There is always a fear if something is successful that too much tweaking will alienate the fans. That definitely seems to apply to Bioshock 2, which retains exactly the same sort of gameplay as the first game. Once again you have a mixture of weaponry, plasmids and tonics to help you in your task. Once again you use Little Sisters to harvest ADAM, although this time it makes even more sense since you are a Big Daddy. Once again there is a twisting plot which meanders through the city as you battle splicers to complete each objective.
The developer has listened to the feedback and the tweaks that have been made are all about streamlining the experience and making it as accessible as possible. It is easier to flip between your plasmids, you can beef up your fairly limited weapon set with alternate ammunition and upgrades, and the hacking game has been simplified. If you haven’t played the first game it won’t be any real impediment to your progress here. Anyone who did play Bioshock will feel instantly at home.
Once again the game is about searching your environment for useful pick ups, which are littered everywhere. The progression is actually more linear this time around so there is less back tracking through the same levels. Each section plays out like a contained whole, usually with its own sub-boss. There are some new enemies to face down but you’re a Big Daddy now and you don’t need to fear anyone. As your thudding boots clump around and you fire up that massive drill it is easy to feel invincible and if you play the game on easy, you’ll find you pretty much are.
Best not to spoil the plot but needless to say it struggles to reach the heights of the original. The problem is not the quality of the writing, art or design but rather the simple fact that it is all familiar. The world of Rapture is beautifully realised but we have seen it all before and the characters at play here don’t grab your imagination quite as tightly as the original cast did. Having said that, the single player game is excellent, absorbing and enjoyable to play, enough to keep you entertained for several hours.