For those who haven’t visited the world of Rapture it’s an undersea kingdom built in the Forties by one Andrew Ryan; an industrialist who felt that a modern utopia could be created away from the politics of the surface. Rapture then collapsed, and the player is thrust into a dystopian nightmare where humans, now known as Splicers, have become mutated by gene splicing and plasmids which provide them with interesting powers.
The plot is too complex to touch on in detail, but it’s well written as well as featuring impressive voice acting. Bioshock had a pretty final ending and the second game manages to shoehorn its storyline in there, although you couldn’t walk it too far. Your nemesis this time around is a Dr Sofia Lamb and you’re tasked with chasing through Rapture in search of one particular Little Sister known as Eleanor.
Little Sisters were once young girls but now go around harvesting ADAM from bodies. This mutagen enhances the power of plasmids and gene splicing abilities, making the superhuman possible. As a player you need to utilise plasmids such as fire, freeze and electricity whilst using gene splicing to enhance your character. As Little Sisters are relatively powerless they have guardians, also known as Big Daddies, who were the pretty tough hombres from the first game.
Bigger isn’t always better, and Bioshock 2 is the epitome of this. It sits so firmly on the laurels of its predecessor that it seems scared of doing anything innovative.
The general scope of the game has been ranked up, this time you’re a Big Daddy with bigger guns, to be utilised in bigger fights, in even bigger locations. It all sounds good, but the developers have forgotten to add anything ground breaking. As a Big Daddy you spend a lot of the game protecting the Little Sisters, this adds a new dimension as if you eventually save or kill them it certainly angers the Big Sisters.
Different guns also add variety to the proceedings but the game suffers from being easier than the first. When you first encounter a Big Sister, an advanced and apparently more intelligent version of the Big Daddy (although you may fail to see why), you’ll find it easy to put the lady down. Certain weapons seem inordinately powerful compared to their previous iterations. The Trap Rivets are a prime example, as they provide almost undefeatable defence against the attacking Splicers, if laid cleverly, when a Little Sister is busy draining ADAM from a corpse.
Bioshock 2 and its predecessor uses a system where death is not final, instead you’re quickly reborn at a local Vita-Chamber. At points this infinite respawn point can be used to keep chipping away at an enemies health without wasting valuable first aid packs. These and other items can be bought from a variety of vending machines throughout Rapture and thankfully the grating line, “Welcome to the circus of value”, has been removed. Top marks. Money and equipment never feel in short supply and an easier hacking game almost always ensures you’ll be paying the cheapest price.
One new twist is that you can go underwater. First you’ll wonder what options this will add but it’s a tool for you to follow a linear path from A to B and pick up some ADAM or equipment on the way.
After that battering you’d expect a negative conclusion but the fact of the matter is that Bioshock 2 is good. If you’ve never played the original then buy that as it’s cheaper, looks almost as good and is better written. If you like Bioshock then be prepared for more of the same with enough Art Deco surroundings and classic sounds to ensure it’s not quite a one trick pony. Yet.