There’s Someone In The Sea: Who Is Big Sister?

Phantom summarisers have today been filling the internet’s gossip-hungry dens with what they claim is the highlights of Game Informer’s Bioshock 2 feature. Go read if you’re desperate, but we’re not going to recycle it here, as a) there’s a big chance it’s nonsense and b) any shortening of this kind tends to leave a lot of stuff out in favour of cheering/whining about whatever most gets their mystery readers’ goats. So let’s wait until we’ve got a fuller picture, eh?

The speculat-o-game we will play, though, because we’re filthy gossip-mongers as much as the next tea-drinking PC games blog, is about the one concrete piece of information we do know: Bioshock 2 features a Big Sister. (It seems very likely right now that does mean just the one Big Sister, incidentally). This time, let’s put aside our feelings about the very concept of a (presumably) female reimagining of Bioshock 1’s most iconic castmember, and instead have a good old guess about what’s under that long-limbed steampunk suit. If that even is Big Sis, of course. RPS’s theories are beneath the cut. As well as a whole load of inevitably wrong/insane ideas, it contains a few Bioshock 1 spoilers, in case you’ve not finished that yet.

– It’s Tenenbaum.
[Post ends]

Oh, alright. It might be Dr Bridgette Tenenbaum – the femme-fatale geneticist who, in Bioshock 1, was co-creator and apparent co-saviour of the sinisterly tragic Little Sisters. She’s a character we weren’t offered much of a concluding fate for, which leaves her reasonably free and clear to be pulled back into the story now. All the clues we’ve got so far – i.e. that cover image and the tales of abducted girls on teaser site Something in the Sea – point to Big Sister creating a new horde of Little Sisters. Clearly, Tenenbaum has the knowledge necessary to make that happen – and, presuming some of Rapture is still standing, probable access to the necessary technology too.

Against all that is that, the last time we heard from her, she was attempting to rescue the Sisters from a life of slug-infested mangoo-harvesting. That’s true whether you go with Bioshock’s bad ending or good ending as canon. So it’s odd she’d turn all Dr Mengele again. Then again, she’s demonstrably flip-flopped before, so it’s hardly beyond the pale she’d do it again. Especially if, in the (apparently) seven years between the two games, something’s happened to make her miss the underwater empire she was once a key figure in. Could well be she’s only happy when she’s making little girls swallow magic slugs. Big Sister’s appearance – almost scrawny – would support the idea of there being a half-crazed middle-aged woman underneath that gimp suit. Alernatively…

It’s a grown-up Little Sister.
Driven mad without her trusty sea slug? Hepped up on Adam-balls? One of the ones who escaped to the surface with Jack in Bioshock’s ‘good’ ending, who’s returned to Rapture’s ruins having found the Plasmid-free surface world a little too dry? Or one he didn’t rescue/kill, left to fend for herself and somehow all growed up despite the (supposedly) adulthood-inhibiting slug? It’s an easy enough thing to explain away, but the real trouble with it is that it wouldn’t be a satisfying reveal. No doubt Big Sis’s identity will be a major plot point, and “hey, it’s another Little Sister!” is hardly going to impress anyone. For that matter, I’m not sure it being Tenenbaum would either: she probably wasn’t someone who especially resonated with Bioshock’s more casual players, and she certainly won’t mean much to anyone for whom Bioshock 2 is their first experience of the series.

On the other hand, the initial teaser trailer for Bioshock 2 featured what was apparently an older Little Sister. A Big Sister, if you will:

– It’s a Splicer.
See above, basically. Unsatisfying. If we take the bad ending of Bioshock 1 as canon, we know some of these psycho-mutants survived the fall of Rapture, but one of them dressing up as Big Sister doesn’t make much sense.

– It’s someone we haven’t seen yet
Who’s to say that cover image is, in fact, Big Sister? It could just be some re-engineered Big Daddy after all. And Sister herself could be some sinister authority figure, unrevealed until late in the day, a la Andrew Ryan in the first game. Alternatively, going back to the Grown-up Little Sis idea, there’s no mystery at all and the name’s as simple as it sounds.

– It’s someone’s actual sister.
Maybe the name isn’t the simple gender-inversion it seems on the surface, but rather a very specific reference. Could there be an Andrea Ryan or a Francesca Fontaine? Or, perhaps, the first game’s protagonist wasn’t Ryan’s only child. There is another… It’s very cheap, soap opera stuff – or even the first Friday the 13th, but if she’s given an interesting enough motivation/philosophy they could pull it off.

– Oh my god, she’s full of slugs.
There were a fair few things Bioshock didn’t explain quite as well as it could, and the faintly goofy idea that some sort of magic seaslug was responsible for the Little Sister’s freakishness, and was the root research behind the plasmids et al, was one of them. We know nothing about their origin or their intent – if a slug can be said to have any intent, of course. An amusingly batshit idea would be to have the slugs decide to rule Rapture, wanting a return to their former tween-housed glory. Underneath that helmet is a mass of sea slugs glued to each other in approximate human form: just you wait. Or don’t. It’d be ridiculous.

– It’s Mrs Atlas.
Okay, this is really, really tenuous – but as we’ve previously established, the map on the teaser site seems to involve Ireland quite a bit. Bioshock’s only Irish character was apparent hero of the people Atlas, who in fact turned out to be the megalomaniac industry boss Frank Fontaine with a dodgy Oirish accent. Perhaps there was, after all, a real Atlas at some point – or a real Moira (the presumed-fictional Mrs Atlas). AND THE IRISH ARE ANGRY. Hmm.

– It’s Andrew Ryan.

Well, hey, she’s called Big Sister and wears a fairly figure-hugging outfit, but Dita Von Teese she ain’t. It could feasibly be a skinnyish guy inside that diving suit – and Ryan wasn’t no fattie. But wait, Ryan’s dead, right? Well, yes. A golf club repeatedly applied to the skull does tend to result in that. However, the Vita Chambers that made the player character able to cheat death so easily in Bioshock 1 were apparently tuned to Ryan’s DNA. While the chamber in Ryan’s office was apparently deactivated, it’s all a bit vague – there is a chance he could have been reincarnated elsewhere in the city after his unfortunate face-five iron interface. Given his overuse of the word ‘man’ and creation of an ostensibly patriarchal empire in Rapture, setting himself up as a matriarchal figure instead would make for a poisonously ironic inversion of his former persona, all the better to browbeat us with another lecture upon the nature of man. His returning in any form would take the sting and resonance out of his perverse self-sacrifice, of course. Then again, you could argue the mere fact of there being a Bioshock 2 does that anyway. Oof, I’m being mean again. Hush, me.

– It’s Ken Levine’s sister/Ken Levine in drag
That’s got to be it.

Okay, I’m all done being crazy now. Any better ideas, faithful starkittens?


  1. phuzz says:

    Did the process of manufacturing a Big Daddy not involve basically chopping someone up and stuffing them into a suit? To me this implies that the Big Sister has been created by someone else. My guess? Minerva, she’s mad enough to give it a go and unlikely to let being from a completely different game stop her.

  2. cyrenic says:

    Just to throw out another name that hasn’t been mentioned: Diane McClintock.

  3. Gap Gen says:

    Ayn Rand?

  4. Chalkster says:

    I think it’s an automaton, run by one of the little sisters left behind in the bad ending.
    Steampunk is awesome, either way.

  5. cyrenic says:

    And regarding the other crazy Bioshock 2 rumors (which I shamelessly posted in the earlier Bioshock 2 thread), they’re apparently not true: link to

  6. The_B says:

    My personal opinion isn’t so much as who is in The LS suit, but I personally reckon who the protagonist of B2 is going to be, and I reckon it will be a grown up little sister.

    One of the ones saved in the first game most likely, but it wouldn’t surprise me given the ‘knowledge’ of the person investigating the disappearances on the Something in the Sea website – do we reckon Rapture (or at least the fall thereof) was something widely publicized by the media? – The news clippings -and again, the handwritten notes of the person investigating the stories – suggest not.

  7. Larington says:

    Someone makes a grab for the (Not quite) good Doctor, and forces her to make more abominations at gunpoint. She seems to be a bit of a survivor and would thus inevitably end up cowing to any demands in order to not get her brains splattered across the bulkheads.

    Refusing to follow the actual hype. I’ll judge the game ON ITS OWN merits. I hope others (Particularly reviewers) do the same.

  8. Pantsman says:

    Seeing those screens reminds me of just how awful the people in this game looked. They resemble crude wax figures constructed by someone who’d never seen actual humans before, only rough sketches of them.

  9. jaguth says:

    ugh, so far, i don’t like the storyline. soviets? oh please, thats the last thing we want in a sci-fi alternate-past game. Bioshock 1 was perfect in that you were stranded in an un-touched underwater utopia, which greatly added to the atmosphere, just like other one-man-against-the-world genres that made the atmosphere unknown and exciting, like doom and quake.

    having an outside entity such as “soviets” would make the game feel “dirty”. well, at least in my opinion. who knows, maybe it will work.

  10. Theoban says:

    It’s actually….ME!

  11. Larington says:

    Yeah, they didn’t even try to make the characters faces look real, either they couldn’t or they decided not to/that it wasn’t worth the extra effort.

  12. Kester says:

    *shakes fist at Gap Gen* Gah, you beat me to it. I’ll get you next time!

  13. Gap Gen says:

    In Soviet Rapture, lazy jokes make YOU

  14. Dinger says:

    The best review of Bioshock I is that given by Francis.

    As for the sequel, I’m convinced it works like this. A parallel underground city was built by Stew Loinguette-Dini to realize on earth the dream of a society built around the philosophy of Subjectivism. You have to know the rest.

  15. Schadenfreude says:

    I thought Atlas’ accent was actually pretty good. I seem to recall being pleasantly surprised by it given the long years of the rest of the world making a mess of it e.g. Thomas Cruise Mapother IV

    It was certainly hell of a lot better than the voice he put on for Fontaine. That was awful.

  16. amancebado says:

    Wow, big siters, krakens, soviets and what not!!! It´s so sad…. so sad…. I miss so much System Shock II and now this!

  17. cyrenic says:

    I’m glad everyone reads all the other comments before posting :P.

  18. l1ddl3monkey says:

    No better ideas, but I quite like being called a starkitten.

  19. ShaunCG says:

    “It’d be ridiculous.”

    Cue 2K Boston’s design team hastily throwing out a stack of notebookes…

  20. ShaunCG says:

    Oh god my fingers are full of slugs. *Notebooks*. Would you kindly learn to spell.

  21. Jim Rossignol says:

    Log into the forum before you Opinion away! for post-editing options.

  22. skalpadda says:

    “My guess? Minerva”

    Now you made me reinstall the Minerva HL2 mod again. Doh, another afternoon lost :)

  23. CrashT says:

    Did anybody else catch the reference to Innsmouth in the latest update to the BioShock 2 teaser site?

  24. Jeremy says:

    I would assume it wouldn’t be a woman associated with Ryan, he was so paranoid and messed up that he basically ended up killing any women near him, although Diane McClintock does pose an interesting possibility, we never knew if she died and we know she is probably disfigured, but that would make for a very weak plot point, “I wanted to be pretty again so I stole 30 kids while wearing this suit.”

    I don’t think it could be a Little Sister because if it is 7 years later, and assuming they aged normally after the slug was gone, then any little sister would be no older than 14, not exactly the kind of person that could wear that suit, and the same thought process goes for the protagonist as well, 14 year old girls shooting revolvers and what not? Nope.

    We can also safely assume that they’re using the “good” ending as canon, since I’m guessing people would hear about a bunch of splicers stealing a sub. Surely that would make the news.

    I would assume more than anything it will be someone we haven’t heard of behind it all. There is a lot of stuff we don’t really know about from the origin of Rapture, so who knows? Maybe it’s Jurassic park 2 style, Ryan survives and thinks “Now I know how to make it bigger and better and safer!” I would cry though if that was the case.

  25. EyeMessiah says:

    Its KG in cosplay.

  26. Funky Badger says:

    Its the Pyro.

    Like, duh.

  27. BeamSplashX says:

    Slug Theory

    See also: leeches, Resident Evil Zero

  28. Gassalasca says:

    “I thought Atlas’ accent was actually pretty good.
    It was certainly hell of a lot better than the voice he put on for Fontaine. That was awful.”

    Yeah, I completely agree.
    In other news… somewhow I’m not all that excited about the sequel… at least not the I was when B1 was about to come out. :|

  29. CrashT says:

    Every time I get concerned about BioShock 2 I reread this and remember that the guy who created that is now Creative Director at 2K Marin, and I feel much better about the whole concept.

  30. Tomo says:

    Argghhhhh. This article was too good. I’m getting very excited about Bioshock 2 and articles like this are driving me nuts.


  31. Jeremy says:

    Oh awesome, I didn’t even put those two things together, maybe this will be a much darker BS 2 then? Well, not that it was light fare to begin with. Honestly though, I think it has become fashionable to hate sequels and like only obscure games. Kinda like those people who only like bands with 4 fans.

  32. Solario says:

    Who actually gave birth to most of the Little Sisters? And wouldn’t the parents be reasonably upset at the prospect of their daughters being turned into little harvesters?

    But seriously, it’s SHODAN.

  33. Jeremy says:

    The people on Rapture, and yes they were, some committed suicide.

  34. Larington says:

    @Solario: Yeah, theres a tucked away area in one level, some apartments there, with a voice recording that establishes that the little sisters are abductees, don’t remember why it had to be girls though.

  35. WinAtCraps says:

    this make me laugh

  36. diebroken says:

    “Driven mad without her trusty sea slug? Hepped up on Adam-balls?”


  37. Jason Moyer says:

    Tannenbaum has an audio log where she says she has no idea why it only works with young girls.

  38. Logo says:

    It’s Tannebaum, I’d even wager on it (not a lot but still).

    Think about it…

    Bioshock left her at the bottom of the sea alone.
    You took a bunch of the sisters with you (or killed them) but clearly it wasn’t all of the little sisters in Rapture.
    With the Big Daddies gone (or so we’re lead to believe) someone had to protect the little sisters from harm against the remaining Splicers.
    There’s no way Tannenbaum could do it alone as she was in Bioshock.
    Tannenbaum clearly began to really care and feel for the little sisters as well as becoming addicted to the feeling of being a mother figure. That could explain both the kidnappings and why she’d do it to begin with.
    She’d make a really scary boss fight or a fitting ally. No one else left alive knows as much about Adam as she does.

  39. Duke Goosington IV says:

    So… what about the figure on top of the red-lighted one? Couldn’t that be the big sister instead, and the lighter, faster big daddies are just v2.0? the figure riding on top certainly doesn’t look all that much like the previous little sisters, certainly looks older and meaner, for example.

  40. Dinger says:

    Hey, just ‘cos we like bands nobody listens to doesn’t mean we like them because nobody listens to them. Post hoc propter hoc, dude. Sure, somewhere I’ve got a first-pressing vinyl of Bleach, but Mudhoney’s always been more fun.

    Look guys, I’ve tried to say it before, but this time I’ll try to be succinct (and contradictory): most players don’t care about the story. In a sense, that’s actually a good thing. If you know that whether your bills are going to be paid doesn’t depend on anybody paying attention, you can blow the doors off the joint. It’s the B-movie/film noir effect, and why people listen to bands that only have a following of four: there’s no commercial pressure, so the artists free to pursue their interests unhindered. But they’re not random amateurs; there’s been some quality-based selection that gives them the voice.

    Most of it is still crap. That’s existence. But if you take a professional, and set the bar low enough, you might find that s/he scrapes the ceiling.

  41. Optimaximal says:

    Interesting post here on Kotaku…

  42. Y3k-Bug says:

    I’m not trying to dull the fun of this at all, as it is fun, but am I the only one who finds this all… uninspired? At least so far.

    Hopefully they’ll be able to write an interesting identity behind who the Big Daddy is to get me to care, because as of now my interest in this is non-existent, sadly.

    EDIT: My memory of Bioshock is hazy is there a reason why the player’s avatar in BioS 2, a Big Daddy, would have plasmid powers? I don’t recall them having those abilities in the first game. Did they?

  43. Jeremy says:

    I hope that information is false. I hope it is some funny joke about how you shouldn’t believe everything you hear on the internet. I would hate it so much.

  44. redrain85 says:

    I’m not getting on board the hype train again. Wake me when Bioshock 2 has been released, and is in the hands of the actual players. So we can get some honest reviews: without the unanimous praise heaped on it that it won’t deserve this time, any more than it did last time.

  45. MeestaNob! says:

    That final image of Ryan brings up such depressing thoughts cause the game was so bad from there on. It would have been hard to follow up that scene, but man.

  46. BoltingTurtle says:

    no idea what they will do, but what an inventive but pragmatic designer might do;

    Introduce a different city, with a diametrically opposed ideology. Three phases to the game; above water while trying to figure out what is happening to the kids, where you find out about rapture and the events (vauge, so as to allow for both bad and good endings) and meet some of the charachters of BS1. Then take a trip to Rapture to track down the actual location of the other city and see what happened. Then head to Anti-Rapture. This means only one third of the game would be in the new city and you’d be free to save some punches for the highly probable BS3.
    Bioshock Episodes?

  47. pilou says:

    I would like the beginning of the game to happen on the surface when our PI meets the Big Sister abducting a girl and follow her in a boat!

    Then she enters a light house and disappears there. Investigating we would find a secret entrance to a laboratory. Following through long corridors we would meet Tenenbaum who would tell you about the underwater cities! Yes, after the first BS events the construction of new cities to live in an utopia began .

    Using a sub Tenenbaum gave you, you head to the new in construction city where she believes the Big Sister hides. It’s a city populated by a few selected humans and where robots do most of the work.

    The city is being constantly attacked by splicers who are a menace to this new utopia.

    The events of the game would lead you to an almost completely drowned Rapture, and when you are arriving there a flashback level happens…

    Playing like a scientist who just arrived in the new city of Rapture we would get to live before chaos happened, when it was supposed to be an utopia, meet Andrew Ryan and watch when all this becomes a chaos of splicers and Big Daddies! Don’t you all want to see Rapture in all its splendor before Bioshock 1?

  48. Morningoil says:

    I am irresistibly reminded of something brilliant that Kieron once said about Thief 1 and 2: how the first game was (and I’m sure I’m about to misremember both Thief and what Kieron said about it) a dramatised representation of the masculine critiquing and conflicting with the feminine; and that the 2nd was a neat inversion of the conflict.

    Something like that.

    What was it that you said? I do hope you hop on and remind us all. It was superbly insightful.

    Anyway, pertinence re. the above: obvious; also, obviously, deep links between Thief and Bioshock qua thems what wrote it etc.

    [Crikey, never try to write comments on difficult and complex games at 4am, pissed.]

  49. Muzman says:

    If we’ve got Stalin vs Martians now we can have Ayn Rand vs Dagon or Cthulhu. It’s allowed now.
    Viva exploitation gaming.

  50. Himself says:

    This Little Sister is actually a spy.