see Rapture in a whole new light). One of the problems Bioshock 2 will inevitably have is that it will be compared to the original. However it would have taken something pretty special to topple that, and I feel 2K Marin should be applauded for almost doing just that. The storyline isn't as good, but the gameplay is technically better (though if you choose not to harvest the Little Sisters, the gathering missions can be a wee bit repetitive). Being able to wield plasmids and weapons at the same time presents the ability to be a bit more tactical in your approach, and enables you to mix and match your attacks for the best effect. Graphically it's very good, however there hasn't been a whole lot of progression from the first game, but again Rapture is such a wonderful and unique place that I personally didn't mind some of the rough edges.
On a side note, multiplayer is more than just an add-on - set in NYE 1959, you have your usual games modes like free for all and team deathmatches, and variations on a theme with capture the flag (with the Little Sister being the flag). If multiplayer is your thing, you could do worse than the Bioshock version, I'm pleased to report I've so far had no connection or lag issues when playing.
All in all Bioshock 2 is more than just a cash in on a success story. It's an amazing game in it's own right and I honestly feel if the original didn't exist, the ratings for the game would be higher than they already are. It's not as good as the original, but don't let that put you off it - there's plenty here to enjoy.
(Also, just to note, I read another review that criticised the loading time the first time you put the disc in - while it does take a while, it's better to get it over and done with rather than have ridiculous loading times throughout the game).