Game: "Bioshock 2"
Published by: Other
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Review: Bioshock was a great game. Not as great as System Shock, the game it was struggling to be, but great all the same. It wasnít without its problems, but the sequel managed to fix a number of them.
Rather than playing a newcomer to the underwater city of Rapture, Bioshock 2 puts you in the steel-toed boots of a Big Daddy, the iconic guardians of the ADAM-gathering Little Sisters from the original. The majority of the gameplay takes place in the aftermath of the civil war that destroyed the city, with founder Andrew Ryan dead and the city largely taken over by psychologist-turned-ruler, Sofia Lamb. As a Big Daddy, though, the politics and backstory are of little consequence to you. All that matters is that you find your Little Sister before you suffer a nasty case of separation anxiety.
My biggest gripe from the original game, even more than the DRM and the widescreen bug (which, unfortunately, made its way into the sequel), was the presence of the Vita-Chambers. When you died, you would respawn at the nearest one with no consequence whatsoever. This has not been dealt with in Bioshock 2, apart from giving players the option to turn them off in the ďOptionsĒ menu. At the end of the day, it isnít too critical a problem, but if you donít like them, you pretty much have to invent your own consequence for getting killed.
Other issues from the original have been taken care of. In particular, hacking has been completely retooled. Instead of running up to a camera or turret and freezing time while you play a game of Pipe Dreams, hacking is now done with timed button presses as a needle bounces back and forth across a meter. Good timing will hack the device, and even produce extra damage from turrets and bonus loot from vending machines. Bad timing, on the other hand, will give you a nasty shock, or alert security to your attempt. Better still, hacking can be done remotely through a special dart launcher and, if you really arenít in the mood for a QTE, can be completely circumvented via Auto-Hack darts.
The interactions with the Little Sisters have also been retooled a bit. Youíll still need to defeat a shambling, groaning Big Daddy to get a shot at their precious ADAM, but you also have the option to make them collect ADAM from special corpses around each level. Doing do triggers a timed event wherein you must fend off a veritable deluge of bad guys who are all after your Little Sister, but understand that theyíll need to cap your ass before they can get to her. Itís the best way to get more ADAM for buying more upgrades, but it does get to be a bit repetitive, and sooner or later, youíre bound to have enough ADAM to get the handful of useful plasmids/tonics you need without having to babysit every last one of them. Plus, dealing with the Little Sisters increases the likelihood that youíll be attacked by a Big Sister, a thinner and faster Big Daddy that can also use plasmids, all while emitting an ear-splitting, speaker-busting shriek.
But the most notable addition to the series has to be the multiplayer. All the standard forms of FPS multiplayer are there (deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, etc) along with the occasional appearance of a Big Daddy suit to shake things up. The suits have a random chance at spawning at one of a handful of unspecified locations in each map, and grabbing it will turn you into one of the hulking monstrosities until such time as you are killed. The problem is that the suits donít always appear in places large enough to accommodate your new size. Several times during the course of the game I picked up the suit, only to be anchored to the very spot where it appeared.
Bad news for me, but good news for whoever happened to find me. You see, the multiplayer system is setup so that you must earn the right to use more powerful weapons by earning points. Points for kills, points for hacking turrets, points for killing a Big Daddy, points for being a Big Daddy, points! The idea of earning experience points to gain access to perks in multiplayer isnít that unusual, but to require it before the players can use all the basic weapons? Itís frustrating, especially when you find yourself pecking away at someone with a pistol while they shell you with grenades. But just think: a few more hours of this and youíll be partway on your way to getting the next weapon in line.
The gameís matchmaking system makes for frustration while simply looking for a game. Promises have been made to fix it with a future patch, but until then, youíll be looking at a number of problems that couldíve been resolved with dedicated servers.
Bioshock 2 is an improvement over the original, even if the multiplayer is nothing to write home about. Maybe theyíll have cleaned up all these problems in time for the third installment in the series.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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