BioShock 2: Nine Minutes of Footage’n'Chat

By Alec Meer on May 14th, 2009 at 1:55 pm.

When a bunch of us scruffy journos wrote our Bioshock 2 previews a few weeks back, this is the bulk of what we based it upon: a nine-minute scripted walkthrough, accompanied by an enlightening commentary from Creative Director Jordan Thomas. Included: Big Sister action, the Little Sister adoption mechanic, and horribly messing up splicers’ faces with your drill-arm. Make your own judgements and crazy theories about who or what’s really pulling Rapture’s strings below. And for the love of Roy Orbison don’t drag this thread into yet more tedious mouthing off about how Bioshock 1 disappointed you. Look not to the past but to the future, friends!

Click that widescreen button over on the right for a better picture. I’ll stuff a higher-res video in there later, if I find one. Things to possibly peer closely at are the odd way Big Sis stands and moves, how much freedom of movement is allowed in the underwater section, and your character’s ability to deal with multiple enemies.

Alternatively, here’s just a couple of minutes of voiceover-free action:

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83 Comments »

  1. Idle Threats & Bad Poetry says:

    It’s getting increasingly hard for me to resist buying it when it’s released. The Little Sister is really sympathetic and well voice acted, and big sister telekinesis is awesome. I bet it’s going to be a great game, but I don’t want it for financial and time reasons, not to mention doubtful replayability even with the promised multiplayer. But I feel the narrative eroding my will sucking me in like a goldfish spiraling down a toilet bowl. MUST… RESIST…

    And as for not mouthing off about BioShock 1: Alec, anything you want, you got it.

  2. Stupoider says:

    Hmm. Did anyone else feel that the aiming in Bioshock felt a little console-y? Even on the PC?

    I hope it’s not like that in the sequel. :(

    EDIT: I’m also not that convinced with going out onto the ocean floor. It looks really linear, like there’s not much exploring to be had. :o

  3. Clockwork Harlequin says:

    Some people were complaining on the last [Bioshock 2] article, about the fact that protecting the little sister was central. Apparently “escort” missions are unfun. But I think it looks great: protecting that little ghoul looks to give fights some meaning (and make them a lot more hectic). I often find myself retreating to heal and reload/pick off enemies one at a time, so being tied to NPCs survival (so long as they aren’t suicidal) gives things flavour!

    I salivate in anticipation!

  4. Lewis says:

    So it’s looking inhumanly awesome. When a sequel was first hinted at, I facepalmed a little. BioShock seemed like such an insular game that expanding on it would be totally foolish. But actually, Thomas seems to really understand what did and didn’t work about BioShock, and has excellent ideas about how to integrate the design changes into the plot and the game lore. So while I would have preferred no sequel, I pretty much trust him.

  5. TheFatDungeonMaster says:

    I liked Bioshock and I think I’ll enjoy Bioshock 2.

  6. whaleloever says:

    Still no bloody whales!

    I’m guessing that the twist at the end is that you’re still the original character from BioShock, only you’ve been sent back by some evil manipulator-type character. It does look like they’ve put enough new stuff in it to make it fun though.

  7. hahaha says:

    well, as we have seen, we can still harvest the sisters (if you have no conscience or) if you don’t like these type of missions.

  8. Jeremy says:

    I typically loathe ‘escort’ or protect missions, particularly because the NPCs in those situations tend to be suicidal. But if she’s just crouching there and I’m free to wreak havoc around her without fear of her dying, I’m cool with that.

    I remain cautiously optimistic.

  9. Neut says:

    Ooh maybe the twist is you’re Andrew Ryan revived and encased in a Big Daddy suit like some Bioshock version of a dreadnought. :O

    EDIT: Also I’m sure I read somewhere that the little sisters can’t actually be killed while she’s harvesting and any splicers that reach her only delay her from harvesting, prolonging the battle for you.

  10. Lewis says:

    With regards to the “Protect the Sisters” addition, I think it’s likely to be a far more satisfying dilemma than those of the original game. Where those faked morality-itching, they were essentially flawed practical dilemmas – flawed in that you were rewarded either way, even disregarding being rewarded more highly for taking the ethical route – these are shamelessly practical situations. Do you go for the quick fix, or are you in it for the long-run – and are you prepared for the increased difficulty if you’re after the lengthy payout?

  11. Dreamhacker says:

    Is that Vin Diesel on the left!?

  12. LionsPhil says:

    @Jeremy: That’s probably because they haven’t written the “run at pretty grenades” AI yet. ;)

    They’d help avoid “consolised” criticisms if they’d record their trailers with mouse-and-keyboard. Gamepad controls are too smooth.

  13. Psychopomp says:

    @Dreamhacker
    The Chronicles of Mr.Bubbles:Escape from Bathysphere Bay

  14. Jeremy says:

    I don’t think the twist is that you’re the original character because you’re the first ever Big Daddy, a prototype of sorts. Maybe they can work it in somehow though, you never know! This game is really looking amazing, I liked the big battle at the end, it brought some fun chaos. Also, there is an actual use for trap type plasmids which is great, I pretty much only used 6 or so plasmids the whole of Bioshock 1, and some of those I was forced to use. I’m pragmatic… don’t judge me. My favorite was causing the Big Daddy’s to get enraged at each other, though, I felt bad for some reason. They were created that way… so sad…

  15. Jeremy says:

    @Jeremy… Imposter?!

  16. whaleloever says:

    How does it work though? It’s set after the original game, and yet you’re the prototype Big Daddy. If it’s anything like the first there’s going to have to be some “you’re not who you think you are” style twists. I think you’re going to turn out to be Garrett from Thief.

  17. Kieron Gillen says:

    Prototype big daddy was put in suspended animation and mothballed because it was too good. Which is just me speculating, I stress, but it’ll be the sensible way to do it.

    I think that footage looks splendid.

    KG

  18. Seniath says:

    Positivity about BioShock? On these forums? With our reputation? Has no one thought of the consequences?!

  19. Lewis says:

    @whaleloever I’d be pretty fucking upset if BioShock 2′s twist was in any way similar to the first one.

  20. Ecko says:

    I am mortified about the inclusion of multiplayer in this, but goddamn, did that trailer look good.

    I happily admit I absolutely adored Bioshock 1 (apart from the end bit), and that kind of pedigree seems to be continuing! Woot.

    EDIT: Wow, a 30minute period in which to edit, cool!

  21. Cooper says:

    It look fantastic, but one gripe. It never felt like I was looking through the eyes of a big daddy, even a nimble prototype.

    The way the arms ‘hung’ there, in lifeless suspension felt awkward. Same with the original, but this felt even worse here where a giant screwdriver made from pounds of metal seemed like little more than a cardboard cutout stuck to the bottom of the screen…

    Might have been fine a few years ago, but we’re getting more and more used to – basically- being able to look down at our feet in FPS games. Movement seemed too ‘floaty’, for want of a better word, and at no point did the screw barge feel weighty enough.

    Small gripe, but I think they missed a trick in conveying a sense of momentum and physicality for this not-insignificant presence of a man in a heavy diving suit…

  22. Pzykozis says:

    I hope that its actually enjoybale to play through multiple times, the original I could hardly bear to play through a second time purely because its so plot driven with twists and turns that aren’t so fun the second time…

    Especially given the big twist near the end… ugh, excuses for linear play are still excuses, here’s to hoping they might put a little more exploration in for bioshock 2.

  23. Robyrt says:

    This game looks, um, exactly like Bioshock 1, except you have a dash attack. Sounds good to me. I have faith in Jordan Thomas, who is perhaps the best survival horror level designer out there.

  24. Clockwork Harlequin says:

    Seniath: We exhausted our hate reserves on Dragon Age. From here on it’s happy, happy flowers and sunshine. . .

  25. Bobsy says:

    I’d prefer the twist to be that Shodan was behind it all along.

  26. Über Nerd says:

    The looks remind Thief more then the first, cold soft glows, hard contrasts, “I barely see where I’m going” kind of dark…

    …not that I bother with console sh*t anymore…

  27. Psychopomp says:

    Console=/=bad, for fucks sake.

  28. phil says:

    Glorious footage, swating splicers looks to be considerably more fun than in the first game, if only due to the power of your blows.

    One thing; “Bioshock had a unity between the fiction and the mechanics of play that hadn’t been seen before” – Or words to that effect from the voice over.

    This is marketing guff of the highest order, almost every game with an uber powered memory less protagonist is about how they came to obtain their power, how they are tied to the fate of the game world and what they will do with their father/mother/mentor/initial objective setter once they have turned bigbad. And Futurama had a better explanation for the constant reincarnation of the player character. Would he kindly stop making undue claims to uniqueness.

  29. LionsPhil says:

    I’m confused. I thought the premise of the Big Sister was that she wanted Rapture to stay, as PCG put it, “Big Daddies & Little Sisters 4eva”. So you take the “adopt” option and go through the harvesting routine she was brainwashed to consider The Right Thing to happen in the world.

    Why does she then attack you? If you were the liberator/murderer of the first game, it would make sense. In this, one of your options is to do exactly what Big Daddies are supposed to do.

    (Also, plz to turn up gamma when recording trailer, kthx. Black screen not show much of prettygameness.)

  30. Dracko says:

    Psychopomp: It really doesn’t.

    Shit, a console game series practically devoted itself to “unity of the fiction with the systems of play beneath it”, without ever compromising its game design. Can you guess which one it is?

    From the get-go, Jordan Thomas promises more of the same, really, because it sold. I do not see this being much better than the original.

    Moral decisions need to fuck off and die. They have never worked in games, nor should they be there in the first place. Moral decisions are for real life. That thing where you can’t reload a save or hit the reset button or rewind or close the book. That thing where actions have genuine consequences.

    I can’t believe Jordan Thomas of all people would forget that ocean floor isn’t static either.

    Because if there’s one thing seaweed is known for, it’s rigidity.

  31. PC Monster says:

    Moral decisions in games are difficult, not just getting them right but in the way that everyone seems to become enormously judgmental of you afterwards.

    Yeah, so I’ve ripped a few creepy little girls apart for their Adam stores, but hey – I’m an innocent suddenly trapped in this nightmarish world…….hmm, no, I can’t really justify those awful little deaths. I really did become a monster, didn’t I? *sobs*

  32. Janto says:

    Yeah, that rigid seaweed was a bit rough looking. If you’re going to do a transition between organic vs mechanical areas, the organic stuff should really feel alive.

  33. Meat Circus says:

    This looks splendid.

    But then so did Bioshock. And it was splendid, with a cacky ending.

  34. jon_hill987 says:

    I think that Alec missed a trick by not putting:

    “Would you kindly not drag this thread into yet more tedious mouthing off about how Bioshock 1 disappointed you”

  35. Big Daddy says:

    So why do you need to protect the Little Sister if the Adam sea slug inside her makes her ‘invulnerable’ (thats what Tenenbaum said in BS1)?

  36. Sunjammer says:

    Man it does look pretty good. But that’s 99% because of the underwater bits. The only part of Bioshock, a game set nearly entirely on the bottom of the sea, where you are actually fully immersed in water, is when you’re at the surface. During a scripted cutscene. I’d walk around looking out the windows wanting to go out and explore!

    Frankly, game designers should be ashamed at how little of the ocean we have seen in video games. Archimedean dynasty aside, i don’t think any game other than Bioshock really exploited the setting, and that’s also including Subwar 2050. It’s a stone cold shame.

    As for the “it looks consoley with those smooth controls and all”, for video purposes, i actually prefer that to the staccato, stiff, and frankly unrealistic mouse camera controls that are so common.

    I played The Punisher on the PC recently and i was delighted to find an aiming CURSOR that was moving independently of your head, much like System Shock did. Shooting on the PC can be far more than having a locked point on the center of the screen that’s either infinitely accurate or accurate offset by a random god damn number or accurate as long as you follow rules.

    After a long hiatus from PC gaming (i only recently had the cash to spare for a gaming-suitable PC), returning to the PC FPS has shown me two things;

    1. The accuracy of your firearm is NOT the reason mouselook is superior. Having sharp and intuitive control of where you are actually looking is.

    2. The mouse is being underused. I actually prefer shooting on the Wii, where they seem to understand that aiming a gun is a cool feeling, not playing Turrethead Man or whatever character all PC FPSes seem to star.

    So sorry for the sacrilege; i’ll keep being a PC gamer for the strategy, the rpgs, the anarchy and the fact that a mouse and keyboard allows for a greater brevity of experiences than a joypad, which inspires a lot of inspired design. The first person shooting though really needs a shaking up. Give me some more Dark corners of the earth. It was terribly awkward but it felt like the gun was an object, not a part of my face.

  37. MrMud says:

    I still think the big sister is a horrible concept

  38. Dracko says:

    [Either keep your angry mouth shut in Bioshock threads or go rage elsewhere, Dracko]

  39. Rei Onryou says:

    Yay. That is all.

  40. Stupoider says:

    Big Daddy: We have a winner folks..?

  41. Psychopomp says:

    Seeing what happened to Dracko’s post made me very happy.

  42. Meat Circus says:

    @Big Daddy:

    Did you miss the bit where you can harvest them for Adam? That doesn’t seem very invulnerable to me.

    You may not be able to shoot them, but you can clearly still harm them.

  43. Bhazor says:

    Oh what did Dracko say!
    I love his bizarre “Bioshock was the worst thing to ever happen to mankind” vitriol.

    Also seaweed may not be rock solid but it is hella tangly and sometimes vaguely poisonous. It would almost certainly jam up a drill. Either way I’d rather suspend my disbelief than watch my computer catch fire trying to render the fabric physics involved.

    Still not sure about this. To me Fort Frolic always stood out in the original but not entirely in too good a way. All the other areas felt justified, they felt like they made sense, they felt cohesive and grounded even in such a bizarre setting. But Fort Frolic was a strip club which was inside a theater which was inside a shopping mall that was all covered in plaster of Paris. I just feel Jordan Thomas may be good at levels but that doesn’t automatically equate to being good at universes.

  44. Lewis says:

    No matter how I look at it, I cannot understand the notion that either consoles or linearity are inherently bad. It’s total, nonsense prejudice, and the relevant people should stop it.

  45. Big Daddy says:

    You could only harvest the Little Sisters once Tenenbaum threw you a special unnamed plasmid (or tonic?) canister, which seemed like the devs kinda shoehorned it at the time as there wasn’t really any proper explanation as to what it actually was (no name or anything, like ‘Harvester’s delight’).

    Also, this plasmid was never mentioned again in the first game, so you can’t really be expected to believe that it was widely available and all the splicers also have the ability to harvest the Little Sisters.

  46. Bhazor says:

    Reply to Big Daddy
    Well remember your genetics were custom tweaked and it’s possible it was a tonic that only you could use. Now maybe the standard splicers have spliced themselves to a state they can use it. What makes less sense is why she didn’t use mind control to get the Daddies to just fetch the damn girls to her.

  47. Bhazor says:

    Reply to Big Daddy
    No silly, Atlas tells you to harvest the munchkin before Tenebaum tosses you the plasmid and tells you it’s an alternative. Which means any splicer can bleed the girls dry but your tonic allows you to not kill the chick in draining them.

    Sorry about the double post but the chance to edit the last comment had ended.

  48. Charlie says:

    Look at Red Orchestra and Insurgency for cool mouse aiming. I wish other games would try it.

  49. JonFitt says:

    As I see it the problem with consoles is two-fold:
    1) As a gaming device it’s the controller. It’s unsuitable for fps games and rts games. Both of the most popular genres on PC. I wouldn’t flay a plane with a mouse, and I wouldn’t play TF2 with a controller, nor hammer a nail with a spanner. Sure it would work, but it would be a terrible experience.
    2) And most relevant to RPS, it’s the console owners (that’s MS and Nintendo not you). They restrict who can release games and what the content can be, and they charge astronomical fees to get a game licensed through normal channels.
    Which means you couldn’t have games about a:
    headfuck of ambient gloom or
    submissive lesbianism.
    There’s not a lot of love around here for consoles.

    As for the game footage: Looks spiffy. I’ll have to wait til later to get it with sound.

  50. Big Daddy says:

    @Bhazor Ah yes I see now, thank you. The only question that is left unanswered is what the fudge do you actually do to them when you harvest them and why would the invinci-slug allow you to?