BioShock 2 Review

Alec Meer, who earlier reviewed BioShock 2 for IGN, now does a Wot I Think at Rock, Paper, Shotgun. He explicitly notes he's taking a different angle since the expectations of the FPS/RPG genre are more stringest for more experienced PC gamers, and BioShock 2 comes out worse for wear on the comparison.
Bioshock 2 is, I must stress, a strong first-person shooter: great-looking, varied and often incredibly nasty combat, well-paced escalation and richly-detailed environments. Those new Daddies, especially the turret-placing ones, make a big, challenging difference to the fights, even if they don't do so much for the eyes. At no point does it muster anything anywhere near as striking as that first image of a Big Daddy with his Little Sister, that art we all saw a few years ago and immediately thought (yes). It seems it had once intended to go further but something went wrong. It's reckless and arrogant to guess at what limitations might be imposed on a publisher-owned studio charged with creating a sequel to a game made by someone else, but difficult not to wonder what might have been if 2K Marin had been given more resources, more time, more freedom. This applies to its story, too while it's more consistent than Bioshock 1's, more ingrained to the player's journey throughout, it seems unable or unprepared to launch off in new directions.

Instead, it's a lump bolted onto the side of the first game, trying to find holes to fill that don't exist, and crudely intertwining with the original narrative in ways that don't quite convince. In some ways it makes more sense the main antagonist at least explains their ultimate plan rather than simply turns into a 12-foot blue person and tries to punch you in the nose in other ways less. There are reasons given as to why you didn't hear anything about Sophia Lamb, the altruism-obsessed rival to Andrew Ryan who's taken control of Rapture in the wake of his golfing accident, during the first game, but it does distractingly feel throughout as though there's been a mandate to expand the Bioshock story without, in fact, continuing it. And Lamb's plans for Rapture, for her daughter Eleanor, and for you as Eleanor's former Big Daddy are weighed down with so much babbling pseudo-science that the neatness and horror of the Little Sister concept is almost undone.