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Posted by Brad (2881 posts) -

 Some new toys this time around.
Any notions I had that BioShock 2 was going to diverge in a significant way from its inventive, esteemed predecessor went right out the window when I got to sit down and play this sequel from 2K Marin for myself a few weeks ago. The crumbling, art deco utopia under the sea; the crazed splicers; the genetic weapon modifications known as plasmids. All that stuff is back in force. Rapture may have become a nastier place over the decade separating the two games, but it's still familiar territory for anyone who went to the lengths necessary to put Frank Fontaine in his place during their first visit. I would have liked to see a BioShock sequel with a new setting and new themes, perhaps with subtler ties to the original. Then again, I'm not the guy tasked with following up such an ambitious and unique game in the space of only two years, and I can't really fault the new team at 2K Marin for picking up that specific torch and running with it.

If the team hasn't exactly changed what BioShock is, they've at least crammed a lot more BioShock into this sequel. You're going to see more of everything that made the world of Rapture as perilous and exotic as it was the first time around. There's the new hulking, imposing "Rumbler" version of the Big Daddy protecting the Little Sisters this time around. The Splicers have also gotten more spliced in the 10 years since the first game; I saw a burly, ape-like guy known as the Brute that will charge straight at you like a linebacker. Of course, there are more and heavier weapons that are in the spirit of the first game's arsenal but also seem tailored for use by your own bigger, badder Big Daddy protagonist. I especially liked a spear gun that would pin Splicers to the wall with a single shot, leaving them dangling wildly through the game's ragdoll system.

 Big sisters ain't as tough as they look.
Then there's Sophia Lamb, the real villain, BioShock 2's brand new antagonist. She's the Andrew Ryan of BioShock 2. But where Ryan's objectivist philosophies excluded and ignored the less capable members of society, Lamb's a collectivist who wants to gather all of Rapture's remaining poor huddled masses to her and restore the failed society to its former splendor. But she's stepping on a lot of toes to do it. Just like Ryan, Lamb is the one who will be piping in over the radio from time to time, taunting you as you make your way to her. She's got minions, like the religious fanatic Father Simon Wales, establishing her empire inside Rapture. He acted as a boss encounter in the hands-off portion of the demo I saw.

The presence of Lamb was the biggest revelation about what I saw of BioShock 2, and it exemplifies the sort of feature-for-feature approach 2K Marin seems to be taking with this sequel, checking off every item on the list of what you need to make a BioShock game. New Big Daddy, new Splicers, new villainous ideologue. There are even some helpful new people, like a fancy Southern gentleman, yapping at you with funny accents over the radio. It even turns out that the Big Sister you've heard so much about, the one that you may have previously thought was the big baddie in this game--well, she's not alone. She's got other sisters. The Big Sisters are Sophia Lamb's enforcers, the telekinetic heavy lifters when things need to get done. But they aren't as tough as you might have thought. I took one of them down at the end of my hands-on time, which was a grueling but not impossible fight. You've got the tools to counteract most everything the Sisters throw at you, if you use them right.

      Dual-wielding is the best new thing about BioShock 2's combat.
Speaking of which: getting your hands on a controller, this game feels like BioShock, top to bottom. The feel of the aiming and shooting, the use of health kits and Eve hypos, the Circus of Values vending machines; it's all just like you left it two years ago. By far my favorite improvement to the action is the dual-wielding between handheld weapons and plasmids. You can now fire off your spear gun with the right trigger and then pop off an Incinerate without having to swap between the two. While it still doesn't make much sense to me in the context of playing as a Big Daddy, in gameplay terms this makes the action a lot faster paced. Believable or not, it's something the game probably needed. The hacking minigame has also been simplified so that you're just timing a button press to a moving marker. This doesn't take you out of the action the way the first game's Pipe Dreams-esque minigame did, and helps to streamline the gameplay a little more.

I will give credit to some imaginative level design in BioShock 2, especially the "Journey to the Surface" level that I got to play most of the way through. It was designed as a theme park for the youngsters born inside Rapture that would indoctrinate them against the evils of the surface world. You get to run around a series of big animatronic dioramas, punching little "play" buttons that start an Andrew Ryan voiceover and depict the oppression of some scientist, entrepreneur, or other captain of industry by the evil giant hand of Big Government. Rapture became sort of a character unto itself over the course of the original game, so if 2K Marin is going to go back to that well for the sequel, I'm glad to see they're at least fleshing out that character further.

 Rapture hasn't exactly gotten any prettier.
Then, of course, BioShock 2 has multiplayer. The game has free-for-all and team deathmatch modes, and a "Capture the Sister" mode that works more or less like it would with a flag, but looks kind of creepy as you run around carrying a thrashing little girl with you. The game's got the de rigeuer multiplayer bases covered, with persistent character progression between rounds that uses the Adam (or experience points) you've racked up to improve your chosen character, who takes the role of one of several Splicers with a short backstory included. The multiplayer exploits the BioShock trappings in a couple of other interesting ways; you can hack turrets to attack opposing players, and you can research each player's corpse individually with your camera to gain a damage bonus against that particular player for the rest of the match. But then, I never felt like BioShock's first-person shooting was as accomplished as many other games in this category, so the multiplayer didn't completely grab my attention here.

What does have my attention is where this story goes. BioShock 2 may trade heavily on the reputation of its name, and looking at this sequel on paper, you could be forgiven for thinking of it as falling into a predictable pattern that was established two years ago by its predecessor. But sometimes being forced to stay within the lines breeds creativity and ingenuity of its own. Getting to see exactly what it is that 2K Marin does with this tale, trapped within the dank confines of Rapture and situated squarely in the shadow of BioShock's legacy, may prove to be interesting indeed. 
 
Until then, here's an interview we hustled at the hands-on event to fill in a little more detail about BioShock 2. 
 
 
Staff
#1 Posted by Brad (2881 posts) -

 Some new toys this time around.
Any notions I had that BioShock 2 was going to diverge in a significant way from its inventive, esteemed predecessor went right out the window when I got to sit down and play this sequel from 2K Marin for myself a few weeks ago. The crumbling, art deco utopia under the sea; the crazed splicers; the genetic weapon modifications known as plasmids. All that stuff is back in force. Rapture may have become a nastier place over the decade separating the two games, but it's still familiar territory for anyone who went to the lengths necessary to put Frank Fontaine in his place during their first visit. I would have liked to see a BioShock sequel with a new setting and new themes, perhaps with subtler ties to the original. Then again, I'm not the guy tasked with following up such an ambitious and unique game in the space of only two years, and I can't really fault the new team at 2K Marin for picking up that specific torch and running with it.

If the team hasn't exactly changed what BioShock is, they've at least crammed a lot more BioShock into this sequel. You're going to see more of everything that made the world of Rapture as perilous and exotic as it was the first time around. There's the new hulking, imposing "Rumbler" version of the Big Daddy protecting the Little Sisters this time around. The Splicers have also gotten more spliced in the 10 years since the first game; I saw a burly, ape-like guy known as the Brute that will charge straight at you like a linebacker. Of course, there are more and heavier weapons that are in the spirit of the first game's arsenal but also seem tailored for use by your own bigger, badder Big Daddy protagonist. I especially liked a spear gun that would pin Splicers to the wall with a single shot, leaving them dangling wildly through the game's ragdoll system.

 Big sisters ain't as tough as they look.
Then there's Sophia Lamb, the real villain, BioShock 2's brand new antagonist. She's the Andrew Ryan of BioShock 2. But where Ryan's objectivist philosophies excluded and ignored the less capable members of society, Lamb's a collectivist who wants to gather all of Rapture's remaining poor huddled masses to her and restore the failed society to its former splendor. But she's stepping on a lot of toes to do it. Just like Ryan, Lamb is the one who will be piping in over the radio from time to time, taunting you as you make your way to her. She's got minions, like the religious fanatic Father Simon Wales, establishing her empire inside Rapture. He acted as a boss encounter in the hands-off portion of the demo I saw.

The presence of Lamb was the biggest revelation about what I saw of BioShock 2, and it exemplifies the sort of feature-for-feature approach 2K Marin seems to be taking with this sequel, checking off every item on the list of what you need to make a BioShock game. New Big Daddy, new Splicers, new villainous ideologue. There are even some helpful new people, like a fancy Southern gentleman, yapping at you with funny accents over the radio. It even turns out that the Big Sister you've heard so much about, the one that you may have previously thought was the big baddie in this game--well, she's not alone. She's got other sisters. The Big Sisters are Sophia Lamb's enforcers, the telekinetic heavy lifters when things need to get done. But they aren't as tough as you might have thought. I took one of them down at the end of my hands-on time, which was a grueling but not impossible fight. You've got the tools to counteract most everything the Sisters throw at you, if you use them right.

      Dual-wielding is the best new thing about BioShock 2's combat.
Speaking of which: getting your hands on a controller, this game feels like BioShock, top to bottom. The feel of the aiming and shooting, the use of health kits and Eve hypos, the Circus of Values vending machines; it's all just like you left it two years ago. By far my favorite improvement to the action is the dual-wielding between handheld weapons and plasmids. You can now fire off your spear gun with the right trigger and then pop off an Incinerate without having to swap between the two. While it still doesn't make much sense to me in the context of playing as a Big Daddy, in gameplay terms this makes the action a lot faster paced. Believable or not, it's something the game probably needed. The hacking minigame has also been simplified so that you're just timing a button press to a moving marker. This doesn't take you out of the action the way the first game's Pipe Dreams-esque minigame did, and helps to streamline the gameplay a little more.

I will give credit to some imaginative level design in BioShock 2, especially the "Journey to the Surface" level that I got to play most of the way through. It was designed as a theme park for the youngsters born inside Rapture that would indoctrinate them against the evils of the surface world. You get to run around a series of big animatronic dioramas, punching little "play" buttons that start an Andrew Ryan voiceover and depict the oppression of some scientist, entrepreneur, or other captain of industry by the evil giant hand of Big Government. Rapture became sort of a character unto itself over the course of the original game, so if 2K Marin is going to go back to that well for the sequel, I'm glad to see they're at least fleshing out that character further.

 Rapture hasn't exactly gotten any prettier.
Then, of course, BioShock 2 has multiplayer. The game has free-for-all and team deathmatch modes, and a "Capture the Sister" mode that works more or less like it would with a flag, but looks kind of creepy as you run around carrying a thrashing little girl with you. The game's got the de rigeuer multiplayer bases covered, with persistent character progression between rounds that uses the Adam (or experience points) you've racked up to improve your chosen character, who takes the role of one of several Splicers with a short backstory included. The multiplayer exploits the BioShock trappings in a couple of other interesting ways; you can hack turrets to attack opposing players, and you can research each player's corpse individually with your camera to gain a damage bonus against that particular player for the rest of the match. But then, I never felt like BioShock's first-person shooting was as accomplished as many other games in this category, so the multiplayer didn't completely grab my attention here.

What does have my attention is where this story goes. BioShock 2 may trade heavily on the reputation of its name, and looking at this sequel on paper, you could be forgiven for thinking of it as falling into a predictable pattern that was established two years ago by its predecessor. But sometimes being forced to stay within the lines breeds creativity and ingenuity of its own. Getting to see exactly what it is that 2K Marin does with this tale, trapped within the dank confines of Rapture and situated squarely in the shadow of BioShock's legacy, may prove to be interesting indeed. 
 
Until then, here's an interview we hustled at the hands-on event to fill in a little more detail about BioShock 2. 
 
 
Staff
#2 Posted by yoshimitz707 (2450 posts) -

Looks cool

#3 Posted by Vinchenzo (6192 posts) -

Bioshock 2. Boo!

#4 Posted by Seedofpower (3925 posts) -

I'll wait for the review.

#5 Posted by William (441 posts) -

Do want.

#6 Posted by Breadfan (6589 posts) -

That woman's face is very intense on that video still.

#7 Posted by Cramsy (1164 posts) -

Awesome write -up Brad 
I'm not too interested with the multiplayer either.
 I just need to find out if this games storyline will stand up to the original THEN it'll be a day one purchase

#8 Posted by gimmysumcowbel (418 posts) -

i want it to be good cause i love the first bioshock. but im very skeptical about this one 

#9 Posted by rjayb89 (7717 posts) -

I shall wait for reviews.

#10 Posted by rectum_abominae (158 posts) -

I just raptured in my pants.

#11 Posted by MaddProdigy (1041 posts) -

gonna be epic

#12 Posted by EgoCheck616 (782 posts) -

Looking forward to this.

#13 Posted by BD_Mr_Bubbles (1698 posts) -
@EgoCheck616 said:
"Looking forward to this. "
Online
#14 Posted by cspiffo (860 posts) -

Damn! They did a proper sequel.  This looks so cool!
#15 Posted by Kojdog (74 posts) -

Wow, that was weird.  A cute woman in game production who isn't an 'r-tard' or 'fugly'.   
 
It looks like she's not completely working since Brad still put together as informative an interview as you really can at an event like that (i.e. thanks for the questions that the developer dodges and therefore answers... you know what I mean). 
#16 Edited by BolognaSoup (95 posts) -

Like I was saying in the last video they posted on GB, the sheep are in full force. All along it's been nothing but hate on this game from day one. Now Brad comes out with a positive impression and the tone of the comments is entirely different. Does anyone around here think for themselves?

#17 Posted by FesteringNeon (2158 posts) -

The multiplayer actually looks pretty good. I like the art style and vibe of the game too.  
May consider giving this a shot.
#18 Posted by Tirrandir (217 posts) -

Still not looking forward to this.  Following up Bioshock, especially like this, is tantamount to making Casblanca 2: GERMANS EAT LEAD! or Ulysses 2012--Stream of Consciousness at the End of World.  It's taking something really transcendently good and trying to turn it into a property.  A great game is magical.  Franchises are never magical, they're business decisions.
 
If people say it's great, I'll rent it and fire it up, but it's going to take bigger and bolder statements based on a FINAL look at a FINISHED game before I'm going to give this more than a saddened dismissal.

#19 Posted by RollingZeppelin (1919 posts) -

That girl totally had the hots for Brad.

#20 Posted by Undeadpool (4913 posts) -

Hmm, from Randian politics to Communism. Well played, 2K.

#21 Posted by escapenguin (18 posts) -
@RollingZeppelin said:
" That girl totally had the hots for Brad. "
Ya know... I thought the same thing.  But, she's also obviously excited and earnest about being interviewed for a game she's passionate about.  So... hrm. 
 
Looks like a lot of fun.  Why a new team?  That always makes me wary.
#24 Posted by hoyle1911 (13 posts) -

Her eyes are so intense she may become a splicer herself! 
 
Concerning the game, I'll wait for the review, especially a critique on the story.  If it's just a stupid ass Gears of War 2 "bigger, better, and more badass", then I'll avoid it.  I still expect a certain level of intelligence in the writing for it to all work.  

#25 Posted by Senate4242 (97 posts) -

She seems like she is very excited and proud of the product. The first Bioshock is my favorite title this generation, and I was on the fence regarding a sequel. However, the more I see, the more excited I am for February.

#26 Edited by Adziboy (702 posts) -

That women seems to take 10 minute breaks between blinking. 
 
But she seems really confident about the game.
#27 Posted by Clubvodka (412 posts) -

I'm still wary, I'll get it and it'll probablly just make me want to play the first one. That said there's a Usual Suspects vibe I get from Bioshock 1 where the twists and the story were so great I couldn't really go back because I knew how it was all gonna' play out.
#28 Posted by hardcorebunnni (88 posts) -
@Kojdog said:
"Wow, that was weird.  A cute woman in game production who isn't an 'r-tard' or 'fugly'.    It looks like she's not completely working since Brad still put together as informative an interview as you really can at an event like that (i.e. thanks for the questions that the developer dodges and therefore answers... you know what I mean).  "

If you have Uncharted 2 check out one of the dev videos. There's a pretty cute girl who's a game designer there. And don't forget the beautiful Jade Raymond from Ubisoft ;)
#29 Posted by JJWeatherman (14557 posts) -
@BolognaSoup said:
" Like I was saying in the last video they posted on GB, the sheep are in full force. All along it's been nothing but hate on this game from day one. Now Brad comes out with a positive impression and the tone of the comments is entirely different. Does anyone around here think for themselves? "
I think it's more of a a case of everyone getting their hateful comments out in the interviews comment section and not feeling like repeating themselves again here. There definitely hasn't been, "nothing but hate".
#30 Posted by Rising_ixa (45 posts) -
@RollingZeppelin said:
" That girl totally had the hots for Brad. "
ha ha i was thinking that myself she looked like she was ready to pounce on him
#31 Posted by Dudacles (1442 posts) -

I really liked Bioshock, and I expect I'll feel the same about Bioshock 2. Looking forward to it.

#32 Posted by lukeyk (140 posts) -

The big bad story ending is going to be hard to redo. Its going to be the twist is there is no twist, or that your actually sophia Lamb. DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN. 
 
I dunno Im on the fence for this. Doesnt look likes theve changed much.
#33 Posted by Slippy (735 posts) -

I'll echo what everyone else is saying and wait and see how it turns out. On the surface it's looking a lot like the first game - no really, they are even using the same textures in a lot of places. What will really make or break it for me is its story.
#34 Posted by gingertastic_10 (4141 posts) -

I still need to play the first one.

#35 Posted by andrewf87462 (548 posts) -

Fantastic preview! Didn't finish the first one but i'm definitely looking forward to this.

#36 Posted by FlamingHobo (4479 posts) -

Really looking forward to this. Even though I do share some of the skeptical views that most people have, I will probably be picking this up fairly soon after it's released.

#37 Posted by gbrading (2002 posts) -

I'm hoping that this sequel will explore the philosophy behind it just as much of the original. It is certainly interesting they have decided that this Sophia Lamb is an Altruist: Something Ryan (and Rand) utterly abhored. So far, I live in hope.
#38 Posted by Potter9156 (940 posts) -

The multiplayer actually looks pretty fun. Couldn't tell from that video, but hopefully the maps are big enough to give you ample time too set up traps.

#39 Posted by natetodamax (19177 posts) -

I really hope this game is good. They seem to be focusing more on combat than atmosphere, which saddens me.

#40 Posted by MjHealy (1828 posts) -

*Sigh*... no thanks.

#41 Posted by Slaneesh (851 posts) -

That producer creeps me out. She sounds more like a little gigly girl than an actual woman
#42 Posted by Deusoma (3001 posts) -

I'm not really sure why people are hating on Bioshock 2. I am definitely not of the opinion that a sequel, even a bad one, will "dilute" the awesomeness that was Bioshock 1, quite the opposite in fact.  And, hey, if you don't like the multiplayer portion, don't play it. It's not like anyone boycotted Metroid Prime 2 for having a crappy multiplayer mode in it. (That being said, the Bioshock MP is actually starting to look good, so maybe it won't be all bad)

#43 Edited by AndrooD2 (221 posts) -
@BolognaSoup: I think it's difficult for us as the consumer base to form our own opinion because all we have to go on are the impressions put forth by the gaming media. I think, in general, the media have been down on BioShock 2, so it's only natural for readers to put forth similar opinions.
 
Personally, I think the footage in the video, especially of the multiplayer, looks better than anything 2K has released to this point, so, by extension, I'm feeling better about the game. I don't think anyone wants BioShock 2 to suck, so I don't see anything wrong in a swing in public perception.
#44 Posted by spankingaddict (2659 posts) -
@BD_Mr_Bubbles said:
" @EgoCheck616 said:
"Looking forward to this. "
"
#45 Posted by Spongetwan (202 posts) -

Cant Wait!!!

#46 Posted by Jayzilla (2555 posts) -

I would love to comment on this, but my thoughts aren't important enough to warrant a written response.

#47 Posted by buzz_killington (3532 posts) -

Ah man, they have succeeded to get me psyched again for Bioshock 2!

#48 Posted by JazGalaxy (1576 posts) -
@Deusoma: surely it can. When a work of fiction is extended than it has every possibility of diluting and even ruining the original. 
 
Star Wars? The Matrix? These are just two series that have been ruined by the extenension of their original content.
#49 Posted by Inresurrection (21 posts) -
@RollingZeppelin: I thought the same thing!
#50 Posted by GeekDown (1170 posts) -

This can never top the original and I don't really have any interest in it...also the multiplayer just seems unnecessary to me. I would prefer it to be a singleplayer game only.