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Review - Bioshock 2


Title: Bioshock 2
Developer/Publisher: 2k Games
Platforms: PC, XBox 360, PS3
Release Date: 02/09/10
Number of Players: 1 player campaign, 2-10 player multiplayer

It is time, boys and girls, to return to Rapture. This time, however, we’re visit the idyllic city as one of its protectors, a Big Daddy. Although years have passed since the original Bioshock, the world hasn’t changed much. The Splicers still rule the streets of Rapture and are on their eternal hunt for Adam, Little Sisters and their Big Daddies can be found harvesting it from corpses and there are plenty of cameras, vending machines and turrets to be hacked. The game opens with you, as a Big Daddy, following your Little Sister through a cocktail party and the city of Rapture looks bright and new to you. As she races ahead of you and out of sight, you hear her scream for you. Your arrival finds a few local residents trying to harvest her for ADAM. Like any good protector, you swoop in and squish the evil ne’er do wells, saving your ward. The antagonist of the game, Sofia Lamb, arrives at this point and takes you Little Sister and orders you to take a pistol and kill yourself. Congratulations, you’ve lost the game…not really, of course. You wake up in front of a Vita-Chamber about 10 years later and it seems you’ve missed the Fall of Rapture. Welcome back to Rapture.

For people who have never played the first Bioshock, this one comes with a good mix of First Person Shooter and Role-Playing Game customizations. The game is, at its core an FPS, I won’t deny that. But it adds some nice RPG elements to it with leveling up for Plasmids, choosing which Tonics to use and having a finite number of weapon upgrades to select. Plasmids are genetic mutations that allow the user to do a number of amazing things from shoot lightning from their hands (stunning their enemies [or even killing them if they're in water] to shooting mutant wasps out of your very veins [which can even hunt down enemies in hiding]). For those who are veteran Bioshock players, the game adds some nice additions to spice things up, most notably are the Big Sisters and the multiplayer aspect.

Bioshock 2

A lot of what makes this a great game is the story. It tells the backstory of why Big Daddies are always there with the Little Sisters. It tells the backstory of the Big Sisters. It givers more history of Rapture and it even hints at the future of a Bioshock 3. From the first game, the Big Daddies were just hulking brutes with a drill or gun that beat the ever-loving snot out of you while you tried to save/harvest the Little Sisters, but you never really got any reason why they clues as to the why of it. This goes in depth into that from your perspective as a Big Daddy. The Little Sister from the intro was a special one that was taken by Sofia Lamb and you have retrieve her before you breakdown (although they hint at a time limit throughout the game, there wasn’t one that I could find).

Bioshock 2

I don’t want to go into too much detail as to who you are, who the Little Sister is from the intro or even what the connection is between the two of you is. A lot of that unfolds as you play the game and it a pure joy to watch. The story is moved forward by other people telling you what to do, very similarly to the first game. Since you’re a Big Daddy who has been resurrected from the dead and you’ve missed the Fall of Rapture, it’s time to figure out what you’ve missed and where your Little Sister is. Throughout the game, various people will contact you through your helmet’s radio, giving you basic missions as to where to go, what to do and how to get to the next area of Rapture.

Let’s get to the weapons of Bioshock 2. The nitty gritty of any FPS. The fun stuff. When you first start out, you start with just the drill. You can beat people with it and you can power the drill up and waste people that way. Both can be fun (and are very satisfying in their own right). Sadly, a knife to a gun fight ends up with someone dead…and it’s rarely the gun wielder. Early on you get the Rivet Gun (yes, another staple of the Big Daddy). This replaces the Revolver from the original Bioshock as your base gun. It is a fairly basic gun and does a pretty good job. Like any good FPS, there is a Shotgun (and yes, it is of the double barreled and sawed off variety) and a Machinegun. The last two weapons are a grenade/rocket launcher and a spear gun. Each weapon can be upgraded three times and all five of the six can be fully upgraded. You do get another item that is on your weapon list, although it in and of itself is not a weapon.

Bioshock 2

The Research Camera. You take a picture of an enemy and a grainy, sepia movie-ish film starts. While this happens, you need to attack the enemy with various weapons and Plasmids to research the enemy. Each enemy has four levels of research that unlocks different abilities (from damage boosts to an additional Tonic). The Research Camera, while a great help later in the game, can be a huge annoyance in the heat of battle. While switching between weapons and Plasmids, you’re constantly under attack from the enemy (or enemies, as the case may be) and once the enemy you’re researching is dead, you have to switch BACK to the Camera to start researching ANOTHER enemy…all while taking enemy fire. In the heat of battle, this can be a huge frustration. Even on the PC, where you can assign the Research Camera to a specific button, it is still very frustrating to have to swap between that, your weapon, your Plasmids and still move around to dodge enemy fire. Of course, researching enemies is ENTIRELY optional…but the bonuses are well worth the trouble.

Bioshock 2

Plasmids and Tonics…the spice of life. These fun toys are given by your special Little Sister throughout the game or purchased for ADAM at vending machines that you find in game. All of the Plasmids can be upgraded three times. The first level is helpful, no matter what…it will always give you some kind of damage attack, whether directly or
indirectly. After you’ve gotten one, you can purchase the later versions (for additional ADAM) for more damage, targets or area of effect. This is really where the RPG customization of the game shines. Although you’re required to have the level one ability of a few Plasmids, you can really pick and choose which Plasmids you want and
which you don’t. Tonics work similarly to Plasmids in that they give you additional buffs in the game. Their big difference is that they’re passive buffs and aren’t activated with a button push and you’re given a larger selection to have active at any given time. Each Plasmid and Tonic serves a play style and fits in somewhere in the game…just not
necessarily yours, so you will definitely find some that don’t use or need.

The enemies and the AI work very well. Even though the Splicers are supposed to be “deranged, ADAM addicted” psychopaths, they won’t sit there and let you shoot them. They will try to avoid your gunfire or lead in into a group of others. Even when there is just one, by itself, it will shoot, move to some basic cover, move out and shoot again and try basic tactics. Now, this isn’t anything great nor is it anything new. But for a game that billed the Splicers as psychopaths, that’s pretty amazing. The different types of Splicers have their different tactics, too. Some will try to charge you (and therefore your Shotgun works best), some will stay back and shoot you with a Tommy Gun (at which point your Rivet Gun or Machinegun works best). Where this can really be fun is when you have “borrowed” a Little Sister from its previous Big Daddy and are going to harvest some ADAM. Splicers are going to come out of the woodwork and bum rush you. What weapons you’re proficient in, what ammo you have and what tactics you use are going to mean the difference between a safe Little Sister or a quick visit to the closest Vita-Chamber.

Let’s take a look at Rapture. It’s been approximately 10 years since we last saw this desolate underwater paradise. Not much has really changed. The buildings are still in ruins. The walls are crumbling around you, there is water everywhere and graffiti is plastered on almost every wall. What makes this so beautiful, so eye-popping is the interaction between you, the Big Daddy, and the environment. When you walk under some water that is falling from the ceiling, you can hear it colliding with your helmet and it will obscure your vision. When your walk in from being out in the water, there are droplets of water on your mask that stay there for a while. All of this gives are sense of realism that makes you feel a little claustrophobic. As you continue through the story, you go through various parts of Rapture and see parts that you hadn’t seen from Bioshock. These new areas give a little more insight into the backstory of Rapture. A lot of it remains the dark and gritty look that the whole Rapture gives off, doom and gloom and a fallen Utopia. All of it, though, is beautiful in its own chaotic way.

When I saw that they were doing a multiplayer for Bioshock 2, I was very excited. I love FPS multiplayer games. Since the days of playing Half Life 1 for hours on end, I’ve been hooked. So, a game of running around as a pre-Fall Splicer sounded like a LOT of fun. I was both wrong and right. The multiplayer of Bioshock 2 is a lot of fun, but it carries one fatal flaw. That flaw is the leveling or Rank System. You start out as a Rank 1 schlub with a Pistol and a Shotgun and can choose two out of the three available Plasmids (those being Fire, Ice or Electricity). Your Plasmids are a little different than they were in the Single Player, Fire will still do medium damage and light them on fire, doing a damage over time. Ice will light damage but slow them down a little and lower their damage resistance (meaning other weapons will do more damage). And Electricity will do heavy damage and even more if they’re in water. Now, this wouldn’t be such a problem if the game allowed for some Rank matching in the game…Rank 1-5 vs Rank 1-5 kind of deal.

Bioshock 2

It does not, however. I’ve been in games where I was Rank 1 and was against people Rank 10-22. I can see why a lot of people are not happy with the multiplayer aspect of the game. Running around with the Pistol while people were hitting you with a Rocker Launcher was no fun. At Rank 2, you get your first new weapon and at Rank 3, you get your first Tonics. On the upside, the Rank system is easy It isn’t a long and drawn out process to go from Rank 1 to Rank 3 (that only took me 5 or 6 games, only lost half of them, too). There are plenty of non-combat things to do in the game, too. You get bonus xp, ADAM, for taking pictures of people and hacking turrets, as well as other objectives.

Like many all games for the XBox 360 and PS3, the PC version also has a number of Achievements to unlock. These are tied into your Live Gamertag if you also use the XBox 360 and will show up as two separate games (one for the 360 version of the game if you own/play it and one of the PC version if you own/play it, as well). Some of the achievements are fairly innocuous, ones that you’re going to complete anyways (such as “adopting” a Little Sister) and others are going to be a trial to get (such as getting all of the weapons upgrades available, remember that there is no going back in this game, so if you miss one part, you miss the whole achievement).

The Review

This was a good game. I enjoyed it a lot. I had a lot of fun playing it and I enjoyed the environment. The multiplayer on a whole is a lot of fun, even with it’s HUGE fatal flaw. The story is a bit short, but its still a moving story.


Big Daddy has Little Sister…Little Sister goes away…Big Daddy angry…you won’t like Big Daddy when he’s angry…Big Daddy SMASH!!! With a touching story backstory to Rapture and what happened after Ryan died at the end of the first game.


Although I cannot speak for the console version, I love the PC version for the ability to map my controls to the mouse/keyboard. There are so many new controls in this game that a standard FPS doesn’t take into account that I would have trouble using a console controller for. Like any FPS game, I’m sure they did a good job of mapping the keys to your controller, I’ve played Halo and Left 4 Dead on the 360 and on the PC, both had good control schemes, but they didn’t retain the absolute control that a mouse/keyboard allowed.


There is a lot of sound in this game, from the overheard conversations of the various Splicers to the rattle of the guns. The splash of the water on your helmet, the sloshing as you walk around the water filled corridors all of this adds to a spooky atmosphere. As a side note, if you are claustrophobic or hydrophobic, this is going to be a difficult game for you to play, the helmet (even though unseen) and corridors all give you a feeling of being enclosed and there scenes of being submerged in water. Just a cautionary note.


While it is difficult to analyze the graphics while Splicers are charging down on you, when you have a minute of a rest take a look around. Absorb the beauty of Rapture. They did a great job of adding in little bits fun, not necessarily easter eggs, but just enough fun to make you smile.

The Good:

A beautiful story, a beautiful world and a great roller coaster ride from start to finish. There is a lot that I’ll do over again when I replay the game, different Plasmids and Tonics to try, different tactics as well as different choices.

The Bad:

Short story. I know that nowadays, you can’t expect people to play a game for the 50+ or 100+ hours that people did for Final Fantasy VII. I really wish that there was a way to go back in the story, too, like you could in the first game. Once you’ve left an area, that’s it…no going back to get something you’ve forgotten.

The Ugly:

The Rank System for the multiplayer needs to have some sort of grouping system. It’s daunting and can turn off a lot of people when you’re running around with the weakest weapons and the other people are running around with the top of the line.


I liked the game. I thought that it was a lot of fun to play and even more fun to explore. I look forward to a second and even third replay to try things with different Plasmid/Tonic combinations.

Final Vote: 4/5

I would really like to give this a 5 out of 5 and at the same time I’d like to give this a 3 out of 5.  But there are too many good things to rate this as an average game and too many bad things to give this a perfect rating.  Those who are looking for a perfect sequel are going to be sorely disappointed, those who are looking for a great multiplayer Bioshock experience are likewise going to be disappointed.  But, those who are looking for a fun game that will waste some time, take them to Rapture and shoot some Big Daddies…ahh, those are the ones that will love this game.

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