Now there’s a job I would not have wanted: creating Bioshock 2. The first installment of the game was nothing short of revolutionary – toying with us the way only an interactive form of medium can do – so, even with the lead design and gaming’s biggest asshole leaving the project, expectations were… astronomal. I guess that’s why I waited about six months to finally write something about this game. The first playthrough was awesome, but second, a half a year later… was breathtaking.
A breath of fresh air
It was obvious, right off the bat, that the second Bioshock installment could never live up to the first one – the twist was just too much, too defining – so they don’t even try to do that. Instead, what they offer you is this: a small scale story with a deviously closed narration.
The entire thing features around the little sister – big daddy connection, and tries to get as much symbolism in the plot as possible. In doing this, it becomes a Freudian homage to the Oedipus complex, in which little boys kill their fathers to be with their mothers. The game does the exact opposite and in doing so, it doesn’t try to copy the analogy but just comments it.
To do this, the game drops you in the suit of a Big Daddy – drill inclusive. It boils down to this: you’re trying to find your little sister, who’s been captured by her real, biological mother. This leads to a small, emotional story, in which Sophia Lamb – the child’s mother – plays an unbelievably satisfying role, only helped by the fact that she’s a psychoanalyst.
The Big Daddy controls just like you would think it would – huge and massive, but still quick and nimble. This means no more wrench. Instead, you get the drill, which – when pimped to the max using the tonics and weapon stations – is simply breathtaking to use. It makes the game less a shooter and more of a first person adventure game. Which I simply love.
Everything that made the first game great is still in place in the sequel: a gripping story, the Rapture atmosphere, a history of audio diaries and moral choices that affect the outcome of the game (which, in my opinion, is handled a lot better in this one). Sure, storywise, it can never overshadow the first game. But they’re humble and down to earth: they don’t try, and were only mildly damned by the almighty internet.
Everyone can see that Bioshock 2, as a game, is better than the first. There’s so many more things to do (protecting Little Sisters! Killing Big Sisters! Traps! Underwater sequences!). So please, play the first one before you play the second. Because it’ll be pretty hard to go back.