BioShock 2 is evidence that there are few lows that a game company can sink to without endangering their precious supply of blowjobs from media hacks. It’s a sequel with a nonsensical plot, poorly balanced gameplay and numerous game-killing glitches, yet it has a score of 88 on Metacritic. Let’s look at some of the sloppiest knobjobs offered up by the oh-so-incorruptible gaming media, starting with GamesRadar:
The weapons are better. The plasmids are better. The enemies are better. At some points, even the storytelling is better. What’s most amazing and surprising about BioShock 2, however, is that by diving deeper into Rapture’s tortured history and exploring more of Rapture’s haunted world, it actually manages to make the original BioShock better, too.
Not to be outdone, Worth Playing opens up extra-wide for the money shot:
BioShock 2 is still worth the price of admission to Rapture. Although it feels far more action-packed and is more of a linear submarine ride into the deep blue than the original title, what it does exceptionally well is bringing even more of Rapture’s storied existence to the surface for some closure.
But wait! Mirror mirror on the wall, GameShark just might be the greatest whore of them all:
If BioShock 1 is ultimately about what it is to be a slave, the sequel shows – with a sophistication rarely seen in gaming – what it is to be a parent, with the power to love or to harm.
One wonders how cheaply these fools can be bought if they’re writing this kind of drivel.
BioShock 2 is terrible. It’s buggy, it’s broken, it’s a blatant cash-grab on the part of the money-grubbing executives at 2K Games. But here’s the really sad part: it’s far better than BioShock Infinite. Join me as I explain why this game is so rotten. (If you haven’t read part one of my BioShock retrospective, focusing on the first game, click here.)
Cargo Cult: The Game
The concept of a direct sequel to BioShock was pretty much doomed out of the gate. The entire premise of the game is that you’re in a post-apocalyptic wasteland full of deranged maniacs scavenging garbage and murdering each other to survive. By the end, the only people with the interest and/or ability to keep Rapture from imploding are either dead (Andrew Ryan, Frank Fontaine) or gone (Brigid Tenenbaum). How do you salvage a second plot from this muck?
Answer: you completely disregard any concept of logic or coherence.
Let’s unpack BioShock 2’s plot. In the time since you ravaged Rapture in the first game, a quasi-communist psychologist named Sofia Lamb, who was apparently influential in Rapture before its collapse yet was never mentioned by any of the characters before, has turned the place into a behaviorist cult. You play as Subject Delta, a Big Daddy prototype that can move at normal speed and use multiple weapons and plasmids, unlike the finished Big Daddies. Delta died a decade before the events of the game, but his Little Sister Eleanor somehow managed to revive him by hacking the Vita-Chambers, something no one else has managed to do in the history of Rapture’s existence. Sounds legit.
BioShock 2 pisses over every aspect of good storytelling like a Doberman on Red Bull. The game introduces Tenenbaum in the first level, only for her to leave at the end because of… reasons. Eleanor communicates with Delta through telepathy, inexplicably able to will plasmids and other items into existence for Delta to use throughout the game’s levels. The goal of the game is to rescue Eleanor from Sofia Lamb’s clutches, otherwise Delta’s heart will stop or something… which never happens to any other Big Daddy.
You may think that I’m nitpicking, but the whole point of titles like BioShock is to immerse the player and make them forget that they’re just playing a game. If a game is going to shove a plot in my face, it needs to be logically consistent, or else I lose interest. BioShock, for its many flaws, nailed this aspect perfectly. BioShock 2 is a cargo cult of a sequel, looking like the original but lacking the structure that made it work.
Big, Stupid And Invincible
Having the player play as a Big Daddy is the central problem of BioShock 2. In the first game, they were lumbering, stupid, had access to only one weapon… and could still beat the snot out of all the other enemies in the game. In the sequel, you play as one that isn’t slow and can use any weapon or plasmid he comes across. Shockingly, this makes BioShock 2 so easy that it’s insulting.
A few people yelled at me for criticizing BioShock for being too easy compared to System Shock 2, but there’s no way even they can defend BioShock 2. Not only is Subject Delta massively overpowered with tons of weapons and plasmids (and the ability to use them both at the same time, one of the few improvements from the first game), the game gives you way too much money, health kits, ADAM and ammo. Combine that with the Vita-Chambers removing the penalty for stupidity and the game basically plays itself.
It gets especially moronic in the final levels, when you’re given a new plot-related plasmid that might as well be called the “Instant Win Button.” Use it and an invincible Big Sister appears to effortlessly skewer your enemies, saving you the hard work of actually having to kill them yourself. I didn’t even have to expend a single bullet on the final boss because my Big Sister blew him up on her own.
Speaking of Big Sisters, they form a big part of the game’s most obnoxious new feature. When you kill Big Daddies in BioShock 2, you now have the option of carrying them around to gather ADAM from corpses. Whenever you set one down, though, you have to defend her from a wave of splicers who mysteriously know where you are all of a sudden (and also spawn in impossible to reach areas like locked closets and dead-end alleys). Rescue (or harvest) all the Little Sisters in a level and you have to contend with a Big Sister, a ludicrously cheap enemy that can somehow sniff you out for some happy murder time. But even they are pretty easy to kill in the later levels.
Obliteration Of The Self
I could rant all day about how awful BioShock 2 is; it’s a game that is broken in so many ways. You can’t return to areas you’ve already visited, so if you miss something, you’re fucked. Despite being five years old, it’s ludicrously buggy: it crashed to desktop something like two dozen times while I was playing, half a dozen times in the final level alone. The AI is glitchy: multiple times, I was able to stand in front of splicers and open fire without them noticing. I even had to replay the Siren Alley level all over again because the end-level boss vanished mid-fight and my last save was an hour old.
That said, it does do a few things right. Most notably, the “moral choices” in BioShock 2 actually have some depth: the ending you get it is determined by how many Little Sisters you save and whether you spare or kill several major characters you meet along the way. The aforementioned ability to use weapons and plasmids at the same time is a nice plus, and one of the segments near the end, where you take control of a Little Sister, is appropriately chilling.
But a few blowjobs from a crack whore doesn’t change the fact that she’s a whore. BioShock 2 takes everything that was good about the first game and whales on it like a fat girl on a trampoline. Where the first game had charm, the second is just campy and stupid. And it’s still a better game than BioShock Infinite.
Just think about that for a while.