Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rapture, There's No Place Like Home

For an allegedly flooded city at the bottom of the ocean and on the verge of collapse; the aptly named Rapture, seems to provide quite an accommodating home for its ‘unique’ citizens. And despite the fact that it’s on life support, in 2K Games’ Bioshock 2, Rapture’s environment is even livelier than what it was in the original Bioshock.

Not to be confused as a prequel; Bioshock 2 takes place eight years after the incidents of Bioshock 1. Andrew Ryan, being the ever so popular man that he was, had actually fostered two major enemies: Frank Fontaine a.k.a. Atlas, the plasmid whoring protagonist of the first game, and now Sofia Lamb, a psychiatrist way past her sell by date. This being Bioshock, we expect our antagonistic villains to meet the strict standards of crazy and power hungry to which we hold. Luckily for us, Sofia Lamb does that by bucket load.

The premise behind Bioshock 2 is simple, 2k Games, having recognised our urge to kick some serious ass from behind the visor of a Big Daddy suit. Lashes us (the player) into a prototype Big Daddy suit, names us Delta, and sends us on our merry way. As with any Big Daddy, our purpose revolves around the protection of the Little Sisters. But unlike any other Big Daddy, and owing to our prototype nature, we are paired with but one Little Sister named Eleanor. Unfortunately for us, and as is the nature of things, Eleanor just so happens to be the daughter of Rapture’s most popular resident psychotic, Sofia Lamb. This is introduced to us, in part, by an introductory cut scene, which according to Bioshock 2’s time scale occurs ten years before the start of the game and so two years before the start of Bioshock 1. Eleanor is captured against her will by Sofia and her goons, who through the use of those pesky plasmids, manipulates Delta into committing suicide. It’s ten years later and Eleanor, now all grown up, and along with the other Little Sisters of Rapture, want to be free of both Sofia and her monologue inducing plot. The game begins with the revival of Delta, after which, Eleanor requests the player to free her from her imprisonment. Ruining the plot or diluting the story wouldn’t give the game justice. So briefly, the game involves Delta’s trials in the attempt to find and rescue Eleanor, and tribulations in stopping Sofia’s plans.

In order for this plot to succeed, and as is done in the first game, the atmosphere of Rapture is really quite involved. It’s just as easy to get lost in the dystopian and steam punk lore of Rapture as it was in the original game, where the architecture and environment truly embrace the magnitude and achievement of something like Rapture. The numerously placed audio logs are also back, and this time in greater number. These serve to both introduce and carry a large portion of Rapture and its inhabitant’s story forward. Sadly the ocean views may get repetitive at times, and many of the areas seem to be more linear than the original game. But the level at which the characters and surrounding world interact and persuade us to believe all that we encounter, is easily of the same standard and if not better than the first game.

Being a prototype Big Daddy does explain why Delta is able to wield plasmids. Why a prototype is faster, stronger and smarter than the final version however, is beyond me. That being said, it shouldn’t really matter how Delta kicks ass; because if there’s but one universal truth to gaming, it’s that it’s fun to kick ass. Not being content with a simple rehash of the originals game mechanics. Enough change and improvement has been made to keep the combat, Adam collection and hacking mechanics of Bioshock 2 enjoyable. The combat has a faster pace, sometimes elevating to large scale showdowns and gunfights. Hacking is thankfully more intuitive and less interruptive, with the new hacking mini-game, the player must hack on the fly and so isn’t removed from the experience. Trying to hack an object while attempting to dodge incoming fire can be a lot of fun. Adam collection still sees us defeating our fellow Big Daddy brethren, the difference being that instead of simply choosing whether to harvest or save each individual Little Sister; the player can now choose to temporarily adopt the Little Sister. After doing so, we must subsequently locate and protect specific corpses, to which our Little Sister happily consumes their blood, mmm tasty. The benefit of protecting her from those maniacal splicers is a greater Adam return when we finally decide the fate of each Little Sister. These choices both shape the ending of the game and trigger a Big Sister to attack after saving or harvesting all available Little Sisters in a stage. Big Sisters are grown up Little Sister under the persuasion of Sofia Lamb; so prepare yourself for a fight, because apart from wielding almost every plasmid and some serious weaponry, they provide enough of a challenge to lay down some serious hurt. Being a Big Daddy, we come fully equipped and adorned with a bunch of neat trinkets; like the bolt friendly rivet gun, and the always satisfying and always effective giant drill.

Bioshock 2, just like the original Bioshock, is definitely a game worth playing. And while graphics addicts may have gripes with the visuals not being as smooth or the water as clear as its original, there is certainly a whole lot more animation going on. Besides, it was never trying to win any medals for its graphics. And bugs aside, its real strength is in its detail; characters portray a lot more emotion than the cardboard cut outs of most; and at times, its atmosphere can be audio and visual bliss. The game attempts to captivate and hold your attention from start to end, and to this endeavour, it does it brilliantly.

It isn’t perfect, but it’s a great reason for us to visit Rapture again; and that’s all we ever wanted. gr33n_FIEND


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Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"John Stalvern waited. The lights above him blinked and sparked out of the air. There were demons in the base. He didn’t see them, but had expected them now for years. His warnings to Cernel Joson were not listenend to and now it was too late. Far too late for now, anyway.
John was a space marine for fourteen years. When he was young he watched the spaceships and he said to dad “I want to be on the ships daddy.”
Dad said “No! You will BE KILL BY DEMONS”
There was a time when he believed him. Then as he got oldered he stopped. But now in the space station base of the UAC he knew there were demons.
“This is Joson” the radio crackered. “You must fight the demons!”
So John gotted his palsma rifle and blew up the wall.
“HE GOING TO KILL US” said the demons
“I will shoot at him” said the cyberdemon and he fired the rocket missiles. John plasmaed at him and tried to blew him up. But then the ceiling fell and they were trapped and not able to kill.
“No! I must kill the demons” he shouted
The radio said “No, John. You are the demons”
And then John was a zombie."

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