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5.0 out of 5 stars Bioshock 2 Review, 13 Feb 2010
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= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: BioShock 2 (PS3) (Video Game)
Bioshock 2 is something of a difficult game you may think to review. Sequel to a game which many said needed no sequel. Pointless, not needed, not wanted by the fans etc. What more could it bring to the table? After having played the game extensively I can tell you it brings a lot. It has a host of refinements, improvements, and quite frankly is a game which taken as a whole, I think will struggle to be bested by any other game this year.

Set 10 years after the first game, in Bioshock 2 you play as subject Delta, the first Big Daddy to be successfully paired with a Little Sister. Delta wakes up in Rapture at the beginning with little recollection as to what has come before. All he has is an unshakeable urge to find and be reunited with his Little Sister. To complicate matters, Rapture has a new leader in the form of Sophia Lamb, a Psychiatrist who has managed to unite the Splicers under the banner of 'The Family', a twisted cult she uses to serve her will. It's a great set-up, and one which leads you further into Rapture meeting a host of interesting characters. More complex than you would normally expect from a video game story, and without the slightly perplexing and damaging twists that were found in Bioshock, the story is one of the numerous areas where Bioshock 2 shines. It won't be as highly praised as the story found in the first, primarily because Rapture isn't a new and unknown entity this time around. This is sad because it's definetly as good, if not better than the first.

When it comes to the gameplay itself, Bioshock 2 has certainly been improved. This is primarily due to the fact you are now a Big Daddy with the ability to dual wield weapons and plasmids, which makes for some hugely entertaining firefights and combat experimentation. Combat itself is also far more intense, and you will often find yourself far more overwhelmed than in the first game. This is no bad thing however, as the intensity never drops and you will find yourself excited from beginning to end. Control wise, Bioshock 2 is very smooth. It may not be as twitch perfect as other top shooters on the market such as Modern Warfare 2, but it actually works in the games favour. It's far more of a thinking mans FPS, with the ability to lay traps, call upon bots for help and dupe your enemies with the use of plasmids. As previously stated, it is very intense but you will never feel rushed or under so much pressure that you miss a shot, and if you do it's your own fault and not that of a faulty control setup.

The biggest, and most exciting addition to the gameplay though is the ability to use Little Sisters to harvest Adam from bodies. You first have to take down their own Big Daddy, and once that is done you are left with a choice of whether to harvest or adopt them. If you adopt them, you then take on the role of protector, and are able to Harvest dead bodies for Adam for use for upgrades. These scenes are where the game is at it's most intense, as you have to hold off gangs of Splicers intent on stealing that Little Sister from you. It's a very interesting role reversal of the Big Daddy fights from the first game, and one which I relished from beginning to end.

Perhaps the most well documented and hyped element of Bioshock 2 is the addition of the Big Sisters. Under the control of Sophia Lamb, the Big Sisters are beings who were once Little Sisters, who couldn't resist the call of Rapture even when returned to land. They are your toughest enemy and usually arrive when you have finished gathering Adam with you Little Sister. Lighter, faster, and more fear inducing than the Big Daddies, the fights you have with them are intense, but this is probably the games weakest new addition. Once you have upgraded enough, the Big Sisters, while still tough, become more of an annoyance rather than something you dread. They never become easy fights, but start to feel like a chore the more the game goes on.

The single player clocks in at about 10 hours, which feels ideal. Due to the multiple difficulties, vast array of Plasmids, and numerous different possible endings it is a game that is meant to be replayed. It doesn't outstay it's welcome, but still leaves you excited to replay it, one of the markers of a great game in my opinion.

Multiplayer is also a new, and rather infamous addition to the Bioshock franchise. Fans have maintained that Bioshock didn't need a multiplayer, that it was the single player story people loved the first game for. While this is true, the multiplayer is actually quite impressive. It borrows heavily from Call of Duty in it's ranking system, but due to it's use of Plasmids and setting, it still manages to feel unique. It actually plays like something of a next gen version of the Timesplitters multiplayer due to it's sense of humour and how frantic it is. It may not hold you for long, but it's definetly good enough to secure a large dedicated following.

Graphically, Bioshock 2 is on a par with the first, something of a dissapointment considering it's 2 and a half years since it was released. It still looks good, with beautiful water and lighting effects, but the unreal engine is starting to show it's age. Some of the textures are blurry and lacking in detail, and the game doesn't have any settings that break from the tradition set by the first game. It's not detrimental to the game, but if there is a third game released as planned, maybe they should try and overhaul the graphics engine.

So, what else is left to say? Well, it's a great game, the best of this year so far along with Mass Effect 2. I doubt many games will match it. Is it perfect? No. As well as the slightly ageing graphics, the game can definetly feel repetitive. About half way through you realise the game isn't going to throw any new gameplay scenarios your way, and you keep repeating the same sequences. It didn't bother me that much, but I imagine some will definetly dislike the recycled Little Sister sequences of capture, gather, release. And the Big Sister fights are something of a bore after a while.

However, Bioshock 2 is ultimately a superb game. Was a sequel needed? Not necessarily no. And I think a lot of the fans who adore the first one will go into the second determined to dislike it precisely for this reason. It does feel a bit familiar, and it worries me thinking how they are going to further delve into Rapture in the proposed third game. What more can they show us? That doesn't detract though from the sequel's achievements. It is an all round better game with an improved story and better, more intense gameplay. It is a great game, and one which shouldn't be knocked just because it's a sequel.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Feb 2010 15:27:31 GMT
By far the most comprehensive and helpful review for this game so far. Nice work.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Feb 2010 20:57:02 GMT
Luke H says:
Thanks. I was left slightly surprised by all the negative reviews this game was getting off the customers. I think it's because it's a sequel to such a great game. The thing is, I don't see that many people complaining about Modern Warfare 2 or all the Halo games, despite their sequels being a lot more cynical cash ins than Bioshock 2 is. So I thought i'd give Bioshock 2 a more even handed look.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Feb 2010 16:08:18 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Feb 2010 20:20:24 GMT
I think the main complaint has been that the sequel just hasn't 'moved on', in terms of it's still set in a post-apocalyptical Rapture, you still play around with plasmids, still have to rescue little sisters, etc, etc (and I kind of agree in some respects).

However, all those people who are criticising the gameplay and graphics are quite simply talking poop. The graphics are much deeper and richer than the first (though sadly still powered by the same engine, so nothing too revolutionary), and the game itself feels much slicker, smoother and less glitchy overall than the original.

I think the bottom line is that the original Bioshock was so universally loved that the sequel was always going to be hard pushed to be as successful. This is a shame, as if people were to judge this game as a standalone and not a sequel (and stop constantly comparing the two) then I think most of them would reach the conclusion that it is a top quality game.

Posted on 17 Feb 2010 22:09:31 GMT
Adam McGee says:
A neat review, kudos!

Posted on 20 Feb 2010 11:27:45 GMT
THanks

Posted on 1 Mar 2010 23:03:20 GMT
Max says:
Great review. I've only started the game (on 3rd level) but I'm in love with Rapture again.
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