Wednesday, July 6, 2011

BioShock 2

It feels so odd to already be writing a post for the second game one week after the first, but here I am. I guess the extended holiday weekend is to blame for my being able to finish this game so quickly. I don't think it's related to the story being any shorter anyway.

This sequel is set in the same place but features different characters than the first game. It happens eight years later in the timeline than the original and is set in different places inside Rapture. This all helps you feel like you're playing something new rather than just retracing your steps. The gameplay also changes to fit the new storyline - rather than simply defeating Big Daddies like in the first game, you now are one yourself and can therefore adopt the little sisters. Once adopted, you use them to harvest Adam and you must protect them while they do so. Technically this task is optional, however if you were to ignore it you would be missing out on a large part of the game. You would also end up with the bad ending.

I think the new storyline does well in moving everything forward, but I'll admit I found it a little confusing. While I enjoyed the central villain, Sofia Lamb, her intentions and schemes were a little unclear to me. Perhaps I did not find enough of the audio recordings to fill in the gaps. I also felt like this game was not as creepy as the original. While the Gil Alexander part of the story was obviously trying to be reminiscent of the Sander Cohen scenes in the original, it just wasn't as strong. Perhaps the fact that you are playing as a Big Daddy and not your average common man also takes away some of the danger and fear. Either that or I was simply getting more used to Rapture's quirks.

I did however like the inclusion of more moral choices in the game - not only the ability to save vs harvest little sisters but being provided the choice of whether to kill people or let them survive. It's a nice subversion of games where we pretty much expect to have to kill nearly everyone we come across. To be able to take the noble choice and turn the other cheek is a nice one. On the other hand, I laughed with glee when given a new weapon in this game, a spear gun, as I watched my enemies get pinned to the wall, and was also able to remove the spears from their corpses for later reuse. Does that make me a hypocrite, or just a fan of modern horror?

I felt like the difficulty was unnecessarily increased for this game - you carry fewer first aid kits, for instance, and some of the weapons are not as effective as the ones from the first game. The upgrade system is also changed and forces you into making tougher choices early on. Perhaps most annoying of all, certain controls were changed. When the ending of the game can be changed based on whether or not you rescue or harvest a little sister, why would you reverse the controller buttons that do this?! I once had to quit and reload my game because I selected the wrong one out of habit from playing the first game. They also changed the button for using a first aid kit, therefore making it more confusing to stay alive.

In the first game I heavily relied on shocking my enemies and then shooting/hitting them, while in this game I found the shock did not last nearly as long and it was only until later in the game when I gained the ability to freeze people in ice that things got a lot easier. Maybe almost a little too easy at times, but remember I am playing on the easiest difficulty level. There is also no real final boss in this game, just places where you fight a larger number of enemies than you normally would.

You once again get to do a task that is a bit different from the rest of the game toward the end. It is not even remotely difficult, but the storytelling and atmosphere made it highly enjoyable.

There is also a multiplayer mode added to this game, but I am reluctant to try it out. It seems to copy most other FPS multiplayer modes and given my very poor skills at shooting I don't think I would last very long.

There is technically one more game set in Rapture for me to play - that being the DLC add on for BioShock 2, "Minerva's Den." I hope to be getting to that within a week or two. I'm not sure how I feel about the upcoming sequel, BioShock Infinite being such a sharp change in direction. I've come to really like Rapture and its underwater setting. My hope is that we'll eventually see a BioShock 3 that brings us back to Rapture, perhaps once again from a different perspective than what we've seen before.

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