This is a review for those of you who, like me, didn't play the original BioShock for whatever reason. My reason, other people around me played it and enjoyed it, I had other things to play and enjoy. This is also the review of the single-player. Multi-player will come later.
That said, I'll now be going back to it.
But this is about the present. BioShock 2
, all hype aside, is a 2K (part of Take 2) first-person-shooter that remains firmly in first-person. No messing around here. It's set in the undersea Utopia (and I mean, dystopia) of Rapture. The city was founded by one Andrew Ryan (a male version of author and 'Objectivist' philosopher Ayn Rand
As ever with the current fad for gaming environments and western angst, it's post-apocalyptic. The particular Apocalypse in question has been caused the residents (Rapturians? - actually, they're called Splicers) going mad having ingested too many Plasmids and tonics. A plasmid being a gene-altering product. Think of the Reavers from Firefly
and you'll get the general idea.
Players of the original title will already be familiar with Ryan. Players starting out in Rapture with BS2
shouldn't need to worry, you can still enjoy your game. This is mainly because your arch-enemy is one Sofia Lamb. No clever puns on Karl Marx or Vladimir Ilyich Lenin or Leon Trotsky – the theory is that she's based on Rand's Ellsworth Toohey character from the laughable novel The Fountainhead
. Essentially, Lamb was the town's psychologist called in by Ryan to try and fix his slowly embonkerating populace. She's also a rampant collectivist dictator. In the same way as the leaders of the Soviet Bolsheviks eventually turned to the old Czarist cult of personality, so Ms or Mrs Lamb has let her personality take over. So be it. What you really need to know is that she's out to get your character.
So, who are you? You're a Big Daddy. Effectively you're a nanny to Lamb's own daughter, Eleanor. You're dressed in a very steampunk deep-sea diver-like costume, and you begin life armed with a drill for an arm. It's a good drill. Personally I enjoyed drilling people with it until its oil ran out. Then I enjoyed hitting people with it.
Frankly, weapons in BS2
are downright fun. They're imaginative, easy to select and easy to use. You see, despite all the hype and pseudo-criticism regarding philosophy that surround the BS
is above all things hugely enjoyable to play as a first-person-shooter.
(Personally I hope that it's one of the last FPSs, which like good old Blues or Jazz records we can cherish and return to while we all move onto genuinely new experiences with the advent of Natal and Arc. That said, however, I don't want Natal and Arc to produce rubbish like Prog Rock or Jedward.)
I digress, hence the brackets...
The younger Lamb has become a Little Sister. Effectively an annoying but frightening beast of a child who harvests a substance called Adam from corpses. Adam is used as currency to purchase Plasmids. Plasmids are basically power-ups but they must be used sparingly. They are, without doubt, a great deal of fun to use.
For example, Rapture is underwater but it's leaking as only post-Apocalyptic idealist dream towns can (think Milton Keynes in February). One of your early plasmids is an Electro Bolt. Bingo! One of the Reavers, sorry, Splicers wanders into a large puddle. Zzzzap the puddle, kill the Splicer, pick its corpse clean of things like food, cash (you need cash to buy health, guns, beer and other things), bullets, rivets, guns, beer and other things.
All-in-all, it's a very satisfying game mechanic. Basically, plasmid with the left trigger and shoot/melee with the right. Plasmid selection on the left bumper; weapons on the right. Select the right combination for the job and you can head further into the plot and the city.
Be warned though, once you paid enough Adam to buy your plasmid of choice, you'll need a substance called Eve in order for it to function. You inject Eve into your arm with a hypodermic needle. You'll find Eve hypos scattered around the place. Yes, it was all a little bit convoluted at first but you get used to it under combat conditions.
I even came to love it a little bit. The whole Adam/Eve/Plasmid/Health... I forgot to mention health. You need health. Like Eve, it's finite. Like Eve you can find it lying around the place in packs or in wall-mounted dispensing units. Now, here's an annoyance: whereas if you've got stored Eve, it will auto-refill your effective Eve. However, if you've got stored health you have to select this using the D-Pad. Don't understand, don't like. And as I understand it this is a hangover from the first game.