Early Impressions of Bioshock 2

I responded to the news of a Bioshock sequel with disgust. The original was such a magical experience for me and one that concluded in a way that made a sequel unnecessary. However, I can’t blame 2K for not wanting to leave money on the table in order to maintain artistic integrity. With that said, I think I would have handled the thought of a sequel if it came from the right place. On paper, Bioshock 2 totally didn’t. Some of its selling points included:

“Return to Rapture!”
“Play as a Big Daddy!”
“Now with multiplayer!”
“…oh yeah, it’s also not made by the original creators, who ended up making the true successor to Bioshock.”

Due to its existence being blatantly rooted in focus groups and business executive boardrooms, I avoided this like the plague. However, with Bioshock Infinite on the way, and a Bioshock-themed episode of The Recurring Bosscast scheduled for the very near future, I figured that playing at least a bit of Bioshock 2 would be worth it for the sake of the show.

Why would anyone go back to Rapture anyway? Well, technically, you don’t. In this one, you assume the role of a Big Daddy, who was presumed dead 10 years ago and has just woken up. For whatever reason, you need to get a hold of a special Little Sister and get out of here, or face certain death from Sophia Lamb, who magically now plays a major role in the story even though there was no mention of her in the original. I’m not very far into it at all, but it’s really not grabbing me right now.

Entering the world of Rapture in the original game hit me with a strong sense of wonder. Coming back to this place in the sequel was very underwhelming. Much of its lustre was lost on the second go-around solely due to familiarity. It’s scripting also didn’t do too much to win me over. Even in instances where the game goes for a big wallop, such as the moment where the room explodes and you have to walk along the ocean floor, the wow-factor just isn’t there.

Combat in the original game felt exciting and tense at all times. So far, it feels very pedestrian. It’s mostly treading on familiar ground with your mix of guns and plasmids. The only notable difference at the start is the Big Daddy drill, which is very weak. I’m sure that it can be upgraded later on, but it doesn’t prove all that useful in the beginning.

I know that I’m going into this with a huge bias, but even still, the start of Bioshock 2 isn’t doing much to knock my socks off. With that said, it’s not necessarily bad, either. I may chip away at this until it picks up or I grow bored with it, though I’m still hopeful that it’s the former rather than the latter.

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4 thoughts on “Early Impressions of Bioshock 2

  1. grayyyyyyyyyyyyy March 11, 2013 / 11:01 AM

    I’m glad to see that someone else doesn’t like this game. Bioshock 2 is my personal “Worst game ever made”

  2. eschmiel March 11, 2013 / 2:46 PM

    I picked it up cheap (something like 5$) at a steam sale ages ago but I still haven’t gotten around to trying it. I always got the impression that it was just more Bioshock for people that want more Bioshock, which can be fine for a sequel if the game play was good enough to drive the whole experience by itself but Bioshock’s actual game play was somewhat lack luster. The gameplay was serviceable but the narrative and atmosphere were what really made the game special. If the game is actually fun to play without context, if it’s just a joy to run and hop and shoot, then a few a new levels and maybe a new gun or two is all a sequel really needs but a narrative game requires a narrative sequel. Bioshock 2 never seemed like it was bringing anything new to the narrative to me. It had the old familiar frame but it took the life out of it, it’s the kitsch rip-off of a masterpiece. Bioshock 1 was Berlin, Bioshock 2 was the Oktoberfest my high school put on.

    That being said, I never played Bioshock 2 so I could be completely wrong, that was just the impression I got of it from the coverage I saw when it was released though.

    • Jett March 12, 2013 / 7:12 AM

      Kitsch rip-off is totally valid with Bioshock 2. I really hope Bioshock Infinite is the real deal.

      • Josh March 12, 2013 / 7:46 AM

        Goes without saying. Everything about the game looks super duper fun, but the gameplay – while absolutely fine – is not exactly new when it comes to the franchise, however, the way it is integrated into the world and and story is just phenomenal. I am slightly bothered with by the 2 gun slot….

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