Something went wrong. Try again later

    BioShock 2

    Game » consists of 26 releases. Released Feb 09, 2010

    Ten years after the events of the first game, Subject Delta is awoken and must unravel the mystery behind the Big Sisters and his own past in the ruined underwater city of Rapture.

    axellion's BioShock 2 (Xbox 360) review

    Avatar image for axellion
    • Score:
    • axellion wrote this review on .
    • 0 out of 0 Giant Bomb users found it helpful.
    • axellion has written a total of 22 reviews. The last one was for LIMBO

    An unnecessary, yet amazingly engrossing enjoyable sequel

    Bioshock 2 was unnecessary, a forced sequel, 2K games attempt to create a franchise where it does not belong. The original Bioshock is a work of genius, an intimate exploration of a failed utopia and the eternal question of free will; it is a landmark in video game narrative and design. But it was complete, a full experience with no expansion required, it told its story and it was enough. And yet a sequel has arrived. I do not envy the developers at 2K Marine, their task was daunting, to build a sequel to an extremely critically and commercially successful game, and to do it without the original team, or the involvement of legendary designer Ken Levine.   

    Assuming the role of a prototype big daddy, Subject Delta, I awoke once again in the underwater realm of Rapture, 8 years have passed since the death of its founder Andrew Ryan. Things have not improved for the failed paradise, the slow crumbling of rapture has worsened, and the splicer’s that inhabit the world have continued along there path of self-mutilation. The effect of their splicing DND have mutated their forms, twisted their already scared appearance into something more akin to monster than man.

    The sea has continued to stake its claim on Rapture, the flooding has reached disastrous levels, entire sections have been lost and leaks spring forth and water persistently rises, taking back the sea floor. The constant feeling of being swallowed up by the ocean is prevalent; every location seems to be under steady assault by aquatic invasion.

    Subject Delta is no ordinary Bid Daddy, he has been manipulated to share a deep connection with one little sister in particular, and he is driven to find his figurative daughter amongst the wreckage, driven by a force beyond his understanding, a genetic alteration eternally bonding them together, a twisting of the paternal link.

    A new personality has risen from the ashes of Ryan’s utopia, psychiatrist Sofia Lamb has taken the reigns and strives to reanimate the former paradise beneath the sea. She can be viewed as Ryan’s polar opposite, where Ryan spoke of the power of the individual, the great chain of industry being pulled by the singular achievements of each man, unrestrained by petty morality and unspoiled by government intervention. Lamb venerates the collective, the selflessness of the family, the goodness and morality that can only come from selflessness, the sacrifice of personal freedom for the greater good. The allusions to the conflict between communism and capitalism are clear, Ryan struggled to have a man’s accomplishments be held high, for the individual to reap his own reward, whereas Lamb seeks the abandonment of self, believe that only without selfishness can man truly find harmony.

    As the years have passed, the driving force behind raptures obsession has been threated, the genetic altering material Adam is becoming rarer. The little sisters have begun to grow; with the source of Adam threated Lamb has begun to kidnap children from the surface to replace their ranks. Causing a chain of events that leads some unwanted visitors to the ocean depths.

    The narrative begins with a serious lack of impact, it appear to be simply mimicking the original, the names have changed and the great chain is replaced by the family, but for the first few hours there is a severe case of Déjà vu, from the radio broadcasts, to the layout of initial areas, it all feels like an attempt to impersonate the original; A stranger helping to guide the player onward, the ever present voice of a seeming authoritarian power. Thankfully this replication does not last, the story soon develops into its own tale, the areas expand and become more unusual, and the message of Lamb soon becomes clearly divergent from Ryan’s.

    The major change to gameplay comes in the form of dual wielding, plasmids on the left, guns on the right. This seemingly obvious choice makes a world of difference in combat. The already fresh combat is made even more so by the ability to have both plasmids and weaponry available concurrently. An almost limitless variety to battle, a selection of great fun weapons, and original plasmid powers, every scuffle can be played out in a myriad of ways, never is a straight up gunfight the best option.

    The guns are seriously fun to wield, the Bid Daddy’s signature drill being a particularly visceral favorite, but all of the weapons have their place. With each sporting three ammo types, the combat options are endless. From placing trap rivets, to deploying mines or mini turrets, the gun selection is nothing short of fantastic.

    Most of the original plasmids return, and are now full upgradable, taking the simple fireball of Incinerate into an inferno bomb, and finally transforming to a fingertip flamethrower.   The plasmids spring forth the elements, lay traps, give control over enemies, or summon allies in battle. I found myself using the powers as a complaint to the gunfire, as opposed to the other way around. I simply found the shooting to be so gratifying and the weapons so cool that the plasmids became secondary to the impressive and wild armaments; the constantly pleasing spear gun, tacking foes to the walls, a shotgun with real power and kick, a rivet gun capable of laying traps for the coming horde, a great assortment of original solid feeling weapons.

    My opponents were nearly as diverse as my means to dispose of them. The splicers remain one of the creepiest foes in recent memory. They strike in the same forms as before, with the lone new addition being the grotesque hulk known as a brute splicer, coming fast and furious the splicers are as dangerous as they are terrifying.

    Adam is everything; it is the life blood of rapture, the means of splicing up. It is acquired in a much more involving process this time round, not only does a big daddy stand between me and the little sister carry the Adam, but upon downing the intimidating beast the option to adopt the sister is presented. Taking them under my wing and protecting them as they gather Adam from “angles”. A great defensive game is played as they suck the life blood from the recently deceased. Splicer’s come in droves to harm the child and take the spoils for themselves. Very intense and exciting battles are fought over the little sisters, requiring careful planning in establishing a protective perimeter, setting up traps and using hacked turrets and guns to full effect. The gathering and protection can be completely skipped, instead simply opting to sacrifice the little sister and take her Adam, but the battle are so enjoyable and the little tactical game of planning a defense is so fun that I cant see a reason to skip them.

    Once the gathering is complete and a level has been emptied of little sisters; having been saved or sacrificed, the big sister arrives to show her displease at my time spent with her sisters. A former little sister freed from her torment and all grown up, essentially a very fast, nimble version of a big daddy. Welding plasmids she hunts down all those that threaten her sisters. A worth advisory indeed, they are extremely quick and very dangerous, hurling fire balls and telekinesis objects, get to close and her over sized syringed will find a home.  

    With so many options for combat, and such a wide variety of opponents, the action is hugely successful, surpassing the originals in everyway. There were endless tools at my disposal for the battle, a great assortment of guns, each with unique ammo, many impressive plasmids, ability enhancing tonics, and hacked robotic allies. Each encounter presented an opportunity to experiment with new way of dealing out punishment, combat stayed fresh and exciting throughout.

    The visuals have not been changed much, they are very technical sold but in the face of recent advances are beginning to show their age. One technical area that Bioshock 2 does really shine is in its fluids. Water is a consents staple of every environment, spewing in thru cracks or crashing down doors in a few very impressive set pieces. The water is very well rendered, and the world simply feels saturated.

    A few sections of the game are completely submerged, a nice change of pace from the constant danger of Rapture, the underwater areas are a frozen world, with no threats, a haunting slow wander through the flooded remains of paradise.  

    Much more of an artistic pleasure than a technical one, the wonderful retro design of the original returns in all its glory, the former art deco paradise is haunting to explore, with great looking and felling creative touches. Nearing the latter portion of the game, I found myself in a recently drained area of Rapture, lost to the sea and now drained of water; the endless plant life and bright corral growths were very impressive.

    I spent a few hours with the multiplayer, and found it to be enjoyable but ultimately very tacked on and not captivating beyond a few matches. The hacking and research camera are nice additions to combat, but the overall action fail to grab, the multiplayer is an interesting distraction at best.

    Rapture is a character; it is a living breathing world, a dying realm full of rich detail. The environments of Bioshock 2 ooze with a moody disturbing atmosphere. The decaying ruins of a loss paradise, every room telling a story, each blood splatter has history. In exploring the dark world of Rapture, its mysteries are revealed, slowly telling the story of its splendor and eventual downfall. Each water logged set is there to showcase an event, the exploration, the searching of each container for items and ammo is crucial to the overall experience of investigating the city itself, finding food or items strewn about give the world a lived in tangible sensation.

    Music is handled quite well, with a lot of spine-chilling tense pieces used to enhance the environments and build suspense. Some great licensed music from the 60s adds to the authenticity of the setting, and is down right unnerving to hear amongst the carnage and wreckage.

    The terrific audio diaries found in the rubble shed light on the individual tales of raptures inhabitants. The people of rapture have a great story to tell, their tragedy is poignant and the diaries add tremendously to the overall feeling of presence, Rapture teamed with life, a living breathing reminder of its former majesty.

    The impact of the original Bioshock is still being felt; the reveal of Rapture and the way the narrative was told through environments and exploration are unmatched. The death of Andrew Ryan remands one of the most important and powerful moments in the medium of interactive entertainment. Its message of the illusion of free will called into question the very nature of gaming itself, a shocking scene that will play out in my mind for years. Bioshock 2 can not match this impact, neither in the incredible reveal and introduction to Rapture, nor the pure shock and impact of Ryan’s death.

    As the game progresses and the environments become more impressively designed, the disturbing nature of Rapture is once again pushed. In the later half of the game, the levels begin to use visuals better to showcase the disturbing air. Truly unsettling sights and disquieting events plague the final levels, the mood darkens, and the dank true nature of Rapture is further explored. The areas deviate from of its predecessor and bring a new intensity to the world.

    In the same way that the locals expand and grow into innovative experiences, the narrative branches away from its derivative beginnings and weaves a story all its own. Asking the same great question as its predecessor, Bioshock 2 evolves into a deeply interesting fiction; Lambs answer to the question of free will could not be more conflicting than Ryan’s, and while her goal of utopia is the same, she believes in the genetic abolishment of free will, to create a messiah of selflessness; a true utopian. Her conviction is that human beings as a species are incapable of accepting utopia, the conscious mind will never be satisfied, and the self will always triumph over the great good.

    The daunting task set forth on 2K Marine was meet with an admirable effort, they have done the impossible; taken a masterpiece and extended it in new inventive ways. They improved upon the gameplay, and weaved a connected and deeply engrossing narrative. Although failing to attain the same monumental impact of a virgin trip through Rapture, they succeeded in capturing and expanding on the spine-chilling ambiance and desolate fate of the underwater utopia. The shock of Ryan’s revel is thankful not mimicked; instead his inquiry into free will is turned on its head by Lamb; as she discovers his secrets and twists them to her own gains.

    A twist of perspective late in the game provide a remarkably interesting glimpse at the world from a new view point, it challenged the moral choices present during the preceding and provided a fresh although short unique game play section.

    I was not expecting to find as much to love abut Bioshock 2 as I did, I feared it pointless and possibly even damaging to the originals legacy, but through the admirable success of its designers Bioshock 2 surprised me. The action has been improved, with great guns and impressive plasmids and a great deal of fun was had in the planning of each strategic defensive arrangement. The engrossing narrative grabbed my attention and made me question my moral actions and challenge my thoughts of self and freewill. The moral implications went beyond the blunt black and white choices of the original, ending with a more meaningful conclusion, leaving open the possibility of a radically different sequel. Amazingly I a find myself attracted to the thought of a third Bioshock, an amazing feat for a sequel I once feared.

    Other reviews for BioShock 2 (Xbox 360)

      Return to Rapture 0

      Bioshock 2 has long been bemoaned as the sequel that was never needed. The original Bioshock captivated gamers with its thrilling narrative and cast of fantastically eccentric characters; dealing with philosophical ideals, moral choices, a society driven to insanity and the complexities of free will in an underwater utopia gone wrong. Rapture was the star of the show; an atmospheric city built deep below the waves. Its 1930s art deco architecture housed by the criminally insane minds of the smar...

      33 out of 35 found this review helpful.

      2K Marin Chose The Impossible...And Succeeded 0

        A note to begin the review: If you have not yet played the first Bioshock, do yourself an huge favor by completing that before playing this game. It's a great game that's really worth every bit of praise it receives. Short review summary: A more simple and poignant comparison of the atmospheres of both games: in the first game, you timidly held a wrench. In this game, you have a GODDAMN DRILL FOR A HAND. When 2K Games announced its plans to start a franchise based off the success of the fi...

      9 out of 9 found this review helpful.

    This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

    Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

    Comment and Save

    Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.