City 16's Top 10 Games of 2010: #9

2010: officially the first year of the future! Unfortunately, when all the cool new future toys completely failed to appear it turned out to be pretty reminiscent of all the other years. Conservative Prime Minister, police beating up protesters, a World Cup, an erupting volcano reducing everyone to trembling fear of an angry sky-god, snow!

Guys! These are all things that have happened before, can we get some new events please?

On the topic of originality, here’s number 9 in this annual word shindig: a sequel!

Bioshock 2

The biggest problem for Bioshock 2 seems to be Bioshock 1. The prequel had so many moments that stuck in the memory; the first glimpse of a Big Daddy, the creepy sing-song voice of the Little Sister, Fort Frolic and, of course, that twist. Bioshock 2 has far fewer iconic gaming experiences. The highs just aren’t as high. Of course Bioshock 1 also had plenty of problems and not just in that the second half of the game’s plot struggled to do anything interesting with the revelation in the middle. To be honest, it was a game I just didn’t particularly enjoy playing. That’s the thing with Bioshock 2; it’s lows also aren’t as low. It’s consistent and, with that, it’s actually a great game.

It feels  like the developers have taken on board how people played the first game, how I played the first game. “Going to play a first person shooter predominantly smacking people in the face with a wrench, are you?” it says, “fine then, we’ll give you a fucking giant drill hand attachment with which to charge them with this time.” Oh yes, I think. That’s the shit. “Shooting folks seems a bit of a bastard, doesn’t it?” I nod agreement. “Don’t worry, now you can dual wield guns and plasmids.” Ah, that’ll save the fucking awkward desperate switching between them then. “Not experimenting with range of plasmids on offer?” the game asks, a note of concern and, perhaps, a touch of puzzlement in its voice. “Well, okay… how about instead of forcing you to use different plasmids, like that first game did, this time we’ll give you the chance to prepare for certain battles – use that range of abilities to prepare traps” Yeah, that’ll do, I reply.

The gathering sequences really are an inspired change of pace. Any adopted Little Sisters direct you towards certain corpses about the level that they can harvest Adam from. When they do you know it’ll attract an obscene number of Splicers, all targeting you and your young ward but, importantly, it won’t happen until you place her down to start collecting. It gives you chance to assess the area, work out where they’ll be attacking from and laying down plasmids and trip wires accordingly. More often than not the resultant battle is still a mad panic, with Splicers breaching areas you’ve missed, but half the fun is knowing that you and especially your Little Sister are never really safe.

Of course there are disappointments too. One of which being that the Big Sister’s turned out to just be formulaic boss fights. Rescued/killed all of the Little Sisters in the area? Well get ready because here comes a Big Sister attack, use her as a bullet sponge for a bit then carry on until the next one. Then there’s the fact that your character doesn’t really feel like a Big Daddy but instead controls like any other silent protagonist (with a massive drill arm) without really giving any sense of being part of the ecology of this underwater city. The real problem however is that, perhaps more than most games, Bioshock 2 suffers from the problem of diminishing returns. Despite some really well designed levels, seeing Rapture and fighting Splicers just isn’t as interesting this time around.

As for the story… Well it’s quite refreshing not to have to deal with a big twist to be honest, unless you consider the fact that no-one is out to betray you to be a twist (which in this day and age isn’t unreasonable.) I couldn’t reliably tell you anything more specific than the relative outline of the narrative to be honest, but this time round it’s the mood of the game that saves it. Focusing on that relationship between the Big Daddy and Little Sister gives it a depth that makes the game more than just just a successful franchise cash in but actually fleshes out the themes of the first in interesting and compelling ways.

Essentially then: Bioshock is the Important game. Bioshock 2 is the better one.


1 Response to “City 16's Top 10 Games of 2010: #9”

  1. 17/12/2010 at 08:58

    Agree 200%.
    That is all.

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