By TheMasterDS 1 Comments
So I've played through the Single Player twice (one on Normal, once on easy with no Vita Chambers), and gotten to the 21st Rank in the multiplayer, so I thought I'd summarize how I feel about the game.
It's hard to say whether or not Bioshock 2 is better than its predecessor as what one does right the other does wrong. I really enjoyed Bioshock 1 back in the day, finding its audiotapes fascinating, its world brilliant, but then it's gameplay was nothing special. Bioshock 2 I also really enjoyed, but because of the faster more punchy action, the big improvements of the Hacking and Research Camera which make them a lot more compelling, the little improvement of the Tonic system, but then a sort of straight forward plot with just enough interesting audiotapes to keep it good.
Really though, I feel that the Bioshock series has a lot going for it, as its structure of putting you in what is essentially a miniature sandbox with one or two objectives and bunch of little things to do allows it to have a lot of areas which are designed for action and meaningful exploration, while allowing you the freedoms of an open world game, which is something that other shooters don't have. I've mentioned before (in this list for instance) that I consider collectathons such as the Banjos or DK64, to be closer to the Open World game then they are to the 2D Platformer, suggesting the term "Concentrated Open World Game (With Platforming Elements.)" I think that Bioshock 1 and 2 could be considered Concentrated Open World Games with shooting. Really though, the strength of a sandbox comes from the amount of variety in the tasks, which are primarily doing the Main Objectives, collecting audiotapes and hitting up Power to the People Stations, dealing with Little Sisters, and shooting a ton of splicers all around. It's the strength of the last two which really put this game above the first, as for a start killing dudes is a lot more fun, so it becomes a joy to run across a Spoicer when roaming Rapture, and guarding the sister allows for a great twist of the usual gameplay, making you hold ground as hoards converge on you and your little sister. In the end, I think the gameplay story blend of the Bioshock 2 is better suited to take advantage of the miniature sandbox approach to level design they got going, meaning that when I want to play a Bioshock game, I'm going to replay the second because it's a better game.
The problem I had with the story was that it just felt shorter than the first one by far. Whether it really was is hard to say, as I sorta think that Bioshock 1 was just a lot smarter with pacing its story, and a lot more clever about it. The root of the problem is that the third act of Bioshock 1 was a surprise. Leading up to the death of Andrew Ryan, I thought for sure that the game was wrapping up, and the death of Ryan might as well be where Bioshock ends. But it didn't, instead plowing on for 4 or 5 more areas with a new sense of determination. It allowed us to form an expectation as to when it would end so that it could break that expectation. Bioshock 2 didn't do this so much, and it felt like it didn't have that extra push the first one did. Playing it, I also found the fact that half the primary missions centered around opening or clearing train station doors a bit dumb, but then I thought about how many times Bioshock 1 did the same thing with Bathyspheres and decided it was fine.
To me though, the weakest part of Bioshock 2 by far is the multiplayer. The main problem is that it feels more like a bad Bioshock Multiplayer mod for some random online FPS than it does an extension of Bioshock 2. I mean, optimally one should finish the single player, and roll into the multiplayer feeling confident with the gameplay. This is not true of Bioshock 2, as even at a basic mechanical level the way aiming handles is completely different from multiplayer to single player, the guns feel a lot less powerful, hacking is done by holding down a button, health regenerates, and we're back to either using weapons or plasmids, which becomes terribly annoying when you go to reload. I suppose there have been rounds where I have a lot of fun, but still. The worst thing I could say about it is that when faced with a choice between playing the single player again and playing some of the multiplayer, I choose to replay the single player all the way through, as I could get more variety and action out of the game doing that.