E3 09: BioShock 2 multiplayer impressions

E3 is a hectic place and it’s often hard to find the time to write posts inbetween all of the meetings, booth tours and just plain walking. But when you get asked if you’d like the opportunity to see BioShock 2 in the midst of a full schedule, well, you make time to do that.

And that’s what I’ve done. 2K’s demonstration was strictly hands-off but they gave us some juicy info and allowed us to see a live demo of the title’s multiplayer component. Go past the jump for impressions.

The first portion of the demonstration talked about the single-player game and gave up nothing we didn’t already know. Yes, you’re going back to Rapture, you control the prototype Big Daddy, etc. There was nothing revealed that we have not heard ad nauseum by this time. After a brief overview, we were shown a trailer and moved on to the multiplayer demo.

Multiplayer in BioShock 2 has some interesting elements to it. Most notably is the inclusion of a running narrative woven through the experience. The mode is set during the civil war that tore Rapture apart before Jack arrived in the first game. The player is a recent recruit for a plasmid development company, Sinclair Solutions, and is being sent out to test new plasmids. Clearly, the best way to test them is by applying them in a painful manner upon unsuspecting splicers.

The game’s “lobby” is an apartment in Rapture. You can use this space to setup the three weapon configurations that you can take into battle, consisting of two weapons, two plasmids and three tonics. It’s also where you’ll get bits of the mode’s story via answering machine messages that appear as you progress in rank. A bathysphere acts as the portal to multiplayer matches.

The games themselves are pretty cool too. The combat moves much faster than I thought it would. The match we watched was set in the Kashmir restaurant location from the first BioShock, clearly in much better shape than the last time we saw it. Turrets can be hacked to turn on your opponents — sans hacking minigame — and there’s a rotating opportunity to take on the role of a Big Daddy to do some massive damage. After a match is over, you’ll receive some ADAM. This works as the experience system for the multiplayer. As you advance, Sinclair Solutions will reward you with new plasmids and weapons.

All in all, it’s interesting. I don’t know how excited I am about the multiplayer game itself but I’m very curious to see how the narrative aspects play out and am looking forward to the opportunity to get a little more insight into the fall of Rapture. If nothing else, that will probably get me to play through the mode.

Conrad Zimmerman