Bioshock 2 Review – Bioshockingly good!

A Bioshock 2 review? Now? A bit late isn’t it?

Maybe. It’s good to know that when the money’s not flowing as readily as you’d like there are still plenty of places where you can get games for next to nothing.

Last night I got Bioshock 2 for the xBox 360 for £4.99. I’d heard good things about it, and the demo of the original game Bioshock was darn good. Wrap up all that up in that impossibly cheap package and I was standing in line to buy it pretty darn quickly.

“Come play with me.”… “No ta!”

One bout of severe insomnia later and I’d played enough of it to know that it was certainly worth the fiver I paid for it.

Bioshock 2 is set in the fictional underwater dystopia known as Rapture. From the small amount of information I’ve gathered about Rapture, it’s a city created by a wealthy industrialist called Andrew Ryan. He felt that the leading minds of the world were too restricted by governmental procedure and ethics on the surface, so he built this city as a sort of haven for the elite.

The occupants of rapture found a chemical called ADAM which alters the DNA of the user. Special creepy-ass kids (Think ‘Village of the Damned’ or ‘Children of the Corn’) were created to harvest the ADAM chemical.

The scientists did discover one slightly unfortunate side-effect of ADAM, and that was that people tended to get a bit addicted to it. They would forgo their own personal grooming for the more modest pursuit of lunging at people with wrenches and drooling like lunatics, even going as far as attacking the scary-ass kids or ‘Little Sisters’ as they’re called, to get hold of some more. These upstanding citizens of Rapture are now known as Splicers. If only the greatest minds of Rapture had invent some-kind of heavily-weaponised metal diving suit to protect them…. Oh wait, they did.

In Bioshock 2 you play as one of these robots or ‘Big Daddies’ as they’re called, which presumably has nothing to do with the wrestler of the same name. As you explore Rapture you’re contacted by various people who push the storyline and questing along. It seems that a lot of the characters I’ve met so far were explained in the original Bioshock, so at this stage I am a little unclear who they are.

Bioshock 2 is predominantly a first-person shooter. There are various weapons to pick up and use such as rail-guns, and machine guns. Though my favourite is the drill-arm which, as its name suggests is a large drill on your right arm. Little more can be said about the combat really. Maybe an FPS fan would be able to break the combat down into infinitesimal bits and analyse them, but to me the combat is smooth and simple which is all I really want.

Hacking is all down to timing.

As well as the standard weaponry you have the ability to use Plasmids. Plasmids are the Bioshock equivalent of magic. They allow you to use various powers such as lightning that stuns people or telekinesis that allows you to throw items at people or hide behind them; I’ve almost got the Fire Plasmid which shockingly allows me to melt ice.

Aside from the combat you can also hack systems. Hacking the various systems gives you various benefits. It can be used to get equipment and items by hacking the vending machines and safes. You can hack to help you in a fight; hacking cameras, droids and turrets will cause them to fire at your enemies which can help even the odds in large fights. Certain puzzles also rely on hacking, although chances are these puzzles also rely on the hacking dart. You can fire a hacking dart at a system from a distance. It’s best not to try to hack a hostile turret by running towards it, not that I did that.. To hack a system all you need to do is hit a button while a quickly moving needle passes through certain points on a dial. Some systems need you to do this multiple times; failure can lead to a small shock or alarms being triggered.

“When shall we three meet again?”

From an RPG perspective, you don’t have the control that you have in games such as Fallout or the more traditional D&D games, but it is an entirely different genre. From what I have gathered, character development depends on the adoption or rescue of the Little Sisters. I have only found one Little Sister so far; I had to kill the Big Daddy who was protecting her, after which I could ‘adopt’ her. I could use her to find corpses from which she could extract ADAM. This lead to a whole bunch of Splicers attacking us while she did it. Once she had got as much ADAM as she could, I had to take her to a vent to escape or I could kill her for more ADAM. I had to go to work before I got to the vent, so not quite sure what happens after this, but I figured I’d let them live the first time I played through. It seems that it is this ADAM that you use to buy new Plasmids, or tonics which can make you faster, stronger, tougher etc.

It’s quite a simple concept as games go, kill the drooling loons and rescue the creepy kids all the time injecting yourself with copious amounts of drugs, and junk food to help you do it.

Now the more superficial stuff. How does it look? It looks very nice, really. They have done brilliantly on both the lighting and the water effects. When you walk under water or get dripped on it looks realistic. That goes for the blood too. They haven’t gone over-board with gore, but if you’ve made the main character in essence a robot with a giant drill arm, you can’t be too afraid of blood.

This screenshot doesn’t really do it justice.

All this leads to a very atmospheric game, not exactly scary but the 1950’s decay and ruin is done well and makes for a chilling feel. Though the artwork on some of the in-game posters has been done in the same style as Fallout 3 (or the other way around, I’m not sure which came first.)

I’ve got a whole raft of time coming up next week so this will be my game of choice. I’m hoping this game continues to keep me interested. I tend to lose enthusiasm for FPS’s in a short time unless they can offer me something else.

I’m not convinced this will get boring; only time will tell though.

Jim Franklin

Jim Franklin

Jim Franklin is a freelance writer, living in Derby UK with his wife and his player 3. When time allows he likes nothing more than losing himself in a multi-hour gaming session. He likes most games and will play anything but prefers MMO's, and sandbox RPG's.

So what do you think?

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