The Games Of Christmas ’10: Day 9

By RPS on December 9th, 2010 at 2:58 pm.

NINE!
If RPS’s slave army ever rises up to destroy us, then we’d like to imagine that the heroic central figure in the story would have as much fun as we did playing this game. Not that it will ever happen, of course, because our experiment in the manipulation of human beings is flawless and, frankly, unstoppable. What are we talking about? ACCESS THE NINTH WINDOW!

It’s… Bioshock 2!

Quinns: I dunno how much I agree with the sentiment that Bioshock 2 is the better game than Bioshock 1. For me, Bioshock was all about how it could hold you in its spell. There was magic in its design, in its pacing, in all that beautiful imagery. I remember being rapt for the entire first couple of hours of the game, then there was Atlas’ reveal, Ryan’s reveal, Fort Frolic, Tenebaum’s rescue- all of these scenes felt magical, planet-sized and important. They all fall into that rare category of gaming experiences where if a flatmate walked in and talked over them, you’d nurse a tiny grudge for the rest of your life.

Bioshock 2 never conjured up that same feeling of importance for me, and I think there’s more to blame for that than me being used to the mechanics and setting. From the moment the game began I was tipped off balance by my character not feeling like a Big Daddy in any way, and Bioshock 2’s pivotal plot points (the confrontations with Grace, Stanley and Gilbert) were stripped of some of their mystique by being somewhat mechanical morality checks that I knew would dick me over further down the line. When the game should have been at its most spellbinding, it was also forcing me to remember that I was playing a game.

Bioshock 2 did have the combat though. The whole sequence of events when you reach an Adam-stuffed corpse is beautiful. The examining of the angles, figuring out where the greedy hordes will come from. The workmanlike assembly of a web of traps. The instant where you nervously hit the button to set your girl down and let ‘em come. First you hear the shouts, the pattering of feet, then they’re on top of you, screaming, clattering, shooting, and you’re swinging and dashing and bleeding, until a minute later you send the last splicer crashing across the room with a charge attack and all is silence. You return to the little girl with blood sloshing around inside your boots and hoist her back up.

Basically, Bioshock is the classic. Bioshock 2 is the game. I enjoyed myself- I did, I had a whale of a time. But inside my heart you’ll find Bioshock, and Bioshock only.


Jim: This is my second favourite corridor shooter of the year. To give that some context: having played Bioshock I wasn’t particularly excited about this, but I knew I would enjoy it on its own terms. I thought knew what to expect. As it turned out, Bioshock 2 was a mechanically better game.

I’d feared the Big Daddy player, because of the end of the original game, but I was wrong to be concerned. The combat made /more/ sense, because you were a big old stompy diving suit, not less. There were underwater bits, you had two hands that could do different things, the cast was once again strong, even if the big bad just seemed like a vaguely pious aunt, lecturing me for not being a better person. It was Bioshock’s actual moment-to-moment play made it sensible and solid. A good thing. A decent sequel. But there was something else, too: the world seemed to cohere better.

Even from the first moments it made more sense. Being a Big Daddy, you were always in there, looking for Adam, caring for the Little Sisters, and using/abusing the twisted systems of the dystopia around you. And this, for me, just worked. Where I’d been scratching my head from the moment the protagonist in the first game plunged a giant red syringe into his arm without a second thought (only later to have to reconsider everything with the clever twist/explanation, only for it not to make a jot of difference), Bioshock 2 seemed more logical. The motive was there, clear and precise, and I was okay with it. The little sister defences were a splendid challenge, too, and one that suited all the tools the game made available. The ending was strong, the level design often extremely beautiful.

I still had trouble with killing the Big Daddies (what did they ever do, really?) but Bioshock 2 simply sits better with my soul.


Alec: I expected more, but crucially I also expected less. Bioshock 2 immediately damned itself by electing not to steer itself from the original game’s backdrop – that universe was fat with so much tantalising fictional and aesthetic possibility that to essentially retread the same territory could only ever be conceptually disappointing. With distance rather than staring through disorientating hype-tinted spectacles, though, the chance to go deeper on the ideas and concepts of the first is one I remain grateful for.

Big Daddy + Little Sister is about as iconic a contemporary gaming image as it gets: why wouldn’t we want to directly insert ourselves into that sinister/beautiful equation? The sad removal of humanity inherent in the creation of a Big Daddy even made the mute, bewildered FPS protagonist make more sense than the first’s magic hypnotised slave. Thank to the Bioshockverse’s irresistible fiction, I knew more or less exactly what I was, and what my purpose was – which meant I didn’t need more sprawling exposition and twistarama about who I was.

The more intimate (if less striking) tale offered opportunity to determine the fate and nature of a person, rather than what happened to a bunch of near-silent NPCs and choosing which side of the absolute-morality fence you’d sit on. Familiarity meant there were was less that was truly memorable, but this is by far the more rounded package: the Bioshock game I’m definitely far more likely to play through again. And, outside of Pripyat and [CENSORED], the only FPS of 2010 I think back to with sincere fondness.

As has been endlessly echoed around the various smoky word-lounges of the internet, BS2′s also a significantly better shooting game than the first. That this did run’n'gun (run’n'gun’and run back to gun harder, more accurately) with so much more brutal panache was an unexpected treat. Complexity, challenge and strategic depth all pushed up, with many of the tunnels mercifully swapped for more open arenas. It wasn’t an event game, but its gaming events are superior.

God though, I felt so sorry for the devs when Bioshock Infinite got announced.

Kieron: Thief: The Metal Age to Bioshock’s Thief: The Dark Project, basically. The further we go from Bioshock 2, the more its gentle themes of parental influence glow warmly in some distant undersea city in my heart. Bioshock remains the one you must play… but if you were going to replay one, like Alec, Bioshock 2 is the one I’d recommend. Not least because, against all expectations, charging across a room and forcing a drill right through someone’s chest never got old.

, .

65 Comments »

  1. Petethegoat says:

    Jim, what is your favourite corridor shooter?

    • Pseudonym says:

      @Petethegoat
      I think they are censoring it for now, so as not to spoil the rest of the Games of Christmas.

    • Petethegoat says:

      Surely some Grinch figure can go ahead and spoil it for us anyway? :)

    • suibhne says:

      My money’s on Metro 2033.

    • Garg says:

      Or it’s meant to be ironic, and it’s actually Mass Effect 2.

    • Out Reach says:

      “The Movies” Had 4 different Sci Fi Corridor sets alone. I shot some serious corridors in that game.

      With a film camera that.

    • westyfield says:

      It’s probably Metro 2033 – it’s the only other corridor shooter I can think of.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Unless it’s COD:BLOPS, in which case I will leave and never read RPS ever again

    • Sky says:

      “What? They don’t want Black Ops? DAMNIT CHANGE THE 24TH ONE”

    • Tannrar says:

      Or Singularity.

  2. Premium User Badge

    abhishek says:

    Bioshock 1 was a great experience mostly because of the ‘newness’ of the visuals/artwork/atmosphere of Rapture and some pretty smart writing. Strip that away and you have what is a distinctly average shooter in the gameplay department. I think the developers of Bioshock 2 realized this and they focused on making the gameplay aspect better in the sequel. It’s a bit unfortunate that there was a prevailing sentiment of Bioshock 2 being ‘more of the same’ when it was actually head and shoulders above the first game in terms of being fun to play. And there’s a very deep and rich history to the Bioshock universe, well fleshed out in the second game albeit it was rather hidden. I had to read up the wikia page for Bioshock to learn some of secrets and characters that appeared in Bioshock 2, and I was truly moved by some of it, even though it seemingly wasn’t apparent within the game itself.

    The only blemish to Bioshock 2 was the half assed multiplayer component that they decided to tack on to it. Terrible implementation, with the inclusion of GFWL, and no one ever played it. On the other hand, the game also had The.Best.Plasmid.Ever. So I’d say that evens it out.

    • EC- says:

      You know what is another term for ‘newness’? Originality. I think you are speaking with regards to the setting here, and I’d have to agree. But I disagree with Bioshock being ‘average’ beyond the scope of setting. The ability to conduct an orchestra of madness involving cameras, security bots, hypnotized daddies, enraged splicers, tornado traps and flammable floors was started in Bioshock. Certainly this was perfected in the sequel, but don’t let the dive into mediocrity of the game beyond the Ryan confrontation (up to and including that horrific boss fight) distort your view of the overall picture. The original Bioshock IS flawed, but ‘average’ is never a proper adjective to use when talking about it.

    • K says:

      It was average insofar, as that the combat was boring, and there was so much of it. A bit like Alpha Protocol, which is best played on easy settings, as that shortens the boring parts (combat) drastically.

    • elyscape says:

      Which one was The Best Plasmid Ever?

    • Premium User Badge

      abhishek says:

      But I disagree with Bioshock being ‘average’ beyond the scope of setting.

      Yea, I suppose calling it average is a bit harsh. The point I was making was that, at least for me, it was the setting and mood of Rapture that made it a good game, and not the shooty bits.

      Which one was The Best Plasmid Ever?

      I’d tell you but it’s a huge spoiler for Bioshock 2. You get this plasmid in the last level of the game. If you’ve played it, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I don’t think I should tell you (:

    • Anonymousity says:

      Bioshock was average, System Shock 2 however was awesome.

    • Martin Lugton says:

      I agree with abhishek and EC – the gameplay in Bioshock 2 was superior, but the original had a lot going for it (the management of security devices was already great fun). The Little Sister defend sections in Bioshock 2 were exquisite, and the combat was really meaty, varied and satisfying.

      I’ve written an article on the two games (with lots of screenshots of the Little Sister section near the end of the second one), so please do check it out:

      https://reflectionsandcontemplations.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/reflections-on-the-best-moments-in-bioshock-and-bioshock-2-or-on-obedience-in-computer-games/

  3. fuggles says:

    Aw…I was hoping for another indie treat that I had missed. Anyway, I think the key word from this article is one used by Quinns, “Workmanlike”. I loathed the harvesting sections in Bioshock2, they took so long to do and they were all the same, in part owing to my lack of imagination in killing dudes, and in part as my workmanlike methods, well, worked.

    Each time I would set out my stall of mines, lay down some electric eels/harpoons, get my trap rivets on and then wait for the hordes to come and slog through them. I’d quietly go invisible and the rivit in the face any stragglers. Once all were defeated I would mooch about, scavenge up any unused trap materials and then carry on.

    What made this whole process worse was that I would complete everything else first so that before I left all I had to do was harvest. This then created a huge tedious stumbling block at the end of each sections. Three little sisters meant three big daddies to laboriously kill and then six bodies to defend…ugh. Harvesting the souls of the dead has never been so tedious.

    I mostly concur if someone says this is a fault on my part for being unwilling to force myself to try different methods, as I didn’t buy most of the different plasmids and went for an all-out melee build as man, I like to hammer that shift button and hit people in the face with a drill. The drill was by far the best part of the whole game.

    Oh no, I clean lied. Being a little sister and seeing their world was the best bit.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      I agree. As soon as you figured out the right way to defend a sister (probably by the 2nd one) it all became So very tedious. In the first game, I was excited when I found a source of Adam. In #2 I came to dread it. Great, I get to spend twenty minutes setting up the same old traps, kill the few dudes who get through, then twenty minutes cleaning up. AGAIN.

      It got so bad I just stopped playing and never went back. Which I hate this game for. I love the Bioshock universe. This game deprived me of seeing more of that wonderful world because of these segments.

      The part where you see through the sister’s eyes was the best, I agree.

  4. dancingcrab says:

    I just replayed this on’ ‘hard’ difficulty, choosing all the immoral options. And it was fun. I definitely recommend the higher difficulty for any SS2 vets, although ammo is still ridiculously plentiful and I barely ever took time to look at my health and EVE meters as they mattered so little.

    However, the single most important factor for me, over the original, was the level design. BS1′s levels fell short towards the end. BS2 manages consistently interesting and open maps that I was never bored by.

  5. N'Al says:

    The question now is: when is Minerva’s Den finally coming out on PC, wheeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnn!!!!?????????????????????!!

  6. Brumisator says:

    Was I the only one bored out of my mind with BS2?

    • Premium User Badge

      Rinox says:

      Nope. If somehow New Vegas manages to miss the advent list (which would be a crime) while BS2 did make it I’ll…do something bizarre that I’m not really gonna do if it turns out to be true. Like eating my hat I don’t own.

    • Xocrates says:

      You guys do realize that Bioshock 2 was faster (and better) paced than Bioshock, right?

    • Basilicus says:

      You guys also realize that Bioshock 2 wasn’t System Shock 2 for Dummies like the first one, right?

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      I preferred the slower movement of Bioshock. I’d suggest that all the above wibbling about Bioshock 1 having more sense of place, or of event, was to do with the ‘weight’ of your movement in that world and the slower speed at which you walked through it making it feel more monumental.

      But faster movement is more responsive and thus more immediately ‘fun’.

      I’d still go with the first.

    • Premium User Badge

      Rinox says:

      What I liked about BS1 was the story/atmosphere. The gameplay wasn’t all that for me. And this is where I felt BS2 fell a little flat (story, atmosphere, originality). All in my very humble opinion, of course.

    • PureUncut says:

      I thought that Bioshock 2 started off quite slow and got a lot more entertaining the further along you got.

      My only major gripe about the game was that it wan’t as much fun at the start than it was at the end.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      You guys realise that SS2 is just Bioshock for people who like needless complication and control issues?

    • RQH says:

      You guys also realize that Bioshock 2′s story was the more thematically consistent and emotionally engaging, right?

    • fuggles says:

      You do realise that BS1′s plot was more emotionally impactive and was a defining point for games and the FPS genre? You’re trying to compare a Tolstoy Apple with a McCarthy Pear.

    • Premium User Badge

      Rinox says:

      You guys realise that you’re busy creating a new RPS meme right? ;-)

      And yes, BS1 is a lot like SS2. But the initial amazement at Rapture’s beauty was all BS1′s, and for me no gameplay adjustments could trump that feeling in BS2. As for the story…the end of the first moved me as well :P

    • MadTinkerer says:

      You guys realize that System Shock wasn’t Ultima Underworld 3, and SS2 wasn’t UW4, right? Because SOME of us see System Shock 2 as a failure to live up to the potential of what it could have been if it was an Underworld sequel instead!

      Or we would have IF WE WEREN’T OVER IT ALREADY.

    • Basilicus says:

      I miss needless complication in my games. One of my favorite parts of Thief 1 & 2, as well as System Shock 2, was that there were so many controls for so many different variations of movement that you could never utilize every control.

      You could, however, develop your own personal set of controls from the vast array of choices, which meant my set of preferred commands would be slightly different than your set of preferred commands. Your character might use the crawl command while my character utilized a wider array of lean techniques. It was brilliant and meant your character would ultimately play through the game a little differently from mine, because we preferred different control structures. It personalized each gamer’s story through the movement itself, something I’ve seen very few other titles even try.

      Now everything’s limited to the number of commands that can be achieved on a gamepad, and that’s disappointing.

    • Wulf says:

      BioShock is one of those things that I felt should only be done once. This is why I’m actually torn about a Beyond Good & Evil shooter, because that game has the same problem. To me, BioShock actually felt a little bit eccentric and out of place, I liked it for that. BioShock 2 felt as though it was trying to find its way back into the traffic, so to speak, and I liked it less for that. Another problem was that the novelty of the setting had worn off a bit and it had gotten to the point where it was just repeating itself, and they hadn’t come up with any new forms of novelty to replace the old. That the story was a bit flat didn’t help either.

      There are very few cases where you won’t have a sequel butchering the original, there are a few stand out exceptions, like Fallout 2, and LeChuck’s Revenge, but they’re the exceptions. Mostly what will happen is that a developer will try and figure out why game no. 1 didn’t sell well, and try to make it sell better with game no. 2. I tend to have love affairs with developers that don’t do that with their sequels, to be honest, but I’m put off when I see it happening. I think that happened with BioShock 2. BioShock 2 felt more of an effort to make a BioShock 1 that would sell better, rather than to make a BioShock 1 that was better.

      And as for New Vegas, I’m not expecting it to show up. And to be honest, my faith in RPS has been declining rapidly ever since that incident of ‘Hey, let’s bash on Obsidian because that’s the cool and hip thing to do at the moment! To hell with people having written damn near entire dissertations on different parts of the game, because it’s so impressive. We’ll just bash it for arbitrary reasons, because we’re cool like that.’, which was depressing. Frankly. There are so many reasons why New Vegas should make it into the list.

      To be honest, anyone who has any appreciation for games doing interesting things and not pulling punches should praise New Vegas and put it up on a pedestal. Let me provide an example of that…

      Okay, so, Vault 34. Wow, Vault 34. This was the first time in the longest time (but one of a number of times in New Vegas) where I actually sat and stared at my monitor. I laid back in my chair, I thought about it, I even switched away from the game because I was a coward, then I’d look back… but here, I’m getting ahead of myself. See, Vault 34 is interesting, deep within its not-so-comforting bowels, there’s a family of vault dwellers, scraping and eking out a meagre existence. All they could do was pop a message up on a terminal for me to see.

      Now, New Vegas is running out of food, quite rapidly, one experiment that might turn that around are the NCR sharecropper farms. But they’re having problems, problems which I find are being caused by Vault 34′s generator, since it’s leaking radiation into the soil. I have two choices here, two. Just two.

      #1: I send power to the family, this improves their quality of life, and it might also provide for a way out of the vault, so that they might live and thrive, and be given the chance to do so. However, this would doom the sharecropper farms and possibly all the future generations of New Vegas, if no other source was found, things would turn to shit, and fast.

      #2: I disable the generator, and the sharecropper farms thrive. This provides food for the future generations of the Mojave wasteland, but at the same time… one must be the executioner of a family of innocents. There’s nothing to say they’ve ever done anything wrong, they’ve committed no crimes, and with a sole choice you could damn them to a slow, painful death, alone, and in the dark.

      How the hell do you make a choice like that? How can you not love a game that gives you a choice like that? The problem with a lot of modern games is that there are obvious, outright ‘I win!’ scenarios, and BioShock 2 is a victim to this as well. But with New Vegas, Obsidian didn’t pull any punches, there are some things in New Vegas where you’ll come out looking like a bit of a twisted nutter no matter what you do, because there are no right choices, there are only choices. And you have to try to convince yourself that the one you made was the right one. Maybe.

      There are numerous other choices like this, what with Lily’s medicine, Anderson, Gannon’s loyalties, and so on. The game loves throwing you a curveball, where you must choose, but neither answer is the right answer. In fact, some people couldn’t deal with this, so there’s a mod out there that actually provides a third option to the Vault 34 question, wherein you can use Science to repair the generator. Essentially they hacked the Kobayashi Meru. Doesn’t that tell you anything about the game?

      New Vegas is almost a work of art in its own right, and it has many moments of absolute brilliance. If you’re going to damn New Vegas, then the only reason to do that really is to look ‘cool’. And I can’t respect that.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Gonna be interesting to see if New Vegas turns up, actually. I think it should, but it may well not, which would be so deliciously controversial.

      EDIT: Wulf, FFS. It’s not ‘the cool thing to do’ to bash on Obsidian. The ‘cool’ thing to do is love them so much more than they deserve, because it’s widely believed they represent the kind of ‘buggy but original’ philosophy that people like to be associated with. If RPS have realised what a crock of shit that really is, they’re the only ones in the goddamn industry.

    • Matt says:

      And yet, despite having played New Vegas for 80+ hours, I didn’t even enter Vault 34. Or get any quests to do so.

    • Ateius says:

      “And to be honest, my faith in RPS has been declining rapidly ever since that incident of ‘Hey, let’s bash on Obsidian because that’s the cool and hip thing to do at the moment! To hell with people having written damn near entire dissertations on different parts of the game, because it’s so impressive. We’ll just bash it for arbitrary reasons, because we’re cool like that.’, which was depressing.”

      Are people still on about this? RPS only “bashed” Obsidian because it was “cool”? What? Seriously? When has (A) It ever been “cool” to “Bash” Obsidian and (B) RPS ever cared about following the trends of the internet?

      Maybe they just didn’t like New Vegas. Maybe they had a gameplay experience so badly marred by bugs, glitches and errors that it ruined the good parts of the game for them.

      No, no, that can’t be it, of course. Obsidian are the perfect, shining, golden gods of game design. Them do something wrong? Someone else having a different opinion on their games? Unthinkable!

      RPS is not always going to agree with you. They have not always agreed with me either. I got over it. You should too.

      I suppose I should say something relevant to the topic. So, Bioshock. Brilliantly atmospheric, intriguing storyline with some good twists. Wasn’t enough to keep me going through the atrocious gameplay. I saw the post-Ryan part of the game only via Spoiler Warning’s excellent LP, and don’t feel that I missed out at all for not personally playing it.

      I haven’t played Bioshock 2 yet for the same reasons I never got beyond Ryan in the first game. Tell me, RPSfolks. Have they improved the mechanics enough to make combat (which you spend most of the game doing) enjoyable rather than a slow painful grind?

    • Xocrates says:

      @Ateius pretty much every gameplay issue of the original was fixed or significantly improved in Bioshock 2. I can’t guarantee you’ll like the combat, but it’s certainly a lot more fluid and fun than the original. From a gameplay persperctive perhaps the most dividing aspect is if defending the little sisters is a chore or not.

      Most of the hate for Bioshock 2 is that it doesn’t feel as memorable or atmospheric as the original, because gameplay-wise is undoubtebly the best one.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      In short: Yes. As much as it pains me to say this after mocking Halo 2 for it, the dual wield (1 weapon/1 plasmid) changes stuff on a fundamental level of expression.

      KG

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      This.

      Also complexity is limited to size and scope, all assets for a game has to fit to a consoles hardware limitations. Imagine how big (and cool) GTA4 would be if you could separately voice a couple hundred of the city’s inhabitants, add more complex scripting for behaviors, add hundreds of more explorable interiors, controls for car features (hood, trunk, turn signals, sitting in car with engine off) and cosmetic/performance customizations, etc. But it wouldn’t run on an xbox so no luck :(

    • Ateius says:

      Hmm. Perhaps I’ll give it a try then. “Dual-wielding” weapon and plasmid will get rid of my biggest gripe with the original combat system (wasting precious in-combat seconds for the bloody “look at my new lightning hand!” animations every time you change gun or plasmid). Hopefully the drill-hand will prove more effective than my shotgun-loaded-with-fluff-and-love, too.

      Also: The legendary KG responded to me! *swoon*

  7. Kikito says:

    I thought day9 was going to be Starcraft

  8. Basilicus says:

    For me, Bioshock 1 was all about how much the first half of the game could ape the first half of System Shock 2. After hearing so many people discuss how great Bioshock the First was, playing it was a disappointment because I had all the major plot points figured out up until I picked up that golf club. That essentially gave me the Ryan reveal surrounded by an echo of a plot. The other reveals ended up feeling familiar, at best, and horribly cheap at their worst. It was the newness of locale and atmosphere that kept me playing, but it lacked the openness of System Shock 2 and the combat never felt balanced enough, the situation never dire enough. It was good, but not great.

    Bioshock 2 felt great. The level design stands out as some of the best in recent years and does a fantastic job of hiding its ultimate linearity. Letting you create your own setpieces, as you do in the Little Sister defenses, is something you’re hard pressed to find in the CODBLOPS world of gaming these days. Most importantly, I’d say you’d be hard-pressed to find a character that felt more real this year than Grace Holloway. Her story felt real, important and heartbreaking, the voice actress was phenomenal, and the section of the game in which you explore the locales that built her into who she is will forever be burned into my mind as one of my greatest and most chilling gaming experiences.

    I wouldn’t have minded if a flatmate interrupted me during BS1, because I’d already played a far better version of the vast majority of the story years prior. If I’d been interrupted while getting to know Grace Holloway, though, I’d have felt robbed, like I’d missed a piece of gaming I’d never have gotten back. I’m glad I wasn’t. BS1 may have shown off the engine and what it could do, but BS2 was a better designed game that told a more original and heartfelt story.

  9. MadTinkerer says:

    Bioshock 2 took many of the gadgets, spells, and combat and made some great upgrades.

    The one thing I point out that many seem to overlook is that the AI and scripting for the Splicers is much improved in 2. In 1, they were all one-dimensional homicidal lunatics. In 2, they are still homicidal lunatics, but act more like they actually have a life beyond wandering around waiting to spot the player. The dialogue is also improved beyond even 1′s high standards. For example, if you Hypnotize each different kind of splicer, they’ll make comments regarding their particular twisted world-view that reveal the sorts of things they do when not “on camera”.

    2 made a few mis-steps, however. For example, there’s no justification for why Alpha can choose to harvest or save Little Sisters: he should be mentally unable to “save” them, because he’s a Big Daddy, and certainly not harvest them, and he should be physically unable to do either because only Brigid Tenenbaum and Jack (first game’s protagonist) have the plasmid necessary to do so! MAJOR plot hole, there!

    Since 2 introduces alternate sources of Adam, more should have been made of that. Maybe more underwater areas with more slugs? Maybe more Big Sister battles? Maybe the choice to have mercy on the Big Sisters, or the other Big Daddies for that matter?

    They should have expanded on the invention system in 2 instead of tossing it, and done more with weapon customization. They should have allowed the player to return to earlier areas, and added hidden secrets you can only get if you return later. They should have made the Big Sister battles less predictable (the second time around). They should have included more non-hostile character interaction beyond those 3 key NPCs and the catatonic patients in the mental asylum (but at least that was more than what we got in 1).

    Bioshock 2 has many great moments that aren’t in 1, as well as a much more fun combat experience. The story is devoid of “shocking” moments (no pun intended), but is still better than many other FPSs. It’s a lot more linear and limited in many ways, but makes a fantastic companion piece to the first game. That’s really the best way to look at it: a companion piece rather than a sequel.

    EDIT: Oh yeah: “Letting you create your own setpieces, as you do in the Little Sister defenses, is something you’re hard pressed to find in the CODBLOPS world of gaming these days.”

    Indeed. The Little Sister defense mini-scenarios which play out different every time (and there are too many different possible spots to choose from the first time around, which adds a little bit to replay value despite the linearity) are the number one best part of the second game.

  10. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    Can’t wait to buy this supercheap in the steam sale.

  11. Angel Dust says:

    Chalk me up as another who greatly prefer this tot he first one. I had zero interest in playing it having not being much of a fan of the first (brilliant opening but pretty dull, THAT twist aside of course, from then on) but on a whim I hired it for my TV fun extender and ended up blasting through it in 3 days.

    It wasn’t perfect; the story takes a while to find it’s feet while characters/events are being uncomfortably shoe-horned into the universe, the philosophising is even more clumsy than Bioshock 1′s, the Big Sister fights were a let down and eventually an annoyance, there were far too many instances of the FP cutscene were control was taken away from you for no good reason; but it succeeds in all the ways that matter to me. As has been mentioned by pretty much everyone else the combat and level design were much improved. The underwater sections while being pretty uninteresting gameplay wise did much to make Rapture actually feel like an underwater city this time.The drill, as Kieron rightly points out, was way more fun that I thought it would be and the difficultly was pitched at a more satisfying level. The big draw for me though was the unexpectedly intimate and genuinely moving story. The characters felt actually human this time and some, like Sinclair, even surprised by actually developing as the story moved forward. It’s themes of parental influence actually resonated, although I have no doubt the fairly recent development of my becoming a parent made me more susceptible to them, and it makes me quite happy that a game, and a AAA one no less, actually talked something like this.

    • Angel Dust says:

      Bah, ‘talked something like this’ should be ‘tackled something like that’

  12. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    “Basically, Bioshock is the classic. Bioshock 2 is the game. ”

    Totally agree. I loved setting up those ambushes.laughed out loud at the sight of a hulking splicer jumping three stories down into a flaming whirlwind trap to see him catapulted back up again on fire.

    The MP was a huge disappointment. I so wanted to like it but it played and looked rubbish.

    P.

  13. Premium User Badge

    JiminyJickers says:

    I so wanted to like Bioshock but I just couldn’t get into it. Why can’t someone make a System Shock 3, and not mess it up. I still have fond memories of playing System Shock 2 in the middle of the night in a dark room and nearly messing in my pants.

    • Text_Fish says:

      Aye, I thought BioShock was a bit rubbish too. Personally I think one of its major flaws was the lack of a detailed hud/inventory system, which System Shock 2 really excelled at. There’s no better way to ramp up the tension than make the player perform a bit of micromanagement whilst he can hear a groaning zombie lumbering across the next corridor. Of course, in this day and age it’s unlikely we’ll see anything that indepth again because it’ll confuse the simpleton console gamers. Shame.

    • Waltorious says:

      I literally just finished the first Bioshock last night, having taken a absurdly long time to get around to playing it, and I must say I was also quite disappointed. Strangely, wihle most complaints seem to be about the mechanics, i.e. the shooting not being fun, and there not really being much choice in the game because your character can do everything rather than having to pick some things, my biggest problem was with the writing. Reading Quinns’ description of Bioshock holding him in its spell is very strange for me because it iddn’t happen like that for me at all. First of all, there were too many holes in the premise and plot for my liking. Ryan builds a secret city underwater… so where did all the other residents come from? How did they know about it? And if they knew about it, how the hell did the CIA / KGB not know about it?

      Like Jim, I didn’t get why my character would just randomly stick a giant syringe into his arm when no-one advised him to. Then of course there’s the big twist, which was cool at first, until I thought about it and it didn’t make any sense. If I was some sort of hypnotized slave made in Rapture, why the hell was I on an airplane? What was the advantage of taking me away from Rapture for a wihle? Just so Ryan wouldn’t know who I was? But he figured it out anyway! Grumble. And on top of these plot holes, the writing of the characters just wasn’t convincing to me. So Tenenbaum is some sort of amoral monster, but then she has a complete change of heart once she hangs around some little sisters? That didn’t convince me at all. None of the rest of the cast convinced me either.

      My second big problem was with the level design. It just didn’t feel like a real place. I was reminded of the Original Half-Life, which, while set in a secret government lab, doesn’t really FEEL like a real government lab. But in that case it was OK, because the game played like a fast-paced action movie, and those movies don’t feel like they’re in real places either. With Bioshock, the setting and atmosphere was what they were going for and it just didn’t work for me at all. I’m OK with it being a different game from System Shock, but with all the similarities it was impossible not to be reminded of how much more believable the level design was in both System Shock games. Bioshock felt like a very poorly done imitation.

      Seems like my complaints are not the normal ones though. Did anyone else feel the same way?

      Sounds like Bioshock 2 might be better, but I’m not particularly inclined to try it given how little I liked the first game. Maybe I’ll get around to it eventually.

  14. Saxifrage says:

    I’ve wanted to try this but vaguely remember something about the DRM being awful. True?

    • Xocrates says:

      I don’t think it’s worse than the one in the original. There is Securom and installations limits but that doesn’t seem to be the case in the Steam version where the only useless add-on should be GFWL.

      There were rumours about it using an always online kind of thing but it turns out they were talking about the multiplayer.

  15. Jake says:

    I couldn’t complete Bioshock because I found the water pipe puzzle too irritating, I just don’t get why it was included. I know I could have skipped them but I’d be handicapping myself a bit. I just found them irritating, not difficult especially, like a small Flash game you have to play for some reason.

    I also think I have a bug where for some reason all sounds seem to overlap, like I will have tape recordings and several enemies all talking loudly at once, even if the enemies are really far away. Plus vending machines and things. It was just really noisy and hard to follow the plot. Not sure what was going on with that. I found myself just wishing it was a book.

    Finally I found it very claustrophobic – even if it was beautiful to look at (the scenery that is, I hate the cartoony enemy models). I like outdoor bits in games I guess, I’d never noticed this until I played Bioshock.

    Anyway, I don’t like it when I seem to be missing out on such loved games and Bioshock 2 will undoubtedly be supercheap in the sale, so I might give it a go. Worth it even if I don’t finish the first?

    • Xocrates says:

      Bioshock 2 is a very good game on it’s own, but pretty much assumes you’re familiar with the story of the first one.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      “Worth it even if I don’t finish the first?”

      Exactly HOW far have you gotten in the first one? 2 has quite a few cameos, and a few of them involve major spoilers. If you’ve already gotten to The Big Twist in the first one, you’re fine. If not, it depends on how much you care about finishing the first one eventually without spoilers.

      If it’s technical issues that are keeping you from finishing, maybe you need to update your drivers?

    • Jake says:

      I don’t know if it is an error or just my settings but the sound is a bit of a mess. Or maybe it is meant to be like that. I quit at a bit with a prison cell I think, where there were too many things that I should probably hack. Maybe I’ll persevere.

  16. Navagon says:

    It was a good game. It also gave me some hope that XCOM might be a good game in its own right (if only it had used a different name).

    But personally I’d rather have had a prequel that fleshed out the world and showed you a society on the brink of collapse, rather than one that went over the edge many years ago. Irrational seem to be doing this with Infinite and is one of the reasons I’m interested in that one.

  17. zpoc says:

    forget bioshock 2 – it’s a fine game but it’s minverva’s den that deserves the attention. i think 2k messed up – minerva’s den should have been the main game and the bioshock 2 story should have been the dlc.

  18. bill says:

    I loved bioshock 1 (well, the first half at least, the 2nd half was only good). But I have no interest in playing this. It feels un-necessary. the first bioshock felt nicely self-contained, and it feels like going back would remove some of that magic.

    I think I’ll leave it thanks…

  19. Martin Lugton says:

    For anyone that’s played Bioshock and Bioshock 2, check out my article:

    ‘Reflections on the best moments in Bioshock and Bioshock 2, or On obedience in computer games’:

    https://reflectionsandcontemplations.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/reflections-on-the-best-moments-in-bioshock-and-bioshock-2-or-on-obedience-in-computer-games/

  20. zipdrive says:

    So, it appears I’m the only one who dislike Bioshock 2 so much that I’ve quit playing it mid-way through?

    I just found the setting OK, but not amazing, the second time around and the “protect the little sister” battles were hard and frustrating to me, not to mention so damn contrived. It’s 2010! Why can’t I drag the damn body to another, more easily defensible, location to do some Adam extraction?