Assuming the position of Subject Delta, you awaken in the search for your bonded Little Sister, Eleanor Lamb, who curiously ends up being the biological daughter of Bioshock 2's tyrant.
The game is set-out in pretty much the same way as the original Bioshock, telling its story through audio-logs and bugs in your ear. Playing as the Big Daddy is not really too different, except for the melee drill weapon. Plasmids and Tonics are still required for much of the combat, which has been heavily refined over the original.
Bioshock 2 will take roughly 10 hours to complete in single-player, with a multiplayer mode added to extend the experience.
Visiting Rapture for the second-time doesn't feel as important as the first. But it would be unfair to argue that the world doesn't carry a familiar charm. Despite not being fresh, you still get a tingle from overlooking an underwater art-deco vista. There really is nothing else like it, and so in that regard, it's hard to feel "burnt" out on the concept of Rapture when it's only the second experience set there. We urge sceptical players who enjoyed the original to succumb to Rapture for a second time, because it really does win you over and draw you in all over again.
Perhaps the worst part of the original Bioshock was playing it. Sure the gameplay was innovative and clever, but it never felt refined or polished. Thankfully, Bioshock 2 improves dramatically on the original, making the guns and plasmids much more satisfying to use. Plasmids are essentially body upgrades that allow powers to be assumed by the left hand. These are now dual-wielded alongside weapons, meaning you can easily switch between your attacks and do heavy amounts of damage on your foes. The guns also feel better this time around, offering more satisfaction per bullet. Taking out enemies is a lot of fun in Bioshock 2.
In Bioshock 2, you'll require ADAM to upgrade and buy new Plasmids. ADAM is gained by the capture of Little Sisters. The twist, however, is that by playing as a Big Daddy you're able to use your Little Sister to seek out Splicers carrying ADAM and order your Sister to extract it. This initiates and onslaught of Splicers, allowing you to play tactically with weapon traps to keep the splicers away from your Little Sister.
Bioshock 2 is more linear than the original game, meaning the game offers more set-piece moments this time around. For example, early on in the game you'll find yourself outside of the confines of Rapture, exploring the underwater. The section is perhaps a little underutilised, but is still a lovely change of pace.
The first Bioshock's pipe-mania hacking game was terribly frustrating. Thank goodness for the simpler, easier and less irritating hacking game in Bioshock 2. When so much of the game is spent hacking, it's welcoming to not be drawn out of the experience each time by a silly mini-game.
We suppose you could apply the age old "1.5" sequel criticism to Bioshock 2. Despite many refinements, the gameplay remains fundamentally similar. The feeling of familiarity lessens as the experience starts to take hold on its own, but the opening few hours will feel either nostalgic or unnecessary to most returning players.
Despite playing as a Big Daddy, we never felt particularly strong. In the fiction, the characters are menacingly notorious, but on comparison Subject Delta feels weak. The drill melee attack is extremely disappointing, and the character's health depletes just as quickly as the "standard" character from the original Bioshock. We understand the balancing issues, but it would have been nice to feel a little more powerful when playing as the Big Daddy.
Bioshock 2 includes a complete multiplayer component which we'll look at in more detail in a future article.
By tweaking the gameplay for the better, Bioshock 2 is in many ways an improvement over the original. Those who've played the original game will find the return to Rapture less engaging second time around, but the secrets the world hordes should be enough to tempt any fan.