Review: BioShock 2

Is this sequel up there in rank with the original? Or should it just have stayed in the vita chamber? Find out in our official review of the “sequel to game of the year” Bioshock 2.

Bioshock 2 Xbox 360, PS3 (version reviewed)

It’s been 10 years since Jack Ryan ventured into Rapture and gave gamers their first tour of the underwater utopia. For us, it’s been 2 years since the critically acclaimed title that successfully blended light rpg elements with relentless first person gameplay, all wrapped in an extremely immersive, memorable environment. You know put on the heavy shoes of a Big Daddy, one of the first Big Daddies mind you. Code named Delta, you are one of the first among the initial line of manufactured Big Daddies. And you are on a quest, after a long coma, to reunite with your corresponding Little Sister Elanore. That’s as far as I’ll go in regards to story because this is a tale that shouldn’t be spoiled. But expect twists and turns, although not as much or as effective as the original.

Along the way you’ll meet up with alot of new faces, and some prove to be quite memorable. Among them is Sinclair, who serves as an Otacon sort of figure aiding you as you progress through Rapture.You are also introduced to the new Evil face of the game : Sofia Lamb. With Andrew Ryan gone someone had to fill in his role, enter Lamb. And without spoiling key plot points, she is much more connected to the overall lore than you might initially think.

Moral choices are back as the player is asked to either adopt the Little Sisters or Harvest them. The choice is yours but keep in mind that your decisions will dictate which ending you ultimately end up with at game’s end. For this review I acquired the best ending and let’s just say it left my eyes watery and almost in tears. Although the story may not be as epic or multilayered as the 2007′s game. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t memorable all on its own. It does a good job of further solidifying Bioshock as a franchise that is here to stay.

Now where the game outshines its predecessor is in the gameplay department. Gone are the tedious hacking minigames that littered the first outing , replaced with a much more fun, albeit challenging at times, mini game that involves precision timing. And seeing as you are a Big Daddy, it should be reflected in the gameplay right? And you bet your splicer arse it is, as you can now dual wield, although not like you may think. Unfortunately you can’t wield two firearms simultaneously, but you could wield a plasmid in one hand and a firearm in the other, which ends up being extremely satisfying. Some plasmids have also seen upgrades like the one that invovles swarms of insects surrounding your foes. ADAM once again plays a role and is needed to acquire new plasmids and powerups.

But what’s gameplay without enemies to engage in combat with. This game introduces new enemies. The brute splicer is akin to Left 4 Dead’s tank, and the Elite and Rumbler Big Baddies are new and deadlier variations of the classic enemy. Oh and of course how can we forget about the Big Sister. One will instantly be reminded of those memorable Nemesis encounters when the Big Sister comes along. And they are extremely memorable confrontations that will leave you scared for your life once you hear that chill inducing shriek.

The game will clock you in at about 5- 15 hours. 5 obviously if you rush through the 8 levels to get to the end and 15 if you take your time looking for every last audio tape and other items. But the experience is very satisfying and it definitely warrants multiple play throughs, especially if you want to achieve all the endings.

Now time for the negatives. I’m going to be sincere, there is no final boss encounter. But what you do get is just as equally tense and difficult as a boss fight would be. And what may put alot of people off is the injection of backtracking into the mix. Most of the game is objective based. Go here, get this item, collect x number of things, etc. That could turn some people away, especially if you’re expecting a generic first person type of experience. And like previously noted, the story isn’t as epic or enthralling as the original. But the latter part of the game is extremely tense and memorable, if only the whole narrative was like this and it would have easily topped it’s predecessor’s.

Overall, Bioshock 2 is a worthy sequel to one of the greatest games of this generation. A strong narrative, enhanced and satisfying gameplay all make for a game that may feel familiar at first, seeing as how it’s once again in Rapture, but it turns into it’s own thing towards the end prompting you to want to see the whole thing through. And my god what an ending it is. It left my eyes watery and left me clamoring for a sequel. The possibilities for this series are endless and I am sure glad to be back in Rapture.

9 out of 10. STRONG recommendation.