Published on February 19th, 2010 | by Craig Schorling, Editor14
Bioshock 2 Single Player Review
When Bioshock came out in 2007 it was unlike any game that most of us had ever played. It was a delicate balance of storytelling, various game play elements, and a world that was just as much a part of the game as the main character. Now three years later we return to Rapture to confront its dark and unwelcoming halls. Right away gamers were skeptical, wondering whether or not this game should have even been made. Now that it is upon us we shall look and see how it stacks up to the original and if it is worth your hard earned money.
This return trip to Rapture is not quite as impressive as the first time around. This is not too say that the visuals are bad, it is just that they do not appear to have evolved much in any way. With that said the art direction is incredible and right out of the gate it feels like home. There is a tremendous amount of detail in the world for those that enjoy exploring. You can read passages on the walls, titles of books, and environments feel eerie and creepy at all times. Some character models are a little wonky at times but all in all the visuals do hold their own and can be compared to many current games out on the market.
The effects of the world are also very well done with a great job being done with the lighting. Lights will flicker on and off causing good shadow effects. Walking through water causes your vision to blur or dots of water to appear on your screen. The plasmid effects are also well done with the elements such as ice, fire, and electricity looking very sharp and crisp. With all of these elements in place the game never snaps you out of the narrative with bad visuals but it is a little unfortunate that the graphics were not as fine tuned as they could have been.
The sound and voice acting in the first Bioshock was incredible and I happy to report that the same can be said for the second game. Garry Schyman’s orchestrated score is right up there with the best in the industry with every piece fitting the scenario and mood of the game. Tense and frantic during fights and beautiful and haunting during story driven scenes, this soundtrack is top notch. Furthermore the music always ques at the perfect moments, this can be something as simple as walking into a specific room and a piece of music playing that truly fits that room. (leaving out details for spoilers’ sake).
The voice acting is also just as good as it was in the first game with many voice actors returning from the original. This is a very welcome touch that I am glad made it into the game. Even though some characters are not present in physical form their words still live on. There are also a very robust number of audio logs to find if you are up for the exploration. The sounds of the splicers along with the environment are also well done. Gas pipe ruptures whistle, water drops can be heard, and the moans and screams of enemies all create a living, breathing world.
I would venture to say that this is the most improved aspect of Bioshock 2 by far. First and foremost is the ability to dual wield plasmids and weapons simultaneously which creates a very free flowing combat system. The new hacking system, at first I was hesitant, turns out to be a very nice addition as it does not snap the player out of the action. The first time you hack a security bot on the spot and turn it against its owner is a very gratifying experience. Also the research camera from the first game has received an upgrade. Instead of snapping pictures you shoot at a subject and then it records your actions in battle. All of these elements create a seamless combat system that always keeps the game going.
The game play is not without flaws however. After about your third or fourth little sister the gathering sequences will become a little too routine and not so exciting. The addition of new weapons and plasmids does add a little variety to this but not all that much. Also the use of the Big Sister is a disappointment as it has been reduced to a common enemy type rather than a single enemy you fight throughout the game. I will not say how but you will be able to predict when the Big Sister is coming for you.
Even though Bioshock 2 does have a multiplayer component (which is not part of this review) most players have been awaiting this title for the story that it would present. The first game had one of the best video game stories ever written. It would take a deal with the devil to lead to a better story than the first and the team at 2K Marin made no such deal. To be honest I do not know many people that expected this story to be better than the first but what is present is still very solid and many games just wish they could tell a story this compelling. The narrative sucks you in right away and it is a game that you want to see to the end. With many plot twists and nice set pieces Bioshock 2 delivers a single player experience that few games can offer.
I would love to go more into what makes this story so strong but I would not want to ruin any aspect big or small so I will just say it is solid. The last three hours are particularly strong and deliver an end game that is truly rewarding (something many games struggle with). This is a game that will stick with you long after you turn it off and with multiple endings and decisions to make some might see themselves going back to this game after the initial play through.
If you are a gamer than Bioshock 2 is a must play. It has a story that puts many to shame, a great setting and mood, and combat that is just as fun as any FPS on the market. This might not be the game that the first one was but it is strong on its own merits and is worthy of the Bioshock name. The first game did not need a sequel but this game does nothing to tarnish or ruin the experience of the first game, which is a major accomplishment. So get your diving suit and return under the sea for one great journey.
Underwater sequences albeit short can provide a nice change in pace
+ Strong campaign storyline
+ Seamless game play
+ Great soundtrack and voice acting
+ Wonderful environments with attention to details
+ Very satisfying endgame
– Some sequences become too repetitive
– Poor use of the Big Sister
– Not as memorable as the first
Score: 9.0 (not an average)