BioShock 2 may not live up to it's legendary predecessor, but it's still a good solid shooter that's worth picking up.
-Great atmosphere and setting
-Having a gun in one hand and a plasmid in the other makes for an excellent combat system
-Playing as a Big Daddy provides a good and unique experience
-Multiplayer is fun
-Storyline is not as engaging as it's predecessor
-The Big Sister is not as threatening as she appears to be
-Lack of final boss is disappointing
-Single Player is a little short
Ever since the release of the first BioShock, people have been wanting to tread back into the dark, mad filled, underwater Ayn Rand based city of Rapture. And while it's sequel may not completely live up to all aspects of it's predecessor, it still provides an enjoyable experience that both BioShock, and first person shooter fans in general, can still appreciate.
BioShock 2 puts you in the role of Delta, a Big Daddy (actually one of the original Big Daddies) who get's his Little Sister taken away from him by her mother, Sophia Lamb, a ruthless and powerful woman who preached against Ryan's philosophies. Without spoiling anything, you re-awaken about a decade or so later after the Civil War of Rapture, back to the same Rapture you remember from the first game. The game is not the best looking, but it has pretty good graphics and art style. Shadows creep across the walls and floors, light shines dimly through the ocean glass, brightly lit neon lights still shine bright, the world of Rapture feels just as alive as it ever was. The game has good detail as well, the crumbling of Rapture is certainly noticeable with rubble and cracks in the environments, water spills and floods into the city, blood lies on top of your Big Daddy drill....the detail is very well done and only makes your return experience in Rapture all the better.
Combat wise the game is perfect, you use your right hand for your weapons and your left for plasmids. This allows you to mix and match what you want, creating more variety and strategy. For example you could use a shotgun and an ice plasmid to freeze enemies then shatter them up close with your shotgun, or you could light a group of enemies on fire, causing them to run out of cover and expose themselves for your machine gun. There is a lot of depth in BioShock 2, and you will have a lot of fun experimenting around with it. The movement in BioShock 2 is also solid, you move just like you would expect a Big Daddy would, he has weight in his movements and you feel dangerous. Much like the first game, your weapons and plasmids are upgradable, allowing you to play how you want.
Of course unlocking new plasmids and upgrades will acquire Adam, and that means having to take down other Big Daddies for their Little Sisters. Big Daddies are very similar to how they were in the first BioShock, and it will require much strategy to defeat them (they are of course optional, you can choose not to engage them. But that means no Little Sister and that means no Adam).
A new feature this time around however, is the ability you have to "adopt" Little Sisters and carry them around with you and have them drain the Adam out of fallen enemies. Doing so however will attract the Splicers, and it is your job to defend the Little Sister until she finishes her job. This brings a whole new gameplay element to BioShock and it's one that is appreciated, as instead of only focusing on taking down the enemy, you now have to come up with new strategies to defend. After your Little Sister is finally done you have the option to either rescue or harvest her just like the first game, and the rewards and consequences are all too familiar, but in a good way.
BioShock 2 also introduces a new enemy, the Big Sisters. These are fast and powerful enemies that can dance around the room and hit you with much velocity and speed, however they are not as threatening as they first seem to be. You can easily defeat them by coming up with a good strategy and later in the game they simply become an annoyance that you have to put down and no longer provide a challenge. You also know when they are going to show up, giving you time to prepare, it would have been more intense to have had them show up at random moments and putting you off your guard.
The Storyline however is not as good as it could have been, and many aspects of it feel like missed opportunities. For example early in the game you meet Tananbaum, but she is only in the game for a quick minute or so and then she just disappears and is never seen or mentioned in the game again. It's things like this that make her, and many other characters, feel like cheap cameo's that don't add anything of real value to the story. Which is a shame, because after the first BioShock you would be expecting much more from BioShock 2. Much of the story is told through the audio diaries that you find again, and many of them revolve around a conflict between Ryan and Lamb.
However this makes the story from the first BioShock confusing as you will hear these big debates and riots coming from Ryan and Lamb in Bioshock 2, but yet where were these events happening during the first BioShock? It would have made more sense to have just gone with a more familiar antagonist instead of making a new one and having events that were irrelevant to the first game somehow revolve around her. As far as Lamb goes, she does not have the same power or conviction as Ryan or Atlas did, and it shows. Lamb is not an intimidating antagonist in the slightest. Still the storyline does have some nice references and provides some good insight about characters from the first game, it's just not as fleshed out as well as it could have been. There is also (without spoiling anything) no final boss, which is quite disappointing.
The Story Mode is not very long and will last around 9-10 hours on average. There are various difficulties you can play through, as well as some side things to hunt down, but overall it feels shorter than the first game. This isn't to say that the campaign is bad, it is of good quality and has it's moments, like one where you get to experience Rapture through the eyes of a Little Sister. It's just that it doesn't meet the greatness of it's predecessor, and it's short length may be a let down for some. Thankfully however there is multiplayer to keep you busy.
Taking place during the Civil War, BioShock 2 drops players right in the middle of the conflict between Ryan and Atlas, allowing you to customize your own splicer and choose various weapons and plasmid abilities. You fight in many areas from the first game, and it looks and plays more like the first BioShock than it's sequel. The various modes are standard, free for all, team death-match etc... are all here, along with some interesting one's which involve fighting over a Little Sister. You can also find a Big Daddy suit to wear, which as the name implies, turns the player into a Big Daddy, it's elements like this that make BioShock 2 multiplayer feel fresh. The result is a fun and addicting multiplayer experience.
Despite some gripes, BioShock 2 is still an enjoyable experience and one that is certainly worth playing. Just don't expect it to top the legend that is the first BioShock.
BioShock 2 get's an 8/10