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Letters from the Front

The original BioShock took the world by storm in August 2007 and had been heralded as a watershed moment for that period in modern gaming. BioShock ended up being the most significant mainstream game in years and so BioShock 2 was bound to face derision. BioShock 2 was a sequel to one of the most important games of the decade and so it had to one up the original game and redefine gaming once again and it didn’t.

Nine years later, BioShock 2 is a forgotten gem of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 era. Between the original game and BioShock Infinite, Ken Levine’s last BioShock game ever, BioShock 2 is the overlooked one, a shame since the gameplay is the most sophisticated one out of the entire collection.

For me personally, BioShock 2 exists as a prime example of “The Godfather Syndrome.” and is a game that is unnecessary and necessary at the same time since it builds off key features of the original while still being a unnecessary sequel to something that didn’t need a sequel in the first place and exists as its own thing. Anyways, that isn’t here nor there.

BioShock 2 begins eight years after the original game and you step in the boots of Subject Delta, the first ever Big Daddy and a disregarded prototype for what would later be the iconic Big Daddies that you see are so synonymous with the game. He is in search of Eleanor, the little sister to whom he was bonded too and along the way, he is taunted by the game’s main protagonist, Sophia Lamb, who believes that he is a danger to what she is trying to build in the ruins of Rapture.

Across BioShock 2: Remastered, it’s clear to see that the game has been updated to receive multiple layers of improvements and tweaks. However, it’s the original BioShock that has been touched up the most since it was the main point of the entire BioShock collection, but BioShock 2 looks up to par for the modern day.

The changes to BioShock 2 have mostly tied up the ugly edges and how ugly the game looked when it released in 2010 and just tidy up a few things, rather than building a brand new experience from the ground up like Resident Evil 2: Remake.

BioShock 2 holds up pretty well on the Xbox One X. Based on the same engine as the original version, the overall performance doesn’t necessarily differ from the Xbox 360. The original game was given the most treatment as it was the 9th year anniversary of the game back in 2016 but BioShock 2 looks surprisingly well.

Now for the gameplay. The gameplay remains the same as it was in 2010, after all, it is a remaster. Much like the original BioShock 2, you are equipped with plasmids and standard weapons like a Gatling Gun or a devastating sawed-off shotgun, however, now you can use both at once and can cycle between alternatives with the weapon or plasmid wheel. You can also pick up gene tonics which continue to act as modifiers. These gene tonics can help you hack a little faster or gain a little bit more eve from eating or drinking, collecting and perfecting a good selection of these becomes a compelling act as you can plot for encounters and enhance your supplies so you don’t need to spend a good amount of money buying supplies.

You traverse the same spots as you did in the original game. Rapture is a very big place and we never got to see the full city in the original BioShock. The original BioShock focused on the more popular spots around the city like Fort Frolic and Arcadia, BioShock 2, however, follows the Atlantic Express train line through different unique areas of Rapture, places that have been abandoned like Pauper’s Drop or Siren Alley, a place that was often seen as Rapture’s seedy underbelly. Each level is unique in design and brings to life what made the original so iconic with its beautiful 1940s and 1950s era aesthics.

However, not everything is good and some of the issues I had in the original version still persists. BioShock 2 suffers from being too familiar as you are literally doing the same thing that you did in the original BioShock: zapping splicers in a pool of water, getting trapped in a dark room with a bunch of splicers, Rapture raises from the sea bed for the first time in profile, it seems like 2K Marin rattled through the same exact beats as the original BioShock but that feeling of repetition goes away when you start getting deeper into the game and learn more of the game’s mechanics like the Little Sister adoption, fighting through the gathering, and taking on another Big Sister.

The campaign escapes the shadow that is left by that moment in Andrew Ryan’s office but it never reaches the heights that the original story told and it ends up being a less provocative story and doesn’t capture that much attention which is a shame and gives credence to the “Godfather Syndrome.” that I explained earlier. BioShock 2 is / was a sequel that was unnecessary because it never reached the heights of the original game but also necessary at the same time to further improve the mechanics and gameplay of the first game.

Wrap up:

BioShock 2 is ultimately a familiar experience but the improved gameplay mechanics makes it a game that is easier to play. The mystery of Rapture is lost but the strength of the setting and a better morality system which remains the same as the original game in 2010 makes for an experience that is pretty good. Despite being a product of the “Godfather Syndrome.” , BioShock 2 is a well-crafted sequel.

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