A jab at gaming – with love

BioShock 2 Review

– By Allyn

In 2007, 2K Games gave of the gaming world an FPS that wove together immersive, atmospheric gameplay with a unique and thought provoking storyline:  They gave us BioShock.  And by “us” I mean not really all of us, since PS3 owners had to salivate over screenshots until 2008…  but nonetheless, it was worth the wait.  In much the same way, as I watched the credits roll on my first playthrough, so began the same wait for BioShock 2.  The wait is over.  I picked up my copy of BioShock 2 at my local GameStop at midnight, drove home, and by 12:10 AM, I was configuring my character for BioShock 2 multiplayer…   [Sound of needle scratching on record]

Yes, that’s right, BioShock 2 multiplayer.  Despite hearing all kinds of disparaging comments from reviewers about the newly appendaged yet disappointing multiplayer mode of BioShock 2, I was determined to decide for myself.

(As a side note, as I’m sure you’ll notice from my game posts, I am a PS3 Trophy [prostitute].  And I figured that the fastest way to get my “Level 40” trophy would be to level up early so I could “pwn” all the “n00bs” that didn’t start the multiplayer until after they finished the single player mode.)

So with that, I will begin my commentary on BioShock 2 with the multiplayer.

What I Like:

The Pace: I love FPS games (Call of Duty, Resistance, Killzone).  I suck at FPS online multiplayer.  I don’t care that I suck at online multiplayer, because….. I love FPS games.  Actually, I do care when my k/d ratio looks like a bad batting average and the rest of my team member’s k/d ratios look like jail terms for grand theft auto (not the game, the crime).  Anyways, what I found in the BioShock 2 multiplayer was a slower paced, non-frantic multiplayer with 6-10 people per team, in multi-level compartmentalized maps which allowed the player to take advantage of the pacing of the game by hiding, setting traps, and utilizing optimal combinations of plasmids and weapons.  If you are used to the lightning fast frantic pacing of Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer, you may feel like someone has hit the Slo-Mo button on your PS3, but give it a bit and you might just enjoy it.

Your Arsenal:  Just as in the single player mode, you have access to both plasmids and weapons, although your choices are significantly limited at lower levels.  If you played the original BioShock, you will be ecstatic to know that you can have a plasmid and a weapon equipped simultaneously, which brings me to my next point.  So much of the multiplayer (as can also be true for the single player) is tied into choosing the right combination of plasmids and weapons for a given map or game type.  As you level up, more plasmids, weapons, tonics, and upgrades are available, so you can constantly be fine-tuning your gameplay.  I’ll only give out a few of my tips/secrets per review, so here’s one of my favorites: Geyser Trap/Electrobolt Plasmids in ADAM grab matches.  One hit with Geyser Trap, they hit the ceiling and drop the little sister.  Once you have her, find a room with a vending machine and barricade yourself with electrified geyser traps.

Leveling System:  Call of Duty set the current standard for online multiplayer leveling systems, and BioShock 2 did their best to take a page out of that same book.  At each level you have the possibility of unlocking new abilities and weapons, but you also unlock “Trials” which allow you to gain ADAM (XP) by completing various tasks related to weapons, plasmids, game types, etc.  As with most other online multiplayers, this keeps things interesting and challenging as you progress through the levels.  At the same time, the newly gained abilities truly do provide an incentive to level up, as long as you don’t get too frustrated at lower levels.  Second Tip:  Research, hacking, and little red ADAM vials are all worth 10 ADAM, which is the same as you get for a kill, so keep your eyes open for non-combat opportunities to gain XP.

What is Questionable:

Aiming: While the aiming/shooting mechanics in BioShock 2 are significantly improved over the original, I still feel like something is a little off.  There are times where I know I should have hit someone and didn’t and there are times when I clearly missed and got a kill shot (even completed a headshot challenge when I was clearly aiming at their chest).  Oddly enough, I find that the plasmid is more accurate than the weapons, which seems counter-intuitive.

Level Disparity:  If you are level 1-6 and you are playing in a game mode with people who are level 10-40, you will probably get frustrated. If you are level 10-30, playing  people who are level 38-40, you may also get frustrated.  Unfortunately, there is no perfect “everyone’s a winner” level system, and there shouldn’t be, since leveling up should be worth something.  That said, there seems to be too big a discrepancy between your weapons/abilities in very early levels versus those in much higher levels, and you will be outgunned 9 times out of 10.

At around 5:00 AM on the day of the BioShock 2 release, I thought: “Maybe I should try some single player….”

What I Like:

The Environment:  I will admit, my first thoughts on the single player campaign were:  “This is it?  This is practically the same game as the original BioShock except I have a drill and a rivet gun!”  After that feeling went away I was left with an overwhelming sense of familiarity.  It felt like I belonged there, without being a complete carbon copy of the environment from the original.  And it should… you’re in the same place!  The environment quickly became a character in the game: eerie noises, footsteps, echos, the ocean currents beating against Rapture, the screams, the gunfire…..  Soon, you become immersed in Rapture.

Two Hands!:  As I mentioned above for the multiplayer, the ability to have both a plasmid and weapon equipped simultaneously truly increases the playability and flow of in-game combat.

Game Time: The single player campaign took me more than 4 hours to complete.  I can’t believe I’m actually making a point of saying this, but too many games now are spending the bulk of their development on online multiplayer and giving the single player modes the shaft.  I loved Modern Warfare 2, it was exciting, realistic, and frantic, but it left me feeling like a girl in a motel room on prom night: It was all over too fast.  Although it started slow, BioShock 2 drew me in over time and took me on a journey from start to finish and made me feel like I got my $60 worth.

The Rollercoaster:  Much like BioShock, the action in BioShock 2 was not constant, but instead came in ups and downs.  In the case of BioShock 2, the aspect of harvesting ADAM and dealing with Big Sisters provided new twists to the action that added dimension to the gameplay.  The stressful battles oftentimes cleared into near silence, drawing you back down into the protracted tenseness of Rapture.

What is Questionable:

Who’s the Daddy?:  A major recurring question I kept asking myself was:  “Aren’t I supposed to be a Big Daddy?”  I remember the nightmare of taking those guys down in the original BioShock, so I still doesn’t make sense to me how some jacked-up splicer can knock me upside the head with a wrench and I loose half my health!  Well, it’s not quite that bad, but splicers seem to do the same amount of damage to you as a Big Daddy as they did to you as a regular guy in BioShock.  On the flipside, I feel that the drill (and all melee attacks) don’t do near as much damage to splicers as they should.

Waiting is the hardest part:  The game starts slow.  For a while.  I don’t have as much a problem with this, since I love games like Fallout 3 and Oblivion, but in the beginning even I was noticeably waiting for things to pick up.  Thankfully, they did.  The 2nd half of the game has more action and less wandering, which in my opinion, made up for the slower 1st half.

Character Interaction:  Your actual interaction with main characters was significantly limited.  Their personalities were well developed through dialog/radio communication, but I think that the game could have benefitted from more depth in your physical interaction with the other main characters.  As it stands, you almost feel like you’re being narrated to throughout the game, rather than interacting with real characters.

OVERALL – Score: 3 of 4 Stars.  My impression is very positive.  I liked the multiplayer a lot more than I ever expected and I play it every chance I get.  Many of the negatives of the game don’t matter to me personally, but I can see where other players may get frustrated.  I am on my 2nd play-through of the single player campaign and I am still enjoying it, although I don’t expect it to have much replay value when I’m through the 2nd time.  I am very glad that I got BioShock 2 on release day, but the game will probably not have the same value for all players.

4Couples – My finacee does not like tense games or games with zombies, so I’ll be playing BioShock 2 with my wireless headphones on while she studies.  Even if your significant other loves bloody zombies, there’s no split-screen multiplayer (a seemingly forgotten art) so unless you have 2 HDTV’ss and 2 PS3’s, theres not much for two of you to do.


4 Responses to “BioShock 2 Review”

  1. Did Bioshock 2 soil your memories of Bioshock 1 in any way?

  2. I think the only effect that BioShock 2 had on my impressions of the original BioShock was that I did find myself thinking that the original would have been outright unbelievable with just a few of the tweaks that they added to the sequel. The overall feel of BioShock 2 was so contiguous with the original that it truly felt like an organic extension to the game. I actually plan on going back and replaying the original once I get all my trophies for BioShock 2 (so I can get the rest of the trophies for the original), so it will be interesting to see how it goes.

  3. You clearly have read a lot on this subject…quite informative..thanks for posting.

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