Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Review No. 146 Bioshock 2 Remastered - PC (18+)

Strong Points:
Great expansion of the world
Awesome voice acting
Interesting story concept - communism instead of capitalism
Sense of time running out
Gunplay was mostly great...
Plasmids were also fun...
Hacking was sped up a lot
Reduced sense of dread made sense in terms of story...

Weak Points:
Slow start
Hard mode goes against the game design
...Felt the Rivet Gun wasn't different enough to justify
...Although not very different from the first game
...But removed some of the atmosphere
Removal of choice at one point felt odd

Note: this is a review of The Bioshock Collection rerelease version and won't include multiplayer or Minerva's Den (might come separately)

Also, some spoilers ahead:

In-depth Review:

Release Dates:
World Wide: September 16th, 2016

Controls: configurable in game

Bioshock 2 is an interesting entity. What starts off as more of a return to Rapture and the original Bioshock slowly transforms into a beast of its own, with its own views and stories to tell. It just takes a little while to get there.

You start, as with many great video games, by dying. And that's not in a Dark Soulsy 'learn the controls by dying kind of way', I mean you die in the first story clip. Not to worry though, as the power of your fatherly bond allows you to keep going. Oh. And Plasmids, can't forget about them.

Plasmids are pretty much the same entity as they were in the first game. You start with electricity, moving onto telekinesis and before you know it bees will be shooting out of your hands. They play well, especially once they've been powered up and you can start frying multiple enemies. A small nitpick - I had to change my mouse button controls to make it so the left click lined up with the left hand and vice versa - seems like an odd way to have it originally. Tonics also make a return, with, at least in my opinion, a wider range of options than the first game. It might have just been that I started paying attention to them more but effects such as freezing enemies on impact made a big difference, especially in the harder difficulties.

Rivet Gun and Electo Bolt
Talking of difficulties, I felt a slight conflict of interest when playing at the Hard difficulty. You are a Big Daddy, protector of Little Sisters, feared throughout the land and... You've died. Again. One rivet to your name, each enemy a death trap and annoyance. Big Sisters (a new, faster version of the Big Daddy's) take multiple respawns at a Vita-Chamber and Big Daddy's are avoided at all costs. You've forgotten everything - your objective, how to love, even who you are. Play on an easier difficulty and enjoy.

The gunplay itself is quite tight and varied, with many weapons at your disposal. From your regular shotgun to a spear gun and, of course, your drill, the gunplay never felt stale. Of course, you quickly find your favourite weapons (for me it was the classic machine gun and shotgun) but you'll definitely be in a situation at one point or another where all the weapons come in handy. I do feel that some rebalancing could have been done, however, as the rivet gun doesn't feel particularly powerful (and more of an early game weapon) and the drill, while fun to use, runs out of fuel far too quickly, especially in the harder difficulties, and sometimes doesn't feel worth it to switch into during a firefight.

Due to playing as a Big Daddy, drill, superpowers and all the extras - there is less of a feeling of horror and tension in this game compared to the original. While in the original I was creeping around corridors, jumping at lights etc. in Bioshock 2 I rarely felt scared. Even when they tried the classic turn all the lights off and make enemies appear, I still didn't feel particularly scared. Instead, I felt more like a Big Daddy - powerful but cumbersome, each step taking quite a lot of thought. Credits to the game designers for their attention to detail to allow this, but beware if you want to play a horror rather than a thinker game.

The 'thinker' portion of the game comes out in its main themes. If Bioshock 1 was a warning against unchecked capitalism, Bioshock 2 takes aim at communism. Doctor Lamb, the main antagonist, has created 'the family', basically a tribe of Splicers and other civilians, all tasked with one thing - helping the greater good. The story goes on to show the pitfalls of such an ideal as well as the pitfalls of a utopia. It was an interesting idea really, as Bioshock 1 took the completely opposite side, focusing on how one's own ideals shouldn't take precedent over the ideals of the society, otherwise, chaos ensues.

The environmental storytelling really added to a sense of time running out

The world of Rapture is as mystifying and captivating as ever. Even though the city is more broken than in the first game, I was surprised that progression still exists. People made their way down to Rapture and new cults and businesses have set up shop. The world lives and breathes a lot more than I thought it would in this game series. The ability to travel through the water now is also a nice touch - what was once an impenetrable and terrifying barrier, is now just a means to carry on the journey.

Conclusion: overall, I enjoyed returning to Rapture for Bioshock 2, especially when the storytelling ramped up in the later sections of the game. On a slight side note: one portion of the game - hacking - has been significantly sped up, with even the option of an auto-hack dart.

Rating: 82%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

P.S. Bioshock 2 Remastered can be prone to crashes so be sure to save regularly


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