The original BioShock had one of the more interesting worlds in gaming, with a setting unlike any other. Now with a sequel, it's exciting to come back to the underwater city of Rapture and see what's changed since the 2007 release of BioShock. The big question is, do the story and gameplay hold a candle to its predecessor, or is it just another generic sequel that loses all of the originality and excitement of the original?
BioShock 2 follows in the footsteps of a new character separate from Jack, the main character from the first game. This time around the highlighted star of this story is Delta, a prototype of the Big Daddies, that are designed to repair and defend Rapture, and are the staple monstrous figures of the series. Delta is kept away from his Little Sister by the new authority of Rapture, Sofia Lamb. Without entering into spoiler territory, the story is almost every bit as good as the original title with interesting twists, that involve characters that really feel like a critical part of the game at all times. Although not quite as interesting as some of the revelations in the first game, the story is still much more than competent.
The underwater city of Rapture is still just as wondrous and amazing as the first game. Taking place eight years after the story of Jack in BioShock, the city has had a little more of a beating and is showing even more signs of damage and neglect in this utopia-gone-wrong. The shocking thing about the new part of Rapture is that it really ties a whole new part of the city into the game without feeling out of place. Rapture still retains the magic of the original title with these levels that are very uniquely built, or torn apart by the denizens of Rapture. Nothing feels like it gets old, and exploration never gets boring or tiresome as there is always something interesting to see around almost every corner.
All the visuals are wrapped together with some great sound that makes sections feel very eerie and keeps quieter sections of the game feeling more tense. There are the occasional sound effects that seem a little out of place, but for the most part everything just feels right where it should be. Even the music is put together very well, so that during where there are splicers coming at Delta, the audio track picks up intensity, and at slower points softer music plays gently and appropriately to what's happening in the game.
One of the slightly bothersome things with the first BioShock was the controls on a console. Hacking machines was among the tasks that worked fine on PC, but lacked finesse when transferred over to the consoles. There is an all new hacking system in BioShock 2 that makes hacking a lot quicker and easier for those looking to play on a console. There's also a nice amount of tweaking allowed for making the controller as comfortable to use as possible. On any system nevertheless, the gameplay is very solid with improved shooting mechanics and new combat types that makes for fun battles against bosses and hordes of enemies. One minor gripe with the weapons is that sometimes the animations seem a little odd when an enemy gets hit. For the most part the changes to all aspects of the gameplay are welcome.
BioShock 2 offers a great single player experience, but also ties in a very proficient multiplayer mode that links in nicely with the story of Rapture. The multiplayer takes place on New Years Eve in 1959, the fateful night that Rapture begins to fall apart. Players choose from one of a few inhabitants of Rapture and work through a level system that allows for splicing genes and upgrading weapons to fight for superiority in the downfall of Rapture.
There are a few modes offered in multiplayer ranging from the standard free for all and Team Deathmatch, to a couple of interesting takes on modes like Capture the Flag. The multiplayer is a really nice addition to the series and offers a pretty cool way to unravel more of the mystery surrounding this mysterious city. After beating the single player campaign, it's a really great way to keep experiencing Rapture without retreading familiar territory.
BioShock 2 is a title that continues to offer more of the great, award-winning content that gamers have come to expect. It ties in a great new character and with some twists along the way, it certainly keeps the game interesting. The new multiplayer mode also serves as a great way to keep players coming back for more. With this story and with this world, it's hard to avoid a title like BioShock 2.