For those that didn’t get a chance to play the first let me explain what Bioshock is all about. Bioshock 2 is an FPS with a difference. Blending solid story telling elements with inventive and customisable weapons and being set in a beautifully haunting underwater world. The game quickly sets the tone that this isn’t your regular shooter. Players are assigned the role of a Big Daddy who were the protectors of the little sisters from the first masterpiece and it is arguably for this reason alone Bioshock 2 plays out in a very different manner.
Bioshock 2 takes place 10 years after the original, with that in mind it surprised me just how familiar the world felt. (The scenery, while new, seemed to provoke the feeling that you have been here before) the chaotic lunacy of the first returns and enemies such as splicers are left feeling overly familiar. The good news is that the story and graphics help make up for the lack of imaginative enemies.
The story is engaging and aids in the immersion. Much like in the first game you are given the moral choice of saving the little sisters or harvesting them for a much needed Adam boost. The decisions that you make during the course of the story whilst ploughing through the twisted inhabitants of rapture comes full circle near the end of the game. Depending on how you have played your campaign you may be left feeling absolutely gutted or jubilant. This is by far the strength of this game and makes not only for a compelling piece but an extra incentive to either right the wrongs or discover your evil side with a second play through.
The presentation is still absolutely stunning and does such a great job of making you feel choked by the claustrophobic enclosed watery world. The 50s inspired art deco environment reeks of charisma whilst the splattering of jukeboxes and PA systems add to the authenticity. The voice acting once again is a huge achievement and always adds to the experience rather than distracting from it like so many games such as AVP have recently been guilty of. Rookie anyone?
You now have the ability to dual weld plasmids and weapons. Plasmids are fired from your left hand and range from electro bolts to swarms of bees with my favourite being the chilling arctic breeze. These plasmids teamed with double barrelled shotguns have devastating effects and give you so many moments that make you smile like a Cheshire cat. There is something very satisfying about electrocuting a splicer in a pool of water only to freeze them and then explode them into fresh ice for your whiskey.
To round out single player I sadly have to say it did not meet the lofty standards made by the first. This is not so much a negative about Bioshock 2 but more so kudos to the original which I highly recommend you play if you haven’t.
This leaves multiplayer to discuss. My first thought was “what the hell are they doing tacking on multiplayer to a single player masterpiece?” After spending 3 hours online I can say that it just didn’t grab me, the main problems are that it is grossly miss-matched and very boring. Players are not rewarded with any real incentive other than achievement hunting. Given games that do multiplayer well, like MW2, don’t even have achievements for multiplayer yet still demand all your time due to the extensive amount of equipment that can be unlocked. Without any real incentives to play the game online I was quickly tiring of it and eventually it felt like a waste of disc space and development time.
Fans of Bioshock will feel I have been quite critical of the sequel, but overall it is still a must play game and I urge fans of the original and new players alike to take a trip into Rapture. Just play the original first, it is worth it.