BioShock 2 – Midway Impressions

BioShock2-1I’ve been playing BioShock 2 for a few days now, and I can safely say that I’ve enjoyed every moment. 2K Marin’s return to rapture has me hooked on both the addictive gameplay and the storyline. As the world’s biggest fan of BioShock, I’m happy to say that BioShock 2 seems to be getting everything right so far.

The last article I wrote about BioShock 2 was a fairly broad overview, but today I want to focus more specifically on the new and improved features of BioShock 2. BioShock 2 doesn’t represent a massive overhaul from the original, but there are more than a few subtle facelifts, and a some notable new gameplay conventions.

Let’s start with one of the more basic additions: dual-wielding. In the original BioShock, you were required to switch back and forth from guns to plasmids. Not so in BioShock 2; as a Big Daddy, you pack heat in one hand, and plasmids in the other. The result? Faster, easier, more streamlined combat. It’s odd, because I never really considered it an inconvenience in the first game; but after playing BioShock 2, I wouldn’t want to return to the bondage of single-wielding.

Which brings us to the next difference: you play as a hulking Big Daddy. But fear not, tramping through rapture as the mysterious Subject Delta isn’t nearly as annoying as the Big Daddy suit-up near the end of the original BioShock. In fact, it’s not annoying at all – you can tell that you’re a heavy dude, but the game controls just as smoothly as the original did.

Which brings us to the most prominent new gameplay mechanic of BioShock 2: Little Sister adoption. Being a Big Daddy and all, the Little Sisters will trust you and allow you to “adopt” them – after taking down their current Big Daddy guardian, of course. Once you’ve adopted a little sister, you can perform two “ADAM pickups” – you find a corpse with precious ADAM inside, and let the Little Sister gather it for you. However, while she’s performing the gathering, every Splicer in Rapture comes crawling out of the woodwork. It’s your job to defend the Little Sister while she performs the gruesome task, and frankly, it’s not that easy – to turn the tides in your favor, you’ll need to plan carefully beforehand. For example, set a few traps, or hack some security bots to aid you.

It’s worth noting that you can simply harvest the sisters straight away if you’d like. There’s no need to go through the ADAM collecting process. However, this results in significantly less ADAM being awarded, obviously. And believe me, to survive in Rapture, you’re going to need all of the ADAM you can get. Overall, the adoption mechanic is a fun new feature, and successfully pulling off a gathering without getting shot to death can feel immensely satisfying.

BioShock2-2BioShock was well-known for its visceral, pseudo-boss battles against the aptly named Big Daddies. They were the only real enemies in the game that offered a decent challenge, and squaring off against one of them was always a nerve-wracking experience. In BioShock 2, the Big Daddies are still there, but they’re no longer the only tough kids on the block. Before long, you’ll be face-to-face with Big Sister – and what a meeting it is.

After harvesting or rescuing a few Little Sisters, you’ll attract the attention of Big Sister. A velociraptor- ish screech will fill the air, and the game will warn you that she’s coming. A good thing, too – because you’ll need to be prepared. After some tense ┬ámoments of waiting, she’ll finally attack, and the ensuing battle is always epic. Big Sisters are the polar opposite of the Big Daddies. Rather than being moderately slow and predictable, she’s amazingly quick and spontaneous in her motions. She’ll spend a few seconds leaping from wall to wall, and then without warning, attack and latch herself onto your helmet. I’ll refrain from describing an entire encounter in detail, but suffice to say, the Big Sisters provide some of BioShock 2’s finest, most intense moments.

I’ll refrain from gushing further. If you can’t tell, I’m having a blast with BioShock 2. There’s not an ill-conceived addition or upgrade that’s been made; rather, 2K Marin has found ways to improve on near-perfection. Good on them.

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