E3 2009: The Five: BioShock 2
Your (new) guide to Rapture: Ten years after the end of BioShock, Rapture has evolved, and you're in the shoes of the first prototype Big Daddy. There's a new antagonist and a multiplayer mode in BioShock 2 that thinly details the days leading to the fall of Rapture.
1. Revisit the city under the sea. Rapture is a much larger place that we never got to fully explore in the original game, so while the setting is the same, there won't be many repeated areas. The locations we do revisit will frequently be quite different, as the 10 years between games has been time enough for Rapture to decay further and undergo other changes. And since you'll be wearing a Big Daddy's pressurized suit, you'll be able to explore some areas outside the city walls.
2. Everyone likes new plasmids. But seriously, when one of the five key features of the sequel to a standard-setting game is "hey, new weapons!" is there reason to worry? I wasn't wild about the E3 demo, but I didn't start to become pessimistic about the game until I sat down to write this Five. I'll cop to being a little excited about being able to properly use the Big Daddy's drill and rivet gun this time, however.
3. That's not the weird spider-queen-thing from "Coraline" that is jumping about like a mad underwater spider; it's the Big Sister. She's the antagonist this time out, and what we've seen so far suggests that her motivation is "I'm acrobatic!"
4. BioShock won buzzword bingo several years running for bandying about the notion of moral choice. That feature is back in the sequel ? in nearly the same form. Uh-oh. Now that you spend the whole game as a Big Daddy, you can shepherd Little Sisters around to gather ADAM, the stuff of Rapture's genetic enhancements, and then either "harvest" the girls or adopt them. Didn't we do more or less the same thing last time? Let's hope 2K Marin isn't just spinning its wheels on that point, and that we'll see some grey areas where this isn't just the same thing all over again. (Adopting, for example, has its benefits, as Little Sisters will then help harvest ADAM for the player and warn of Big Sister's approach.)
5. About that multiplayer. You step into the early days of Rapture as a test subject for Sinclair Solutions, the company that designed many plasmids. With the introduction of powers that are good for more than lighting cigarettes and cooling drinks, Rapture has been scarred by strife. Sinclair is profiting from the chaos while you're in the trenches duking it out. There may not be much story, but that's not what you played BioShock for, right? What? It was? Dammit.
The Crispy Forecast: Choppy seas. There's undeniable appeal to the notion of going back to Rapture, but the multiplayer aspect doesn't seem to fit (even with the tacked-on story) and the repeated moral-choice dynamic leaves me less optimistic than I'd like.
This preview is based on a developer-driven demo of the game at E3 2009.