BioShock 2 Reviews

As we round up another batch of BioShock 2 reviews, it's pretty clear the general response is "good/great, but doesn't fully live up to its predecessor". Game Guru 8.

BioShock 2 improves on the base of its predecessor that crafted out this psychotic delusion of an eccentric man and takes it to a higher level. However this quest feels more of stop gap story than a full fledged sequel of a madhouse, making it fall a few notches lower than the original. Even though the developers have tried their best to craft out a (different) experience, it falls into (more of the same) syndrome after a point, but an effort that is worth a few hundred applauses.
Examiner 9.5.
BioShock 2's story doesn't live up to the last installment. BioShock was filed with twists and turns, but the follow on is relatively straight forward with a few surprises along the way. I did find enjoyable that BioShock 2 maintained the political aspect and didn't shy away from the label as a "thinkers game". As a standalone title this story would be fantastic, but due to the high bar set by the first title, it doesn't quite make the jump. 8.
There are areas where the wartime framework helps to heighten BioShock 2's appeal, but they are all mostly aesthetic tweaks that alter the functionality of the game very little. When you first start up the multiplayer you are ushered into a brief Prologue section, for example, that lets you roam your apartment beneath the waves and choose your outfit and loadouts by rooting through your wardrobe. Then, when you want to take a stand in Rapture's war then you jump into your bathysphere and head to the lobby.

Granted, all you're really doing with any of this is choosing what plasmids and weapons you want to use and selecting a character skin, but being able to do it while standing in a lavish art-deco apartment adds a lot of flavour even if it isn't really anything new. Boiled down to the basics, BioShock 2's multiplayer is a 1930s take on the now-familiar Call of Duty template; completing achievements and grind kills to earn upgrades and abilities. It even apes the lack of LAN support and dedicated servers, though most gamers will likely be more annoyed that everything runs through Games for Windows Live. We are not fans of GFWL.
GamerNode 8.5.
The soundtrack does a good a job setting that new atmosphere. The lovely, yet slightly disturbing tunes from the 1950s that play on record players and during loading screens, accompanied by black-and-white, grainy screenshots, definitely add to BioShock 2's creep factor. The rest of the soundtrack, heavy on frantic and slow strings, helps set the sense of chaos that can ensue in the game's larger gunfights, as well as the feeling of loneliness that exploring Rapture on your own can bring about.
Impulse Gamer 9.2.
As you wake within the Adonis Luxury Resort of Rapture City, you learn that this area was also used for genetic enhancements and so your journey begins of discovery and retribution. One of the main themes in the game is that girls are being kidnapped from islands around Rapture city in order to become Little Sisters for these twisted experiments. For this unnamed Big Daddy, you eventually have contact with Eleanor Lamb, the Little Sister you were once linked with. Unfortunately for her, her mother Sofia Lamb refuses to abide by your wishes and was the person responsible for your vile imprisonment. Needless to say, there are plenty of your in-your-face moments to the story of BioShock.
Ten Ton Hammer B+.
Unlike games like Mass Effect 2, which provides dozens of different endings based on the choices you made during the game, BioShock 2 has only 4 endings--2 evil endings and 2 good endings. Suggesting that you're going to want to see them all would be a stretch. Unlike the first game, BioShock 2 provides little emotional connection with the Little Sisters. I found that while I wanted to finish the game and see how it ended, but I wasn't moved enough to want to do it all over again to see a slightly different version of the ending. I would find it hard to want to play the game more than twice before getting bored with the story.
Games32 91%.
There are also kind characters in this soulless world of Rapture and they'll occasionally reward you for saving the troubled kids, so good deeds do sometimes remain unpunished. The Little Sisters will lead you to corpses that are rich in ADAM and will start harvesting it, but this will lure in a swarm of Splicers. Establishing a defensive perimeter is a wise thing and with cool devices such as mini turrets, traps and mines it should be fairly easy to deal with the frenzied opponents. Occasionally a Brute Splicer will attack you without warning and this huge foe can reduce you to rubble by delivering just a few blows.
So why bother with a second tour? Those who thoroughly enjoyed the first Bioshock will notice all the subtle differences that 2K has finessed into the single player, each one a little bit improved from before. Dual wielding plasmids and your gun at the same time feels natural, even if the controls can be cumbersome at times since there is so much on your plate. Regardless, finding effective combos between plasmids and your weapon selection is as satisfying as ever. The "pipe dream" mini-game for hacking security devices has been replaced by a more fluid, intuitive "stop the needle here" game which doesn't remove the player from the game.
Firing Squad 84%.
In addition to the lack of challenge in level design, I found the gameplay in general to be rather repetitive. Every area consists of getting off the train, dealing with Little Sisters (with optional tedious side-quest), fighting a Big Sister you've pissed off, confronting one of many antagonists, and finally getting back on the train. It is possible to skip most of the Little Sisters, but by the time you resort to doing so, you receive a task that requires you to (resolve) most of the ones in the level! There are so many vending machines and other hackables now that you will surely tire of hacking them, though the real-time minigame reduces the hassle somewhat compared with before.