Feb 16, 2010

The Return to Rapture: Bioshock 2

Who knew that my first post of 2010 would be in February? Who knew that it would be about Bioshock 2, and not my much-anticipated Mass Effect 2? Life is full of them darn surprises I guess. Below is a review I wrote for Gamespot.com and I thought 'Hey, it's mine, so I might as well put it on my blog'. So here it is. My lengthy review of Bioshock 2. Hey that rhymes!

Gamespot Review:
Sequels, sequels, sequels. 2010 is proving to be the year for sequels. I like sequels, but only if they're done well. Like Mass Effect 2. ME2 was a fantastic sequel. However, unlike Mass Effect 2, I was not in the midnight line at my local Game Stop for the February 9th release of Bioshock 2. As much as I supremely enjoyed the first game, it wasn't one of those titles that I needed to have in my paws before the rest of the world, and it certainly wasn't my goal to beat it the same night and be the first one with a review on the web. For those of you whose goal that was, I'm truly sorry, and I know you are too. MOUNTAIN DEW FTW!!!

As you may have guessed, I ended up picking up a copy. Using a Best Buy gift card, I bit the bullet and bought the game. I will admit, I was wary at first. I had complete confidence that Bioshock 2 would be just as fun and just as an immersive experience as it's predecessor, though I wasn't going to approach it as a blind fan-boy telling myself that 2K could do nothing wrong. The lukewarm reviews from the critics also added to my cautious expectations. This game is a perfect example of not always being able to trust the critics. If you're one of those people who will only buy a game with good reviews, consider this a GOOD review. Remember, critics get PAID to say negative things. No one wants to listen to a review if there is nothing that gets ripped into. It's like watching a gladiator fight where the participants are playing Rock-Paper-Scissor's. Know what I mean? Just me....? Okay then...

Granted, I have not finished the game yet, but I don't think I need to in order to write a helpful review. I've thoroughly enjoyed what I have played (about 10 hours) and I hear (from the critics I don't trust) that it gets better toward the end. Well, I don't think I'm that close to the end and I'm still having a wonderful time with it. While the story is a subtle element that can be easily lost (as opposed to a BioWare RPG where you can't avoid it) if you pay close attention it isn't hard to get an idea of what is going in the world of rapture. The controls are improved but not unfamiliar, so the player doesn't feel lost. The ability to have both a plasmid AND a weapon equipped is genius, and makes the fighting a whole lot more satisfying. Also, as fun as the hacking one is the first Bioshock, Bioshock 2 makes it quicker and more practical so it doesn't interrupt gameplay and won't cause cursing and hair-loss.

After reading several reviews, the main problem that 'they' have with Bioshock 2 is it's lack of originality, or lack of changes from the first one. Half of me is tempted to ask them where they got whatever it is they were smoking, but the other half of me resists the temptation, as I might contract whatever 2-hating disease they have contracted. Simply put, if you really enjoyed the first one, you will really enjoy the second one. Not much has changed, BECAUSE IT DIDN'T NEED TO! Almost all of the complaints people have about the first game have been taken care of in the second game making gameplay smoother and more streamlined. The game takes place in the same setting, with many of the same characters, so HOW DIFFERENT DO YOU WANT IT TO BE? It's a sequel that feels like just that. A sequel. Do I think there needs to be a Bioshock 3? Probably not. But I've been wrong before.

Now, to be fair, I did have a small amount of complaints. I just didn't want to list those off first because that puts everything that follows in a negative light. At least, that's my opinion. One of the most tedious thing about Bioshock 2 is using the adopted little Sisters to gather Adam from corpses. I've only recently figured out a somewhat decent strategy that won't get me killed every time I'm buzzin' for an ADAM fix. It's this tedious process that makes it very tempting to Harvest the little brats. I did once though, and felt awful. After repenting, I focused and really used my brain (a difficult effort at best) to figure out a good strategy that would make doing the right thing not so hard. I found one that works pretty well.

Other than a few technical issues, and one really annoying bug that got me stuck in a room for a near 45 minutes (I really don't wanna talk about it....) Bioshock 2 deserves a lot better than most critics give it credit for. Can't say the same about Dante's Inferno though....