Bioshock 2: Missed Opportunity

I’m not going to call this an official review, because it isn’t. I didn’t play through the entire game, and I probably never will. But "Bioshock 2" is just about the biggest disappointment of this year. I could not be more let down by the road they have taken with this project. The original was one of the best and most interesting games ever made, it changed the conversation about gaming as an art form forever. This was a landmark experience. So why on God’s green earth are they electing to follow it up with such a re-hashed, underdeveloped sequel? Brace yourself for bullet points, Dear Reader!

-It’s the same bloody thing. The game has not changed even an inch. The graphics aren’t any better, in fact the colors seemed a little over-saturated to me. And the best gameplay innovation they’ve got is "now you can mix two plasmid powers." Not exactly a pillar on which to build an entire game, guys.

-Multiplayer? What? You show me one person who said, "I like Bioshock, but it’s missing deathmatch mode," and I will give you ten dollars. Ten dollars, Dear Reader, up for grabs. Nobody said that, because nobody is that stupid. What’s next, a go-cart racing mode in "Heavy Rain"? This was not a product that cried out for a bunch of Halo fanboys humping the corpses of their fallen adversaries. It’s a singe player experience, and it should have remained that way. Just because you’re a shooter doesn’t mean you somehow owe me something.

-What is the point of casting me as a Big Daddy if it feels identical to playing as any other jerk? I guess I kind of finished that one off in the title. And don’t say "to use the drill or the rivet gun," that is a flimsy excuse. May I remind you that the original "Bioshock" had us play as a Big Daddy, and it felt like you were a Big Daddy. So why does it now not feel like you’re a Big Daddy when you are? This was just a lazy decision.

-Story. First of all, the original "Bioshock" began with a breathtaking cinematic lead-up, boiling the tension to the breaking point right before the player took over. "Bioshock 2" plops you unceremoniously into the middle of some random level and says, "Uh…go." Second of all, did it take a whole team of monkeys to replace Andrew Ryan with a female Andrew Ryan, or just a half-team? I can’t make up my mind. These guys are tasked with following up one of the greatest story-driven games ever, and the best they can do is replace a male evil genius with a female one. Oh sure, she’s a collectivisit instead of an individualist, but that amounts to jack squat in the actual experience of the narrative. They even copied the "trapped in a small room, get a threatening message from the villain on a black and white monitor, and then get attacked by a bunch of splicers" thing exactly from the orginal. Except now, of course, it’s less frightening, BECAUSE I’VE SEEN IT BEFORE!! ARRRRGHHH!!

Ahem.

Also, just for the record, it has been ten years since the last game, and yet Rapture looks identical. Really? Really, guys? Ten years pass in a pressurized urban war zone built at the bottom of the ocean, and not much has changed? Don’t tell me it looks like it’s decaying, it looked like that in the first game, damn it!

-Big Sisters. The one good thing about the game. They are actually fun to fight and cool. But even they stand as a textbook example of "Bioshock 2′s" lack of creativity. The original had Big Daddies, so now this one has Big Sisters. Every new element of this game–and there aren’t many–feels like a predictable and tired reversal for reversal’s sake.

I think I’m done now. I’m only angry because I love, Dear Reader. "Bioshock" deserved to become established among the great franchises like "Half Life" and "Halo," but it’s hard to imagine that happening now that its good name has been cashed in for this paltry retread. There’s a certain momentum that a great sequel gives you that this series has now been denied. Valve waited for years to unleash "Half Life 2," and when they did they created a whole new experience that was to its generation what the original had been years ago. "Halo 2" was the monster that unleashed Xbox Live. When you create a classic, you owe it to yourself to make the sequel work on its own terms, not sleep on the original’s couch and avoid paying rent. Yes, "Bioshock 2" is fun, but so was the original, so all that means is that they haven’t taken a step backwards. Congratulations.