Sunday, August 06, 2000

BioShock 2 Ps3 reviews | 8.5

I loved Bioshock; I became immediately immersed in it and spent well over 20 hours completing it during my first playthrough because there was so much to explore in the game. Bioshock 2 is no different. What a cool game Bioshock 2 is so far. Let me say up front that I haven't finished it, and I don't want to be finished. I have played for over 6 hours and I don't get the impression that I'm remotely close to finishing.

After 6 hours, I'm sure that I could have gotten a lot farther in the game than I am a lot faster, but you can prolong the game by exploring areas that may not be the most direct route to your goal. And I spend a lot of time exploring. These little explorations are usually fruitful, because hidden throughout the expansive game are all kinds of weapons, perks and information about where you've once again suddenly found yourself captive: In the underwater city of Rapture. (Edit 3/1/10: Finished the game and the game is as good as the rest of this review suggests. Spent, I'd say, well over 15 hours playing. Extensive searching kept my ammo and "Eve" full at all times.)

The game begins with a flashback cutscene with you as a Big Daddy protecting a Little Sister apparently just before the events of the first game. The cutscene ends badly for you, but you are suddenly "reactivated" about 10 years later within Andrew Ryan's utopian city of Rapture now under the control of a woman named Sofia Lamb, and Lamb is not happy to see you. Did I say utopian city? Well, that may have been the original idea, but the Rapture you ultimately find yourself in is the antithesis of a utopia and in even worse shape than in the first Bioshock. I believe the term is dystopia. Anyway, a familiar name contacts you and helps guide you, a Big Daddy, to your goals.

The good news is that in Bioshock 2, unlike Bioshock 1, your peripheral vision isn't limited like it was by the Big Daddy helmet. Remember that part in Bioshock 1 where you became the Big Daddy and you had to escort the Little Sister? That was one of the tougher parts on the game, no? Well, it looks like we're in for a lot of that in Bioshock 2.

You are given goals and roadblocks o'plenty to prevent you from easily reaching your goals. The few people (called Splicers) left in Rapture that you run into have all gone (are still) stark raving mad, and they'll ruin your day or the Little Sister's day that you're trying to protect if you let them get too close. And don't trip a security alarm; it'll summon armed drones and more Splicers. At the beginning of the first level you get a quick glimpse of something that looks a lot worse than a Splicer, and it becomes clear that the gene altering that was going on in the first one has been taken to the next level in this one.

At least it's easier to hack everything from security cameras to drones to vending machines to safes in Bioshock 2. Not only can you hack from a distance by firing a "hack dart" at a machine like a gun turret, the hacking itself is a new timed system that is based on stopping a needle that moves back in forth over a color coded grid versus the first game's complete the puzzle before time runs out system.

You get all kinds of weapons and occasional opportunities to upgrade your weapons. You're well equipped. And this time not only do you get the Big Daddy's Rivet Gun, but also his oversize drill. The drill is quite effective so far on Splicers and saves on precious ammo; there's a new melee attack added to your defense system and a melee with the drill equipped is almost as effective as the drill itself. You get the a camera again too to take pictures that allow you to conduct research on your foes to increase the damage you can inflict on them and lessen the damage that they inflict on you (don't worry...all you have to do is take the dang picture; the research is done automatically).

In addition to the corpses strewn throughout the game that can be searched for goodies, so is ammo, money and other knick-knacks that will help you progress. Just be sure to search everything if you want to maximize your strength. And speaking of maximizing your strength, one of the first things you get are, just like the first game, Plasmids...or put another way...special abilities. Telekinesis. Pyrokinesis. And a bunch of other Plasmid "kinesises" are unlocked pending your ability to find or buy them. Try picking something heavy up with your telekinesis and throwing it at your enemy...better yet, plant a few Trap Rivets on that thing before you toss it! You're also granted "tonics" to customize your character with. Stuff like armor, various strengths, first aid boosts, and secondary damage on your enemies from your weapons or from just plain old being attacked. Really cool stuff.

Unlike most games, but just like Bioshock 1, the game lets you save at any time, and when you restart play it starts you at the exact place you last saved...not at the last checkpoint. Nice. Very nice. So right before you get to what you think might be a tough! Cuz if you play "poorly", you can just quit and try again.

Like any game with redundant enemies (think RE4's ganados or Uncharted's pirates), the Splicers become quite annoying, but I suppose that's the idea. And yup, you even need to battle with other Big Daddies again. And as tough as they are, wait until you have to battle your newest foe, the Big Sister. My first battle with one of these didn't go so well. Thank goodness for the save anywhere feature! You have GOT to remember to hit that first aid button before your health runs out. You reload automatically, and your Plasmids will recharge automatically (if you've got some Eve), but you don't heal automatically.

Your goals change all the time. Just when you think you've attained a critical backfires or you're immediately given another that requires backtracking...and then backtracking again. But rest assured it never gets boring. The eerie atmospheres and creepy environments that Bioshock's creators have put together are more than effective. Some areas are really creepy, and there's nothing worse than not being able to find your way out of those which isn't always easy. But that's the fun! Oh yeah, and now that you're in the Big Daddy suit, you're even required to make it through some underwater (or should I say in the water) adventures.

If you like shooters or survival / horror games...Bioshock 2 is for you. The first game is really cheap here at Amazon, and I'd highly recommend that you play it first for chronology's sake. But chronology is completely unnecessary for Bioshock 2. Come to think of Bioshock 2 first then play Bioshock 1 as a prequel!

Because one thing that Bioshock 2 has that Bioshock 1 doesn't is Multiplayer mode. This is really fun. Ya know how Modern Warfare 2 was really a multiplayer game with a bonus single player campaign? Well, Bioshock 2 is a single player game with a bonus multiplayer mode. Think Modern Warfare 2 combined with World at War Zombie mode combined with, well, Bioshock. I tried Multiplayer last night and in my first sitting got almost all of the Trophies (for anyone that cares about that). I really bought Bioshock 2 for the single player mode. But the addition of Multiplayer only adds to the hours of good times to be had with this game. Multiplayer is an interesting story driven mode where the player takes on the role of a citizen of Rapture before the events of the first Bioshock.

So is there anything bad about Bioshock 2 so far. Well, if I had to come up with something it'd be that the graphics seem to have received no upgrade whatsoever. After games like Uncharted, you'd think that 2K would have made some improvements in this department, but I'm not seeing it. The Splicers look as cartoonish as it gets. And my only other complaint would be the familiarity that Bioshock 2 has with the original. But that's the idea, right? You are "reborn" into Rapture.

I've heard some talk about how Bioshock 2 is a carbon copy of the first game. And that talk is just ridiculous. Again, take my review for what it's worth since I'm only just getting into it. But after 6 hours I'd say that there's no question here...add this to your cart. This is a 5-star game...whether you've played the first already or not.

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