BioShock 2 returns us to Rapture once again, and this time puts us in the shoes of a Big Daddy. Rapture is still familiar, but there is enough unfamiliar territory that makes this return journey something pretty exciting on its own. A lot has changed, but at the same time, a lot has remained the same.
The story follows Project Delta, one of the original Big Daddies trying to get back to his daughter, who had become a Little Sister. Delta had supposedly been presumed dead, but he awakens back in Rapture. And with the help of a mysterious man named Sinclair, he tries to stop the new leader of Rapture, Sofia Lamb, and get his daughter back. The story has a few interesting twists and turns, and while it is not as powerful as the story found in the first game, it is still excellent.
Rapture is as beautiful and as haunting as you remember it, with amazing visual effects put to good use, as well as excellent sound design. The soundtrack itself still fits the game’s 1950s environment well, and the voice acting is top notch. However, as impressive this game is technically, Rapture still feels like the same old place we remember from the first game. This removes a lot of the mystery, and leaves us with new locations that still feel incredibly familiar.
Gameplay wise, there have been some much needed changes, but there is still a lot that is present from the original. You have a bunch of new guns, including the Rivet Gun, and instead of a wrench, you are equipped with the standard Big Daddy drill. You still have plasmids as well, most of which are from the original, but with some minor improvements. You still use your weapons and plasmids to defeat the same enemies from the first, with a few notable additions, like the hulking Brute Splicers.
The guns and plasmids handle exactly how they did in the first, and despite playing as a Big Daddy, you tend to forget you are one after a while. The hacking mini-game is much improved and now in real time, and you can now turn Vita Chambers off from the start (instead of waiting for it as DLC). But this game is more difficult than the first, so it might be recommended to leave them on your first time through the game.
You still fight other Big Daddies to get to the Little Sisters they are protecting, but instead of simply choosing to save or harvest them, you can now pick up the Little Sisters and have them harvest Adam for you from dead Splicers. Of course, when you put them down and they start harvesting Adam, you must defend them from incoming Splicers. These parts were pretty annoying and became tedious after a while, but thankfully are not required if you wish to save the Little Sisters.
And once you deal with all of the Little Sisters in an area, a Big Sister appears; she is a much more formidable foe than the Big Daddies. These enemies move fast, have tons of plasmids to combat you with, and can take you down quickly if you aren’t careful. However, unlike the Big Daddy appearances, the Big Sister fights are scripted and you will know when they appear. It ruins the surprise of running into one in a level, as you would a Big Daddy. The fights themselves are intense, but they are also poorly implemented.
Overall, the single player portion of BioShock 2 is excellent. Gameplay wise, it is a huge improvement over the original, but at the same time it still falls short of the original. And then there is the multiplayer, which is surprisingly fun. Not as deep as the multiplayer you would get from Modern Warfare 2, but still a way to spend some time in Rapture after the credits have rolled. The unique thing about the multiplayer is it is a prequel to the events of the original BioShock, during the civil war that tore the city apart. It is a unique approach to multiplayer, and gives it a more interesting dynamic.
As for modes, you have your standards, such as deathmatch and team deathmatch, and a capture the flag mode called Capture the Sister. And every so often, a Big Daddy suit will spawn, giving the team who gets it a nice advantage. The multiplayer is a solid portion of the game, and while it might not have staying power, it still is a good time.
BioShock 2 is a sequel I wish did not exist. Not because it’s a bad game, but because it’s an unnecessary game. However, as a sequel, it does a great job of returning us to Rapture almost exactly as we had left it a few years prior.
Pros: Great story; beautiful and haunting environments; excellent sound design, soundtrack, and voice acting; gameplay is overall a huge improvement over the original; fun multiplayer
Cons: The mystery found in the original game is lacking; Big Sister fights are poorly implemented; Little Sister gathering missions are still tedious