It’s been almost a week and I’ve been playing BioShock 2 since Tuesday. I was supposed to appear on Lock and Load to voice my opinions and whatnot but I had to pull out due to personal matters. It is here then that I have to correct and pat myself on the back. Back on Monday I posted an article detailing why I was skeptical (yes I know it said ‘sceptic’ at first, that’s what us Brits spell it as, I had no intention of making myself look like an idiot) about BioShock 2. I have had enough time to gripe with the game’s single player, twice in fact, and have taken a lot of time playing multiplayer too. Given that I am a teenager and have no life, plus the fact I have nothing better to do, I’ve been able absorb it all. I’ve come to a conclusion.
I was expecting much worse, probably much worse than I outlined in my skepticism article, what I got was a little surprise. I wasn’t totally shocked at the quality, but some moments of the game had me ‘WTF?’-ing. There were three particular moments that totally just screamed ‘BioShock quality’ and maybe one of those was even better crafted than some of its originals. Although nothing would have beat the Ryan speech, one of the moments almost did. I would go on but lets go through my list.
1. Story and Characters – I’m still with my Monday self on this one. Lamb has totally come out of nowhere in the BioShock mythos and establishes herself as the female Ryan. There’s no doubt about it, she is there to fill Ryan’s spot and NO ONE can fill his spot. I found the audio diaries between her and Ryan (communism vs objectivity) to be quite trivial. There was no point, no gain on either side except “I am better than you.”, which Ryan totally exposed (unless it was to bring in the best and brightest, in which case, he was pointing his smug finger to the surface dwellers.”)
Eleanor, without spoiling anything, was a manageable character, I did feel at time that her character was somewhat forced. Then came the surprise that I would be under the guise of Sinclair, who turned out to be a wonderful chap. He wasn’t funny or fascinating, he was just a nice jolly ol’ sport, points to him old bean.
I thought you, yourself, would be a one dimensional character. They’d deal with your back story in a few flashbacks and that’s it. While I’m partially right, without spoiling anything, I found Delta’s character to be more fleshed out than any other character in the game. Your story was peppered throughout the world, which did seem kind of misplaced with finding audio diaries about yourself in a working class neighborhood. You were constantly learning about Delta, and in the end, you feel sorry for him. Not just because of his condition but because of his journey.
The ending was better than the original. Except maybe one of the endings I’ve seen, they all outmatch the original both in emotional engagement and character craft.
In the end, the story feels somewhat forced at times (at one point it reads like a 10 year old’s story), but I am still relieved this didn’t turn out so bad. It’s not BioShock quality, it falls somewhere on the meter of 50% of the original story’s quality. Which is more than manageable. Not bad. Well done Jordan Thomas, you didn’t disappoint me.
2. Multiplayer – This came to me as a surprise more than any of the other points I’ve mentioned. I never thought for a second that BioShock’s mechanics could be transferred into competitive multiplayer, but I was dead wrong. It’s simplified enough so that anyone can get into it. It’s fun, quick and has the Bioshock flair I am used to. The PA message from Ryan at your character’s start is also very haunting, paints the picture perfectly, can’t think of a better way to start this component.
I was pretty much completely wrong about multiplayer. It’s great fun. Not Modern Warfare addiction standard, not the best in town, but just a fun thing. Turns out you can bring BioShock’s mythos and philosophical wonderment into a social event.
3. Familiarity – This struck me more than any other of the points I listed. I think I was right on the money, everything feels like you’ve been there before. There’s no huge shocks or twists about Rapture, but that’s really just the story. The first game, in the words of Jordan Thomas, was about the arch about tyrant and the city. A sense of discovery. The second is a more character driven tale, not to say the first one wasn’t, it zooms in on a more personal story. With that comes the feeling you keep brushing against the wall of the first game, Rapture just isn’t as mysterious as it once was, it treads familiar ground way too often.
Good effort. But not good enough. Forcing us outside of the city for ten minutes just to breathe new life into the game is pretty misplaced. What should have been done is something MASSIVELY different. THIS IS NOT SPOILERS, I REPEAT, THESE ARE NOT SPOILERS. THIS IS JUST SPECULATION. CAPS LOCK TO GRAB YOUR ATTENTION. HEY THAT RHYMES How about that tag line we see throughout the game. “Rise, Rapture rise!”, “We will rise again.”, “Rise as one.”. Why not tell the story that Ryan had an emergency system that elevated the city above sea level, in case they ran out of oxygen or resources. Imagine if half-way through it, the city just accelerated upwards and then the game actually ended with a window broken, the wind coming in, and on the horizon, a fleet of Navy Seal cruisers headed straight to Rapture. End credits.
That’s how you keep it fresh. Change Rapture.
4. Sadness – I was wrong. This is a terribly sad, moving and distraught tale of one man against many. There’s some lights of humor there and there, but for the most part, it’s a touching tale of one family trying to keep together. The ending was the ‘BioShock’ moment I was talking about, it was utterly perfect. Brilliantly written and will probably stick with me and many other BioShock lovers forever.
In the end… it’s okay. In my mind it’s around 60% of the original BioShock’s quality. That’s pretty good. I was expecting way much worse, god knows what could have come of this without proper direction.