I must apologize for lack of photos. I would say its how I protest SOPA/PIPA, but really, I'm just too lazy to do it right now. Deal.
I remember a time when shooters were just guns and explosions, enemies that made sense only in context to the game itself, and health kits. Oh health kits, I miss you so much...
Bioshock, released in 2007, came out on the cusp of the shooter revolution. Crazy guns and powerups were slowly being replaced with iron sights and the "don't get hit for a second and your ok" style of game play. Bioshock was probably one of the last classic styled shooters that was actually a good game. Even Halo drifted from health kits. Did I mention I love health kits yet?
The best part about Bioshock was it's atmosphere and how it fit into the gameplay. A steampunk science fiction utopia gone wrong mixed with cinematic mind fucking techniques. And magic (To a degree)! I remember beating Bioshock the same day I got it, my 16th (Maybe 15th?) birthday. I beat it again the next day. And for weeks after that, I played the living shit out of that game. I played it high, I played it sober, I played in the dark, I played it in the light, and I played it with multiple combinations of the above.
When Bioshock 2 came out, I was upset: I hadn't had an Xbox for a long time, and my PC wasn't much of a machine at the time, certainly not up to par to play Bioshock 2. A few months after its release, my friend received his Xbox and proceeded to buy a few games, one of which, was Bioshock 2. I refused to watch single player, and when he asked if I wanted to play I said:
"No. If I'm going to play Bioshock 2, I'm going to PLAY Bioshock 2."
So we took turns with the multiplayer, which was novel but fun, and I went home and nearly forgot about the experience all together.
A few days ago, I borrowed Dragon Age and Bioshock 2 from another friend. I desperately needed to play DA, as being the RPG fanatic I am, I felt incomplete having hardly touched it when I did own it, and Bioshock 2 was... Bioshock 2. I didn't think so much about BS2 however, I went home and proceeded to play my elven lesbian mage with a chip on her shoulder for countless (20, actually) hours. The next day, I went into a local small time game shop and found The Darkness for $6, an offer I couldn't turn down for the life of me (Another game I beat the day I got it). I played The Darkness, then back to DA. Then, as I was putting DA back in its case to play The Darkness once more, I lift up Darkness's case and see that glimmering cover, the Big Daddy staring at me from behind the diving suits green glass viewing pane.
"Would you kindly put me into your Xbox?" it said.
It is 3 days later, and Bioshock 2 sits on top of the case tower by my console, the disk still in the drive. Vanquished, I stare at the plastic with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. It was like a book I didn't want to end. All the people I had met (And the proceeded to gore with a giant drill), places I had been... Gone until I hit that new game button.
I loved it. It had everything I had expected from a Bioshock game played through the eyes of a Big Daddy: Splicers, Plasmids, Drills, electric shotguns... And health kits.
But did it hold up to the first one? Was it better?
No, not better. There was something missing, and I can't seem to wrap my head around it. Was it the lack of new and cool plasmids? No, I felt right at home shooting bees from my fingertips. The story? Not at all, it made me cry (I'm a sap). The guns? No, drills and gatling guns are just fine in my eyes. At the end of the day, the only complaint I had was the combat wasn't as tight as the first one, making kills less satisfying and more relieving. But that wasn't the problem behind the hollow spot in this game. I chalk it up as a mystery I won't be able to solve until I play the first one again, but I do need to gripe about the combat before it bottles up.
In the original, I *loved* the shotgun. It reminded me of a Caster gun from Outlaw Star to an extent, with electric and fire shells, and one hell of a kick. In BS2, the shotgun is only decent. You *really* have to be close to a guy to get a shot off, and even then it doesn't devastate your creepy mutant foes. The Phosphorous Bucks were also disappointing. Instead of just causing a fiery explosion upon impact like the original, it delays the combustion, and does even less damage than a regular shot on contact. End result: Pretty lame. The second buck shot, (Solid?) was just plain old misleading. It was supposed to be an anti-personal shot. All I got was a louder boom. Sometimes, on a good hit, it would send a splicer flying back a bit, but that was when I chose to actually use the damn ammo. The ammo clip size is a necessary upgrade while it should have been there from the start like in the original, and the tesla coil upgrade (Adds an electric shock) is also mandatory if you plan on using the weapon as a mainstay in your arsenal.
The revolver was replaced with the rivet gun. I loved the revolver in BS1, it was a solid weapon throughout the game and was great at getting pot-shot head-shots. The upgrades were upgrades, not things that should have been there to begin with, and made a great compliment to any plasmid style. The rivet gun shines only early on, as drill fuel and money are hard to come by. Its large hit radius and pitiful damage require trigger smashing over trigger discipline. The upgrades to it are negligible, as once you hit the half way point, this gun is only your last resort against tough enemies with heavy rivets and to use trap rivets that don't benefit from damage upgrades anyway. If I play through again, I plan to avoid upgrading this weapon.
The Tommy gun was ok in BS1. It shot and felt like a Tommy gun: Alright accuracy and slugging fire rate with heavy hitting ammo. The replacement in BS2 pissed me right the fuck off. The gatling gun was so wishy washy: At times it felt like a great gun, at times it felt like shit, and at times it felt necessary to put up with it to achieve whatever goal you had before you. Considering it as the only *true* heavy enemy killer with its armor piercing rounds, it is vital to upgrade for the last stage of the game, where "mini-big-daddies" become a regular and tough enemy. Without the recoil upgrade, good luck hitting *anything*. And with the upgrade, you still have to master its recoil or you'll just be hitting thin air, wasting valuable and rare bullets. Well, the *special* ammo is rare. The base .50 cal ammo is SO common, you feel COMPELLED to use it. I never got a chance to check out the ricochet upgrade, so maybe that will change my mind the next time I play, but for now, the machine gun was that annoying companion that pulled its weight, yet pissed you off with corny jokes and fucking up.
The drill was fantastic though. Even though it "needed ammo", it was still a great contender to the wrench. Zap-em-n-whack-em still worked like a charm, and the drill dash was immensely satisfying. It was also a life saver, the dash can get you out of sticky situations and into cover, and those brute splicers just get gored with a pull of the trigger. Felt *so* damn good.
Like in BS1, the other weapons were novel. Crossbow/spear gun was neat but not necessary and the launcher just wasn't powerful enough to warrant using except in a pinch. Rocket spears were pretty cool though. I'm happy they killed off the chemical thrower though, fucking useless...
Plasmids were essentially the same, though I will say the only reason to get level 3 of them is to get the level 2 bonus without having to charge up the blast anymore: The whole "continuous stream" thing was pretty lame. Being able to control plasmids at the same time as your weapon made for much more devastating combos, however. Freezing and hitting with a rocket spear is one of the funniest things, almost as good as watching bears tumble down hills in TES.
I did like how they remade the tonic system, with a large pool of possible tonics instead of multiple categories, customizing became much easier, and felt less like talent trees and more more like a giant upgrade pool. Some tonics are better than others, of course, but considering how many you can end up with at the end of the day, combinations can be supremely deadly. Like emitting all 3 elements upon getting melee'd, including reduced melee damage. Yum.
But what I really cried about was hacking. I loved the pipe dream minigame from BS1, I was so upset to find it replaced by a simple timing thingy. It had its benefits, but over all it made hacking feel less... Cool.
ADAM was also obtained way too easily. I saved all the Little Sisters, and by the end of the game, I had about 500 ADAM stockpiled, all 3 elements up to level 3, full HP/EVE, and all my tonic slots filled up. I'm not sure if this was because things are cheap, sisters give too much, or if there just wasn't a lot to buy, but either way, it felt like I was missing out, even though I had everything I wanted on the menu.
The story line was, however, spot on for Bioshock. It felt like a true "10 years later" kind of deal. Rapture just got worse. The moral choices went beyond saving or harvesting Little Sisters, with pivotal moments in the plot that required you to choose mercy or vengeance, fitting perfectly with the goal of the plot, and they weren't always obvious "This is good and this is bad" either, which I highly respect the creativity. I actually stood there for one contemplating which action fit into my morals, I really had to make a tough call.
Overall, I give Bioshock 2 a late 8/10. Combat felt sloppy at times and with a limited logical weapon choice it felt constrained during the shootouts. The plasmid/tonic system works better than the previous entry, but you still end up with excess ADAM even after you get everything you wanted. The storyline was genius, and was definitely the best part about this game for me. Overall, the game play *was* solid and compelling, and it kept you playing, the most important thing in game design.
It also had health kits.