The original BioShock was one of the best games of 2007. It won numerous awards (we gave it a perfect score), and many gamers hailed it as one of the best videogames ever made. A lot of the game was perfect in almost every way. The gameplay was good, the story was marvelous (arguably, up until the very end), and the music was hauntingly beautiful.
BioShock 2 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC)
Hogarth de la Plante, along with five other members from the original BioShock team, came out to 2K Marin in California, tasked with working on the sequel to the game they had just finished. The first thing the team looked at was where the sequel would take place. It was quickly settled that they would go back to Rapture, as BioShock simply wouldn’t be BioShock without Rapture. When and if the team gets to BioShock 5, maybe they’ll think about moving away from Rapture to "go to the secret moon base," as Hogarth joked.
The demo began as the Big Daddy was just waking up from a seemingly long slumber. Dr. Tenenbaum's voice comes on over the radio, and instructs the Big Daddy to get up, telling him that his "time for sleeping is over."
As the Big Daddy makes his way to the next section, Dr. Tenenbaum speaks over the radio about the Big Sister. Her voice is heavy with regret as she compares the Big Sister to the story of Gollum. The Big Sister doesn’t really understand the things she is doing, she says. The Big Sister was once a Little Sister, one of the ones that was able to escape the cruel world of Rapture at the close of the original game. Something wasn’t completely right with her, though, and she was compelled to return to the underwater city. She created her own powerful suit, and then she started to kidnap little girls and turn them into Little Sisters. Her mission: to return Rapture to what it once was, to the way she remembers it.
The Little Sister is surprised -- it had just seen her Big Daddy killed earlier. She's not able to comprehend that this is a different Big Daddy, but she's delighted to have "Mr. B" back again. As the player, you're then given the moral choice: Harvest or Rescue. For the demo, we were only shown the Rescue choice, but it is rather curious that the player can Harvest Little Sisters. It goes completely against the Big Daddy code, and you would think that Tenenbaum would want to ditch the Big Daddy in the context of the story. Why use a Big Daddy that goes against your overall plans for saving the little girls?
The Little Sister is happy and starts to sing in her adorably freakish voice: "Good girls gather, gather, gather." The mood quickly shifts as the screams of Splicers start to fill the room. Every time you have a Little Sister harvest an Angel, a dynamic siege will take place, one where you must defend the Little Sister while a horde of Splicers makes its way in to kill you and take the Adam.
We also get to see the Big Daddy use his Rivet Gun for the first time. The gun is pretty strong -- it's able to kill Splicers with just one shot. Just like the Plasmids, your weapons will also be upgradeable. At the same time, you’ll have to be careful about what you’re upgrading in your arsenal. You won’t be able to upgrade everything by the end of the game, so you’ll have to pick the ones that matter most.
Speaking of death, the Vita-Chambers are back, too. No, the original Big Daddy isn’t another illegitimate child of Andrew Ryan. With that said, though, it wasn’t made clear how the Big Daddy can utilize the Vita-Chambers. (Perhaps Tenenbaum has something to do with it?) The Vita-Chambers can’t be as easily abused this time around, either. Enemy Big Daddies can actually be healed now, thanks to the Little Sisters in their care. So if you go up against another Big Daddy to try and steal his Little Sister away, and you die, you’ll come back (as you could in the first game) with no loss in progress, but the Big Daddy will be healed. Fortunately, for those not interested in using the Vita-Chambers, the game does give you the option of turning them off from the start.
Soon, the Splicers are all disposed of, and the Little Sister's task is complete. The peace is quickly broken as a loud shriek engulfs the room. It's not clear what the noise is until the Little Sister begins her song:
"Big Sister doesn’t want you playing with me," she sings.
The Big Sister makes her grand reappearance, and as easily as you can make short work of Splicers, she puts the Big Daddy in his place. Simply put, the Big Sister is a complete badass. She's faster and stronger than anything in Rapture ... and she has a giant needle on her arm, which she can use to stab enemies (and to take Adam for herself as well).
The Big Sister is now at the top of the hierarchy of Rapture. Something has compelled her to return Rapture to what it once was. She wants to maintain that order, so when the original Big Daddy comes in and starts screwing up her plans, she takes notice.
It’s kind of like an inverse of the player’s relationship with enemy Big Daddies. Instead of you hunting down a Big Daddy, you've now become the hunted. There are moments where you will have to encounter her to progress the story. There are other moments where she can find you wherever you are in the game, so she can slap you around for messing up the ecology of Rapture too much. It feels a bit like the Nemesis encounters from Resident Evil 3 in a way.
Fans shouldn’t worry about the story, either -- this isn’t going to turn into some mindless shooter. Old themes (such as objectivist philosophy versus humanity) and new themes will be explored in BioShock 2. The story should get players immersed into Rapture once again, just as the original. They’re not giving away too much about the narrative just now. Just me saying "Atlas is Fontaine" should be enough to tell you why they’re keeping the story on the down low.