2010 Feb 23 anthy

Guy Blade Guy Blade---22:45:00

Late last week, I beat Bioshock 2. In gameplay terms, we're on fairly well-tread ground. Most of the enemies you'll fight, you've seen before. Although there are new weapons (since you're a Big Daddy), they generally play quite similarly to the previous set. I'm not complaining, particularly. They also did manage to correct some of the deficits that I saw in the first game. Stores no longer play their annoying intro every time you use one (though I still hear "Welcome to the Circus of Value!" in my head everytime I used one). The hacking system is no longer completely broken due to it pausing the game when active. Research is now based on classes of enemies rather than individual types: Big Daddies count as one type rather than having both Bouncers and Rosies being seperate, everything security related (Turrets, security bots, cameras) is in one set.

Of course, the real draw of the Bioshock games is their story and environment. The second game opens with your character, already in his Big Daddy form, escorting his little sister. After being ambushed, someone uses a plasmid on you (probably Hypnotize Big Daddy) causing them to be able to control you via verbal commands. She hands you a Luger (the most evil of pistols) and instructs you to blow your brains out which you promptly do. You wake up 10 years later, well after the events of the first game, and are soon told that you're a part of the "Alpha Series" of Big Daddies. This series was made as an evolutionary upgrade to better combat the splicers and are rather unique in that each Big Daddy is permanently bonded to a particular Little Sister. Your character's was stolen, and so you go to find her.

In the interviening decade, a psychiatrist/collectivist managed to take over Rapture. Of course, a rampaging big daddy out to find his lost charge doesn't really fit into her plans to built a utopian collective.

The game delves into more detail about how the Ryan-led Rapture worked, but also manages to muddy the timeline somewhat. I think this is due primarily to the injection of the new psychiatrist character into the pre-fall Rapture story. Numerous events and interactions between Lamb (the psychiatrist) and both Ryan and Fontaine from the first game, but it is difficult to place everything into one single narrative chain. I suspect this is in no small part due to the fact that Lamb wasn't even conceived of during production of the first game.

There are also some plot threads that seem to simply vanish without proper resolution. Your character's origins--pre-Big Daddy--are illuded to, but never really fleshed out entirely. One character from the first game shows up for about five minutes before fleeing never to be seen or heard from again. A new character who fills the Atlus/objective giving role is introduced, but his motivations are murky and vague at best as are his reasons for believing that you can help carry them out.

I nevertheless believe the game to be quite good. Setting aside the issues of the interplay between the predecessor and sequel, the game managed to be quite compelling. Rather than spending the entire game being led around by the nose as in the first game, you have a definite goal and are often reminded of it by both your allies and enemies. Also, the game further expounds on the lives of the little sisters. I believe the sequence where you see Rapture through the eyes of one of them may be worth the price of admission alone. They also make the little sisters more interesting by giving them new and somewhat twisted dialog. When you are escorting one and come under fire, they yell various things at the enemies. My favorite quote is "Daddy's giving you stars and birdies!".

I should note that I played it on the PC and it is a game for Windows LIVE. This means XBox LIVE achievements and interaction. I managed to get all but one of the single player achievements in the first run. The one that I missed required you to perform an unclued action and was listed as secret in the achievement list. Luckily, I had my single "slow" (as opposed to quick) save on the level where you can get it and so doubled back to grab it.

I've attempted to play the multiplayer, but since I've not yet been able to find game with the requisiste number of people (six), I've never actually tried it.

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