Bioshock 2 Review (X360)

Posted by Chris Cesarano, Feb 18, 2010 12:08

Let’s get down to business. You are reading this review because you either want to confirm this game is as awesome as you assume it is, is as terrible as you assume it is, or you actually want advice as to whether you should purchase it or not. For the last (and most likely smallest) group of you, that’s a tough question to answer. Are you curious because you loved the first game’s story and didn’t want to see it tainted for the sake of being a cash-in sequel? Or did you hate the gameplay in the first and are wondering if it is better this time around? Perhaps you never cared for the first one and are only interested in the sequel due to the multiplayer.

The only thing I can say for certain is that the original Bioshock did not need a sequel. Does that hurt its new little brother (or perhaps I should say sister) in any way? No. The team that worked on this game clearly understood what made the first game great and wanted to deal with it as best as they could. The end result is a decent story and setting that doesn’t quite live up to the first, but it’s still a lot better than most of the narrative slop out there. Unless you’re the sort to soak up books like Animal Farm and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress on a daily basis, then you won’t even notice that the story just doesn’t measure up. It’s good, and that is all that matters.

With that out of the way, let’s get to what most gamers care about. The gameplay. The dual-wielding system will take a bit of getting used to at first, but being able to toss plasmids with the left hand while firing away with the right transforms you into a God among men, as it should. Have to reload your weapon? No problem. Just toss some fire out of your fingers to distract your foes. Or perhaps send out a decoy that reroutes your foe’s ineffective attacks into a dose of health. Used up your plasmids too quickly? Switch over to the machine gun and turn men into meat with its anti-personnel rounds.

The gunplay has been reworked into one of the strongest functions of Bioshock 2. Every plasmid and tonic has value, even if some of them don’t fit your play style. Instead of limiting you to choosing a certain amount of tonics in a few categories, you get a large number of slots that you can implement whatever you wish. If you want to be a hacking and turret God then you can be. Want to be a monster with melee? Go ahead. It’s all up to what sort of demigod you wish to play as.

A lot of the weapons have also been revised to fit a Big Daddy better, as well as fitting them out to have a use in any situation. The rivet gun replaces the pistol and acts as a powerful tool of precision, as well as capable of laying valuable traps. The drill is not only more powerful than the wrench, but also more valuable in combat. These are but a few examples of the improvements made overall, and are simply the new tools to play around with.

Of course having a set of new plasmids and weapons would mean nothing without having splicers to shock and shoot apart with. New foes drop in to torment you, as well as new Big Daddies and the now famous Big Sisters. Each enemy must have a separate strategy used to take them out, and now that you yourself are a Big Daddy you’ll have to tackle them in large groups.

Most often when you tackle the large groups it will be because you have adopted a Little Sister to gather ADAM for you. The game truly allows you to make whatever use of these girls as you want, but whether you rescue or harvest them you will certainly not want to ignore them. The number of tools available for setting traps vary greatly and can allow you to fend off a horde of ADAM addicts without having to fire a single bullet into one. In addition to the aforementioned rivet traps are proximity mines, trap arrows, mini-turrets, modifiable cyclone traps and even the ability to use corpses as a hive that will swarm any splicer that comes near.

The only problem to this experience is where the enemies spawn. In fact, spawning happens to be the game’s biggest flaw. While you are scouting a room trying to prepare, you may drop a large number of traps by the doors in order to prevent splicers from getting past. Unfortunately a lot of rooms will simply spawn the enemies within the room itself, skipping them right past these traps and right toward you. This means the best strategy to lay traps is to simply cover the area immediately surrounding the corpse which you plan to gather from, even in medium or small sized rooms. Only half of your traps are capable of being recovered as well, which becomes a huge problem if a Big Daddy you don’t want to fight happens to step into one.

Whereas the previous game would have enemies spawn again when you re-entered a room, they never spawned while you were inside of it unless it was a scripted event based on finding an item. This allowed players to explore at their own pace. You could speed on through or merely gaze at the writing on the walls, the story told by the ruins and corpses or merely look out the windows into the greater city. Most of the time the player now feels more pressured, as splicers will suddenly appear within the room. A bathroom within the bar you are exploring may be empty one moment, but suddenly here comes a splicer wandering out. Instead of being able to explore at your own leisurely pace it feels as if you are pressured to hurry through a room looting it just to avoid fighting enemies you don’t need to. It completely breaks the pace of exploration, one of the essential characteristics of the first game.

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Our Rating for Bioshock 2 Review (X360)
8.0 Replay
The multiplayer is addictive and fun and the choices and combat of single player make the experience fun to revisit.
7.0 Graphics
Character models are improved, but textures load slowly and a lot of the new ones are low-resolution. Plus, lack of true widescreen support on PC is major fail.
9.9 Sound
Excellent musical score, top-notch voicework, mood-setting or blood curdling sound-effects all boil down to an unmatched aural experience.
7.0 Gameplay
Combat, weapons and plasmids are varied and streamlined. Unfortunately game balance teeters back and forth and respawns are way too frequent and poorly placed.
8.0 Multiplayer/Online Content
The freezing issue is a major problem, but otherwise one of the most enjoyable competitive experiences ever. Even if you hate competitive multiplayer!
8.0 Overall
Good story, streamlined combat and great multiplayer. However, a freezing glitch and some really bad balancing choices pull the pacing and thus entire experience down.

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0

#1 Apr 23, 2010 23:39:37 Apr 24, 2010 03:44

Good review... when I played the game, I just constantly had the "been there, done that"  feeling. Not a whole lot was added to the game play to keep me interested, I traded it back in to Gamestop when I was almost  near the end. I just got bored after awhile of the same old same old...

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