Updated Mon, Feb 15, 2010 by mattlow
BioShock, a first person shooter RPG from 2K Games, was released in August of 2007 on the Xbox 360 and PC to critical and commercial success. 2K Marin aims to take that success to a new level with BioShock 2. To this end, they dramatically stepped up the polish of the game and have obviously addressed many of the criticisms BioShock received as a first person shooter.
BioShock 2 takes place 10 years after the original game ends. The main character, Jack, is long gone, and nothing you did in the first game affects anything that happens in the second. Instead this time around, you play as a Big Daddy, known as Delta, who is searching for his kidnapped Little Sister throughout the underwater station Rapture. The game is not so much of a sequel, but more of a new game set in the BioShock world.
BioShock 2 is rated M for Mature (17+) for
Looking at the game as a first person shooter, BioShock 2 improves in almost everything over its predecessor. The combat is fast-paced and requires strategy, such as setting up traps, finding the right avenues of approach, and choosing the right powers and weapons for each fight. You are now able to wield a Plasmid power and physical weapon at the same time. You can attack with both, or stun your opponents with your Plasmid power, then shoot them. Overall, Bioshock 2 gives you much more freedom in weapons and strategy than the original ever did. You can upgrade you weapons with effects such as lightning bullets and damage bonuses, giving the game more of an FPS feel.
The biggest problem with BioShock 2 is the story. Story is what made the original such an amazing game; you played to see how events unfolded, and you had to stop and really consider every choice you made. There were red herrings and twists, which kept you playing long after you said you would log out, much to your spouse’s chagrin. Sadly, BioShock 2 doesn't capture that same amazement. As you play, the game and story feel too familiar and uninspired. I found myself constantly thinking, "Been here, done that." The story frustrates you more as you search for some evidence of the impact your character would have had on the original game world. Unfortunately, there is no real reference to those events, no acknowledgment letting you know that the outcome of the first game meant something.
Even worse, while the story of BioShock 2 has next to nothing to do with what you did in the original game, those who never played the original may still find themselves at a loss. What Adam is, and what Big Daddies, Little Sisters, and Splicers are is never really thoroughly explained. The developers seem to expect you to know the details from the first game, which is a rather sloppy design planning.
You have similar choices to make in BioShock 2 as you did in the original: do you save the Little Sisters or let them die? In the first game, that decision weighed heavily on me because of the great story that was unfolding. This time around, I found I really didn't care one way or the other. The story is solid, but it’s just not as gripping and captivating as that of its predecessor.
BioShock 2 looks great from both a technical and artistic standpoint. Models with crisp textures, dynamic lighting, and shadows make for a well-rendered environment. The look and feel of Rapture is stunning and dark. While you can walk around and recognize areas that are clearly from the first game, BioShock 2 brings them to life better than ever. They have taken the unique city and given it a face lift. While still unmistakably Rapture, it is a much improved visual experience.
Most of the voice acting in the game is top notch with only a few notable exceptions. You learn most of the story through audio diaries that have been left around the station; all of these are of the highest caliber, sounding like old records from the 1950s. The survivors you encounter, both sane and insane, are well portrayed and quickly draw you into the story.
Aside from the game's dialogue, the sound and music is appropriate for the setting. From the plink of dripping water to the whirring of your drill mounted arm, the sounds are believable and well delivered.