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on February 13, 2010
Let me start off by saying that this game was in a very rough spot when it was being developed. The first Bioshock was and still is one of the greatest games ever made, and seeing as video games are a rare medium where the sequel is almost always better, the bar was set high. I pretty much had my hopes set rather low, as I knew it could never live up to the near-flawless first installment.

So how accurate was I? Its about as good as I thought it would be.

Bioshock 2 is by no means a bad game. Its still Bioshock, you're still in Rapture, and the gameplay is the same with improvements made here and there. But, as my previous statement said, there are things that hold this installment back.

-The Pros-

Even though this isn't the first time we've stepped foot in Rapture - and some of the mystery is gone due to that fact - it is still full of the same great atmosphere and art design that made the original so great. There are still flickering lights, leaky walls and ceilings, art deco goodness, and a general sense of a lost utopia in every area. There is still the same feeling of nervous excitement and slight fear around every corner.

The gameplay is more or less unchanged, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The shooting is still pretty tight, as is the use of plasmids. You have your standard plasmids and gene tonics from the first game, with a few tweaks here and there such as the ability to use plasmids and weapons at the same time.

There are also some small things that I took notice of and really enjoyed:

- Subject Delta (your character) grew on me for some reason. I always found the Big Daddies to be oddly lovable, and this guy is no different.

- The drill arm is a great addition to the weapon selection. I found myself using it even late in the game and upgrading it before upgrading my guns.

- Guarding the Little Sisters wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I hate escort type missions, and thought I would hate this mechanic, but I wound up loving it. You can also just down the other Daddies and return the Sisters to the vents, without doing the ADAM harvesting part. The Little Sisters are also cute and sometimes funny in what they say, and it was a good choice to allow the player to interact with them more this time around.

- (!!SPOILER!!) Later on in the game, you are able to see the world of Rapture as the Little Sisters see it, which is incredibly interesting. During this section, the real decayed Rapture is juxtaposed with the imagined Little Sister-vision Rapture, and it is very powerful when it happens.

- (!!SPOILER!!) The Subject Delta/Eleanor relationship was well told, despite the fact that I have several complaints regarding the story.

- The opening cinematic gives you a very brief glimpse of life in Rapture before its fall. I found it very interesting even though it barely lasts a minute.

- The Cons -

Before I go into the cons, just know that despite everything I say, this game is still good, and still worth playing. When writing reviews, I tend to focus on the negative too much, and the game is not as bad as these cons will make it out to be.

While the fact that the gameplay is unchanged isn't really that bad, it also strikes me as a missed chance to really improve on it. There are really no new weapons or plasmids that strike you as being really "new", as most of them are either unchanged or rehashed versions of other weapons or plasmids from the first game. The fact that you're a Big Daddy also doesn't make that much of a difference. I found my health being depleted rapidly by average splicers, and my blows with weapons or the drill arm not being as effective as they should be. The game tries to write this off as the splicers growing stronger in the ten years since the first game, but it still made a bad impression on me.

Music has seemed to have taken a backseat in this game. The first Bioshock used music to such great effect that I bought the soundtrack. Music is more or less absent in this game. I remember hearing music maybe 4 or 5 times throughout the entire game, compared to the literal dozens of songs heard throughout Rapture in Bioshock 1.

The hacking mechanic being changed is a smaller annoyance I had, as I love the original games hacking minigame a lot more compared to the color/needle game you play in this game.

Something that really confuses me is the graphics. They seem to have gotten worse since Bioshock 1. Low-res textures make several appearances, the water isn't as impressive, and the particle effects are rather pixelated. Graphics aren't really that big of a deal to me, but the obvious downgrade from the first game just confuses me.

The areas explored throughout the game are also relatively lacking. There are no Welcome to Rapture Centers or Fort Frolics in this game.

(SPOILERS ABOUND BELOW)

My absolute biggest complaint about Bioshock 2 is the story. While I wasn't expecting something of Bioshock 1 quality, I was expecting something more than what was presented.

Sofia Lamb, while being a decent antagonist, falls very very short of filling Andrew Ryan's shoes.
Her speeches aren't as fascinating, her motives aren't as clear, and her malevolence isn't as convincing. She tries to be the omniscient voice of Ryan and the villain of Fontaine all at once, and fails.

This is indicative of another problem: the characters. While the characters are still deeper than 95% of characters in other games, the first Bioshock still reigns supreme in this area. Sinclair is a likable character, but pales in comparison to Atlas (Sinclair more or less fills Atlas' role in this game). Grace Holloway plays the role of fallen artist in this game, but never lives up to the mad genius of Sander Cohen. Even the audio logs are lacking due to the characters not being as strong.

The big reveal around the 75% complete mark in this game was also unremarkable. Expect no "Would you kindly?" or "Atlas is Fontaine". I didn't even understand the significance of the twist in this game. I was unaffected by it completely.

There is also no final boss fight, no satisfying explanation for the Big Sisters, and no sense of closure that approaches the first games'.

My last complaint story-wise is about Tenenbaum. Despite being the only character from the first game in this game, she makes one appearance and then COMPLETELY disappears from the game. You aren't even told what becomes of her. This really frustrated me.

Despite all of my complaints, this is still a very solid game and worth playing. Especially if you've played the amazing first game. However, if you're new to this series, I highly recommend playing the first one to see if you like this type of game.
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VINE VOICEon February 11, 2010
I loved Bioshock; I became immediately immersed in it and spent well over 20 hours completing it during my first playthrough because there was so much to explore in the game. Bioshock 2 is no different. What a cool game Bioshock 2 is so far. Let me say up front that I haven't finished it, and I don't want to be finished. I have played for over 6 hours and I don't get the impression that I'm remotely close to finishing.

After 6 hours, I'm sure that I could have gotten a lot farther in the game than I am a lot faster, but you can prolong the game by exploring areas that may not be the most direct route to your goal. And I spend a lot of time exploring. These little explorations are usually fruitful, because hidden throughout the expansive game are all kinds of weapons, perks and information about where you've once again suddenly found yourself captive: In the underwater city of Rapture. (Edit 3/1/10: Finished the game and the game is as good as the rest of this review suggests. Spent, I'd say, well over 15 hours playing. Extensive searching kept my ammo and "Eve" full at all times.)

The game begins with a flashback cutscene with you as a Big Daddy protecting a Little Sister apparently just before the events of the first game. The cutscene ends badly for you, but you are suddenly "reactivated" about 10 years later within Andrew Ryan's utopian city of Rapture now under the control of a woman named Sofia Lamb, and Lamb is not happy to see you. Did I say utopian city? Well, that may have been the original idea, but the Rapture you ultimately find yourself in is the antithesis of a utopia and in even worse shape than in the first Bioshock. I believe the term is dystopia. Anyway, a familiar name contacts you and helps guide you, a Big Daddy, to your goals.

The good news is that in Bioshock 2, unlike Bioshock 1, your peripheral vision isn't limited like it was by the Big Daddy helmet. Remember that part in Bioshock 1 where you became the Big Daddy and you had to escort the Little Sister? That was one of the tougher parts on the game, no? Well, it looks like we're in for a lot of that in Bioshock 2.

You are given goals and roadblocks o'plenty to prevent you from easily reaching your goals. The few people (called Splicers) left in Rapture that you run into have all gone (are still) stark raving mad, and they'll ruin your day or the Little Sister's day that you're trying to protect if you let them get too close. And don't trip a security alarm; it'll summon armed drones and more Splicers. At the beginning of the first level you get a quick glimpse of something that looks a lot worse than a Splicer, and it becomes clear that the gene altering that was going on in the first one has been taken to the next level in this one.

At least it's easier to hack everything from security cameras to drones to vending machines to safes in Bioshock 2. Not only can you hack from a distance by firing a "hack dart" at a machine like a gun turret, the hacking itself is a new timed system that is based on stopping a needle that moves back in forth over a color coded grid versus the first game's complete the puzzle before time runs out system.

You get all kinds of weapons and occasional opportunities to upgrade your weapons. You're well equipped. And this time not only do you get the Big Daddy's Rivet Gun, but also his oversize drill. The drill is quite effective so far on Splicers and saves on precious ammo; there's a new melee attack added to your defense system and a melee with the drill equipped is almost as effective as the drill itself. You get the a camera again too to take pictures that allow you to conduct research on your foes to increase the damage you can inflict on them and lessen the damage that they inflict on you (don't worry...all you have to do is take the dang picture; the research is done automatically).

In addition to the corpses strewn throughout the game that can be searched for goodies, so is ammo, money and other knick-knacks that will help you progress. Just be sure to search everything if you want to maximize your strength. And speaking of maximizing your strength, one of the first things you get are, just like the first game, Plasmids...or put another way...special abilities. Telekinesis. Pyrokinesis. And a bunch of other Plasmid "kinesises" are unlocked pending your ability to find or buy them. Try picking something heavy up with your telekinesis and throwing it at your enemy...better yet, plant a few Trap Rivets on that thing before you toss it! You're also granted "tonics" to customize your character with. Stuff like armor, various strengths, first aid boosts, and secondary damage on your enemies from your weapons or from just plain old being attacked. Really cool stuff.

Unlike most games, but just like Bioshock 1, the game lets you save at any time, and when you restart play it starts you at the exact place you last saved...not at the last checkpoint. Nice. Very nice. So right before you get to what you think might be a tough part...save! Cuz if you play "poorly", you can just quit and try again.

Like any game with redundant enemies (think RE4's ganados or Uncharted's pirates), the Splicers become quite annoying, but I suppose that's the idea. And yup, you even need to battle with other Big Daddies again. And as tough as they are, wait until you have to battle your newest foe, the Big Sister. My first battle with one of these didn't go so well. Thank goodness for the save anywhere feature! You have GOT to remember to hit that first aid button before your health runs out. You reload automatically, and your Plasmids will recharge automatically (if you've got some Eve), but you don't heal automatically.

Your goals change all the time. Just when you think you've attained a critical goal...it backfires or you're immediately given another that requires backtracking...and then backtracking again. But rest assured it never gets boring. The eerie atmospheres and creepy environments that Bioshock's creators have put together are more than effective. Some areas are really creepy, and there's nothing worse than not being able to find your way out of those which isn't always easy. But that's the fun! Oh yeah, and now that you're in the Big Daddy suit, you're even required to make it through some underwater (or should I say in the water) adventures.

If you like shooters or survival / horror games...Bioshock 2 is for you. The first game is really cheap here at Amazon, and I'd highly recommend that you play it first for chronology's sake. But chronology is completely unnecessary for Bioshock 2. Come to think of it....play Bioshock 2 first then play Bioshock 1 as a prequel!

Because one thing that Bioshock 2 has that Bioshock 1 doesn't is Multiplayer mode. This is really fun. Ya know how Modern Warfare 2 was really a multiplayer game with a bonus single player campaign? Well, Bioshock 2 is a single player game with a bonus multiplayer mode. Think Modern Warfare 2 combined with World at War Zombie mode combined with, well, Bioshock. I tried Multiplayer last night and in my first sitting got almost all of the Trophies (for anyone that cares about that). I really bought Bioshock 2 for the single player mode. But the addition of Multiplayer only adds to the hours of good times to be had with this game. Multiplayer is an interesting story driven mode where the player takes on the role of a citizen of Rapture before the events of the first Bioshock.

So is there anything bad about Bioshock 2 so far. Well, if I had to come up with something it'd be that the graphics seem to have received no upgrade whatsoever. After games like Uncharted, you'd think that 2K would have made some improvements in this department, but I'm not seeing it. The Splicers look as cartoonish as it gets. And my only other complaint would be the familiarity that Bioshock 2 has with the original. But that's the idea, right? You are "reborn" into Rapture.

I've heard some talk about how Bioshock 2 is a carbon copy of the first game. And that talk is just ridiculous. Again, take my review for what it's worth since I'm only just getting into it. But after 6 hours I'd say that there's no question here...add this to your cart. This is a 5-star game...whether you've played the first already or not.

(P.S.--I know that video game to big screen conversions mostly seem to fail, but have you heard that there's a movie adaptation of Bioshock with the 28 Weeks Later Director at the helm?)
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on February 10, 2010
I loved BioShock 1 so much I actually bought it for both my 360 & PS3, this time around I only will review the PS3 version.

Yes the game installs to the hard drive. Now I personally like games that install to the HDD as they run faster during game play. It's a bit longer than 10 minutes for the initial setup, I didn't time it with a stop watch, but the DualShock had turned off, which it does after 10 minutes.

I waited on ordering this until I saw at least 3 reviews on reputable gaming sites. They had some big shoes to fill after BioShock 1, and so far I think they've done an awesome job. I really enjoy exploring the maps making sure I've covered every inch. Most of the enemies are the same so far, with two new additional Boss type monsters that I've encountered so far.

The graphics and sound effects are great, only a few glitches here and there, but nothing worth even really mentioning. No crashes so far, and I've played at least 12 hours, collecting as many trophies as I can.

I'm very much enjoying this, maybe not as much as the first, only because BioShock was so unique at the time. If you liked BioShock 1 you should love 2. There are many new weapon enhancements, and the great plasmid system is still intact.

I've not yet tried the multiplayer, or really have any desire to, and sometimes wish developers would just forget about it and make a longer single player experience.

This will be one of the few "shooters" that gets 3 or more playthroughs. 95% of shooters I play once and move on, so for me it's that good.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon July 2, 2014
I'm only a casual gamer with only a few titles explored. But Bioshock 2 is easily one of my all-time favorites. The story is fascinating, graphics compelling, and as a confessed amateur, found it challenging with my beginner skill set. The opening scene is disorienting as any good game should be as you figure out exactly what's happening, where you are, the meaning of what you're seeing and how to adapt, survive and develop one of two alternative personas of play. After I finished the first run through, I immediately started again to hone my acquired insights and try to improve and explore side details I'd missed the first time. It's a few years old now so with a price of just $10 or so, you'll get a huge rate of return on dollars invested verses hours of entertainment. Highly recommended!
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on February 22, 2010
Note: This review does contain some spoilers. However, they largely pertain to the first game and the spoilers for Bio 2 are stuff you'd find out at the very beginning. Also, I'm writing this under the assumption that people are familiar with the basics of Bioshock and Rapture even if they didn't play the 1st one. Finally, I have not played multiplayer, so I can't vouch for it. With that, on to the review...

Story: Bioshock had one of the best stories in modern gaming, as it took Ayn Rand and ran with it, putting extreme Objectivism in a horror setting Rob Zombie would enjoy and sprinkling on some "Manchurian Candidate" for good measure. It also produced extremely interesting characters. Andrew Ryan is one of the better villains in modern gaming because he has hubris. He truly believes mankind will evolve and thrive with religious morality and all but the bare minimum of government authority absent; he just doesn't understand there is something inherently selfish and evil about humans and that without at least some regulation humanity will descend into chaos, with horrific consequences. Dr. Tenenbaum, the creator of the Little Sisters, is another interesting character, so guilt-ridden by what she's done that by the time the main character, Jack, has stumbled into Rapture she's hard at work trying to restore the Little Sisters to their human form and get them out of Rapture. And then there's Atlas/Fontaine. 'Nuf said. However, I just wasn't really invested in Jack. It wasn't that his character was uninteresting (the Fight Club-esque revelation sees to that); it's just that you're not overly concerned about what happens to him or to the Little Sisters. Also, the ending was abrupt, anti-climatic, and out of place in lieu of everything that had happened. Still, though, Bioshock contained one hell of a story about survival and horrible self-realization.

Bioshock 2's story is set 8 years following the events in the first game. This time, you play an older-model Big Daddy codenamed Delta. As the flashbacks show, 10 years earlier you were following your adopted Little Sister around (having developed an unusually strong bond with her) when suddenly Dr. Sophia Lamb (the new antagonist) uses a Hypnotize Plasmid to force you to blow your brains out. However, now you've been revived via a Vita-Chamber, and you're now desperately searching the ruins of Rapture for your lost Little Sister, Eleanor. The guiding philosophy of Dr. Lamb is the polar opposite of Ryan's. She's a collectivist, believing in "the greatest good for the greatest number", even if it means murdering people and kidnapping little girls from the surface and taking them down to Rapture to be transformed into Little Sisters. The problem is, Dr. Lamb is just not a great villain; she's just Nurse Rached (of "Cuckoo's Nest") in video game form: cold, manipulative, and meglomaniacal. Dr. Tenenbaum makes a brief appearance at the beginning of the game (she apparently fled Rapture and is now back to save the new Little Sisters and get them out of Rapture), but she's otherwise absent. This absence doesn't detract from the story, but she was so interesting in the 1st game it would have been nice to know what she'd been up to and to know a little more about her dark past. Sinclair (your guide and essentially Bio 2's answer to Atlas) isn't nearly as good or as interesting as Fontaine, even with his Southern draw and the horrible thing that happens to him at the end. Delta, however, is a far better main character than Jack, primarily because you are emotionally invested in him. There is an invisible, melancholy sadness about him as he searches for Eleanor (which isn't to say he's not a bad-ass). Furthermore, there is much more of an emotional component to tracking down and harvesting/saving Little Sisters. Instead of constantly hearing "Look, Mr. Bubbles, it's an angel" you hear things like "You'll always be there for me, Daddy?". In this game, the Little Sisters really do see their Big Daddies as fathers, making harvesting them even more reprehensible (in the end, I couldn't do it, even though this is a video game; you really do get that emotional vibe off of them). Overall, I'd say this one is a draw between the 2 games.

Gameplay: There are several changes to note for Bioshock 2, all of which I believe enhance the game over the 1st one. Because you are a Big Daddy, you can wield a Plasmid and a weapon at the same time. Not only do you not have to waste time switching back and forth in the middle of a battle but now it's easier to use environmental kills on your enemies, making for some pretty cool attacks and set-ups. Because you are a Big Daddy, instead of a wrench you have the drill, which as with weapons can be upgraded at the Power to the People stations. The drill can be upgraded to repel enemy fire, and eventually you will get an upgrade that will allow you to charge your opponent, which is pretty handy (no pun intended).

As for situations and enemies, your basic Splicers return with a few additions. The Bruiser Splicer is an overgrown beast that requires a significant amount of firepower to defeat (recommend explosives and anti-personnel rounds and the Winter Blast Plasmid). The new-model Big Daddies aren't any more armored than they were in the previous game, but they now move a lot faster and some have explosives launchers (if you have the Telekinesis Plasmid, they're still not hard to defeat). However, the biggest edition to the enemies list are the Big Sisters. These armored monsters move fast, use Plasmids of their own, and possess Spider Splicer abilities, meaning you'll need patience, traps, and plenty of ammo and Eve to defeat. Overall, in fact, the Splicers are significantly more difficult than in the 1st game. In the first game, I could get all the upgrades to my shotgun and easily take out a Houdini Splicer (at least in Easy and Medium modes). In this game, you'll still need a lot of skill and planning to defeat them. Furthermore, you're limited to 6 each of Health Kits and Eve Syringes (and that's if you buy upgrades; otherwise it's 5 and 5), so by the final battle you're really going to be using everything you've got, even on Easy.

If you decide to "adopt" a Little Sister, you have the option of letting them walk around collecting Adam from dead bodies. The benefit of this is you get just as much Adam as you would harvesting these poor kids. The bad news is that while they're harvesting, you have to defend them from wave after difficult wave of Splicers, requiring careful planning and full health and ammo. It's an interesting scenario (although not mandatory; you can just drop the kid off at a vent and be done with it) and will really test your skills. In this respect, definitely an upgrade over the 1st game.

Graphics and so forth: Not much has changed. Bioshock 2 uses the same graphics engine as before, so don't expect any changes there, and Rapture looks almost exactly the same. In fact, some areas - such as Sander Cohen's digs - are carryovers from the 1st game (with some alterations to reflect Rapture's destroyed state). This is somewhat disappointing, because it means the wonder of Rapture is now gone, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The music is also essentially a carryover from the first game.

Conclusion: Bioshock 2 takes the 1st game and makes several significant improvements that enhance the experience. While graphics and sounds stand pat, and even though most of the characters aren't as interesting as the ones previous, Bioshock 2 is a must-have for any FPS fan.
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on November 24, 2013
This game is simply ok. It's not a great follow up and I do not recommend it.

Pros (improvements over Bioshock 1):
1. You are armed with a plasmid and weapon simultaneously instead of having to switch back and forth between them.
2. New weapon and plasmid options.
3. Simplified gene tonics from three categories (combat, physical, engineering) down to just one.

Cons (diminishments from Bioshock 1):
1. The atmosphere lacks the regular injection of 1960's music to set the mood and draw you in to the time period.
2. The levels are very repetitive in look and layout. Bioshock 1 had a wharf, ice caves, forest, theatre, factory, housing area, train station, bars, and probably some more area's that I'm forgetting. Bioshock 2 had a few cool area's, the history museum comes to mind, but for the most part I felt like I was wondering through the same corridors over and over.
3. Lack of a sympathetic or meaningful characters. Bioshock 1 had characters whose motivations you could sympathize with or despise. Bioshock 2 has no likable characters.
4. This game fails to achieve the creepy suspense that it's predecessor did so well.
5. Stealth was a useful strategy in Bioshock 1 but nigh impossible to utilize in this game.
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Well, all I did was run round and round in circles not having any idea what to do. No matter how long I played it, I never could figure out what I was supposed to do or how I was supposed to do it. Most games give you hints and tips on what to do after you've flailed around for so long. This game never offered me any clues to help me figure out how to play it.

Other than my own stupidity in not being able to figure out what to do in this game, the game has some pretty good graphics though it is pretty dark in a lot of places. I had heard a lot of good things about the Bioshock Games so I bought Bioshock and Bioshock 2. I'm wishing I hadn't now, because apparently I don't like the game enough to want to figure it out. I think his game just isn't my cup of tea.
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on February 3, 2013
This is a fun game. Playing Big Daddy is a blast. The Drill is an excellent weapon, especially when combined with shock or freeze plasmids. I like all of the changes made from the first game. Hacking is more fun, and being able to equip more tonics is also nice.The graphics are more colorful than the first game as well. The variety of weaponry was pretty neat.

Overall I had more fun with Bioshock 2 than the first game. Both games were good.
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on February 19, 2016
I did not enjoy this game as much I did the first one. I felt like it was just a repeat of the first game with worse graphics. I guess it's because I played bioshock infinite before this one and I was expecting so much more. I haven't finished this game yet so if my opinion changes, I will edit this review.
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on July 7, 2015
I have owned it on the xbox 360 since its release. The campain is fantastic. Although a few ppl have dissed on the multiplayer, I cant imagine why. Its different than all of the "military combat" based multiplayers...and I LOVE IT! There is nothing better than racing for the big daddy suit and standing up in that thing victorious, or when an enemy gets the suitand you take them out. And the maps are some of the most memorable places in the game. It just has alot to offer.
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