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AusGamers Games
BioShock 2
BioShock 2

PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: 2K Marin Official Site: http://www.somethinginthesea...
Publisher: 2K Games
BioShock 2

Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: 2K Marin
Official Site: http://www.somethingi...
Publisher: 2K Games
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BioShock 2 Review
Review By @ 07:06pm 09/02/10
XBOX360
Rapture 10 years on is a fitting setting for BioShock 2. Not so much in that it represents an accelerated dystopia from the one you either liberated or came to rule (in essence), but that its crumbling halls, myriad leaks and decaying furniture parallel the game itself. The BioShock engine - at one time a marvel to behold - is looking old. Very old. It struggles to do the things it should, like an ancient hulking beast burning the fuel at both ends just to remain employable... oh wait, how fitting - you play just such a character in one of the narrative's very first Big Daddies.

The comparisons are appropriate. BioShock 2, for what it adds in expanded lore and the odd gameplay innovation hasn't really shifted itself beyond the shadow of the first game. Like so many looming, noire-esque silhouetted beasts threatening your very existence throughout the game, so too has BioShock threatened BioShock 2 at every turn, and just like the mindless, single-track casters of those shadows; Rapture's denizens-gone-mad, Splicers, BioShock is completely unaware of what it's doing to its younger, more fragile offspring.

This was always going to be the case though. As soon as word of Ken Levine's minimal input and 2K Boston's full departure from the series hit, alongside word of the existence of a sequel, consumer concern was imminent. Further disclosure more and more teams would be added to the development mix also didn't help - was no one capable of handling this precious new IP on their own? Clearly not, and it shows throughout. BioShock 2 lacks a severe amount of polish and progress, especially given the time and resources being thrown at it by 2K Games, but the devs have handled a few things very well, and despite the game's many shortcomings, it's still a driving romp; a great action title with some excellent and even innovative ideas that will push you to the bitter end.



BioShock 2's initial downfall starts where all initial downfalls should - at the beginning. The game presumes you've played the first game, and makes no apologies for dumping you in the proverbial deep-end if you haven't. That said, it then ignores this stance, putting you in the large, heavy boots of a Big Daddy who is probably the weakest one ever produced. The narrative would suggest your special place within Rapture's halls and history make you unique and powerful, but they apparently only make you especially vulnerable, and if you did play the first game, you'd be more than aware that facing any Big Daddy is one very daunting task. What's more is, a solid three hours in, I still had Splicers smashing me about the head with led-pipes marginally more powerful than my drill arm.

The design goal here is obvious - the objective is to become more powerful, but the problem is it appears the main character never was powerful. Usually in this type of game, a pre-textual portion of play allows you to see just how powerful you can become before introducing a story element that strips you of said power. Like giving a horse a carrot so he knows he likes it, allowing you to tie the next one on a pole and string and dangle it in his face; ostensibly giving you recourse to lead him wherever you like.

Unfortunately that is not the case here, and what you get in wake of a poor decision is an intro that feels alarmingly similar to the first game, and utterly out of context. What's more is, turning off the Vita Chambers and playing on the hardest setting (something I did with the first game, and repeated here) has once again seen a back-step in the save/checkpoint system, in that there essentially is none. While I understand the onus is on me to remember to save given my choice to play with the Chambers off, I reviewed the game on Xbox 360 (the copy we were sent) and there is no such thing as F5 on consoles. A quick save button would be a welcome addition, but even more so, at the very least, area-specific checkpoints - there's nothing worse than getting sucked into the flow of combat and progression only to die and realise you were so immersed you didn't think to hit Start and go through the annoying act of manually saving. Ultimately this breaks the flow of the game, and pulls you out of context and character, and could simply be implemented a lot better.



Other archaic decisions have come along, which add to the familiarity factor of playing the first game. For one, letting your health drop without manually applying a medkit will see you dead, even if you have several kits on board. The insult to injury here is, your EVE replenishes automatically if you have reserves, making this decision very annoying, and again, given the fact you're initially the weakest Big Daddy to set foot in Rapture, and the Splicers seem to be much, much stronger, you're forced to attempt to fend for yourself while fumbling to replenish health; swearing at the screen in disbelief because a massive guy in body-armour with a drill for an arm can't really do enough damage to take any of them out.

Despite all of this though, there is a plan in place, and it is about progression and becoming more powerful and it begins at the very first Power to the People weapon upgrade station you come across. These stations allow a single item in your inventory to be upgraded in the form of more powerful attacks, more ammunition storage and so on. While initially I upgraded my rivet gun, I later learnt the real money is in my aforementioned drill. An upgrade or two of this baby, and you begin to feel like the powerhouse you should. The drill needs fuel to run (which is ridiculous because if you stand near another Big Daddy who has a little sister, his drill is running non-stop - must have an endless supply of fuel), so it's a good idea to upgrade that, also. Moreover, the stations come into play much quicker this time around, showcasing the absolute need for you to power-up, and there seem to be more of them, which is fitting because the one area BioShock 2 stands out over the first is in its combat, and with so much else painting an early negative picture, it was a wise decision on the development front to show players these tools as early as they have.

The action is paced very differently to the first game. Whereas in BioShock everything was new; each and every area a visionary site to behold of Andrew Ryan's goal to create the ultimate, free man's utopia (allowing for a slower pacing), BioShock 2 does no such thing. The closest we get to being gob-smacked visually is during underwater traversing, which I must admit is very cool, though slightly underwhelming. So combat has become the new 'scenic route', and it begins with the very reason you're in Rapture in the first place: Little Sisters.



Once again the creepy young girls are back, but this time you can adopt them directly, even after taking out their own Big Daddies (apparently they're not too picky). Once you've adopted one, holding down the X-button will present a pheromone trail to follow, leading you to ADAM. ADAM is the building blocks of Plasmid life in Rapture, and you'll need it in order to upgrade. So once the Little Sister has found her ADAM apple tree - usually a dead Splicer - you set her down and she starts poking away with her unnervingly cute syringe. The problem is, as soon as she does this, other Splicers can smell what's going on and crash the party to get some of the gear for themselves. Everyone in Rapture is a drug addict and as such, will go to extreme measures to get their next fix.

Obviously this poses a problem because the Little Sisters take their time extracting the ADAM, and as witnessed in the first game, your very job in Rapture is to stand watch over these little ladies while they do their job. A tactical stance is in order then, and it's here BioShock 2 sets itself apart. Before setting the Little Sister down to fetch ADAM, you have room and time to ensure any Splicers who come knocking will never knock again. New weapons have allowed for setting booby traps, such as trap-rivets, which can be shot into any surface and will project a trip beam which when triggered, will send rivets flying. You can shoot them into the ground, into doorways - even dead or live bodies, and they're invaluable early in the game. You'll also usually find oil-slicks around you, where you can carefully place an explosive barrel that won't only do some serious explosive damage to everyone around you, but set the oil on fire so anyone else approaching feels the aftermath. Proximity mines also come into play, while eventually new Plasmids will allow you to arm your traps in a variety of different ways.

All of this ensures battle is never quite the same, and there's enough room for your own style of play that you're likely going to be creatively opposite to how anyone else plays. Much of this tactical combat can also be applied to the Big Sisters you'll face - grown up little ones who're almost the antithesis to Big Daddies. They're quick, nimble and downright scary, so much so they're not worried about warning of their impending approach with a banshee-like wail, in fact they likely get off on it. Essentially the tool-set you're eventually rewarded with, and how you use it, will determine the length and severity of battles with Big Sisters, Splicers and other bosses, but it's the most redeeming feature of BioShock 2 overall, and one worth playing through the game for, regardless.



The other core difference to the first game (beyond the aesthetic, also) is BioShock 2's overall narrative which is both good and bad, with some unflavoured bits in between. It's no secret the fan-base has been divided with knowledge you play as a Big Daddy, and while it's an honour to play as one of the first Big Daddies, it's not really the driving factor. Without spoiling too much, you're nicknamed Delta, and it's 10 years since the events of the first game. Since Ryan's death, his political rival, Sophia Lamb, a psychologist brought down to Rapture to help denizens adapt to their new world, has taken over and she has a plan for the city, and a plan for its Little Sisters. What's more is, Rapture seems to have become a revolving door, with citizens coming and going as they please, and even land-dwellers procuring their own submarines to stumble upon the decaying underwater metropolis. Specifically, this happens because young girls the world over have been disappearing from beaches, which lead to a father following his instincts by following her trail to Rapture - all of which you learn via voice-recordings, once again strewn about the game-world.

There are some excellent ideas presented from Lamb's altruistic perspective, and her use of psychology has clearly turned all of Rapture's citizens into her own encourageable army. But aside from a few philosophical differences, her role is almost no different to that of Fontaine's in the first game - though she's less brute and far more cerebral.

While engaging, BioShock 2's overall story lacks the mystery and discovery of the first, and it's but one direction they could have taken things - especially after the disappointing endings of the first game. But like that, you can service yourself different outcomes here based on decisions you make with the Little Sisters - and one Little Sister in particular (we won't spoil it for you though).



As for multiplayer, BioShock 2 serves to dish up something of an interactive telling of just when splicing became the norm for Rapture's citizens; multiplayer essentially offering a narrative context to 'testing abilities'. It's a shallow and somewhat tacked on affair that has some interesting moments and ideas, but really nothing of the lasting gain of games like Modern Warfare 2 (even sans dedicated servers) or Left 4 Dead. Though in saying that, it might have been worth looking into a stand-alone cooperative story add-on rather than the usual affair of deathmatching et al. It'll be interesting in the coming months to see if it stacks up and keeps players coming back.

Ultimately though, BioShock 2 is not about multiplayer. It's a story-driven action experience that takes cues from the first game and expands upon combat and engagement, while holding back in far too many areas, with far too few technological progressions since 2007's debut of the first game. The engine is looking tired (though is still capable of some pretty cool stuff, and everything runs smoothly), but it would be nice to see Rapture in more detail.

The hurdle here was always going to be asking players of the first game to leave their investment with Jack and offer it to someone new, and a Big Daddy, no less. But their ambition is clear, and it's a well-crafted experience. It just lacks the punch and innovation of the first game, presenting itself more as a tangent than a true sequel. But if you liked the setting of the first and need more Rapture love, BioShock 2 will sate - just don't go in expecting to be wowed in the same way you were the first time.
WHAT WE LIKED
You're back in Rapture
Combat is much expanded with a lot to utilise tactically
Inventive new weapons
Same sense of humour
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE
You're too weak as a Big Daddy
Underwater sections are underwhelming
Less 'wow factor' than the first
Many plot holes
Multiplayer feels tacked on
Visually aged
MORE...
WE GAVE IT:
7.3
OUT OF 10
AusGamers
Latest Comments
DM
Posted 01:43pm 10/2/10
Wow pretty crappy score you gave it.

You're too weak as a Big Daddy

Hardly. Drill + slam move = nearly instant kill for anything but the toughest bad guys.

Visually aged

I thought the graphics are great and it runs silky smooth as I expect some lower speced PCs will as well. This is a good thing.

Underwater sections are underwhelming

Yeah you got me there. I expected some free roaming going on. Mabye #3 will fix this a bit and have you leave rapture in order to swim around and go somewhere else?
Steve Farrelly
Posted 01:47pm 10/2/10
Hardly. Drill + slam move = nearly instant kill for anything but the toughest bad guys.
you don't have that move out of the box though... takes too long to be what you should have been from the start - negates the entire idea of being a Big Daddy in the first place.

Also, an AusGamers 7.3 is actually pretty good
paveway
Posted 01:54pm 10/2/10
i've not played the first one

but i'm looking for a game to play

i read where you said you get thrown i the deep end, does it matter that much?
Steve Farrelly
Posted 01:59pm 10/2/10
paveway - nah, not really

just need to know it's all in an underwater city, you look after little kids who poke dead people with syringes and beat the shit out of weirdos trying to get them
Trauma
Posted 02:20pm 10/2/10
Eh never played the 1st, only a 9.0+ would have convinced me on this one. Far too many titles coming real soon to waste money on this imho.
groganus
Posted 02:25pm 10/2/10
I completely agree with your review Steve... except i wouldn't recommend people spending money on it.. and i would of given it a 6 at the max... But all the floors/cons you covered were exactly what let it down for me.
Methz
Posted 02:27pm 10/2/10
I quite like it tbh. the combat is shitloads more intense than the first.
Theres a big emphasis on defense,and when I take the time to set up turrets,traps etc it's really quite satisfying.
The strength of the big daddy is in the thinking/planning. He's weaker but smarter
they even hint at that when you make certain decisions in the game
Decepticon
Posted 02:30pm 10/2/10
haha I knew this couldn't possibly compete with mass effect 2.
they(2k games) were lucky to have a first game that was as good as bioshock, would have been too good to be true to repeat the same success. I always thought the first game was over rated and that a sequl would be a stupid idea.
groganus
Posted 02:34pm 10/2/10
The strength of the big daddy is in the thinking/planning. He's weaker but smarter


See that's all nice and all.. but the big daddy was originally sold in the first game as a brute with one purpose(to protect little sister).

Id expect a concept like this to be released as a weak expansion or DLC for the original... kind of like the lame yet entertaining enough expansions to half life... Blueshit ect..

Whilst i admire the fact that the dev's have gone to the effort of making a complete full game... i personally found it was a weak attempt at a cash grab which is a real shame given how solid and decent the franchise could of been.

"YOU GET TO PLAY AS A BIG DADDY!()&(@&%!@" is something my 6 year old would tell me, to get me to buy the game.. very similar to "YOU GET TO PLAY AS PIKACHU"... a novel concept... but really quite boring.

I could rant for hours on how much i dislike bioshock 2.. all stemming from the amount of shear disappointment the game has given me... Kind of like ep 1,2,3 of starwars.
rawb
Posted 02:40pm 10/2/10
I found in bioshock 1, the part where you play as a big daddy was the worst/most annoying.
greazy
Posted 02:43pm 10/2/10
how the hell can you be disappointed when you got the game for free?

seriously any game i get for free (you know, borrowing the game from a friend), should at least give me SOME enjoyment and what little enjoyment it gave you should be multiplied many times over because it was free!
Steve Farrelly
Posted 02:49pm 10/2/10
greazy who are you talking to?
greazy
Posted 03:22pm 10/2/10
gorganus.
groganus
Posted 03:27pm 10/2/10
seriously any game i get for free (you know, borrowing the game from a friend), should at least give me SOME enjoyment and what little enjoyment it gave you should be multiplied many times over because it was free!


I never said i got the game for free... what kind of madness is this.
Dazhel
Posted 03:33pm 10/2/10
^

Viper
Posted 03:41pm 10/2/10
@ Steve

Have you had a chance to play the pc version, does it feel like a bit of a console port or does it handle pretty well?
DM
Posted 04:04pm 10/2/10
Well I just finished the game going the good route and i'm hoping that they take the obvious direction they were aiming toward. Don't wanna spoil anything so won't say what that is but it's kinda sad but at the same time pretty cool. Bring on bioshock 3!
Steve Farrelly
Posted 04:16pm 10/2/10
Viper - yeah have checked it out. The PC version is still very much a stand-alone PC-feeling game. In fact you can tweak stuff on the console version to make it feel more PC (seriously), which is a first as far as I know... obviously looks much better on PC as well, though I still think it looks aged compared to many other games
Viper
Posted 04:31pm 10/2/10
@ Steve

That sounds pretty cool, nice to hear it doesn't feel like a cheap console port *cough* AvP *cough*
deadlyf
Posted 04:46pm 10/2/10
Meh I got the pre-order from UK mainly because I never played the first. From what I have played of the first one so far it's pretty underwhelming compared to how much people raved about it so I'm already geared up to be disappointed by the sequel.

konstie
Posted 04:51pm 10/2/10
@ SteveThat sounds pretty cool, nice to hear it doesn't feel like a cheap console port *cough* AvP *cough*



are you sick viper?
ctd
Posted 04:54pm 10/2/10
Fark I fell asleep playing the first so damn boring was really only going to give this a go if it was super awesome.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 05:05pm 10/2/10
i'm pretty amazed at how many people here didn't like the first... I absolutely loved it
Viper
Posted 05:10pm 10/2/10
@ konstie yea I seem to of caught the "console bug" making my "pc gland" all flared up.
paveway
Posted 05:25pm 10/2/10
i believe it's called aids viper
Viper
Posted 05:32pm 10/2/10
@ paveway

Damn first consoles start messing with my pc games then they charge for dlc and now they are giving me aids too....when will it end?
kettels
Posted 05:37pm 10/2/10
personally i loved the first one, but i never liked the idea of a sequel. Bioshock built up a wonderful and complete world that had a definitive ending and changing it would sort of ruin the first (for me at least).
Tim Tibbetts
Posted 05:41pm 10/2/10
As someone who loved the first Bioshock I am rather disappointed with the second. I think the allure of the first one was it was different, something new...this isn't.

I agree with the review, and the rating. The 'mainstream' gaming reviews have giving it 9.0-9.5, um, no thanks.
Obes
Posted 05:49pm 10/2/10
2k games ... that means it will cost more in Australia on Steam then everywhere else in the world. That's pretty much where this review should have started and stopped.

But it didn't even get a mention.
ctd
Posted 05:50pm 10/2/10
Yeah kudos to our man Steve. Copped some heat on da street after the infamous Far Cry 2 and Deadspace reviews but it is a real Cinderella story now.
Khel
Posted 05:55pm 10/2/10
I bought it from UK steam, ended up costing me about $40 australian cos there was some discount for pre-ordering. Fuck paying our prices here for it.

Haven't actually tried it out yet though, too much Dante's Inferno and MAss Effect 2 to still play.
neffo
Posted 06:17pm 10/2/10
@ twitter fags

Seriously, just say the person's name followed by a comma. The @ thing is fucking gay.

Also, Steve's review is bang on. The game kinda blows.
Viper
Posted 06:41pm 10/2/10
neffo,

I'll assume you are talking at me, just to clear up I have never even been to the twitter website EVER!!!!!111!!! just saw some people do it assumed it was the way to be done, your point is however noted.

Also your desire for me to be a homosexual is flattering but I'm afraid that your dream won't come true sorry.
Crash
Posted 10:04pm 10/2/10
I finished it a few hours ago, i thought it was an enjoyable game.
greazy
Posted 11:35pm 10/2/10
the speed at which you people finish games astounds me.
Viper
Posted 10:47am 11/2/10
greazy

maybe its not the speed at which people finish games but more the length of games.
boba
Posted 10:49am 11/2/10
I played this for about 5 minutes and really couldn't stand it on the pc. Played the original on 360 and it was awesome. Remind me never to buy a console sequel on pc again =(
trog
Posted 10:49am 11/2/10
Seriously, just say the person's name followed by a comma. The @ thing is fucking gay.
I actually thought that came from blogs before twitter
Viper
Posted 10:58am 11/2/10
boba,

you might find it supports a 360 controller like the first one in which case you can play it with the best visuals and a more comfortable control scheme for you.
boba
Posted 11:04am 11/2/10
no controller support on the pc version http://forums.2kgames.com/forums/showpost.php?p=636333&postcount=68 (looks like the 2k forums are getting hammered or broken)
Dazhel
Posted 11:18am 11/2/10
One of the best scripted sequence in Bioshock was in a waterlogged basement of
one of the shops in Fort Frolic.
You have to go up to the end of the basement to flip some switch and when you look back the plaster figures are gone...

I hope Bioshock 2 has some moments like those, seriously freaky.
Crash
Posted 01:31pm 11/2/10
the speed at which you people finish games astounds me.
I'm reviewing it for the website i write for. 2K sent out debug review copies a little while ago, for the reviewers without one they received standard copies the day of its release. Thats how / why i managed to get through it so quick.

maybe its not the speed at which people finish games but more the length of games.
Took me about 12 hours to get through, i think the length was just about right.

I recently had this discussion on my podcast, on one side of the fence you have a game like Halo ODST, that takes like 4 - 5 hours to finish. I did not like this game at all, thought that it was slow and unexciting for a 4 hour game...
On the other side we have something like Modern Warfare 2, which also took me just under 5 hours to get through. Although it was short in length, the game was action packed and extremely entertaining the whole way through.


I played this for about 5 minutes and really couldn't stand it on the pc. Played the original on 360 and it was awesome. Remind me never to buy a console sequel on pc again =(

I played the BioShock 2 on PC and didnt have any real issues, what was your problem with the game? Was it that you couldn't use the 360 controller?
Twinsen
Posted 01:38pm 11/2/10
I picked this up yesterday, I absolutely loved the first game to death - with this one; allot of the time I feel like I am playing Sys Shock 2; atmospheric wise... so far nothing much has happened which has made me go wow and sadly I went back to Mass Effect 2 after about 2 hours lol.

Khel
Posted 01:42pm 11/2/10
You have to go up to the end of the basement to flip some switch and when you look back the plaster figures are gone...


Yeah, that bit freaked me out, there was a few bits with those mannequins that were freaky, like where you'd look away and hear some splashing/noises, and look back and the mannequins had moved or were getting closer to you. Something about mannequins just freaks me the fuck out.

last edited by Khel at 13:42:14 11/Feb/10
Khel
Posted 01:42pm 11/2/10
allot of the time I feel like I am playing Sys Shock 2


You say that like its a bad thing?
groganus
Posted 01:51pm 11/2/10
Bioshock had in my opinion one of the most awesome starting sequences to a game since half life... that plane crash was fucking epic, then swimming up to the statue and taking a sub down to the city... was just so fucking cool... Then you got your first power and you felt like you could fucking take on anything... and you were going to get to the bottom of this mystery...

It was a build up that made you want to learn everything you could about the world you were in... the characters were interesting and each one had a cool story... and then once you learned everything you thought you could know the throw a twist in there and your draw drops...

Bioshock 2 has you putting a gun to your head and blowing your brains out... from that moment.. i really couldn't care what was going on... It wasn't captivating enough, it didn't give me any real reason to want to find out what was going on... and from that moment there is where i lost complete interest in the game.
Dazhel
Posted 02:11pm 11/2/10
allot of the time I feel like I am playing Sys Shock 2
You say that like its a bad thing?


His song is not ours!

The Many sings to us...
Maccas
Posted 02:06am 12/2/10
The story was average and unnecessary.

The gameplay was much, MUCH better and actually quite a lot of fun.

It isn't really worth buying, go get ME2 instead. Also the single player can easily be clocked in 10 hours, so a rental could be the ticket.
Thundercracker
Posted 09:57am 12/2/10
The story was average and unnecessary.

The gameplay was much, MUCH better and actually quite a lot of fun.


I haven't finished it, but this it my impression of it a few hours in. The actual gameplay and the surrounding mechanics are more fun that bioshock 1, and in my mind that's more important.
boba
Posted 10:07am 12/2/10
I played the BioShock 2 on PC and didnt have any real issues, what was your problem with the game? Was it that you couldn't use the 360 controller?
the controls felt sluggish using keyboard/mouse even though I was getting a constant 60fps running it with everything on.

i'll probably give it another crack on the weekend
Crash
Posted 12:30pm 12/2/10
the controls felt sluggish using keyboard/mouse even though I was getting a constant 60fps running it with everything on.

i'll probably give it another crack on the weekend
fair enough, i played it with keyboard and mouse but didnt have any issue's. Only thing i really had to do was drop the sensitivity down to 1.
Thundercracker
Posted 12:53pm 12/2/10
I found turning off vsync to help but then you get tearing
Viper
Posted 03:09am 15/2/10
Just got through it, in one solid playthrough.

Must say its very slow paced also kinda reminded me of doom 3 around the beginning with all the trains.

As for length I started at like 430pm its now 306am so thats like about 10 hours 30 minutes or something like that, forgive me if its wrong its 3AM.

Overall its pretty fun and would make a great gap filler between some of the bigger releases this year.
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