BioShock 2: Letting Go So We Can Move Forward

BioShock 2 is an interesting game isn't it? It arrives in a very difficult position as it follows in the footsteps of--what some consider to be the best first-person shooters in years--the original BioShock. What's curious though is the group of gamers that heartily embraced the original, wearing it as a shining badge, mightily exclaimed to the world "See! This is what we can have when we marry a compelling narrative with artisan game design!", are now the ones turning their backs to it's sequel. Some are even outright unwilling to listen to the story it wishes to tell.

On the other hand, who can blame them right?

After all how can it be possible for a BioShock sequel to create an equally fascinating experience--that rests in such a unique space--when we've already visited? Truth be told I'm a little bit of a hypocrite as I initially found myself pushing out my chest along side them.

But after putting some thought into my reasoning I soon realized I wasn't giving the game its fair chance--I might be missing out on something! Well I'm happy to say that I come away from completing Bioshock 2 (roughly 12 hours) feeling fulfilled. Certainly I'm a traitor now, right? :) Listen, all I plan to do is write what I feel and hope you get something beneficial out of it.

In short, I've come to the conclusion that BioShock 2 is--through a series of unfortunate missteps--a really good game.

Hold your tomatoes please!

To keep things completely spoiler free I won't go into any of the plot or gameplay revelations, but what I will do is tell you confidently that I found the narrative--and its unraveling--interesting enough to keep me slogging forward. I wanted to know more. It probably goes without saying that I think it's not nearly as interesting as the original though.

By now everyone knows you take control of the very first prototyped Big Daddy, and from that initial moment the game makes it incredibly apparent how massive and powerful you really are. Movement is accented with the pounding of your elephantine feet as you lumber about the corridors. The stoutly swoop of your massive melee attacks as they thud a splicer across the face, or even the deep-chested grunts you let loose when you're attacked in return. It all comes together to help sink in the notion that you're truly a massive beast of sorts.

This doesn't mean you're not susceptible to damage though, or that your perform things any more slowly than other protagonist you might play in other game. What it does do is highlights the greatness of his design. Your colossal heaviness is implied completely by sound and never by tactile feedback. Somewhere in that design comes a certain melancholy with the implication of how cumbersome and confused your life is in Rapture.
For me, the very first hour of the game was slightly awkward and confusing as I walked around. I tried to digest everything Rapture was trying to convey but it proved to be more disturbing. I was in a rut. The musky environments--though of the same in essence of my first experience in Rapture--had changed quite a bit due to the 10 year that had lapsed. There were writings scrawled across the walls that just didn't make sense. Everything was coming together to push me towards feeling claustrophobic (when, in reality, I'm not.)

After a few minutes I realize that perhaps what I was experiencing was completely organic. Were these feelings elicited intentionally by design? Perhaps not, but for me it did slightly augment my experience as it connected me to the protagonist a bit more as I imagine it was likely he was experiencing the same emotions.

As I got my bearings I found the gameplay to be more intense and more enjoyable than the original, and this (pleasantly) surprised me. I think the ability to duel wield plasmids and weapons heightened the intensity of the action to a new level. In addition there appeared to be even more splicer attacks coupled with thicker skin and more powerful weapons. Fun!

I really began to feel at home when I mastered the Hypnotize plasmid. At first it has the ability to turns other foes against one another--which in itself is extremely entertaining to watch--but eventually it upgrades to a point where you can recruit splicers by your side for a few minutes--even the bigger guys! At several points in the game I found myself surrounded by two hacked drones and one of my favorite victims--the teleporting, explosive-throwing Houdini Splicers. Sending that party into a room full of splicers and watching the AI try to figure out how to kill itself was so incredibly entertaining!

But what Bioshock 2 doesn't have, unfortunately, is the same quality of architectural level design as the first. The magic that it retained throughout the entire experience just isn't at the same level. Bioshock 1 is defined by two things--it's areas and the characters that inhabit them. Many sections of the game had incredibly unique architectural designs and aesthetics making every section memorable with fascinating points of interest. I fondly look back on certain areas like the Medical Pavilion run by the demented and insane Dr Steinman, Neptune's Bounty, the Farmers Market, or how about Rapture's entertainment center Fort Frolic?

For me, BioShock 2 really only has one area that runs along the same line as those and that's Ryan Amusements. I'll hold off on the details as to why it's so interesting, but let's just say it's a pivotal moment in the game's narrative that truly reveals how arrogant and messed up Ryans practices were, but conjugated by brilliant design.

Unfortunately most of the other levels--including Siren Alley (the Red Light District), which I feel was a sadly missed opportunity--are much too similar in terms of aesthetic and architectural design.

I must point out that this is not to say that the levels are badly designed or even a bore to play through--they're not--but it just brings to light that they're not on par with the original. That whimsical, melancholy of the BioShock spirit is missing.

In terms of plot, once I found out where the narrative was going towards the end of the game--and yes it's revealed why you're a Big Daddy who's as weak and vulnerable as he is--I was hooked. It's certainly not as interesting or inspired as the original game, but I found it really interesting none-the-less.

BioShock 2 is a really fun game, but I think that in order for us hardcore to enjoy what the crafted experience has to offer then we need to come back down to earth a little. We need to realize that BioShock 2 isn't going to have the very best part of BioShock 1--which is the glorious first exposure to Rapture where we bewilderingly travel through it. What BioShock 2 is, though, is an unpretentious attempt to expand on Rapture lore, and you know what? I respect and enjoy it for nicely progressing in the complexity of Rapture. Most importantly I respect it for, overall, being a fun video game to play--because that's what it does best.

1 comment:

r4 3ds said...

BioShock 2 is most popular game to play. At this time i am playing and according to me players can't feel bore to play this game. The mission of this game are very difficult to for me i face many problems to complete it.