Bioshock 2 Game Review

Bioshock 2 is a game published by 2K Games in 2010. It is a sequel to the original Bioshock, and takes place approximately 8 years since the end of the first game. You play as Subject Delta, a Big Daddy prototype, revisiting the familiar city of Rapture.

Plot

You are a prototype Big Daddy, and you are bonded to a Little Sister named Eleanor Lamb. As it turns out, her mother is Sophia Lamb, a social psychiatrist and cult leader, and she makes you kill yourself using the hypnotize tonic. Ten years later, you are resurrected in a Vita-Chamber and must reunite with your not so Little Sister, because you are bonded to her and not being near her causes your body to shut down and die. In the process, you rescue Eleanor from her mother’s scheme of fusing her mind with everyone in Rapture through ADAM, and help her escape the city.

Gameplay

The gameplay is very similar to the first game. You are trapped in a dying city full of lunatics, and you have guns and plasmids to defend yourself. Plasmids allow you to shoot electricity or fireballs, or cause security to attack an enemy, etc., giving you the extra edge you need in combat situations. Hacking has changed from a puzzle break to a quick time event, which provides a better flow, especially in the heat of battle. However, I felt that the hacking game was way too easy, as I didn’t need any hacking tonics throughout the game, and the hacking tool (which lets you shoot darts to hack machines in a distance) was entirely unnecessary. Since it is considered a weapon, in the middle of a fight, when you are reaching for a weapon, you could accidentally grab the hacking tool and shoot a splicer with a dart, which is something I did quite often.

Once again, you can save or harvest Little Sisters to get ADAM, which allows you to upgrade your character and get stronger plasmids. This time, however, you can also take the Little Sisters around to gather ADAM, protecting them from waves of splicers in exchange for getting more ADAM. Protecting Little Sisters is a nuisance and gets very boring later in the game, and it can be quite expensive as well. I often found myself running low on health kits, EVE hypos and ammo when protecting the Little Sister on the hard difficulty, which is very frustrating because you often have to fight Big Sisters immediately afterwards.

Speaking of Big Sisters, several new enemy types have been introduced. The Big Sister are Little Sisters who have grown up and gone insane, as the ADAM coursing through their body has left them feral and aggressive. They are very annoying to fight because of their high movement speed, making hitting them quite challenging. I don’t like their design or inclusion in this game, because they just feel and look so out of place. They feel like cheap, annoying knock-offs of Big Daddies; I can’t help but feel the designers knew they had to create something as close to the established brand as possible, resulting in this dumb old thing. Maybe I’m just salty because of how annoying I found them, but I really feel like they don’t add much to the Bioshock mythos.

Speaking of Big Daddies, a new Big Daddy type has been added: the Rumbler. They carry a rocket launcher and deploy mini-turrets to protect Little Sisters in a more strategic way, with greater fire-power. These guys are pathetically easy to defeat, even on the hardest difficulty, because they attack exclusively with projectiles, rendering them harmless if you use Telekinesis to catch their attacks. Throwing the RPGs back at them does a lot of damage, so you really can fight them with one arm tied behind your back. They also do not have a melee or charge attack, so they really can’t hurt you if you pay attention. From a lore perspective, I was surprised to see a Big Daddy so well armed. From the first game, it’s established that Big Daddies are made as cheaply and crudely as possible: people who have been spliced up to their eyeballs are forced into scuba gear and brainwashed to protect Little Sisters. They’re not well armed in the traditional sense: that is, they use whatever gear they have laying around, be it a drill or rivet gun, neither of which were intended for combat. But the Rumbler comes armed to the teeth with fairly advanced technology, so I thought that was quite odd. You could argue that Rapture has put in more effort to empowering Big Daddies, but if that’s the case I find it hard to believe that Big Daddies would not be given better armor. Scuba gear made sense when you’re penny-pinching, but if you want your soldiers to do better, they need better gear.

Lastly, splicers have a new addition to their ranks, the Brute Splicer. They take a lot of damage, and that’s about it. There’s really not a whole lot to say about these guys. I do like their inclusion in the game though, since I found it odd that none of the splicers had super-human physique in the first game.

Overall Thoughts

Bioshock 2 is an okay game. Functionally, it’s not great, as I experienced several glitches early in the game (enemies glitching in and out, see below), and the game crashed frequently when I got to Fontaine Futuristic.

glitch

Still, it’s a fun game to play: the game’s challenging and has fun mechanics. I’ve played for 12 hours now, and I really can’t complain that much… until you compare it to the original. That is the main downfall of this game: Splicers are less scary, the world is less interesting, plasmids aren’t as cool anymore, and the story is nowhere near as good as the first game. The atmosphere is completely different too. Remember how scary and atmospheric the opening of the first game was? You approach a lighthouse in the middle of the ocean… you enter a bathysphere… you see the neon lights and sky scrapers of Rapture… you emerge from the sea in a dark room… and promptly near get killed by a barely human monstrosity that you can’t even see in the dark. The only thing you have to help you is a radio, and a mysterious man on the other line.

Meanwhile, in the second game, you are resurrected from a Vita-Chamber, which means that death is meaningless, you’re already armed with a big ass drill, and you already have a goal: find your Little Sister. On top of that, you run into a familiar face very early in the game. Tenenbaum from the first game has come back to save the Little Sisters, and she requests your help. The fact that there’s someone you’ve met before, and the fact that you know you can trust them, completely removes the horror element of this game. On top of that, Sinclair and Elanor stay in contact with you the entire game, the latter of which you know you can trust completely, because she’s completely dependent on you and loves the crap out of you.

On a similar note, the Big Daddies are just so easy now. Remember how hard they were in the first game? I remember how in the Medical Pavillion section of the game, you had a shotgun, machine gun, revolver, electro bolt and maybe 2 sentries to kill a Big Daddy, none of which were particularly effective. Now, the first Big Daddy, even on hard difficulty, is so easy, mostly because you have traps already:

first_big_daddy

(if gif doesn’t load properly)

I also really don’t like how they portrayed Andrew Ryan in this game. In the first game, it was clear that Andrew Ryan was intelligent and charismatic, but at the same time flawed and desperate. He believed in the free market, and letting the “Invisible Hand” solve all the issues of society, but when things started to turn sour with revolts and a war breaking out, he laid down regulations and seizures to hamstring his opponents, violating his own principles. Rapture was his dream and his life, and he would rather burn in hell than let someone else take it over. But in the second game, he just comes off as stupid, hateful and without principle. Near the beginning of the game, you come across some recorded messages, which shows the debates between Sophia Lamb and Andrew Ryan, and a crowd can be heard cheering for Sophia. I think this was an attempt by the writers to make Sophia seem even more intelligent and charismatic than Andrew in order to make the villain seem even more dangerous than the first game, but the attempt falls flat. The Andrew in the recordings are not who I remember, and the things that Sophia says isn’t even interesting. This game partially, retroactively ruined Andrew for me.

One last negative point: whatever happened to the makeshift weapons? I remember that in the first game, they made a big point of saying that there originally weren’t that many weapons in Rapture, so a lot of the weapons you saw were built on the fly, and thus looked like they were made of garbage. This was proven to be doubly true when you visit the Power to the People upgrade centers, which made the guns look even more makeshift, but none of this is true in this game. You have a minigun, spear gun, double barrel shot gun, actual grenade launcher, a hacking tool… the only thing that’s sort of makeshift is the rivet gun and the drill, since these are meant to be used as tools rather than as weapons. Just a small thing.

But there are positives to the game, compared to the first one. Firstly, saving or harvesting Little Sisters has more consequences than in the first game. For all it’s talk of moral choice, the only thing that harvesting or saving Little Sisters changed was the ending, which was the last 30 seconds of the game. Besides the fact that you felt bad, it had no real consequences. But in Bioshock 2, your actions are observed and mimicked by Elanor, who looks to you to teach her morals. So, near the end of the game, when the ship you want to use to escape Rapture is flooded, Elanor decides that the best course of action would be to boil the water away. However, she is not strong enough to do that by herself. If you chose to save the Little Sisters, she runs around saving the Little Sisters and enlisting their aid; if you chose to harvest the Little Sisters, she harvests Little Sisters to become strong enough to do the job herself. I got the same sinking feeling as when I played Telltale Games’ Walking Dead: the feeling you get when you do something bad as Lee, and then turn around to see Clementine watching you. I also really liked the section where you play as a Little Sister, because you get to see Rapture through their eyes. They still see Rapture in its heyday, when everything’s clean and polished and beautiful, when in reality it’s a giant shit hole.

20170629213407_1

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You also get to see how the Little Sisters see you: depending on whether or not you spared the minor antagonists in the game, the statues that the Little Sisters see show you as merciful or bloodthirsty. It’s kind of odd, though, how the statues don’t take into account whether or not you’ve been harvesting Little Sisters…

Closing Thoughts

Bioshock 2 is a fun game. It’s on sale on Steam for $20, which is a bit high, but it’s still affordable. The mechanics and the world are engaging enough, and the plasmids are as fun to play with as ever. However, this game lacks the charm and atmosphere, as well as the engaging plot, of the first game, so you should adjust your expectations if you loved the first game.

Fun Tip

This combination of plasmids and tonics are completely game breaking:

  1. Scout – lets you wander around invisible, shooting plasmids
  2. Natural Camouflage – if you don’t move, you turn invisible
  3. Fountain of Youth – standing in water regenerates EVE and health
  4. Decoy 3 (optional) – makes a decoy that enemies attack, which hurts them and heals you

When you’re scouting, the body you leave behind is very vulnerable, so hide it with Natural Camouflage. Use Scout to look ahead and rain down plasmids, which you can do indefinitely if you have Fountain of Youth, because you’ll never run out of EVE. Decoy 3 is a great way to hurt your enemies and heal yourself while using this strategy. Have fun!

Note: does not work on Big Sisters; they can see through your Natural Camouflage. Alternatively:

  1. Fountain of Youth
  2. Security Command 3 – lets you spawn elite bots, along with targeting enemies for security bots

Security command 3 lets you summon OP bots that take a massive beating and deal out serious damage. Summoning these bots is very expensive though, so by standing in water you can do it indefinitely.

Note: you can really do this with any plasmid – stand in water and blast away!

Note 2: Security Command has been nerfed (thank god) so that if a Big Daddy takes damage from a bot because of Security Command, it will become hostile towards you.

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One thought on “Bioshock 2 Game Review

  1. A very good review! I thought 2 was a pretty good sequel and I liked how there were more women in the game than the first one. But I agree, this game was less scary with the splicers than the first one. I missed the occassional jump scare.

    Liked by 1 person

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