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Feb 15, 2010

Review: BioShock 2

BioShock 2
2K Games
Available for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC

“I am Andrew Ryan, and I'm here to ask you a question. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? 'No!' says the man in Washington, 'It belongs to the poor.' 'No!' says the man in the Vatican, 'It belongs to God.' 'No!' says the man in Moscow, 'It belongs to everyone.' I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose... Rapture, a city where the artist would not fear the censor, where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality, where the great would not be constrained by the small! And with the sweat of your brow, Rapture can become your city as well."

If you don't know these immortal words, then you need to stop reading this review for BioShock 2, grab a copy of BioShock for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 or PC and play the hell out of that game because you couldn't possibly understand the epic nature of the world of Rapture without experience it all from the beginning.

If you are amongst the many who have dived beneath the waves and explored the dark world of Rapture, fought the splicers and the Big Daddies, and discovered the grisly meaning behind the words, "Would you kindly?", then by all means, continue to read all the adam filled goodness of this review.

BioShock 2 brings the city of Rapture back to life with a whole new experience through the diver helmet of a Big Daddy. You must venture through the ruined halls, cracked and leaking underwater tunnels, facing hordes of crazed and mutated citizens of the fallen city 10 years after the original BioShock events. This time you are searching for your original little sister - a girl named Eleanor who was ripped away from you by Dr. Sophia Lamb, the newest leader in Rapture who took over the city after Andrew Ryan passed on. You are aided in your journey by a familiar face, Dr. Brigid Tenenbaum who advises you that Lamb has been kidnapping little girls from the surface and turning them into new Little Sisters because the previous ones are now gone or maturing beyond their use. She asks you to find all the new girls and transform them back during your search for Eleanor.

Much like the first BioShock you will be given multiple choices through the game which will affect how the game ends for your character. Depending on how many good or evil choices you make you can apparently end up with up to 6 different ending. The great thing about this game is that the moral choices you make aren't as obvious as you would think. I played through the game thinking I made all good moral choices and apparently didn't.

On a down side, the story line isn't as amazing as the first BioShock and really feels created to fit with the new Big Daddy/Little Sister game play instead of the other way around. There isn't a lot of new information to discover about Rapture at least until the end of the game when you take on the role of a new character and most of the information is thrown at you in audio files which is hard to play between enemies attacking and other characters that talk to you during the game.

Even though you are wandering the city as a Big Daddy now rather than a regular human, you will still have the ability to use plasmids and tonics as well as the new Big Daddy weapons like the drill and rivet gun. This makes the combo still very similar to the original BioShock which allowed you to use gun or melee weapons in combination with the plasmids but now, you don't have to switch between your weapon and plasmid - you can just have both ready to fire at once.

The coolest new weapon in Rapture I thought was the spear gun which when used on enemies would actually stick them to the walls in a gory fashion and if you opted to retrieve your spear gun ammo from their dead bodies, their carcasses would drop from the wall like little bloody rag dolls. Very grim but cool. Weapons upgrade stations and adam upgrades are available again through Rapture and you will be able to use the Little Sisters to obtain adam to buy new tonics and plasmids

Multi-player modes have been added to the series this time around which was a big addition request from the first BioShock, but honestly now that it's been added, it doesn't feel that important to the game. I tried to play some of the online modes and couldn't more than one person to play with. The game had been out for 4 days when I logged onto the lobbies and I figured some people would be playing online by this point but I guessed wrong. There are 7 modes to check out for online like "Survival of the Fittest" which is you against everyone else in a free for all killing spree or "Capture the Flag" which puts you on a 10 person team either defending a Little Sister or trying to kidnap her and put her in a vent on the other side of the map. This online feature has its own story which is set before the days of BioShock when the city of Rapture was experiencing a civil war. You can learn a bit more about this as you level up one of several characters and listen to their unlocked audio files.

The world of Rapture isn't quite as awesome as it was back in 2007 when I first saw it but if you manage to get up close to some of the backgrounds and enemies in the game they still look pretty detailed and creepy especially in the case of the splicers. Problem is with this type of game that most of the environments are so dark that you really can't enjoy the details put into the world by the artists unless you take the time between splicers and Big Daddy attacks to really look at the environments around you up close. I think the only time you really get a good view of the cool environment details on a grand scale is when you venture outside the city for the first time onto the ocean floor and view all the adam infused ocean life. Water effects from the original game were still present with streaming water flows from cracked pipes to blur your vision and water drops appearing on your screen aka diving helmet.

The true darkness of Rapture decay would not be complete without the chilling sounds of creaking steel starting to give under the pressure of the ocean depths or the shrieks of the splicers ready to send you to harvest you for adam. The horrible sounds from the shadows of Rapture are really what make you walk just a little bit slower through the halls of the city. Funny thing is you forget at some points that the heavy footsteps in the dark are your own this time as you wear the giant metal diving suit. A few bits of music are spread out between the levels and the loading screens to remind you of the dangers around you or just to frighten you out. The epic battle music plays will when enemies attack like most video games but BioShock also has a few old time songs that you can hear on jukeboxes found on various levels or on the loading screens. These honestly are probably creepier to listen to then any sound in the game especially the Boogie Man song.

I wanted this game to be amazing especially since it’s been 3 years since we all took that trip down in the bathysphere and saw our first Little Sister and Big Daddy but honestly I think BioShock 2 can never be as awe-inspiring as the first BioShock for anyone because this version can never regain that stunning moment when we were first introduced to Andrew Ryan and his dream, and discovered the true meaning of "Would you kindly?". While there are moments in BioShock 2 that definitely make it worthwhile to return to the city under the sea once more, this journey back just doesn't hold the same enchantment that it did the first time. There are definitely improvements here to the weapons, game controls and more which make it a must buy but don't dive in expecting the same wow factor as your first trip to Rapture.

Rating: 8 out of 10
Buy it!

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