Game Review: Bioshock 2

By Tim Boswell  |  02/23/2010

Bioshock 2 coverIn 2007, 2K dropped what many critics called "one of the best games of the year" with Bioshock. Just this month, the game publisher blessed gamers with the title's sequel ... finally.

Bioshock 2 is set nearly a decade after the events that unfolded during its precursor. But unlike the first installment, which fans loved because of the mystery, part 2's improvements to gameplay and combat shine most.

This time around, since you're already familiar with the underwater city of Rapture, the wonder and awe has worn off a bit. It still offers some of the amazement of its predecessor, but the enhancements to the combat and shooter mechanics make Bioshock 2 a title the fans of the first will definitely pick up.

One immediate change you'll notice in part 2 is that the protagonist is a Big Daddy (a genetically enhanced human grafted to an armored diving suit, accompanied by and serving as guards to each Little Sister) instead of the first game's character Jack, the sole survivor of a plane crash that goes down in the Atlantic Ocean and eventually makes his way to the underwater city of Rapture.

In Bioshock 2, Andrew Ryan (the creator of Rapture) is no longer present. Instead, Dr. Sofia Lamb has taken control. While she doesn't seem to have the larger than life persona of Ryan, she is a dangerous foe nonetheless.

Your character, a Big Daddy known as Subject Delta, has been revived and is in search of Lamb's daughter Eleanor, who was once your own Little Sister. Delta's sole mission is to be reunited with her. From here, you're focused on the reunion, and it sees you killing anything in your way to find her. Standing in your way is Lamb's army, which is dubbed "The Family", consisting of Splicers, the remaining human population of the city who have gained super human powers after years of abusing a genetically enhancing drug called ADAM; and an army of Big Sisters, who are retro-fitted with armor like you, are very powerful, and give you a run for you money.

As mentioned, Bioshock 2's gameplay has been improved greatly. This time around, it's a little more methodical than other first-person shooters. Instead of running into combat with guns blazing, shooting anything that moves, you will find yourself setting traps and preparing for attacks before they take place. Other methods you might also try: is to confuse your enemies from afar, making them fight each other; destroy a security camera; and/or use the environment itself to your advantage.

Your Big Daddy is given a duel-wielding ability this time. You can now employ a wide array of firearms in one hand -- including a machine gun, a drill, and even a spear gun -- with the magic-like ability in your other called plasmids where you can zap enemies with lightning, or a fireball. As you play, you'll discover what combinations between both work best in different battle scenarios. Also, switching between the two are done very easily, and is a must as you run out of ammo or if your plasmid system is drained during big battles. But overall, the duel-wielding ability gives combat a much more natural and strategic feel than before.

The single-player campaign is around 10 to 12 hours of fun. But when you're finished with that, Bioshock 2 offers a fun story-based multi-player mode set during the fall of Rapture. Most of the multi-player matches support up to 10 players, and available in seven game modes such as Capture The Flag, Death Match and Domination, but done in Bioshock fashionof course, . The multi-player is more fast-paced than the single-player mode, so if you're strictly looking for a fun with your friends, you get it this time..

Overall, Bioshock 2 is a worthy follow-up to the original. While the story isn't as memorable as the first, it is just as compelling. Exploring the bond between Big Daddies and their Little Sisters is definitely an interesting addition, as well as the added Big Sisters. The title definitely gives gamers a different type of first-person shooter to enjoy, outside of the stereotypical characters and soldier/war plots that dominate the genre. And, it's wonder sticks with you long after turning off your console.

While Bioshock 2 doesn't quite top the grand-ness of the first, it's still a valiant effort. And, it could still possibly be one of the best titles of the year, although it may be too early to tell. If you loved the original, you'll love the follow-up, period.

Our Rating: 4.5 out of 5