BioShock 2 Game Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, February 17, 2010
BioShock 2 had huge shoes to fill after BioShock won countless awards and garnered positive reviews across the board. After spending a few days with the game we’re happy to announce that while BioShock 2 doesn’t completely match BioShock’s awesomeness, it’s a great game and a welcomed addition to the BioShock franchise.
BioShock 2 picks up a few years after the events of the first game, this time around you play as the very first Big Daddy, part of the Alpha Series, and his name is Subject Delta. Delta is awaken and has no clue what has happened in the past years, all he knows is that his Little Sister, Eleanor, is missing and he must find her. Delta’s quest for Eleanor is the driving force of the game and his journey will take you once again through Rapture.
Rapture is still a creepy dystopia but now looks even worse due to the ocean having claimed parts of it and the Splicers destroying the city further. Your journey this time takes you through all new sections of the city which you’ll be visiting by traveling in a train called, The Atlantic Express. Traveling in the Atlantic Express isn’t the only way to move through Rapture though, since you are Big Daddy you get to step out into the ocean floor to reach different areas. The spots were you step out of Rapture are a stark contrast to when you are inside Rapture. Out in the ocean it’s very tranquil, there are no battles and you can’t use any of your weapons or plasmids. What you can do is pick up a few items including the ADAM slugs which you guessed it, grant you a small dose of ADAM.
Speaking of ADAM, unlike the first game, harvesting or rescuing Little Sisters isn’t the only way to get your hands on the good stuff. As a Big Daddy you can adopt a Little Sister and have her lead you to a few bodies that contain ADAM. Once you find the body you set the Little Sister down and a mini game commences. For the time it takes the Little Sister to drain the ADAM you will be attacked by Splicers and some other nefarious citizens of Rapture who are trying to get to her. They come out in numbers and they come at you hard. In order to survive the onslaught you have to place traps that will slow them down and protect the Little Sister. Once she is done you pick her up again and she points you to another body. You can only gather two bodies per Little Sister. Once both bodies have been gathered you have to either rescue or harvest her and then proceed to adopt another one. Like the first game, harvesting will grant you more ADAM while rescuing her gives you less but occasionally grants you a gift from the Little Sisters which may include ADAM, money or ammo. However you decide to deal with the Little Sisters, choose wisely because it will have an effect on the ending of the game.
Aside from affecting the game’s ending, dealing with Little Sisters also brings out a new character in the Rapture mythology, the Big Sister. Each section of Rapture you visit has set number of Little Sisters and once you’ve dealt with them the Big Sister comes after you. She can use plasmids, is very fast and agile, making the fights with the Big Daddies from the first game seem like a walk in the park. Your best bet to surviving an encounter with her is to set traps that slow her down enough for you to be able to land heavy damage.
As you fight the Big Sisters and the Splicers you’ll notice that pace of BioShock 2 is considerably faster than the original game. This is due to a couple of reasons; First, because you are a Big Daddy the only way to give you a sense of danger as you traveled Rapture was to be constantly attacked by large number of Splicers. In the first game you only had two maybe three Splicers attacking you at a time, this time you usually have five or six coming at you and that includes the new Brute Splicer which is a beast to be reckoned with. Second, the ability to simultaneously wield weapons and plasmids keep the action constant because as you are reloading with one hand you can keep the fight going by shooting plasmids with the other. Third, the research method from the first game got a big overhaul. In BioShock, research was done by snapping photographs which brought the action to a screeching halt. BioShock 2 switched the research from photos to film so the action never stops; you now snap your camera at a subject and the camera will start recording how you deal with him, depending on how you do you get a score. As you do more research you unlock different plasmids or advantages like increase damage against that particular class you are researching. Finally, the hacking aspect of the game was also changed to keep the flow of the game going. The mini game used to hack the vending machines or security systems is gone and replaced with a weapon that lets you shoot a hacking dart into the machine. Once you’ve hit the machine a meter pops up at the bottom of the screen and you have to stop the needle in the green section to successfully hack the machine. These few additions improve the game play from BioShock tremendously, making BioShock 2 more fun to play.
While everything in the game is excellent there are a few slight complaints. If you felt BioShock was too linear then the same applies for the sequel. The game guides you from point A to point B with a big yellow arrow on top of the screen and there isn’t a lot of room for exploration. Even the gathering with the Little Sisters will point you straight to the bodies you need to find so you’ll never feel lost. Another complaint is that with the new train method to move through Rapture, it doesn’t allow for backtracking like the bathyspheres from BioShock did. In the sequel once you’ve left a section of the city you won’t be able to go back so if you missed something you are screwed. The biggest complaint on the game is that it falls short of living up to the great story from the first game. BioShock 2’s story will hook you from the moment you pop the game in but there is nothing to rival the “would you kindly” twist and sadly the new batch of villains introduced in the game fall short from the great Andrew Ryan and Frank Fontaine. Sofia Lamb is a nice villain but she just doesn’t grab you like they did and even the sub bosses from BioShock 2 can’t compare to a BioShock sub boss like Sander Cohen.
The multiplayer mode added to BioShock 2 is easily the weakest aspect of the game. The BioShock spin they gave it is excellent and it’s cool to hop online for awhile but there is nothing wow about the multiplayer and it’s a bit frustrating to play. The BioShock series isn’t one of straight up action so it seems a bit odd to engage in a deathmatch or team deathmatch where there is no objective other than to kill as many people as possible.
Aside from those two modes there is also a Capture the Little Sister mode, which plays out exactly like Capture the Flag. This mode sucks, it’s extremely difficult to capture the Little Sister and you’ll find yourself getting constantly killed if you are on the attacking team. The flipside is that if it’s your turn to defend you’ll be raking up the kills fast and easy. The problem is the maps are small and the entry points to get to the Little Sister are so few that the defending team can just sit back and pick off the attackers as they come in. To make things even easier for the defending team, they get a Big Daddy which is very difficult to take down.
There is also a mode which is similar to Modern Warfare 2’s Dominiation but instead of holding down a certain spot in the map, the team has to capture a Little Sister and hold on to her for as long as possible. This mode isn’t very fun to play either because just like the Capture the Little Sister mode, the team that manages to capture the Little Sister first just sits back to pick the attacking team off.
No matter what mode you choose to play, at the end of every match you’ll get a score and as you keep getting points you’ll level up. The leveling up system is exactly like the Modern Warfare system, as you level up you’ll unlock different challenges, weapons and plasmids. By leveling up you also receive audio messages that fill in the Rapture Civil War story line.
While the story isn’t on par with the first game, the sequel makes up for it with the improvement on game play. The single player campaign is around 10-12 hours, double that if you play through it twice for the different ending and you’ll probably add a few more hours to your total by playing online. Overall, BioShock 2 is a great game and definitely worth the pickup, especially if you loved BioShock.
Mania Grade: B+