Time to return to the uncertain and murky depths of Rapture as 2K games releases the next instalment of underwater insanity to the Bioshock series, Bioshock 2.
The story is set ten years from the previous events involving Jack and takes a much deeper look into the creatures and mechanics within Rapture. This time by placing you into the metal boots of a Big Daddy, the game takes a much more powerful and interesting point of view due to the gruesome versatility placed at your fingertips.
Big Daddy’s were created to protect the little sisters, the same little sisters that scurry around dead body’s feeding off harvested ADAM like horrid doll gremlins. This kind of dark and vivid imagery creates a tense nightmarish situation in which you’ll find yourself having to make dark and difficult choices. In giving us this new inside view of Bioshock’s story within the city of Rapture, it becomes surprisingly unfamiliar from the beginning. In-fact the strange twisted slant in the intro scene involving Sofia Lamb, the mother of the particular little sister your character is attached to, creates a disturbing but intriguing dynamic for you to follow throughout the game.
The game is similar to the first but with better exploration, weapons and upgrades, also there’s another array of Plasmids and Gene Tonics to get to grips with once again. Rapture this time around seems to be more rewarding with slightly better designed tasks and puzzles throughout, coupled with the spectacular SFX, gore and violence, the game creates an even denser and thrilling atmosphere.
Rapture isn’t a friendly place, far from it. Nor is it a tidy or safe environment to explore, this sets up one of the main emphases in Bioshock 2, the scavenging. You will constantly search and loot items to further yourself and your abilities, you can find all sorts of food products with different Health/Eve benefits along with cash and ammo; this gives the game a good steady momentum in-between checkpoints or mission objectives. Secret rooms or areas are especially rewarding as there filled with many delights including the Audio Diary’s which hold some invaluable insight into Rapture.
As you pick up momentum after having explored some of Raptures once glorified city, you’ll get to experience your first Plasmid. Plasmids are an especially fun feature in Bioshock; they allow you to wield amazingly kick-ass abilities. There’s also a healthy variety to choose from and can provide hours of gene enhanced mayhem. The great experimental minds of Rapture tampered with the human genetic structure and decided to rewrite it; this is where your plasmids come into play. You wield Plasmids with your left hand leaving your right free for some incredible weaponry, they can also be upgraded giving you even more power to throw around as a Big Daddy. The weapons you acquire are very rewarding and look the part, especially with the Drill being the first welcome addition. Some weapons also have particular creative uses to overcome obstacles in-game, like the Hacking tool used to hack cameras, turrets and locked doors. You can only upgrade weapons by finding the Weapon Upgrade machines which can only be used once; Plasmids are upgraded or purchased using ADAM that’s found in the Little Sisters that are protected by other Big Daddies. Plasmids can be found hidden around Rapture, your daughter Eleanor also drops one or two off for her Daddy, Gene Tonics can be found this way too but don’t have to be activated like Plasmids do. Your Plasmids don’t run on air they run on Eve, which is that blue stuff you find lying around in syringes. You don’t run out too often either, only in major fights which means you get more fun for your Eve. First Aid Kits found lying about can also be used quickly with the D-pad when in a tight spot or alternatively you can refill either whenever you want by holding the Right Bumper button and selecting X or Y.
Along with upgrades to weapons you can pick up different ammo types for the eight guns you can eventually acquire. Although the different ammo types where around in the first title, this time around the extra advantages you get on certain types of enemy is more noticeable and rewarding. You can also deploy different kinds of traps like Rivet Traps, Proximity Mines and my personal favourite – the Trap Spear. You can do alot of nasty things to the inhabitants of Rapture when you become quite formidable late in the game, you can pin Splicers up against surfaces with your Spear weapon or freeze a Big Sister and smash her into peices with your Drill.
Another key part to your survival will be the machines found dotted around Rapture, there’s a variety of them and they can be hacked into. Not surprisingly alot of things can be hacked into around Rapture and when you do a bar with appear with a pointer that will move from left to right over green and red sections, if you hit a blue section at one point you will receive a free item or if you’re hacking something that can defend you it will receive some type of fighting bonus. These advantages can be rather useful as Bioshock 2 has some extra weird recruits to add to this underwater freak show of a family, these new enemy’s are a little tougher than your average Splicer and only come in large so prepare your traps. Fighting as a Big Daddy is a much better experience compared to Jack who – let’s face it – was always on the outside looking in and… well… he was abit flimsy too. no offence to character leads like Jack but running around in a giant metal suit throwing fire, stomping around like its no-body’s business while devouring little girls is quite hard for a bloke on his own to beat.
Putting aside the super powers curtsey of plasmids and great weaponry Rapture has to offer its enthralling environment; it really is unmistakable and has alot going on in and around it. You’ll come across Rosie’s outside in the sea fixing leaks and doing general repairs, which really starts to bring it to life. There’s a healthy amount of staged action, not too much but enough to reflect the past events, there’s hastily written scribble on the walls and the Audio Dairy’s help provide more insight into the twisted life’s of Raptures population. You can also interact with your environment like in the first but better, melting ice, setting things a blaze or electro-shocking something into life occurs more often and in fitting situations. The other characters you’ll bump into help bring direction and purpose into each of the levels and are fitting for the theme and style of the game. They will also advise you on certain moral choices you’ll have once again or try and sway you, it’s up to you what path you choose to take… just remember actions have consequences.
The single player campaign is just about perfect all the way to the end, more of the same gameplay from the first title but much improved. Rapture looks as damp as ever and crawling with mutated life, it’s also filled with more machines to hack and secret rooms to plunder. You have a mountain of Audio Dairy’s to find but the game is still has a very strong pull without them, they’re interesting enough if you’re not too busy kicking mutant/addict ass. The story doesn’t have many epic CG scenes but makes up for it with a more than worthy sequel plot full of even more dark secrets and events that will shock and awe, even with it still being set in little old Rapture.