This is part of my Steam Challenge Series (the full list is here).
I have to say, I enjoyed BioShock 2 more than I did the first BioShock. I’m not sure why, though. Perhaps it’s that I was more familiar with the setting, maybe because the gameplay felt a little more streamlined, or it could be just that it was a shorter experience. Or a mix of those.
We return to the undersea city of Rapture, ten years after the events of the first game. You take the role of Subject Delta, a prototype Big Daddy that reawakens after…well, a fairly traumatic experience, which you see in the intro to the game. All through this game I couldn’t help but feel pity for Delta, a connection with the player character which I never felt in BioShock.
I both love and hate the setting of Rapture. I love the 50’s aesthetic and charm, but the whole under-the-sea thing really makes me uneasy in a way that other horror settings don’t. Speaking of uneasy, I remain quite disturbed by the language used to describe the relationships between the various protagonists – namely, Big Daddy, Little Sister, and Big Sister. It feels like a demented, twisted intimacy that makes my skin crawl, given the way it is immersed in violence and death.
In BioShock, we saw the fate of libertarianism gone mad, a Randian experiment turned nightmare. This time, we go to the opposite extreme – the attempt to create a Utopia, where everyone is taken care of and greed and selfishness is banished. Needless to say, the sacrifices made to achieve this ideal are rather horrific, and you (as Subject Delta) are an integral part of that story.
As I said at the start, BioShock 2 felt much more playable than the first one. Smoother level design, combat felt less clunky, and a tighter narrative all combined to make it quite enjoyable. I guess it is because the player is supposed to be more familiar with the broad strokes of the setting, thus the developers needed to provide less structural information. They could concentrate on moving the story along, rather than having to explain what splicers are, who the big players were and what they did, how plasmids and little sisters and ADAM fit into the world.
Definitely recommend this game if you’ve played the first one. If not, well I don’t know how much you’ll get out of it, there is a lot of backstory you’d be missing so it would probably be rather confusing.