Game Review: Bioshock 2

This is a serious problem. Yes, yes, good games. Yes, yes, Bioshock is amazing, blows minds, and will leave you breathless with orgasmic delight (if that’s what you’re into), but please, I implore you, space these things out! I’m in college. My time is precious. And launching all these games at the same time drags me into that unfortunate state of unknowingly blissful reclusiveness. I have tests, people! Besides…can’t we spread the love out a bit, over months, rather than a week!?

Alright. End rant. My apologies. Rewind…

BIOSHOCK 2! is an astounding return to the mysterious underwater city of Rapture, a dark and gripping world twisted by the extremes of ideology, where monstrous men and haunting shadows lurk. Bioshock 2, like Mass Effect 2 (year of wonderful sequels? YES PLEASE!), takes all that was good about its predecessor, and builds.

This game is the full package:  an original, enthralling world steeped in atmosphere, deeply engrossing storytelling, and a strong sense of character (with a return to the silent protagonist, but even he is greatly fleshed out through his interaction with others). The addition of multiplayer adds many hours of entertainment to the game—especially since the multiplayer is very well done, with multiple modes and maps, the Call of Duty theory of level advancement, and a mini-plot of its own. The theory of your OWN impact on the game is heightened, and the world feels more interactive—and most importantly, the endings have vastly improved, and been upped to a total of 6 possibilities (successfully more than making up for those horrendous attempts at a finishing act the first game greeted us with).

You’re provided with a full and satisfying arsenal of weapons both big and small, as well as an upgraded host of enemies to use them on. The AI’s been upped a tad (though it was pretty good to begin with) and your enemies will use cover, surround you, and do just about everything they can to see you dead, and even the little ones can dish out a fair bit of hurt in a relatively short period of time, so think it through. Don’t just charge. Unless you have the drill. Then…well, you’ll have trouble resisting. Very satisfying. For all this, though, the plasmid system, the hallmark of the series, has gone unchanged. There is but one new plasmid in the bunch—Scout—and it’s always going to take a backburner to the others. I don’t mean to be picky but…GIVE ME MORE POWAH! Just saying.

Yeah...she doesn't like you.

There are a few new critters in the mix, chief among them the Big Sister and the Brute Splicer—enemies you need some real tactics for, or at worst you’re going to die, and at the least you’re going to expend one hell of a lot of health and ammo, things that you will realize are very precious very quickly. Of course, if you don’t mind dying, then I suppose the game will be a lot easier for you—the hold-your-hand style of death from the first game returns, as every death drags you instantly to a revive machine and spits you back out into the world, no harm and no charge.

Keeping pace with its predecessor, both the soundtrack and the visuals are spot-on. Rapture, in its dark, decaying way, is a thing of beauty, and underwater scenes have been added to give you even more emersion in this underwater miracle. These are momentary pauses, basically, for you to take in a view and marvel at how pretty pixels can be.

The Final boss of Bioshock 3!

The soundtrack maintains that 50s vibe, with a fair selection of tracks (though if you’re loading a lot, you may get sick of them quick, as for any level, the same song plays over the loading screen…again…and again…and again…). I noticed a few sound issues, though, where the audio would get really low at points. Probably just my Xbox.

I don’t want to shout game of the year, but Bioshock 2 will undoubtedly be in the running. Between it and Mass Effect 2, this year is off to a great start, and I can’t wait to see some of their competition as the year goes on.

Oh, and PS: Objectivism sucks.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars!

~ by Chris G. on February 17, 2010.

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