As much as I like truly great games, I can’t help thinking with horror that they’ll inevitably get one or more sequels. After all, if the first one was such a hit, the second is bound to have the same success, right? Let’s get this out of the way, it’s not the concept in itself, but the fact that for a sequel, the main objectives usually are 1) keep all the things that worked in the predecessor, 2) improve upon them without breaking the recipe and always 3) make even more money than the first one… and not necessarily in that order.
You can say that I’m more cynical than I’d ought to be, but the fact that the BioShock team was taken off the sequel, to be replaced by a mix of studios, really didn’t bode well (I can’t remember the last title which was developed in collaboration by four studios – five if we included the fellows from Arkane).
There’s something in the Sea
Those of you who finished the first BioShock know that the Bouncter Big Daddy is the iconic character of the game. Yes, I’m talking about that walking diving suit with a drill on his right warm, which if you shoot it by accident and see its „eyes” turn red will make you shout „NO! I didn’t mean that, FORGIVE MEEEEE!”.
Well, if in BioShock you apparently were a Joe Average which (literally) fell from the sky straight into this ruined underwater metropolis called Rapture, this time around you’re Delta, a Big Daddy prototype from the Alpha series who is resurrected in a Vita Chamber 8 years after the events in the predecessor. And besides the fact that you can use plasmids, a luxury the later models can’t brag with, another thing that makes you unique is that you were the first Big Daddy to be successfully bonded with a Little Sister to protect (Eleanor). Little Sister which has now reached adolescence and reaches out telepathically to you for help.
However, 8 years were enough for things to visibly change in Andrew Ryan’s lost paradise. The Splicers, former Rapture residents who have gone insane due to the heavy DNA modifications they inflicted upon themselves, are more dangerous than ever and as a result, „the powers that be” have created a new Big Daddy mode, the Rumbler, to deal with the packs of hyenas hunting the ADAM collected by the Little Sisters. Moreover, Rapture is now under the control of Sofia Lamb, a lady with far more
communist selfish beliefs than the individualism advocated by Andrew Ryan, beliefs which ultimately landed her in jail. Which, ironically enough, spared her life from the coming storm.
For a population who recently went through a very brutal Civil War, the notion of „Family ” advocated by Sofia Lamb and turned into a religion by „father” Wales was a radical change from the law of the jungle imposed by Andrew Ryan. That’s why the splicers from BioShock 2 don’t want to kill you simply because they’ve lost their minds, but because they also perceive you as a threat to a community which has accepted them with open arms.
Another important difference is that the splicers are more deformed this time around and most have thrown away the masks they wore in the first BioShock, symbolically abandoning the last bit of humanity they had left. That’s why Rapture is now a more savage place than it was when you first visited it the first time around, and to survive you’ll need all the tools at your disposal.
John Woo is in da house!
As I said, even though you’re a Big Daddy, you can use plasmids. You could do this in the first game too, but now the catch is that you can wield both at the same time, which will make your life a little easier during battles. The plasmid catalog is roughly the same as the one in BioShock, with some subtle changes, while the passive improvements – the Gene Tonics – are greater in number, some being focused on improving the drill on your right arm.
While we’re here, the hacking minigame has been changed from match-the-pipes to a „quick time event” that no longer freezes everything around you when you’re hotwiring something. You’ll also receive bonuses under the form of ammo, health kits, money, improved damage for security bots and turrets or longer friendly alarms if you hit certain areas during the hacking procedure.
The arsenal also went through a makeover: the wrench has been replaced by the drill, the spear gun fills in for the crossbow (looking a lot like the Stake Gun from Painkiller), the chemical thrower has been relegated to the sidelines, but you’ve received a Remote Hacking Tool and the Rivet Gun employed by the Rosie Big Daddy.
The pistol, shotgun and machine gun also make a comeback, except that the Tommy Gun has been replaced by a more powerful, 4-barrel model. The research camera used to study enemies has evolved a bit too, since now it records movies instead of taking pictures, but the benefit is the same – damage bonuses and Gene Tonics as you get to know your enemies better, regardless is they’re splicers, Big Daddies or security systems.