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whatshot BioShock 2 PS3 Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Gameplay 9.2
Graphics 9.0
Sound 9.1
Value 9.2
Distributor: 2KGames
Classification:
MA15+
Review Date:
February 2009
Reviewer:
Andrew Bistak

9.2


BioShock 2

BioShock unquestionably changed the world of first person shooters by setting a new bar for storytelling in video games. With an epic story that pitted sanity versus insanity, gamers played Jack, a plane crash survivor who stumbled upon the underwater city of Rapture. Your goal was not just freedom but also to bring down billionaire industrialist Andrew Ryan whose utopia dissolved into a freakish world of hellish experiments gone wild.

It was a surreal experience that pitted the gamer against an army of the strange, the wrong and totally chaotic. Unlike those first person shooters set on alien planets, the future or on the battle field, BioShock was set in 1958 which only enhanced the gameplay experience in this alternate reality through the creepy music and settings. Of course, the stylised graphics and music made this even more plausible. Add in elements from the survivor genre to top it off and BioShock successfully created a worldwide hit.

And here we are again, 3 years later and the underwater city of Rapture still breathes but a huge twist has been thrown into the story, thanks to the gamer now playing a Big Daddy. For the uninitiated, Big Daddy's were the huge golem like creatures from the original game who protected the Little Sisters. However, unlike the other Big Daddy's from the previous title, your avatar has free will and let's just say that if anyone or anything gets in your way, the repercussions will be deadly.

Before starting your BioShock 2 experience, the viewer is treated to a very interesting cinematic that introduces you to the world of this bizarre universe. Although it begins in 1958 and without spoiling the story too much, you are separated from your Little Sister and you awake ten years later. When you finally do get control of your character, it's all a mystery as to who or what you are. However, just like the original, the story slowly comes together, piece by piece. If you want to get even more in-depth, diaries are littered throughout the gaming environment to enhance the story.

As you wake within the Adonis Luxury Resort of Rapture City, you learn that this area was also used for genetic enhancements and so your journey begins of discovery and retribution. One of the main themes in the game is that girls are being kidnapped from islands around Rapture city in order to become Little Sisters for these twisted experiments. For this unnamed Big Daddy, you eventually have contact with Eleanor Lamb, the Little Sister you were once linked with. Unfortunately for her, her mother Sofia Lamb refuses to abide by your wishes and was the person responsible for your vile imprisonment. Needless to say, there are plenty of your in-your-face moments to the story of BioShock.

To compliment the story and those wow moments is the amazing level design, especially the underwater areas. The game itself is a first person shooter, however it has elements of RPG and the survival genre to stir things up. Unreal Technology powers the gaming interface as you tackle the denizens of Rapture City from those gone mad on ADAM, the slicers and your gender twisted sisters which all produce a memorable and decent gaming experience.

In terms of completion, BioShock 2 takes around 15 hours, give or take and has three alternate endings available to the player. For replay value, as the gameplay is so sturdy and the storyline so compelling, most gamers can easily get another play out of the game and go down another path to get that different ending. We've only completed BioShock 2 as a "good" Big Daddy, so we're eager to check out some of the other paths available for our character.

Speaking of Big Daddy! The control system of BioShock 2 has been well mapped and gamers of all different levels of experience will easily be able to control all facets of Big Daddy, even its deadly drill connected to its arm. If you have played the original, it does take a small amount of time getting use to this monstrous creature as opposed to a human but best of all, Big Daddy has access to some powerful heavy artillery such as Gatling guns and the like. When it comes to combat, the player has options of melee, weapons or genetic powers. With that said, the game is quite violent at times, especially when you're using your drill to disembowel your enemies.

Big Daddy's were quite powerful in the original game and to make things fair to your enemies, they have received a slight power make-over. As you fight Splicer's or Big Sisters, it's great how they use the environment to their advantage such as cover and even health stations to replenish their health. Depending on your difficulty setting, the AI can be quite vicious towards the player and does make the game that extra bit more challenging. I played on a medium setting and did get my butt handed to me on more than one occasion but that's where upgrades, new weapons and new powers come into play.

When battling enemies, it's quite surreal seeing the enemies fight as they do mimic real-world players quite well. But sometimes you need to fight fire with fire and our favourite Big Daddy has a few of his own powers such as Telekinesis 3 which allows for almost Star Wars based powers as you throw items and even smaller critters around the screen. Definitely a hoot!

BioShock 2 supports dual weapons which is generally unleashed when your fighting one of the myriad of bosses but what I like about BioShock 2 is using the environment to your advantage such as flammable pipes, BOOM, or unleashing deadly electrical EVE into the water to dispose your enemies.

In relation to bosses, they are quite powerful and if you do manage to die which you will, you will reappear in a rejuvenation chamber to fight again. My favourite battles in BioShock 2 are definitely the Big Sisters that pierce the sound barrier upon their arrival who have the force of a Big Daddy but unfortunately for you, the abilities of the Spider Slicers "speed" which will be frustratingly challenging at times but well worth the victory. Of course, not all BioShock is about fighting (mostly) and you need to hack doors for entry, vending machines for supplies and even bots to fight at your side. Thankfully the RPG element of this game is enough to keep the title as a first person shooter than a full blown RPG through the use of ADAM and EVE.

ADAM is used to upgrade your powers and abilities and the player uses Little Sisters to harvest this powerful genetic material. Of course to get a Little Sister, the player must first dispatch the Big Daddy that is protecting them. Once a Little Sister is yours, you can them use them to draw ADAM from corpses.

This brings another strategy into the game through the use turrets and traps because once the Little Sisters start to harvest, other enemies are alerted, so you need to defend them quite well. As EVE played a huge role in the previous game which allowed you to use your powers, this also needs to be collected and replenished in BioShock 2. Fortunately, there are plenty of EVE hypos littered through the environments and some foods that can replenish it.

When it comes to graphics, BioShock 2 is oozing with eye candy and looks amazing on high definition. The level design is brilliant that is complimented with some great lighting and special effects, especially the water. The characters are well animated and contain some great texture details, making it easy to be absorbed into the story of this "nameless" Big Daddy. The soundtrack is fitting and has a retro 1940's feel to it as is the voice acting, especially from our villain who is as mad as a hatter. But to do the game justice, a digital TV is required and surround sound because the developers have truly made good use of both these technologies to create a thoroughly enjoyable sequel.

Final Thoughts?

Bloody amazing! The original game went beyond those clichéd first person shooters and in creating a sequel, the developers have fleshed out the city of Rapture even more but more importantly, have streamlined the gameplay, making it a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Of course, without the detailed characters and story of BioShock 2, it would not have reached these levels and of course, the luscious graphics. Add in dozens of secrets, multiple endings and of course a very sturdy multiplayer engine and the developers have covered all facets in this extraordinary game.

From the very first moments, BioShock 2 holds an iron grip over you throughout the entire experience as you're given a violent tour of the legacy of Andrew Ryan's Rapture and the repercussions of his troubled dream. Some may say, it's the same as the previous game but I digress, it's a whole new chapter to this amazing underwater universe and if you don't believe me, rent it first.

Highly recommended!

#: PC vs 360 vs PS3? After seeing all three games on various systems, BioShock 2 is pretty much identical. The PC, depending on specifications has improved loading times and a touch sharper graphics. The XBox 360 has faster loading times than the PS3, although graphically, it appears that the PS3 is a tad more impressive.





 

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