Not Quite the Rapture It Was Supposed to Be
It’s human nature: When we get a good thing, we want more of it; when we’re enjoying something immensely, we don’t want it to end. A stirring movie, an engrossing book, a band that resonated deeply with us, delectable foods – why choose to end gratification when we’re in the middle of it? If something satisfies an itch we have, keep it coming, and laissez les bons temps rouler!
So after the exciting journey that was the original BioShock, what could be better than to get a chance to return to Rapture and delve back into this well-loved world once more? Short answer: nothing. Such, of course, was the thinking of the folks at 2K when the gears were first set into motion for this sequel. But not content to rest on their laurels, they thought of a way to one-up the previous installment. What if, instead of going up against the dreaded Big Daddy you actually get a chance to be one, to see the world through his murky diving helmet, to impale some poor devils on the business end of your very own drill arm? Sounds pretty damn sweet! The results, as history has shown, were rather mixed, with many critics being fairly happy with the game in the end, while gamers lambasted it and would as soon not include it in official series canon.
Personally, I didn’t really mind the game. Notice that’s as far as my jubilation goes. Not minding it is a far cry from enjoying it as much as its predecessor, and there has to be more to a game than that to keep it salient in my mind for a good long time after finishing it. For my money, it pretty much accomplished what it set out to do: provide a very similar experience to the first, giving you a chance to explore the fantastic underwater setting for a second time. It’s just that it was too similar to the previous installment.
The combat wasn’t noticeably different, which isn’t really a positive since I’m not terribly good at first-person shooters, and it is easily my least favorite aspect of any BioShock game to date. The addition of the drill arm is purely cosmetic, for the most part, and only works as a gimmick for a little while. The real draw of the first title was the sense of wondrous discovery, and that, for better or worse, can only happen that one first time, so the cat’s out of the bag on the sequel.
Would the game have been much different had Ken Levine been involved? I imagine it would have, likely having taken a completely different turn and changing settings completely (as Infinite is doing). But the fact remains that there was nothing wrong with the setting and game design used here, it’s just the same as before, and has less spectacle around it.
Aaaand then there’s the multiplayer. I have nothing to say about the multiplayer at all. Let’s be honest, I don’t play multiplayer on most of my games – I don’t participate in any online tournaments, I enjoy a good single-player experience, I even tend to disable drop-in/drop-out on games that feature it. So I’ve never tried BioShock 2‘s multiplayer, nor am I likely to go back to do so. Anyway, I have a feeling that the online lobbies for the game are as empty and desolate as the city of Rapture ever was.