Our build-up to BioShock Infinite continues as community regular, Rory Mullan, talks us through the underrated BioShock 2; where the dreams of Rapture have now firmly become nightmare…
Lambs To The Slaughter
We always hoped we could return to Rapture, the setting of the iconic BioShock, but could the sunken city stand-up to another visit? BioShock 2, released in 2010, granted us that wish; bringing us back to the underwater dystopia, 8 years after our last adventure. We soon find out that much has changed…
In Rapture – the former undersea pinnacle of the capitalist way of life – society has effectively dissolved and the ideology of the city has changed immensely. With Andrew Ryan – the deceased tyrant and founder – and his founding principle of ‘let the weak be exploited by those above‘ them now fading into the past, a new leader has been crowned – one Sofia Lamb. Formerly a psychiatrist, Sofia Lamb believes that only the will of the collective good can drag mankind forward and that Rapture is undeniable proof that any society will fail because of the divide between classes or castes. Sofia Lamb is an interesting antagonist, with interesting motivations and ideals.
Another key difference between BioShock 2 and the stellar original is that now the player plays as Subject Delta, one of the notorious and feared Big Daddies. Subject Delta – formerly a diver who had accidentally discovered Rapture – was once something of a celebrity within the underwater miracle, but Andrew Ryan – ever paranoid that his utopia would fall – had him sent to Persephone Penal Colony after he was convinced that the diver was sent to sabotage the city.
Alpha, Omega and Delta
The brutal nature of Rapture is once again revealed when you were manipulated and brutalised after the rights to experiment on you were sold to Fontaine Futuristics, an influential company in Rapture. Now codenamed Delta – and the fourth transformation into a Big Daddy, the nightmarish abominations tasked with protecting little sisters while they collect ADAM, the gene altering material that was ultimately Rapture’s downfall – you are to collect ADAM with your paired little sister – Eleanor – but are killed on News Years Eve 1958 – fans of the previous game will recognise the date, the beginning of the fall of Rapture.
Ten years later, you have been revived. Rapture is a very different place. Sofia Lamb rules the city, and is intent on destroying you. With the decaying, iconic 50s retro-futuristic architecture and the constant, horrific, struggles fought on Rapture’s streets, the city is still a marvel of world building and atmosphere, with the claustrophobic design and style remaining in an excellent combination with amazing old world designs and influences. This is in-itself justification for playing BioShock 2, and it is very sweet justification indeed.
BioShock 2 introduces us to the Big Sisters. Resulting from the progression and development of Little Sisters, they are Big Daddy (but lack the factory produced, clean precision of the Big Daddy suits) inspired results of what ADAM does to a person. It is a really unique feeling when you see the nightmarish Big Sisters baskets for transporting Little Sisters decorated with ribbons and childish drawings, and this really freaky element really frightens me and is testament to the corrupted society of Rapture. This addition helps to make the surreal atmosphere so engaging. Fast and athletic, compared to the slow and lumbering Big Daddy, they’re dangerous to face and a plan to face them is vital.
Rapture once again encourages interesting ways to augment the gameplay. We return to the RPG system similar in the original, which motivates and encourages us to improve our player through the upgrading of plasmids and their combat abilities, and this system is very refined and polished. Mechanically BioShock 2 is superior to the original, with the gunplay feeling far more fluid, smooth and intense and the plasmids remain neat little additions to gameplay.
The narrative is not nearly as incredible as it was in the fist game. It is unfortunate then that developers 2K Marin – who took charge of development after original developers Irrational Games had chosen not to pursue the project – couldn’t deliver a story that matched up to the iconic original. Due to the fact that I still recommend that people play BioShock 2, I will not go into specifics, but with no ‘Would you kindly moment?’ in sight and generally a less interesting cast of characters and occasionally poor story telling, it doesn’t match up to the sheer brilliance that was the writing of BioShock.
Accordingly, Rapture is less interesting this time. While it’s still super effective, poor narrative choices and a less engaging story make the world feel more stale. Then again, that could certainly be because of the unavoidable fact that it is incredibly difficult to maintain the sheer atmospheric brilliance of a game with a sequel that doesn’t do a significant amount to innovate. This principle is what frightens me about my most anticipated game of 2013, Metro Last Light – and a trap that BioShock Infinite has looked to escape by taking to the skies.
Cards down and chips on the table, I still wholeheartedly say that people should play BioShock 2. When you look at what actually was accomplished with this title – the still stellar world, and the mechanical improvements and coming off a game so acclaimed as BioShock – it is easy, and I do mean very easy, to forget the flaws in story to enjoy a brilliant title that should be enjoyed by everyone. “Pick your [BioShock 2], and evolve!”
– Rory Mullan