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Hindsight : Bioshock 2

Cart: Bioshock 2
Cab: Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC / Mac
Coin: 2K Marin

Bioshock 2 was a strange release. Following on from the critically acclaimed and much-loved Bioshock, the second game met with a more lukewarm reception from critics, and many gamers consider it to be the weakest game in the series so far.

However, there are a few people who seem to think that, rather than a black sheep, this is actually the dark horse of the Bioshock universe. So, is this the best in the series, or does it just miss out on the ‘classic’ status of the first game?

Neither. This game is best described by the three ‘L’s: Leaden, Lumpen and Lacking.

Whereas the first Bioshock set the scene with a wonderful opening sequence that really set the tone for, well, the entire series, Bioshock 2 just starts with an emotionally empty kipnap sequence that instantly commits the cardinal sequel sin of assuming the player has played the previous game.Bioshock 2 Screenshot 2

The second mistake is having you play the role of a Big Daddy; the massive guardians of the Little Sisters. Know what a Big Daddy or a Little Sister is? No? Bioshock 2 doesn’t care, everyone has played Bioshock, haven’t they?

Playing as a Big Daddy gives us the ‘leaden’ and ‘lumpen’ from earlier, as the pace is painfully slow, although you still don’t feel like you are in control of a massive killing machine, as there is no weight to the controls, you can fit through tiny gaps and your perspective is that of a normal, non-suited up human. That’s ‘lacking’.

Plasmids are just thrown on you, the game uses all the same combat tricks as the previous game, aside from a ridiculous and woefully underpowered drill that runs out of fuel so quickly you will hardly use it for anything aside from whacking the occasional enemy. The same tricks, such as hacking and the plasmid system, with enemies set out for you to take advantage of one trick or another, the same kind of music but with less effect and same Art-deco setting, but with less atmosphere.Bioshock 2 Screenshot 1

While I am having moan: why are the enemies all so eager to attack a Big Daddy? Predator number one in the first game, and avoided by all, it seems that everyone has had a change of heart and thinks they can take on a Big Daddy with a monkey wrench.

There is some fun to be had here, especially if you like to pretend that you are running through treacle with a drill or like to be reminded of the weaker parts of Bioshock. There is also online multiplayer. That’s all I’m going to say about that, and it’s easier if you pretend the option is greyed out on the main menu.

Like an old sea shanty, Bioshock 2 may remind you of better times in the ocean with Bioshock, but is in reality, a dying whale of a game: slow, sad and rank with the smell of fish.

Sometimes, things aren’t better in hindsight; far from it.

Check out all of our Bioshock Infinite coverage at our Bioshock Infinite Central.

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Editor and founder of VoxelArcade and The Smartphone App Review. Favourite games: Uridium 2, Frontier: Elite II, Sensible World of Soccer, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Ocarina, Metroid Prime, Solar Quest, F-Zero GX, Monkey Island 2 and Tetris.

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7 Comments

  1. “like to pretend that you are running through treacle with a drill” — I didn’t like it

    • @Simon Burns I hear everything you’re saying but on some levels I actually preferred B2. I think it’s because I had no expectations as opposed to the insane amount of hype and build leading up to B1. I think that the developers do deserve some credit for pulling off as much as they did without Ken Levine, but it does still feel like a vulture picking the bones off a carcass.

  2. I hear everything you’re saying but on some levels I actually preferred B2. I think it’s because I had no expectations as opposed to the insane amount of hype and build leading up to B1. I think that the developers do deserve some credit for pulling off as much as they did without Ken Levine, but it does still feel like a vulture picking the bones off a carcass.

  3. Luke Martin VA Simon Burns I really wanted to like it, I just found it painful to play. I liked Bioshock 1 without loving it, but this just struck the wrong chord with me.

  4. Everything about Bioshock 2 was insipid, a watered-down (no pun intended) reheat of the first game. Even the ‘signature’ moments were wasted – walking on the sea bed could have opened some awesome vistas of Rapture, but instead we had glowy seaweed, and instead of a boring shark with no menace we could have fought a giant squid that had gorged on drowned Splicer bodies and gained plasmid powers. Sofia Lamb was the worst kind of retconned antagonist – no mention of Ryan’s supposed nemesis at all in B1 yet here she is ruling the carcass of the city?
    All in all, B2 is like warm flat lemonade. The painfully hip will tell you it’s better than the first game, or even than Infinite, but will be ignorant of ignored gems like Cryostasis.

    • @NorthWind They should have thrown the book out the window and made it a noir detective story set just as things were starting going to shit before the first game- how incredible would that have been?

      • Simon Burns You’ve been reading my mind! *That* would have been so painfully good… but might have needed decent writers onboard. Ah well, one can dream.

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