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Review: BioShock 2

When it was first announced, I was skeptical about the sequel to BioShock. It seemed like it tied up the story so well that it any sequel could only end as a poor attempt at milking another big-name title for all it was worth. It didn’t help that the original BioShock team didn’t have a lot to do with the production of this sequel either. However, despite this, BioShock 2 manages to establish its own characters, dynamics and story quite well.

The story is set eight years after the events of the first BioShock. Rapture is now under the control of Sophia Lamb. You’re a big daddy and you’re struggling to save your daughter from Lamb’s experiments. BioShock 2 does a great job in making you care about the characters and have real emotions towards the people you come across, however, the game starts out very slowly. For the first several hours of gameplay, it’s hard to be impressed or even entertained. Even though I loved the original BioShock, I went into this review expecting very little from the sequel and it seemed like I still expected too much. However, after you break the half-way mark, the game’s momentum really picks up, leading you to an amazing finale build-up.

BioShock 2 features a new range of bosses. In addition to the original Big Daddies, you’ll meet a handful of other large, pulse-pounding bosses to fight on your way through. Thankfully, the hacking mini-game has been changed from a pipes-style game to one where you stop a moving needle on the right color. While this change may seem minor, it goes a long way towards keeping the flow and action moving forward. When directly compared against the original, BioShock 2 is a lot more cinematic-heavy but at the same time they unfortunately share a handful of graphical issues. With rough seams in textures and several general animation bugs and clipping issues, the game starts to feel like a lazy console port at times. Not to mention the PC version still doesn’t support proper anti-aliasing through the Unreal 3 engine.

Also much like the original game, BioShock 2 does a fantastic job of storytelling. Through character dialogue and more of the audio logs that we saw in the first installment, there’s a much deeper look into the back story of Rapture, and a lot of things that are only implied or mentioned in the original are explained in the second game, which is fantastic.

As a Big Daddy, you can choose to escort Little Sisters on their quest for ADAM, thus triggering a defense mission as they collect the ADAM from dead bodies. The constant defense missions really do help you build feelings for the Little Sisters and the inner-working of Rapture, but they start to get annoying. When it all comes down to it, BioShock 2‘s single-player will last you about 5-7 hours and, though the first-half of the game is painfully slow at times, it’s a game well worthy of continuing the BioShock name.

Scores

- Graphics:  7
Just like the Rapture we came to know and love from the original BioShock, you’ll find beautiful areas and environments throughout the game’s progress. However, once you stop and really take a look, there are a hand-full of short-comings when it comes to textures, and a complete lack of anti-aliasing certainly doesn’t help.

- Storyline: 10
While it doesn’t feature any face-melting twists, BioShock 2 still does an amazing job of story progression and delivery. The writers also succeeded in getting you, the gamer, invested in the characters and your ultimate choice of good or evil. The first half of the story arch is quite slow at times, but it eventually turns into a high-speed, nail-biting finale buildup that is exciting to the last second.

- Gameplay: 9
The very same awesome gameplay from BioShock returns in mostly the same fashion. Some of the combat elements have changed with the addition of using plasmids and weapons simultaneously and much improved plasmids. Much like its predecessor, BioShock 2 gives the player a nice choice of good or evil throughout the game. A choice that will affect the outcome of the game itself.

- Controls: 7
As one would expect, BioShock 2‘s controls are much the same as the previous game. While these controls aren’t bad, they will certainly take a little getting used to for anyone that’s used to the standard FPS control scheme or new to the BioShock series.

- Lasting Appeal: 10
Although feeling a bit recycled, the game couldn’t really exist without the moral choice system that we came to know from the original game and it’s been expanded. Like Bioshock, your choice will dictate the outcome of the game and because of that, you’ll find yourself playing through it at least once more. Throw in the (unnecessary) multiplayer and the game does have quite a bit to offer repeat players.

Overall: 9 Olives

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