Excerpt: You’ve been here before. The hallways of Rapture—the art deco, objectivist’s paradise turned gory nightmare—are still prowled by psychotic Splicers who babble insanities to themselves and attack anything near them like feral animals. Big Daddies lurch from vent to vent seeking Little Sisters who go about their gruesome tasks while humming a happy tune, both oblivious that they serve no purpose now that Rapture is all but dead.
Conclusion: BioShock 2 is a very good time. Unfortunately, it feels a whole lot like the same game. If you yearn to relive Rapture, this is the game for you. If you were looking for BioShock to inject itself with adam and evolve, well... you might want to hold out for BioShock 3.
Pros: BioShock 2 takes place in one of the most memorable environments in video-gamedom, You get to play as a Big Daddy, The multiplayer is truly original and a lot of fun, BioShock 2 takes place in one of the most memorable environments in video-gamedom, You get to play as a Big Daddy, The multiplayer is truly original and a lot of fun
Cons: BioShock 2 takes place in the same, memorable environments as the original BioShock, You have to play as the world's weakest Big Daddy, BioShock 2 takes place in the same, memorable environments as the original BioShock, You have to play as the world's weakest Big Daddy
Conclusion: BioShock 2 sets out to make a name for itself, and overall it does. It improves on the original's gameplay while telling two different stories across modes. The experience isn't as powerful at the end, but the Little Sister bond makes up for that.
Excerpt: When I played the original Bioshock back in 1997, it hit me personally. Not just because it was the game I played when I suffered my first Red Ring of Death, but it brought back memories of another great series I used to play on the PC, System Shock. It was a great first person adventure shooter with a nice touch of survival horror, made even better with the addition of plasmids and the deadly Big Daddy protectors.
Conclusion: I'm impressed that a game company identified a working formula and went with it. Bioshock 2 works because Bioshock worked. It's nice to see 2K Games got the story right, as it works well with the ending of the first Bioshock. As for the gameplay, it's essentially the same, but improvements with weapons and plasmids makes it a little deeper. The addition of multiplayer just ices this cake and gives you a little more reason to add Bioshock 2 to your library.
Conclusion: BioShock 2 is an enjoyable experience in its own right regardless of the few niggles which hold it back from being a true masterpiece. The game is unmistakeably more focused on combat than its predecessor, whose shadow it fails to step away from due to lack of atmosphere courtesy of a removed sense of isolation. Thankfully, the weapons have never been more thrilling to wield, the powers never more necessary and the enemies never more challenging.
Excerpt: Many people had mixed feelings when 2K Games announced that they would be making a sequel to BioShock . I was among them. I worried just how a game with such an original concept, a surprisingly beautiful, yet creepy atmosphere, and no intentions for a continued story could be followed up.
Summary: Rapture, Andrew Ryan's failed utopia under the sea, remains one of gaming's most compelling worlds to inhabit, and BioShock 2 does a great job of drawing you in and making you feel right at home. But while it certainly feels good to be back in Rapture and there is plenty to enjoy here, the game doesn't quite pack the same punch as the original.
Pros: Rapture is as hauntingly gorgeous as ever, Tons of weapon and enemy variety, Hacking tool keeps gameplay flowing, Sound design is ridiculous
Cons: Story structure = missed opportunity, Uses Rapture as a crutch too often, Multiplayer works but feels vestigial
Conclusion: I had my doubts as to how a different studio would handle a sequel to one of the best games of this generation, but 2K Marin (which took the baton from original BioShock developer Irrational Games) has proven that Rapture's still ripe for storytelling. Sure, the wonder of experiencing Rapture for the first time is gone, and yes, the engine is really starting to show its age, but the most important element -- BioShock 2's narrative -- lives up to its heritage.