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Bioshock 2 (Single Player) - Review

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Worthy successor, or does Bioshock 2 fall short? It's all explained inside.

This spoiler free review is brought to you by Vader is Luke's Father Snape Kills Dumbledore Incorporated

Note: If at anytime you get bored (I realize this thing got kinda long), just scroll down to the conclusion.

Basics
Platform - PC
Specifications - Intel Core i7 @ 2.8, ATI 4870 1 GB, 6 GB RAM, Vista Ultimate 64-bit,

A good place to start

Often, the best place to start is the beginning, and by that, I mean the original Bioshock (referred to as "Bioshock"). To really evaluate the sequel to the great original, I'll be doing a lot of comparing to the original as that is how most sequels are judged. I loved the first Bioshock, and that can be broken down into three main reasons:

1. Shooting - Well it's a shooter with shooting, but apart from that, Bioshock gave the player an enormous amount of options to kill foes, in fact, almost too many to many to actually utilized. Plasmids (powers from electric shocks to enraging you enemies) to the range of the average guns (pistol, machine gun, rocket launcher, etc.) allowed to you to satisfy your need to kill and mutilate in many many ways.

2. Story - I like beating foes to a bloody pulp as much as the next gal, but nothing like a captivating story for game immersion. You take on the role of Jack, as he bumbles through Rapture with his totally and utterly benign voice in his head [/sarcasm] Atlas/Fontaine. One thing I loved about the Bioshock storyline was the fact that both the player and Jack were essentially on the same plane of knowledge of Rapture; both enter with complete ignorance and discover the twists and turns of the plot at the same time. Andrew Ryan, the video game version of Ayn Rand and John Galt (and a bit of Ellis Wyatt) from her novel "Atlas Shrugged," is a captivating character. Aside from the main storyline, the back story of Rapture wonderfully revealed through audio diaries and really allows the player to expand their knowledge of their environment. Even though the game was linear, the player was offered choices in whether to harvest to rescue Little Sisters altering the game's ending.

2. Environment - While this does tie in with storyline, Rapture is simply an immersive place to be. The opening scene is breath taking, as the player is given a panoramic view of Rapture via submersible. Their is simply something about the the decaying, dark, and very wet underwater utopia that draws the player into another dimension. My first experience with Bioshock was in a friend's basement, around 1AM, screaming because something went "bump" behind our character. The detail of the game is astounding, with everything covered from the mumblings of splicers to the outstanding visuals.

On to Bioshock 2
For the most part, Bioshock 2 can be considered a fitting sequel to the original. The player takes the shoes of the first Big Daddy, and is armed with the Big Daddy essentials like the drill and rivet gun. I came into the game with high expectations. Overall, Bioshock 2 is a solid game and was great fun, but that didn't stop it from having flaws.

The biggest improvement to Bioshock 2 is game-play. The sequel brings the same basic mechanics to the table as the original; it's a great place to start. Shift gives the player a swift melee attack; enough to finish off enemies and clear the air. Bioshock 2 brings on plasmid/gun duel wielding making for some monster combos. What's more satisfying than freezing an enemy then shattering them with your all mighty drill. Duel wielding removes some of the switching hassle, but it also adds a bit of confusion (for me at least).



As you can see, the primary weapon is on the right-hand side but controlled by the left mouse button, while the plasmid hand is on the left-hand side but controlled with the right mouse button. While this isn't a major hindrance, it had me wasting EVE for a good while when trying to access the primary weapon.

Big Daddy's arsenal (while filled with weapons) also gives the player a choice of ammo. Everything from trap rivets, to phosphorus bucks, to rocket spears are included. If anything, I would say that the only downfall to the combat system is one of the things that makes it great: choices! There are tons of ways just to kill a splicer. Do you melee him to death? Or hit him with a plasmid/rivet one-two punch? The guns have their Bioshock counter-part as do plasmids. But, new stations allow greater customization of weapons and the upgradability of plasmids.

While the choices are exhilarating, there were just to many to choose from! Switching plasmids can be tricky, as the seemingly quickest way is to go through to the next (Q) or the previous (Z). I found myself sticking to one plasmid, and switching my gun around as needed.

Being a Big Daddy has its perks; fighting other Big Daddies no longer feel like monumental tasks. As a Big Daddy, you also have the opportunity to adopt Little Sisters and harvest ADAM. When one begins the process, splicers are drawn to the area forcing the player to take up defenses and defend the Little Sister! While this is novel in the beginning, the campfest quickly grows old; I found myself bypassing opportunities to harvest ADAM just to move on with the game. Like the original, Bioshock 2 allows the player to harvest or rescue the Little Sisters, harvesting gives you more ADAM but negative karma (oops, Fallout 3 slipped in ) while rescuing gives you a warm fuzzy feeling, less ADAM, and special teddy bears. Just as the original, the player's choice with what he/she does with Little Sisters affects the game's overall outcome.

Unlike Bioshock, the sequel offers the player more choices other than the fates of Little Sisters. I won't go into details, but I can assure you, they affect the ending just as much as Little Sisters do.

Returning to Rapture in Bioshock 2 is a treat, but is is significantly less novel than the first. Rapture, although much remains to be explored, is familiar. Much of the feeling of exploration of the first game is lost in the return to the same environment, the inferno that was Rapture is not a bonfire; still large and warm, good for roasting marshmallows, but not as massive as an inferno. Bioshock 2, like it's predecessor stays in 1st person the entire time.

In the original, Jack awakens without a name or any knowledge of Rapture, just as the character does. However, Bioshock 2 brings in a knowledgeable player to play a completely clueless one.

The story, while still solid, lacks the intrigue that the first did. Bioshock 2 introduces Sophia Lamb, an integral part of Rapture that we have never head of before. Go figure. She's interesting never less. Just as Bioshock gave us characters like J.S. Steinman, the crazed surgeon,

But one of my favorite portions of the story was once again, the exploration through audio diaries. Although Andrew Ryan is 10 years dead, players get to hear his voice again along with many other familiar characters. The kleptomaniacs of video games won't be displeased.

Conclusion
As much stuff I disliked in the game, it was still an excellent buy and an excellent game. The story mode took me a good 10 hours to complete, and I enjoyed everyone of those hours. If you are looking for an enthralling single player campaign, Bioshock 2 is a good choice. I recommend the Steam version as the DVD version has garnered an average score of 3.5 on Amazon due to DRM and Windows Live (don't get me started ) concerns.

In layman's terms, if you liked Bioshock and you aren't feeling extremely overly critical (like I verdantly am), get the game. Speedy thing go in, speedy thing go out.

But some questions remain unanswered: How do Big Daddies drink, smoke, and eat potato chips without taking the helmet off? Do the Little Sisters pre-chew chocolate bars and feed them down a plastic tube for consumption? If so EWWW! The world will never know....

If you are bored and are looking for a humorous take on Bioshock, may I recommend Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin: BioShock? NSFW for language.

8.75/10

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Thanks for taking the time to read my review. Agree? Disagree? Like chocolate? Leave a comment or rate the entry.

Stay tuned for the multiplayer review!

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Comments

  1. FLIPmode's Avatar
    I love chocolate
  2. Exploding_Silver's Avatar
    I am playing Bioshock 2 and really enjoying it
    That have repeated the formulae of Bioshock 1 in many ways, which works for me
    They have added some new twists that are great, like guarding the girl as she collects adam and made the combat flow better
    As a single player FPS, its the best one out there

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