So I beat the game again a couple of nights ago (this time on "Hard"), and I wanted to give some more fleshed out impressions now that I got a second helping of everything the game had to offer that I may have overlooked with my initial impessions blog I wrote earlier. It should go without saying that these are strictly my OPINIONS and shouldn't be confused with FACT. But I know my readership level is pretty low with the same cool people responding so I'm not too worried about some idiot fanboy getting his panties in a wad because he disagrees with what I have to say. Let's start at the beginning:
Story - For the most part the story was coherent and made sense and I was able to follow what was going on through the various audio diaries. Upon closer inspection it wasn't that far out there from being practical in terms of sequels go. When I first heard about them making a sequel I rolled my eyes because how could they top what they did with the first game? Well, they did all right, honestly. And while the story still isn't as "compelling" as the first may have been it's not altogether out in left field either and sufficiently details the need to return to Rapture.
Gameplay - If it ain't broke don't fix it! That certainly rings true for BS2. The nice thing you can usually count on with sequels is you'll already be familiar with how sh*t works eliminating the need to relearn a whole new control scheme or memorize off the wall mechanics. The game does a pretty good copy and paste job from the original and doesn't deviate too much from that formula which is nice because that means you are confident going in with the controls and you don't have to worry about what button to push to do what. As a result the game feels very natural when playing and, just like riding a bike, you don't forget how things worked in the original.
One aspect that changed for the better was the hacking mini-game which was much more preferable than the tubes of the first game. It kept the momentum of the game flowing instead of grinding to a halt like it did in the first. Another new aspect following in the theme of being a Big Daddy, was the protection of Little Sisters as they stopped and gathered Adam from dead splicers. Honestly I found this a novel idea the first few times I did it, but after a while it just became a chore. Now I realize you could bypass this aspect altogether and take a LS directly back to a vent to rescue/harvest her. But having gamer OCD I just had to acquire as much Adam as I could for fear of not having enough to buy all the plasmids and tonics I wanted in the end. So I suffered through it but it was a bit time consuming as a whole and a severe drain on your resources (eve and ammo).
Characters - BS had some of the most memorable cast of characters around: Atlas/Frank Fontaine, Peach Wilkins, Sander Cohen, Dr. Tenenbaum, and of course, Andrew Ryan. So it's a shame that the new cast in BS2 didn't quite live up to the same standards as their predecessors in this regard. None of them came across as interesting, and they never felt like true characters but rather a simple means to an end since the three you find you are required to complete a task. I realize the hypocrisy in this accusation since you basically had to do the same thing in the first game for the characters you met, but it was just different this time. To me they never felt like true inhabitants of Rapture but mere set pieces against the larger backdrop of Rapture. I don't know, maybe it's just me but I just wasn't impressed with them. They came across as bland and generic. About the only two that deserve honorable mention are Sinclair and Eleanor who is the Little Sister you are linked to and are attempting to save throughout the whole game.
Tenenbaum reprises her role, as does Sophia Lamb who didn't get much screen time in the first game but was alluded to often. Tenenbaum once again helps you as you navigate your way through Rapture. Sophia Lamb is the new bad guy this time around, but all the while I couldn't help but feel she was just a poor substitute for Ryan; an Andrew Ryan wannabe that simply came to power because Ryan was killed. If you listen to the audio diaries the game attempts to rectify this as Lamb being a public dissident towards Ryan, but again, it doesn't feel believable or something that would follow the natural order of things. Again, just my impressions.
Enemies - Everyone's favorite f'ed up, crack-like addicted splicers are back on the roster with several new additions to the ranks. First up is the "Brute" splicer who, as his name implies, is a brute. Strategy wise they're very predictable as they have two main attacks and you can anticipate each one coming from a mile away. Next up are the Alpha series of Bid Daddies of which you are the original Alpha Alpha. These guys are surprisingly nimble and they can be up your ass in a heartbeat if you're not paying attention, but once you get the damage bonus from research they turn in to pushovers. And the new enemy taking place of the BD fights in the first game are the Big Sisters. Now these b*tches are a pain. Jumping all around making it hard to draw a bead on them for too long, they'll definitely annoy the crap outta you through the whole game especially on "Hard" because they can absorb a lot of damage before going down. The trick with them is to stay cool and keep them immobilized as much as possible so you can light them up from afar. I found the plasmids of electricity and swarm to be highly effective at diverting their attention so I could properly kill them.
Other than that there's not much to really touch upon since it's basically the same game, same structure, same setting, etc. as the first. So that's about it. Let me know what you think especially if you've played the game. Thanks.