Andrew Ryan: "What is the difference between a man and a parasite? A man builds, a parasite asks, 'Where's my share?' A man creates, a parasite says, 'What will the neighbors think?' A man invents, a parasite says, 'Watch out, or you might tread on the toes of God...'"
To escape the social, political and religious oppression of the society, millionaire Andrew Ryan set out his ultimate goal to build a giant, utopian underwater city where society’s cultural and scientific elite could progress in science with total freedom from the outside world. Rapture was its name; and situated in the Atlantic Ocean south west from Iceland, it was finally completed by the end of 1946. However, things horribly spiraled out of hand and the city slowly crumbled into a deadly spider’s nest, manifested with maniacs, murderers, psychopaths, and plasma addicts.
Bioshock 2 takes place 10 years after its predecessor, and this time you take on the inside role of Big Daddy, who is desperately trying to save his daughter Eleanor from the likes of her malicious mother Sofia Lamb. Although the game is very recognizable from the previous installment, the setting does not seize to inspire and astound with its unique art contemporain and art deco style. The majestic world of Rapture has been carefully constructed with great emphasis on atmosphere and detail. As spell bounded, you are set out to explore the alarming beauty of the sinister and creepy depths of dystopian Rapture where you encounter new plasmids, new enemies and new gameplay elements. But is this enough to make Bioshock 2 live up to its expectations?
That 2K Marine is behind the development of Bioshock 2 and not Irrational Games has no direct consequence on the sequel. Indeed, going back to Rapture while we’re already familiar with it is much less impressive, but this time round we learn a lot more of the creation of Rapture and the things that have been going on around the city since its creation, especially while trotting through the first stop at Ryan’s amusement park. Since you play with the untouchable and resistant Big Daddy, not only do you feel you have more control over the situation, but the feeling of being connected with Rapture and its purposes is also much stronger, especially since Big Daddy’s role is to keep his daughter safe inside Rapture. It is then not surprising that the notion of horror-survival is much less attributable to this experience. However, the setting which stood as a door in Bioshock is nevertheless just as mind-blowing, if not better in Bioshock 2.
The locations in Bioshock 2 certainly don’t lack in originality and style. Everywhere you go, the setting of Bioshock is incredibly rich in artistic elements as well as cultural significance. In Rapture you will find for example an amusement park/ museum filled with propaganda-like messages, a pretentious copy of the garden of Eve, a divine Greek themed therapy center for upper-class people and a beautiful red-light district. In Rapture, It is visible that perfection is absolutely capital, so when paradise becomes a hell-hole, things get very interesting.
The main interest I have in playing Bioshock is messing around with Plasmids and gene tonics, those magical elements which are essential when it comes to surviving. There is a wide variety of powers, such as spawning bee colonies, lifting up objects using telekinesis, incinerating enemies with fire and hypnotizing enemies just to name a few. It is incredibly fun to experiment with these powers; to seek out enemies’ weak spots and by using the environment to your advantage: like electrifying water or hacking security systems. Plasmids require ADAM, a gel you can only obtain by gathering or defeating little sisters. But unfortunately, the only way to collect them is by destroying their genetically enhanced guardians, the Big Daddies. Aside from the Big Daddies and the splicers (citizens of Rapture deformed by the excessive use of plasmids), the new alternative bosses introduced in Bioshock 2 are the big sisters, who are faster, stronger and just as challenging to beat. Getting the job done is not easy: it is essential to use plasmids, weapons, and traps all at once, otherwise you stand little chance. It is a survival of the fittest, and even though you are now the big juggernaut, you can’t ever let your guard down.
Talking of weapons, you come across new sexy weapons as you advance in the game: one I particularly loved was the harpoon gun, which lets you plant your enemies creatively against the wall. Remove the harpoons from their bodies and they will flop back down onto the floor. The possibility of enhancing and upgrading your weapons and powers is very rewarding; as there is always enough to keep you going. Spread around Rapture are hundreds of recordings from characters in the game, which inform you about the characters but also about the mysterious history around the rise and fall of Rapture.
Despite the many positive aspects of this game there is one thing I would nonetheless like to get back to. The story of Bioshock 2 seemed to come across quite vaguely, as the game tells moreover the story of Rapture than it tells the story of the main character. Everything you learn about Big Daddy comes from the outside, and this still remains minimal. There is a lot of confusion as to who Big Daddy is or what his purposes are in Rapture. Cetainly, if more attention had been put in his personality and his background, it would have made me feel more involved with the story.
Bioshock 2 is a welcome title in the Bioshock series. Its content delivered; and although we were already familiar with Rapture from number 1, there are still a lot of things to be discovered. The gameplay hasn’t changed, but many new elements have been introduced to make it feel fresh. The setting and artwork are incredible and the soundtrack is good. 2K Marine has done a good job in shaping a perfected world of Rapture after Irrational Games left it.
Story - 7/10
Gameplay Elements - 9/10
Presentation - 9/10
This game deserves a 9/10