BioShock 2 – Initial Impressions

BioShock2-1The original BioShock is among my favorite games of all time. Hell, it may be my favorite game of all time. Few other experiences manage to so seamlessly combine interactivity, narrative, and atmosphere, and even fewer manage to do it so artfully. Simple-yet-effective gunplay, a darkly gripping story, and an unparalleled atmosphere resulted in what was, in my opinion, a virtually flawless game.

So, as you can imagine, my feelings towards BioShock 2 have been mixed since the day it was announced. The first game’s story, while brilliant, was also rather self-contained – it clearly wasn’t written with the thought of sequels or prequels in mind. Also, seeing that the atmosphere to Rapture was such a driving force behind the first game, I wondered if it could be duplicated for a sequel.

But as you all know, I’ve warmed up to the idea of a sequel over the months. And now, after finally playing the first few hours for myself, my fears have all but been alleviated.

To be sure, stepping back into Rapture does feel very familiar – almost too familiar, at first. It’s the same city, with the same splicers, the same weapons, the same security bots, the same vending machines – you get the picture. A lot of the sense of mystery and wonder from the original BioShock no longer exists in BioShock 2 – but then again, what else did we expect?

Regardless, what I think I underestimated was the staying power of the city of Rapture. It was the star of the first game, and it’s undoubtedly the star of BioShock 2. Every nook and cranny of the decaying paradise just begs to be explored, and explore it I did. I found myself reading all the aged billboards, trying to make sense of the gratuitous wall graffiti, searching around for audio logs, and even looking up-close at the grotesque corpses that line the floors. In short, while the city of Rapture may not be quite as novel this time around, it’s still one of the most unique and atmospheric worlds ever created for a videogame, and it’s a literal joy to explore.

But like the first game, there are plenty of nasties around to ensure that you won’t spend all of your time taking in the sites. Combat is largely unchanged in BioShock 2, and honestly, I’d forgotten how much fun it was. The variety and creativity you can employ during battle is really pretty amazing. Why not set a few traps if you know enemies are coming? Hack a gun turret from a distance before the enemy even sees you? And don’t forget about all the flashy Plasmids you have at your disposal. Setting enemies on fire with a simple hand motion never gets old, I swear.

Also, while I haven’t seen much of it, I’m actually fairly interested in the story thus far. Again, the most interesting bits are revealed through audio logs scattered throughout the city. Andrew Ryan may be dead now, but many of his audio logs live on, it seems. Listening to him relate his struggles and ideological differences with collectivist Sophia Lamb (who happens to be the new villainess of BioShock 2) is highly intriguing.

So far, BioShock 2 seems to prove that Rapture has more stories to tell. I’m excited to see where the adventure goes from here. Look for more of my thoughts throughout the week.

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2 Responses to “BioShock 2 – Initial Impressions”

  1. ConstipatedCow says:

    Fucking crazy game the first one. I’m excited to get an 360 in the future and FINISH it. Anybody wanna give me their 360? Anyone? Anyone?

  2. Ethos says:

    I almost do, just to get you into this generation. You deserve to love good games.

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