This article first appeared in “PC Player” Magazine 361 was released in September 2021 as part of our “reinstall” series.Every month we load a beloved classic—And understand whether it fits the feeling of our modern games.
When “BioShock 2” was released in 2010, it was only three years since we were soaked in the deep waters of Rapture. I remember feeling that the submarine dystopia was still relatively new in my mind at the time, and there was almost no desire to come back. However, this sequel that no one really wanted became confident, smart and imaginative, matching the quality of the original, and in some ways better than the original. This is the story of a big dad with the theme Delta, looking for his little sister in Rapture’s dilapidated, leaky corridor, and banging his head with Sofi a Lamb, the psychiatrist turned into a cult leader who betrayed him.
Rapture’s performance in BioShock was terrible, but ten years later it was in a worse state of disrepair. The entire area of the Andrew Ryan Pride Monument is now completely submerged in the cold Atlantic water. The once luxurious banquet halls, bars and department stores were damp and rotten, full of barnacles. It vividly depicts the battle between a place and nature, as well as an efficient environment. Ecstasy can still be recognized, but darker, darker, and more desperate.
This is also more dangerous, thanks to the barbaric splicers-the grotesque ADAM-driven giants-and the Big Sisters, a new type of agile, powerful and terrifying protector that you must contend with. When the ocean swallows this place, it will do it a favor…
Dad is cool
Wearing Big Daddy’s heavy boots will give you a unique, interesting and more intimate view of the city. You are not an outsider like Jack in the original game (or someone who thinks you are an outsider), but a key part of Rapture’s bizarre ecosystem. The Delta object is like a prototype model, which is different from the clumsy and moaning big dads who stomped their feet to protect the little sisters in the city.
He has more free will, especially a special lifelong bond with a little sister, Eleanor. If she dies, he will die, which gives him more motivation to track her, not just fatherly love caused by genes. From a story point of view, playing the big dad is actually an inspirational idea. But in terms of actually walking around Rapture, you really don’t feel like a person.
The weight of the control is very small. There is no real sense of becoming a tall and heavy figure wearing an iron diving suit. Even Big Daddies’ iconic weapon drill bit feels strangely weak when swinging it. First-person control is basically the same as Jack in the original game, which somewhat weakens the feeling of being a big dad.
If you spend the entire game time around the vast city of Rapture, the game may not be very fun, but a slight increase in weight will help the illusion. However, I do like that you can hear the tap on the helmet when you are standing at the leak. Occasionally, if the light hits you just right, you will catch a glimpse of your huge shadow, which reminds you, oh yes, I am a big dad, am I not?
You may not act like a big dad, but you occasionally act like a big dad. At some point in BioShock 2, you have to protect the little sister because she walks around, sucking out ADAM from the splicer corpse and recovering it. This is an ingenious way to allow you to be part of the dynamics that you have observed countless times in the original game. When the little sister started to harvest, wave after wave of editing machines descended on her, which brought the sequel’s improved battle to life. Being able to use a gun (or drill) with one hand and Plasmid with the other hand is the most significant change. It significantly improves the rhythm and aggressiveness of the battle, allowing you to make power/weapon combinations more smoothly.
The cruel and calculating villain Sophia Lamb is the opposite of Andrew Ryan. He admired his ideals, an objectivist, and Sophia believed in the power of many people. A communist is basically the kind of person Ryan fears that one day he will invade and conquer his city. She is an influential figure in Rapture, but why is she not mentioned in the first game? The real answer is that she has not been written down yet. But in the game, there is a rumor about her being imprisoned by Ryan, and all traces of her teachings are hidden from the crowd. As an opponent, she doesn’t have the charm or fanaticism of Ryan, but her quiet ruthlessness sets her apart.
One of the smartest tricks in the sequel is how your morality affects not only your own conscience, but also Eleanor’s story. At several points in the game, you have the opportunity to kill or forgive a character, and how these decisions are made may lead to one of several different endings.
If you are ruthless about life and death, Eleanor will notice and treat you as her moral compass. But if you show compassion, she will eventually become a better person. This is much more interesting than saving or harvesting the little sisters in the first game, and has a higher emotional stake on the protagonist. There are multiple endings—or rather, about six variants of the two main endings—each ending can be very different depending on the decision you make and the associated impact on Eleanor.
The level design of BioShock 2 is also better than the first game. The overall theme of these areas is not so compelling—for example, there is nothing comparable to Fort Frolic—but the map itself is more complex, multi-layered, and spatially imaginative. In our first journey through Rapture, we saw the lives of the rich and influential, but here we can glimpse the feeling of living and living in the city of Ryan. Pauper’s Drop, a slum transformed from a railway maintenance facility, is the best example. The dense, detailed shanty towns are full of small stories, showing the uglier side of the city than we have seen in the primitive bioshocks before.
We also saw some of the highlights of life on the other side of the track, including the Adonis Luxury Resort, a spa for the rich and the beloved. Going to Ryan Amusement Park-a publicity theme park-is an ingenious way to give Andrew Ryan and his philosophy a place in the city, even though he has been dead for many years.
Although BioShock 2’s improved combat, nuanced ethics and more interesting level design make it functionally better than BioShock 2, I still think the original version is an excellent experience. It is the first time to descend into Rapture, to understand the city and its collapse, and the final big reveal is difficult to defeat. Going back to Rapture in “BioShock 2”, it is still influential as a setting, but the fascinating and mysterious sense of mystery is not entirely there. This makes sense at least in the novel. Subject Delta was created in this city and lived there for a few years, which gave us some cosmic logic in the setting of the players in BioShock.
Thanks to the re-release of the remake in 2016, BioShock 2 runs perfectly on modern gaming PCs. That being said, you shouldn’t expect too much from “remaster”-it looks basically the same as when it was first released in 2010. The main reasons for playing this version are improved compatibility with Windows 10, a 4K-friendly user interface, and built-in support for modern gamepads. And you will get two DLCs-The Protector Trials and the remarkable Minerva’s Den-bundled together to make it a complete single player game pack.
Sadly, the game’s excellent, largely forgotten multiplayer mode was nowhere to be found when it was re-released, and it is no longer possible to play in the original version. It’s a shame, but what really sets BioShock 2 apart is the single player game, which is still one of the best and boldest sequels of all time.