Developer(s) – 2K Marin & 2K Australia
Publisher(s) – 2K Games, D3 Publisher & Feral Interactive
Director – Jordan Thomas
Producer – Melissa Miller
PEGI – 18
The sequel to one of my personal favorite games of all time, BioShock 2 carries on the events following the collapse of the once-Utopian underwater city of Rapture, and puts the player in control of one of the Big Daddy robots, Subject Delta, giving the game a little bit more variety than the first, and keeping the series somewhat fresh. However, I greatly prefer the first game for a few reasons.
Graphics – 9/10
From a technical standpoint, the visuals are a vast improvement on that of the first game, featuring more polish, a greater level of detail, and new locations within the city of Rapture, ranging from Fontaine Futuristics Headquarters and the Rapture History Museum. The graphics and new elements of conceptual design work very well to expand greatly on the game’s back-story and mythology, whilst still retaining the dark and gritty atmosphere of the first game.
Gameplay – 10/10
Thankfully, the great gameplay of the first has also been kept intact and improved upon. Like Gears of War 2, which I reviewed prior to this, it’s pretty much like an extension of the first game, in the respect that there is great variety in the wide range of abilities at player’s disposal, including using ice, fire, swarms of killer insects and even telekinesis on top of the additional arsenal of firearms synonymous with the FPS genre. However, the developers also saw fit to add a sniper rifle this time round, much to my personal delight, since sniper rifles are my favorite weapons in first-person shooters. Melee combat has also been improved with the inclusion of the Big Daddy’s drill arm.
Controls – 10/10
It was encouraging to see that even with the increased amount of variety in gameplay and new features at the player’s disposal, the control scheme hadn’t been made any harder to cope with than in either the first game or in other first-person shooters in general. Metroid Prime had a complicated control scheme for a game in the genre, which took a bit of time to get to grips with, but there are no complications like this in this game.
Lifespan – 7/10
One of the central problems I have with BioShock 2, however, is that it only lasts about as long as the first, which was quite disappointing, because this is normally a problem that is traditionally addressed by a video game sequel, and was a fairly common trope used by developers of the seventh generation; games like Batman: Arkham City and Just Cause 2 spring to mind. I don’t think the developers would have had a problem making this game longer than the first either if they truly wanted to, given the increased amount of gameplay variety and space for additional side quests, which felt even more disappointing.
Storyline – 5/10
However, “the” central problem I do have with this game is in the narrative, which is in my opinion, a million miles away from the sheer quality of that of the first game. The story of BioShock 2 takes place 8 years after the events of the first and follows Subject Delta, a Big Daddy who resolves to find and rescue the Little Sister, whom he was previously partnered up with to gather the most valuable resource in the city of Rapture; a substance called Adam. His previous Little Sister, however, happens to Eleanor Lamb; the daughter of Rapture’s new ruler, Sofia Lamb, who found them both and took Eleanor away from him in the game’s prologue. The problem I have with it is that it is considerably more difficult to follow than the first. Part of the reason why is because the player has to spend more time trying to piece together the back-story as opposed to following the story in the forward direction. And even when doing this, events seem to move at such a pace that not much time is given to the player to think about what’s going on; everything just happens without much explanation.
Originality – 6/10
I think because the player returns to the city of Rapture to find a much less impressive narrative, and the scenery and style of the game are essentially the same as the last despite new locations, there isn’t as much originality about it as there was in the first, which in all honesty, perpetuates a concern I have about the survival horror genre; that the sequel is nowhere near as atmospheric or intimidating as the first since players already have a decent idea of what to expect. But as I stated earlier, the series is kept somewhat fresh, with the inclusion of new gameplay mechanics and a new premise, so isn’t a lost cause by any means.
To summarize, BioShock 2 is a decent game; but just nowhere near as good as the first. 2K Games would change things up drastically with the release of BioShock Infinite, which was an even more positive departure from the first two games, but the second didn’t accomplish that anywhere nearly as flawlessly in my opinion.