Bioshock was arguably one of the best FPS’s released for the PC. The gritty, atmospheric, art-deco environment that is Rapture with its mutated, scavenging denizens. You felt scared, shocked, amused all at the same time. And let’s not forget the emotional, moral choices: kill and harvest? Or release? Bioshock was polished to a brassy finish, so how can 2K Games top that which was near perfect?
Sophia Lamb, the managing director of Rapture, is a cruel, cold and sadistic individual. Her daughter, Eleanor, is your Little Sister, a little girl with a telepathic and emotional bond to you, Subject Delta, her Big Daddy – a being that is grafted into a hulking diving suit. You role is to protect her as she, and her fellow Little Sisters, harvest the genetic material from the dead. You need each other to survive. Sophia made you point a gun to your head and pull the trigger, somehow, you survived and ten years later you awaken, ready to find Eleanor and ready to introduce Sophia to the business end of your drill arm.
2K Games needed to up the ante with Bioshock 2, putting you in control of the previous games’ monstrous, diving suit clad brutes was a good start. As was returning to the oppressive kingdom of Rapture, with its leaking pipes, pools of water, failing generators that require a spark of life and it’s dark, mutated citizens – Splicers, addicted to the mutagenic plasmids that caused Rapture’s downfall. Keeping the Little Sisters safe as they draw out the genetic ADAM juices from the corpses that litter the underwater city, then deciding whether to kill the little girl and harvest her genetic material or free her from a life of hell, is pure genius.
You have a variety of weapons and plasmids available. Like the original Bioshock, the plasmids enhance your dormant abilities, giving you the power to fire lightning from your gloved hand, or use telekinesis to hurl objects towards your enemies or electrocute them in pools of water. Very satisfying. As for the enemies, they too have advanced, the Splicers have mutated themselves into dangerous, fast moving, lethal creatures. They carry an assortment of weaponry, knives, pipes, guns, or in the case of the Brutes, great chunks of rock and debris. However, they pale in comparison to the Big Sister, an extremely fast moving nemesis, who can absorb almost everything you throw at her. Her banshee-like scream signals her arrival, smashing nearby glass and causing your vision to blur momentarily. Then she’s on you and good luck. One of the best and most frantic gaming moments I have ever played.
The story behind Bioshock is absolutely wonderful. It contains everything a game should, conflict – emotional and physical, terror, suspense, excitement but is Bioshock 2 playable? Well, yes is the easy answer to that question. But the reasons why aren’t just in the storyline or the intense game play. They are in the six possible endings, all depending on those moral choices that spring up and grab you. They are in the choice of life or death. And they are in the manic multiplayer mode.
At first, the thought of adding a multiplayer to such a good single-player world seemed a little ludicrous. Why bother making Rapture a competitive online construct? But it works and Digital Extremes, who produced the multiplayer component, have done a tremendous job.
The multiplayer story is separate from the main storyline. Set just before the original Bioshock, during Rapture’s civil war, you can play as one of six Splicers in a host of different modes. Survival of the Fittest – a free for all, where the most kills wins. Civil War – team deathmatch. Last Splicer Standing – same as Civil War, but with no spawning. Capture the Sister – capture the flag, but you’re protecting the Little Sister. ADAM Grab – find the Little Sister and hang onto her for three minutes. Team ADAM Grab – same as ADAM Grab, but in two teams. And finally, Turf War – a two team, way point capture. During several of the modes a Big Daddy suit randomly spawns, making the chaos of combat even more chaotic, but addictive and exhilarating nonetheless.
The graphics speak for themselves, Rapture is decrepit, a haunting slum following a cult leader. The sound effects are incredible, especially the Big Sister, but also the dripping of water, the creaking of the joints under the pressure of the water outside, the metallic cacophony of debris hitting the walls and bouncing off when explosions rip through Splicers. The whole atmosphere plunges you into the game and savagely beats you up whilst you’re in there.
There is little, in my opinion, to hate about Bioshock 2. As it stands it’s a fabulous game, but it’s when you play the original, then Bioshock 2, that the real love for the game comes through. Thank you 2K Games, Bioshock 2 is an outstanding game that takes you on a emotionally exhausting ride.
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