Bioshock 2 Closing Thoughts

Over at Gamers With Jobs, I just posted a piece breaking down the story that unfolds in the last half of Bioshock 2. It’s called “We Are Utopia” and you should look it over. It does contain plentiful spoilers, if you care about that sort of thing, but personally I enjoy reading analysis more than I care about preserving the secrecy of the plot.

The only thing I had to leave out is how great the gameplay is during the finale of Bioshock 2. From the midway point onward, Subject Delta has an incredible array of tools to use against his enemies, and the level design and enemy design creates a lot of different ways for encounters to go. In Fontaine Futuristics, with my health and ammo levels rapidly running down, I had to face off a Big Sister and save two Little Sisters with a scant amount of resources to use.

So I turned a couple of the rogue Alpha-series protectors against a Big Daddy, killing the Daddy, and then rescued the Little Sister. This brought the deadly Big Sister out of hiding, and I spent a minute frantically laying traps. Once I was ready, I hovered close to the remaining Big Daddy and waited for the Big Sister. Sure enough, in the course of our brawl she angered the Big Daddy, and they started going after each other. As the Daddy was ground down, another Alpha happened on the scene, and I fed him into the fray. The Big Daddy went down, and the Big Sister charged at the Alpha. While they were slugging it out, I scooped up the Little Sister and saved her. Only now did I turn and face the Big Sister, who was badly weakened by her battles.

It was a great sequence, because it was all about using a combination of my powers and enemy behavior to arrange a really intricate series of encounters. It was so different from the running battles and slugging matches that marked much of the rest of the game. The end of the game was full of similar creative destruction.

The strength of the gameplay let me power through to the finale, but it was still the characters of Bioshock 2 who won me over. When the credits finally rolled, all I could do was marvel at how gracefully Bioshock 2 told its story, and made it matter. That’s its major achievement, and that’s what I’m writing about over at GWJ.

    • Todd
    • January 5th, 2011 3:13pm

    Both this and the GWJ article strike right at the heart of what made Bioshock 2 special. It was a slow boil, but ultimately 2k Marin innovated in terms of both gameplay and story and they deserve every bit of praise they’ve received (and are deserving of more).

      • Flitcraft
      • January 6th, 2011 7:18am

      Someone over at GWJ said that it was funny how nobody expected much from this game, but it turned out to be such a great product. I think everyone rightly sniffed out a cynical cash-in effort on 2K’s part, but the people who actually made the game were just too good and too smart to turn out a cynical product. If 2K had been less transparent, and if the opening of the game wasn’t so slow, I think Bioshock 2 might have enjoyed a better buzz. I’ll admit that I only made it through the first half because people like Danielle and Tom Chick were so high on the game. I trusted them more than the first impression I had of the game.

    • Spades
    • January 6th, 2011 1:30am

    Nice to see that you had fun with the game but so far BS2 (I’m up to Dionisus Park) isn’t as good as BS1. The overall atmosphere is great and all but its more linear and combat heavy than its predecessor. Its still a good game though just has some desgin flaws in my opinion.

      • Flitcraft
      • January 6th, 2011 7:14am

      Let me know if the last level does anything for you. I really liked Dionysus Park, but Fontaine Futuristics and Persephone really raised the bar quite a bit. I’d say the game improves from where you are.

      As for the combat heaviness, I don’t know that I entirely agree. Bioshock was lousy with cannon-fodder enemies, too, but this game utilizes some more interesting setups (like having to defend Little Sisters and preparing for Big Sisters).

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