The first Bioshock is now considered a modern classic, one of those games that took everyone by surprise with its’ amazing story and rich atmosphere. The second Bioshock is the sequel nobody wanted but we got anyway because it made sense on some financial reports. Bearing the weight of how amazing the first game was and how not wanted the sequel quickly became, the team at 2K stepped up to the plate and delivered a great game that will continue our love affair with the underwater city of Rapture.
The single player is the reason to buy Bioshock 2. The continuation of the tale of Rapture and its’ many crazy inhabitants is the real draw of the package, and on a similar note I would say if you haven’t played the first one don’t skip straight to the sequel. Bioshock 2 assumes you know the story of the original Bioshock and spends no time filling in the details if you missed out. The way 2K decided to spin a tale to continue the series is one of the biggest concerns people had about this sequel. The original wraps up so nice and tight, even if the ending wasn’t the best game ending ever, that the thought of squeezing in another story into that world really worried fans of the original.
The good news is the new story, while nowhere near as great as the first one, is still compelling enough to drive you through the game. The new antagonist of the story does a great job at setting the tone for the poorer parts of Rapture that you will be spending most of your time in. With all the poor turning to religion and the normality’s of the surface, Sophia Lamb captures the heart of the people and turns them into “the family.” When she targets you out as someone who needs to be dealt with the family throws everything they have at taking you out. This is where the biggest improvement over the original Bioshock really shines, the new and improved combat.
The ability to dual wield really does make the combat way better than it was in the first game. Even though in the original Bioshock you could change from weapons to plasmids with one trigger pull the little bit of time it took for him to put one away and pull out the other really was a hindrance in switching between the two constantly. Since you now can keep both your plasmid hand and your gun up at the same time it really opens up the possibilities that mixing the two can bring out.
The biggest improvement in the plasmid department is the ability to charge up the plasmid for a bigger effect. I walked around with the incinerate plasmid charged up through most of my playtime just waiting for a splicer to show his face. The ability to charge up the plasmid or just fire off a quick one adds another layer of depth to the combat that allows for more crazy combos and awesome take downs of enemies. Hacking has also received a serious upgrade from the original, now just requiring a few well timed button presses this allows for even more options when trying to take down enemies. The improved combat is carried over to the multiplayer aspect of Bioshock 2, but there it takes a bit of a turn for the worse.
The multiplayer in Bioshock 2 is another thing no one wanted from the first game. The combination of plasmids and guns does offer the same variety for taking people out that the single player offers up but without as much reward. The main problem I have with the multiplayer of Bioshock 2 is the lag unfortunately. Every game I got into just kind of looks bad because of the terrible lag. Everything moves in a really jerky fashion and it really breaks the look of the game. There were a few games I got into that were totally playable and when the lag isn’t awful the multiplayer can be really enjoyable, but the lag is so ever present that it’s not something I can see myself coming back to over and over again.
The leveling system however is well implemented and the unlocks come at a steady enough pace to keep the experience rewarding. The gameplay of the multiplayer is really fast and loose, more on the side of Halo than something like Socom for sure. The modes are very standard except with a Little Sister twist put on them. Like the capture the flag game type that has you capturing Little Sisters instead. The multiplayer is something I can totally see some people getting into but it’s not going to replace something like Modern Warfare at the top of the most played list anytime soon.
Bioshock 2 is an incredibly solid game. Getting to go back to the amusement park that is Rapture was more than worth the entry fee just for the single player alone. If you liked the first game and thought Rapture was a cool place that you would like to learn more about, the sequel won’t let you down. The ending is satisfying and fun unlike the last game and the story ends up being interesting and very well told. While I did have some problems with the multiplayer lag I would recommend Bioshock 2 to anyone who is a fan of great worlds, amazing atmosphere, cool characters, and fun action without hesitation.
Review copy provided by publisher.