Bioshock 2 is similar to the first game in regards to the first person setup and the highly story driven gameplay. What is different this time is that you are now a Big Daddy. As in the first game you still equip with weapons and plasmids but this time around you will be able to arm yourself with one of each simultaneously. A plasmid in your left hand and a weapon in your right will help you defend and attack more efficiently as you make your way through the sunken world.
Audio diaries and cut away scenes are once again the method of storytelling and are scattered throughout the game as before. Those who decide to collect all the audio diaries will find that their understanding of Rapture and its current situation will be greater and offer more insight into the actual gameplay even. For those who played the first game, though, Rapture won’t hold the same mystery as before but what really becomes the mystery is who your character really is and why you’re on the path that you are. The audio diaries and the cut away scenes become pivotal here to give you an understanding of both these things and understand your role in Rapture.
The Little Sisters still roam Rapture looking for “angels,” corpses from which they can harvest ADAM. As in the first game you have to decide whether you want to save these Little Sisters or harvest them for their ADAM as you come across them in the game. The decision becomes a little tougher this time around, though, as now you’re a Big Daddy, meant to protect the Little Sisters. Your management of the Little Sisters determines the ending you experience and this time there are six endings which depend on whether you were a savior to the little sisters, neutral to the Little Sisters, or a true harvester of the them and whether or not Sofia Lamb is dead. This means that those who played the first game twice just to experience both the endings may have their hands full if they want to experience all the endings offered this time.
If you decide to adopt a Little Sister once you come across her, you will protect her as she searches Rapture for harvestable ADAM. When your Little Sister is in the process of harvesting ADAM, you will find yourself busy fighting off hoards of Splicers looking for an easy fix of ADAM themselves, not unlike the last level of the first game where you were responsible for protecting a Little Sister as a Big Daddy. These battle experiences are entertaining and really let you use your plasmids and weapons to their fullest and make it more important to hack yourself a group of cameras and security bots to help you. Interesting to note is that hacking in this Bioshock no longer uses the water pipe mini-game and instead uses a simpler mini-game that occurs while the world around you isn’t paused. For those who want to save the Little Sisters but not indulge in the protection of them during harvests, harvests can be skipped but at the expense of additional ADAM.
One of the accomplishments you could achieve in the first game as you made your way to Andrew Ryan was to take pictures of various enemies and objects with the research camera. These pictures would also help upgrade your abilities against your various foes. This time around the camera is easier to use and doesn’t require you to switch over in the middle of battle to take pictures. Upgrades of weapons and plasmids in the game are also refined and there are more noticeable differences once you upgrade. If you weren’t particularly moved to upgrade too much in the first game you may find yourself more set on getting the upgrades this time around as they do help.
Bioshock 2 also introduces Big Sisters, tougher and more nimble versions of the Big Daddies. A problem in the first game was that Big Daddies just didn’t offer a challenge by the time you reached he midway mark of the game. In fact, it was nearly pathetic when you became skilled enough to take down a Big Daddy with your upgraded wrench and some fancy footwork. Big Sisters, however, offer a greater challenge and won’t give you the pleasure of experimenting with rudimentary methods of killing them.
A multi-player mode extends the game as well now and plays pretty well. It’s hard to imagine how a multi-player mode can be effective in the world of Rapture but 2K does a good job of putting together strong campaigns that are enjoyable and add a new take on Bioshock gameplay.
Bioshock 2 is a great game. While the first game killed the mystery of Rapture the second game’s protagonist and story line will keep you on-edge and heavily invested in the game. More difficult splicers tucked away in the highly detailed, leaky hallways of Rapture make for a great experience and another great installment in this unforgettable series.