Following closely on the hot trails of one of the top games of the year (Mass Effect 2), Bioshock 2 is the sequel to the critically acclaimed first person shooter released in 2007. Developed by 2K Marin and Irrational Games for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC systems, the game is set again in the fictional dystopian city of Rapture approximately ten years after the events in the first game.
This time you take the role of a Big Daddy also known as Subject Delta, who is one of the first ever Big Daddies created in Rapture. You start the game emerging from a life chamber with no recollection of the past decade's events. Without spoiling the fun, your job is essentially that to explore the under-water city fighting off hordes of enemies whilst trying to discover the presence of the Little Sister that you have been paired with. Throughout the course of the game you will meet many characters amongst them allies and even adversaries who give you an oversight of the current happenings and state of the city. We also meet Rapture's new leader Sofia Lamb who unlike Andrew Ryan, the founder of Rapture, believes that it is her responsibility to mastermind the city into its impending destruction, so as to erase all memories of the many flaws and failures that had resulted simply because of the love of power that the majority of the residents craved for.
Unlike the other Big Daddies that we have already met in the original BioShock, the protagonist has free will and thus will be able to control his every movement and therefore take the necessary choices that are required to move on into the course of the game. Aside from that the player will be able to wield Plasmids, who to newcomers alike are none other than magic-like super-powers that were also available in the first game and which will yield a different set of abilities. Such abilities are harvested via ADAM, which is the source of energy, also compared to the fountain of life and without mincing words it is what every resident of Rapture desires and would kill for, just to have it injected into their bloodstream. As we have mentioned in our introduction, Little Sisters are bound with their Big Daddy and it is their fundamental role to harvest ADAM from the many corpses that lie around. As a Big Daddy you have a choice to either adopt these Little Sisters in search for ADAM or else harvest the Little Sisters to obtain more ADAM as easily and quickly as you can. It is also your choice to either save these little girls by curing them from their current trance-state or again do the evil deed and just steal their ADAM from them. You are awarded with ADAM and other items if you decide to take the long road and save these Little Sisters, but this is no easy feat since in order to adopt them you would need to find and fight the Big Daddies that are taking care of them. The player will make use of Plasmids via Eve which is the currency of ADAM and which is drained out whenever you make use of it when facing enemies and bots.
Together with Plasmids you will also find and purchase Tonics that when equipped, provide you with other abilities such as Armour upgrades, Hacking abilities, boosting of speed and stealth and many more. The player can also wield an arsenal of weapons, many of which appeared in the first game, but have been replaced so that they are moulded better with the Big Daddy. These weapons have been upped from what we have seen before, meaning that they are more powerful and feel more fluid when used against foes. For Melee attacks you will make use of a Drill which is a great asset especially when fumbling your big paw against Big Daddies and the deadly Big Sisters. The weapon replaces the Wrench from the previous game and is equipped right from the start and is quite fun to use especially when you bore it straight into your foes for some gore-fest display. There is also a special ability which gives you a dashing attack followed by a swift uppercut. One cool thing about the Drill is that it can be upgraded with a multitude of abilities, which in effect makes a lot of sense since the weapon remains relevant up until the end of the game, unlike the Wrench which becomes easily redundant.
The Rivet Gun is the second weapon that you will encounter and which you might already be familiar with it since it was generally used by the Rosies (one of the three types of Big Daddies) in the first game. You get three different types of ammo: Standard Rivets (minimal damage), Heavy Rivets (induce great damage) and Trap Rivets which are really useful when facing a number of enemies (for example when directing a Little Sister to harvest Adam from a corpse). The Gatling gun replaces the machine gun from the first BioShock and similar to the Rivet Gun makes use of different ammunition (.50 Caliber, Anti-Personnel and Armor piercing rounds). Together with such great weapons we also find a Double-barrelled shotgun, again replacing the single-barrelled, a Spear gun (instead of the cross-bow) and a Cannon (replacing Rocket Launcher). The Hack Tool makes a return and allows you to hack machines such as cameras, bots and turrets from a distance. You can use standard remote hack darts which when used lead you to a minigame where you need to place the moving needle on the green colour. If the needle falls on a red colour then the hack will fail resulting in loss of health or in other circumstances they will trigger the alarm and you will be pursued by bots and turrets until you manage to hack the system. The needle can also fall on the blue colour which is also accepted and in return provides you with a bonus (for example when you hack a vending machine you will end up winning extra items for free). The Hack Tool also comes with automatic hack darts, which provide instant hacking and miniature turrets that attack any enemies that are in close proximity. Such turrets complement the trap rivets and are really essential when facing multitudes of enemies.
The Research Camera, which per se is not really a weapon, takes video rather than still pictures. It helps you to find major exploits and weaknesses for each enemy and every time you use it, you will gain further expertise and abilities when facing the different types of splicers as well as the Big Daddy and Big Sister. Speaking of Big Sisters, they are quite hard to kill since they are more powerful then their male counterpart. These Sisters are quite mean, fast, agile and are capable to heal themselves by stabbing a syringe into splicers to gather ADAM. In other words try to avoid them at all costs and try to adopt a good tactic before facing them. Don't worry you will be well advised when you are approaching a Big Sister. Their ear-splitting screeching is nearly enough to serve as a good warning!
Unlike its predecessor, BioShock 2 includes a multiplayer mode. The setting of this mode takes place during the Rapture Civil War which happened some time before the events in the first game and you can take the role of one of six characters:
Barbara Johnson (the housewife), Buck Raleigh (the businessman), Danny Wilkins (the athlete), Jacob Norris (the welder), Mile Blanche de Glace (the actress) and Naledi Atkins (the pilot).
This mode involves killing enemies to earn ADAM which will help you to level-up. Levelling up means that you win an array of rewards, including plasmids, tonics and weapons.
Graphics is quite reminiscent to that of the first game, so it remains at par and does not improve a lot on that. On the other hand the score and sound effects are quite extraordinary and brings about a strong level of horror.
Rounding up the game, I am pleased to say that the game turns out to be quite exciting. It is not as sensational or revolutionary as its predecessor, but we still see a plethora of improvements, mainly in the combat and gameplay aspects. We even get to interact more with the environment, especially since now the player has to ability to move through the sea outside of Rapture. Even if you are always confined in a diving suit, the atmosphere is still as splendid and vivid as before, albeit with all that splashing of water, it transcends you into brief moments of claustrophobia and eerie goosebumps.