Monday, 15 March 2010

Bioshock 2

The sequel to the BAFTA award winning game, it is already being touted to win again at this years awards ceremony. But does it live up to all those top reviews? The Wild Bore delves deeper into Rapture to find out ...

I loved Bioshock when it first hit our screens. I remember playing the demo before it came out sitting round my mate Ben's place, the burning plane, the abandoned lighthouse. It struck me as one of the most original FPS (first person shooters for all you others out there) made. I always think the key thing about any film, game, even song etc. is that it is made up of little works of genius that other pieces would base the entire concept over. For instance, in Bioshock, the Little Sister element of 'saving' or 'harvesting' these little fucked up girls could have made the entire game. But instead you have these amazing powers that you pick up along the way, which could have been a game in itself etc.

I did have some faults with the first game though that I was hoping the second would answer to. Mainly, by the end of Bioshock I was so powerful that nothing could hurt me, including the final boss whom I expected to absolutely batter me, but instead it took me almost no time at all. Secondly, I kind of understood the story, but did get lost often with what was going on. All I knew is I had to kill the bad guys. So has the second one made up for this? Not really ...

What I loved about Bioshock 2 is what I loved about the first one. The art deco setting, the fact it's all underwater, the amazing AI, the dark atmosphere, the horror element - but that's just it, I've seen it all before. So what's different? Okay, the AI has been boosted more, the enemies take cover etc. and all that, but there's also the fact that there's new enemies. In terms of the narrative, why didn't I see these new guys in the first game? I might have missed something where they explained it but I don't think so. Where would they have suddenly sprung from? You're also a Big Daddy and, to be honest, it hardly makes a difference. Yeah yeah, I know that you kind of lumber about a bit, that you have your drill, but I hardly EVER used my drill. I might as well just have been the guy from the first one but with new weapons. There was nothing that made me feel like a Big Daddy except for carrying the Little Sisters (yes I saved each and every one and got Adam from all the bodies for those in the know). Though sometimes I thought they did this on purpose - often the light shines from behind you and you see your shadow and you stare at it. Is that really me? This huge mechanical monster? Which, in a way you won't have in any other medium, would also be what your character is thinking. Clever, clever, clever.

The Little Sister element is a great little side project, but sometimes I just found it annoying. She will lead you to a body to extract Adam (the good stuff you want) and you protect her while there is an onslaught of enemies. Every. Single. Time. It gets quite tiring as for each Sister there's two bodies, which means that on average, as there are 3 Little Sisters in each level, you're potentially doing it 6 times each time. I just thought this was a bit much and made me just want to kill them, but I'm too sweet.

The other problem was again the story, I kind of knew what was going on, but if you told me to run you through it, I couldn't. I don't know how but I just feel they should make it clearer with what's happening. They summarise things usually through some kind of audio log which means instead of explanations, you get anecdotal summaries, which you don't always want to listen to. I enjoyed what I understood, but generally all I knew is I had to get from A to B for some reason.

The end was also quite satisfying story-wise and gameplay wise, but really the final 'onslaught' was nothing anyone couldn't handle and by that time, I was again ridiculously powerful. I had passed about 20 First Aid Kits on the final level because I just didn't need them. There's no real jeopardy. It's funny because I was talking to 'muh lady' the other day and she was saying how she didn't like the idea in games of re-doing things until you get them right and I explained that a lot of the time, you enjoy it, not if it's near-impossible, but the fact that you have to work twice as hard to do it and the satisfied feeling you get afterwards makes it even better because you know you deserved it. This is why people often see retro games in rose-tinted glasses, you really did have to earn it in those days because it was pure gameplay instead of the overall evolution of the industry today where everything counts. I wonder what you guys think ...

Anyway, other improvements is the hacking element. Instead of the 'pipe' hacking, you just have to time a needle against a colour. Easy enough and far quicker than before. An auto-hack tool and gun to do it make it a lot more fun than before. The graphics also look great and the gameplay is very smooth. You can shoot and fire your plasmid abilities at the same time, which I'm not sure you could do in the first one. There's also the online capability which, as I'm not hooked up to XBox Live yet (I will be) means I'm not able to do, but I've heard mediocre things about. True?

So what really makes this stand out from the crowd? Well, the story is good if not somewhat discombobulated, the gameplay is once again flawless, the graphics are incredible and the general tone of the game is as dark yet delightful as always. It's major fail? I've seen it all before in the first one. This return to Rapture under the guise of a Big Daddy does work, but I wish they'd branched out a little more. Why not an alternative Rapture? Perhaps a huge sea vessel like an underwater Dead Space? I don't know. If you haven't played the first one, I'd give this a 10, but as it stands it only gets a ...

Rating: 8/10

1 comment:

  1. I must've played through the whole of Baldur's Gate 2 about eight times. That was back when I had more time to do it, but the satisfaction of the game was much deeper.

    These days, a game is lucky to get two play throughs.

    For me, the satisfaction is in doing it differently and feeling like it really is a different game. If the difference is between harvesting little sisters or not, then that's not really any difference at all. I replay for a fundamental change.

    I've not played BioShock 2, but as it sounds so similar to the first one, I'm not sure I'll bother.