The underwater dystopia of Rapture is a place very familiar to players of the 2007 hit, Bioshock. Finding yourself stranded in this crumbling undersea world was an experience unlike anything else and the mix of action mixed with great storytelling made Bioshock a hit despite numerous small flaws. The good news is that for Bioshock 2 almost all of the wrinkles have been ironed out but the bad news is that Rapture is starting to feel way too familiar
Bioshock 2 picks up nearly ten years after the events of the last game and places you in the clunking shoes of a “Big Daddy”. Don’t think you’ll be as tough as the hulking behemoths you are familiar with, “Subject Delta” is actually a forerunner of them and as such isn’t nearly as formidable. You will get access to all the Big Daddy toys like Rivet Guns and drills but there is more to Delta than meets the eye. Revived from certain death and on a mission to locate his little sister don’t expect this to be a rehash of Jacks journey from the first game.
To be honest I was quite sceptical about Bioshock 2 at first. The first game was great but I doubted that a second tour of Rapture would have the same impact. To their credit the developers have come up with a very good storyline which comes close to rivalling that of the first game at times. With Andrew Ryan out of the way a psychiatrist named Sofia Lamb has stepped up to take control over what’s left of Rapture and is shaping it to her twisted visions. Initially brought in to help the denizens of Rapture deal with the stress of underwater living she soon started to get her own twisted ideas and formed a cult. Without giving anything away about the plot suffice to say she has just as much interest in Eleanor, your little sister, as you have and will stop at nothing to keep you from reaching her.
Once the novelty of playing as a Big Daddy wears off (usually around the time you realize that despite your thudding footsteps a Splicer can still carve you up in no time) the sense of déjà vu starts to set in. The enhancements and new effects are obvious but this is still the same engine as the last game and the same type of locations. The city of Rapture is still leaking like a broken faucet but despite all the water flooding in everywhere never gets submerged.
Some new enemies show up to make things more interesting, most notably the “Big Sisters” who are the little sisters who have grown up under the twisted tutelage of Dr. Lamb. They are basically ninja versions of the Big Daddies and make for formidable foes. You’ll also be squaring off against other Alphas plus upgraded enemies from the last game.
Being a Big Daddy has its perks and you’ll now be able to use weapons and plasmids at the same time. No more fumbling around during combat to get effective combos going. This is a good thing as the game feels much more action oriented than the first. You’ll still stumble across diaries that are scattered about willy nilly and reveals more about the characters motivations but use a little sister to harvest Adam for you and watch as all hell breaks loose. That’s right you can now kill a rival Big Daddy and besides saving or harvesting their little sisters, adopt them and put them to work for yourself. This is especially handy as with the increased amount of plasmids and tonic slots you’ll want as much Adam as you can find to buy all the upgrades. Of course choosing the easy option of just harvesting the little sisters directly will have consequences so think carefully before you commit.
Despite feeling like just an expansion pack at first, the game really starts to pick up towards the end and by its conclusion you will have a deeper understanding of not just the Big Daddies and their little sisters but also about the events of the first game. The multi-player mode, set during the fall of Rapture is sure to please fans as well. Having multiple levels of upgrades for your plasmid powers makes even the old ones feel fresh again and the multiple ammo types for the weapons ensure that you’ll be using all of them instead of just sticking to the most “powerful” ones. The new underwater sections look very nice but since you can’t do anything except move around they don’t add much to the gameplay and merely serve as a pretty way to get from certain locations to others. The new hacking system is far more exciting and the remote hacking tool opens up more strategic options during combat. Using a film camera to record and research enemies during combat is also step up from the static photo taking one from the first game.
The audio impressed me and once again the songs from the olden days fit the 1960’s setting of the game perfectly. I had to laugh at how appropriate tracks like “Daddy Won’t You Please Come Home” and “The Boogieman” was. The other audio is pretty good too, nice and creepy while exploring with the tempo picking up during combat. Voice acting is top notch and the comments from the little sisters catching a ride on your shoulders are especially funny. Weapons also sounded a lot beefier to me than they were in the last game and the iconic moans from the Big Daddies are as menacing as always.
I’ve heard some complaints about the game being buggy but aside from a crash or two didn’t experience any performance issues or mouse lagginess as reported in some cases. I wish I could say the same about the mandatory Games For Windows Live feature which you have to install if you want’ to save your game even if you have no interest in Microsoft and their plans for world domination. All went well until my offline profile mysteriously disappeared rending my savegames useless and forcing me to start over. I blame Microsoft for this nonsense and not the game. The games graphics are good but clearly held back by its console roots which unfortunately is a common occurrence.
Bioshock 2 is proof of the importance of a good story as even with all the improvements and enhancements to the gameplay it doesn’t have quite the same impact as the first title. It’s still a brilliant albeit somewhat short experience that’s essential to all Bioshock fans. The difficulty has been ramped up, the action more intense and the setting more twisted but its a pity that all the best parts have been squashed into the last few hours of the game. Bioshock 3 is really going to have to be pretty spectacular to keep the franchise from sliding into mediocrity. A great game but not as great as the original.
*Review originally published 2010.
- Minimum PC System Requirements
- Recommended PC System Requirements
- Minimum Mac OS X System Requirements
- Recommended Mac OS X System Requirements
- Minimum SteamOS + Linux System Requirements
- Recommended SteamOS + Linux System Requirements
- OS: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7
- Processor: AMD Athlon 64 Processor 3800+ 2.4Ghz or better, Intel Pentium 4 530 3.0Ghz Processor or better
- Memory: 2GB
- Graphics: NVIDIA 7800GT 256MB graphics card or better, ATI Radeon X1900 256MB graphics card or better
- DirectX®: DirectX 9.0c
- Hard Drive: 11GB
- Sound: 100% DirectX 9.0C compliant sound card or onboard sound
- Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+ Dual Core 2.60Ghz, Intel Core 2 Duo E6420 Dual Core 2.13Ghz
- Memory: 3GB
- Graphics: NVIDIA 8800GT 512MB graphics card or better, ATI Radeon HD4830 512MB graphics card or better
- Other Requirements: Initial installation requires one-time internet connection; software installations required including Microsoft Visual C++2008 Runtime Libraries, Microsoft DirectX.
- OS: 10.9.5
- Processor: 2 GHz
- Memory: 4GB
- Graphics: 256 MB The following graphics cards are not supported: ATI X1xxx series, ATI HD2xxx series, Intel GMA series, NVIDIA 7xxx series and NVIDIA 9400.
- Hard Drive: 18GB
- OS: 10.10.5
- Processor: 2.4 GHz
- Memory: 4GB
- Graphics: 512 MB The following graphics cards are not supported: ATI X1xxx series, ATI HD2xxx series, Intel GMA series, NVIDIA 7xxx series and NVIDIA 9400.
- Hard Drive: 18GB
- OS: Ubuntu 12.04 or newer, other unsupported distros may work
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0Ghz or equivalent
- Memory: 3 GB RAM
- Graphics: Intel Core HD Graphics 3000/4000, NVIDIA 8800 GT, ATI Radeon HD 4850 or better (Open Source Drivers NOT SUPPORTED)
- Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
- Sound Card: lib32-alsa-plugins or libasound2-plugins:i386 and libasound2-plugins-extra:i386 may be required.
- Additional Notes: NOT SUPPORTED: ATI Radeon X1600, Intel GMA950, NVIDIA Geforce 7050
- OS: Ubuntu 14.04
- Processor: Intel Core i5 2.8Ghz or equivalent
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 450, AMD Radeon HD 5670 or better
- Hard Drive: 3 GB available space