Top positive review
best FPS ever. period.
on May 4, 2011
I've been playing first person shooters for a long time, and lots of other games too. And I've been married. Twice. I'm no good, I tell ya', but I do know a little something about games. I've played Doom, I played Hexen, Myst, Dark Forces, Descent, Marathon blah blah. But none of them had It All. Some had great action and weapons, others had a wonderful story, some were lame but had a terrific soundtrack, and others were really good but crashed and glitched at every turn.
Bioshock (1 and 2) is the whole package .... fantastic weapons and abilities; delightfully varied (but always creepy) bad guys and larger-than-life but believable protagonists; a cinematic, compelling story as the backbone for lush, evocative sets; a crazy fun soundtrack and dreadful (in the good sense) incidental music; and blessed stability. I would love this game if only for the fact that I can save anytime, anywhere, any number of times! (Why can't every game do that?)
People who complain that the story and characters aren't as good as the first game are just whiners. Sofia Lamb is a fun villain, and the story of Grace, Stan and Gil's interactions with her are quite intriguing, and lead to some of the game's moral decisions, which in turn decide the outcome of the game (there are six possibilities). As in the game's first instalment, the voice actors are, without exception, superb. One of the key elements that adds depth to this game are the audio diaries one finds along the way, and they aren't limited to the main characters; there is the heartbreaking journey of Mark Meltzer, who chases down the abductors of his young daughter, and the tale of a young girl who was 'discovered' and brought to Rapture, the underwater world founded by Andrew Ryan (and inspired by Ayn Rand) in the 1940s as a libertarian haven for intellectuals. The music and the fashions and propaganda posters are from this era, and generous details render the sets lush and eminently explorable. I've spent many extra hours in the game just wandering around and finding all the supplies and enemies and looking at stuff. You could play the game through as merely a killing game and ignore the diaries and other details, and it would still be fun. I've played the two instalments a total of 5 times now, and I feel impoverished at having been away a week (though I've gotten some neglected housework done). There are also lots of machines (ammo, supplies, ADAM) which can be hacked; the hacking is of a different style than the first game, and I liked both. There are hidden passages, and a few allies, but mainly you're killing everything you see. New to this game are the Big Sisters, who resent your using their little counterparts to gather ADAM, Rumblers (Big Daddies with mini-turrets!), and Brute Splicers. All are worthwhile opponents. You will certainly grow to dread that piercing shriek! With Vita-Chambers available and limitless saves, you really cannot die, and I'm okay with that.
The world is fascinating but it is, after all, a game, and should be evaluated as such. In this second outing you can use conventional hardware at the same time you wield plasmids, which is a vast improvement. I went back to play the first game after a couple of times through this second episode, and that was the thing that was hardest to give up -- using hardware and plasmids simultaneously. 'Conventional' weapons include a drill, rivet gun, machine gun, shotgun, grenade launcher, hack darts, mini-turrets etc -- each with three types of ammo, and plasmids (sweet plasmids!) include the abilities to shoot ice, fire or electricity, scout invisibly, set complex traps, hypnotize your enemies, etc, as you accomplish missions and try to rescue Sofia Lamb's daughter Eleanor, the little sister you are bound to.
As in the first episode, there is a time when your perspective changes and you complete some missions in a new persona. This is fun and interesting too. You'll also be underwater a few times as leaks and floods (and perhaps a torpedo) plunge you into the briny depths, surrounded by marine flora and fauna, and occasionally an ADAM slug (?!) ... and oh, what was THAT swimming just behind those rocks?
The first time I played Bioshock for about 15 minutes and then quit -- I thought it was creepy and confusing and I set it down for a few weeks, but when I picked it up again I didn't stop playing for weeks, and am itching to go back. I'm not brave enough to go into multiplayer, but single player mode has great replay value, three different difficulties (which vary in damage alterations and fewer supplies rather than the number of enemies). There is a place here for varied strategies, so you can play to your strengths whether you're a sniper, a setter of traps, or an in-your-face drill specialist.
You don't HAVE to play Bioshock (1) first, but it would add to the experience to have done so. Is Bioshock 2 flawless? No. But that's like saying Citizen Kane was just 'okay' because the snow looked fake. Which brings up the environments -- breathtaking! One of the most difficult things to get right in computer graphics is water yet here, in a neglected underwater city, you're seeing leaks and stepping in mires of the stuff all the time, and it looks fantastic. I would really like to thank everyone on this team for making this magnificent game. Thank you.
FYI, there's a great walkthrough at ign dot com
This game is sublime. Highest possible recommendations.