I had nothing but lofty expectations for the sequel to Bioshock. The first game blew me away. I loved the first game immensely and was saddened when the experience came to an end. I was left wanting more and that's always a good thing. So finally Bioshock 2 arrived and I was able to play it. I feel that it did live up to expectation. I could not give it as high of a score as the first game, but it was only lower by a half a point(i will explain later) so who's counting among friends. Bioshock 2 is beautiful just like its forebear. The controls are responsive and improved. The ability to dual wield your plasmids and weapons is a welcome addition and it adds fluidity to the combat. You return to rapture as a big daddy in a whole new story line and of course you get to experience all new areas of rapture. There are some new weapons that are suited to a big daddy as well as the old favorites. All of the plasmids are still here as well as the usual gene tonics with some newbies thrown in for good measure. This game can absolutely be enjoyed by someone without knowledge of the first game, but if you played the first you will be rewarded for your previous experience. One of my favorite new elements to the game is the ability to foster a little sister. You take a little sister into your care and she will lead you to corpses for "adam" recovery. Upon finding the corpse the little sister will recover the adam and your job is to protect her from the splicers. These tasks are stressful and frenetic and require you to do a little strategizing in an effort to fortify your position. The story moves along nicely and the sense of choice continues to be strong. The visuals are fantastic, the music is great, the voice acting is superb, and the sound effects are spot on. The ability to hack machines is still integral and if you want to survive you would be wise to do so(having some drones to back you up is always handy). I didn't like the fact that the hack mini-game was streamlined to a "stop the arrow in the blue" mechanic. I preferred the "pipe dream" style better. Atmosphereically the game is still top notch. I also did not experience any graphical/performance glitches. The problem is that Bioshock 2 doesn't feel as creative as the first one. The environments and characters in the first game felt more alive, more real. Sometimes it feels like they used all their best ideas on game one, and game two was the B reel. Even with that though the game is still superior to most other offerings on the market.
Lastly: Rapture is still a beautiful nightmare and pleasure to experience. The game is somewhat streamlined at the slight expense of story and atmosphere. Still a must own especially for fans of the first!
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