Having picked up numerous Game of the Year awards in 2007, Bioshock was always going to be a tough act to follow. The revolutionary shooter based in a dystopian underwater world is back and for the most part it’s a very entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable affair. This time around you play as one of the colossal Big Daddies that roamed the original, namely Delta.
Whilst the initial impact, intrigue and tightly weaved storyline that draws you in with unpredictable hooks and twists is largely gone, Bioshock 2 tightens up the successful game mechanics and improves upon the less pleasurable moments of its predecessor. This renovating rather than reinventing of Bioshock means a departure from state of the art graphics [it is very pleasing to look at but has not advanced much from the original] and a wholly original storyline, but the actual gameplay itself is improved.
Bioshock 2 is set in the familiar Rapture world that gamers have come to know and love. Despite being set fifty years on from the first outing, and a new leader at the helm, the nihilistic shooter explores incredibly familiar territory whilst coming across a little slicker and wiser. The weapon equipping system that troubled gamers only able to hold a plasmid or gun is gone, as gamers have access to both simultaneously. Similarly the hacking of bots, cameras and enemy security is much improved upon. As opposed to the dated mini game in the original, gamers must hack in real-time. This means that quite often hacking arises whilst mid-battle which adds a level of immediacy to the procedure previously absent.
For those unfamiliar with Bioshock, it’s a first person shooter that enables gamers to attack with plasmids in addition to weaponry. Plasmids enable special powers such as sending an electric shock jolting through your enemies, a blazing inferno, a swarm of insects and hypnotism. Regrettably, the plasmid abilities remain largely unaltered adding to the Bioshock 1.5 feel.
Rather than outright death, when gamers run out of health they are re-spawned at various chambers dotted around the Bioshock world. Whilst this means that technically gamers could die constantly and progress through attrition and pure dedication, it is essential to upgrade your abilities and weaponry if fun and a sense of accomplishment is to be achieved. In order to do this you must either sacrifice little sisters or adopt them, presenting you with a moral dilemma, given that Big Daddies sole purpose is to protect the little sisters.
For Bioshock purists eager to learn more about Rapture, a rich plethora of plot progressing audio tapes are located around the map. For those with the patience and eagerness to collect them all, prepare for a history of Rapture dating back to when it all began and the present day. This certainly goes some way to filling in the unanswered questions in the first game.
Whilst it would be possible to speak at length about the intricacies and finer points of Bioshock it really is a game that demands the gamer soak up and fully immerse themselves in the Bioshock universe. For fans of the original this is more of the same, albeit improved. There are limited new features, although amongst the high points is the multi-player mode that lets gamers partake in classic death and team matches, or the much more rewarding and interesting multi-player storyline set before the events of the original.
Ultimately Bioshock 2 is a very safe sequel that plays to the strengths of the original whilst not straying far from its genius. It fails to significantly innovate, but rather addresses the pitfalls of the first game and delivers a smoother, more satisfying experience. It’s not quite a must play but it does guarantee hours of entertainment and splicer butchering for all.
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