PS3 Reviews: Bioshock 2 Review

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Bioshock 2 Review

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Graphics:

 

7.9

Gameplay:

 

9.0

Sound:

 

9.0

Control:

 

8.5

Replay Value:

 

8.0

Online Gameplay:

 

8.0

Overall Rating:       8.9

 

 

Publisher:

2K Games

Developer:

2K Marin

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

FPS

Release Date:

February 9, 2010

Ben and I bring you another dual review where we weigh in on Bioshock 2 individually. Ben focuses on the actual game, such as its story, controls, and mechanics. Meanwhile I get technical and tell you that this game sounds absolutely amazing, but doesn't look nearly as nice. Having said that, Bioshock is a property that has cemented itself into the minds of gamers earlier on in this generation. Originally debuting on the Xbox 360 and then finding itself on the PlayStation 3, a sequel was a no brainer for 2K, as the game won a plethora of awards and sold very well, to boot. And so here is that sequel, and here's Ben to tell you about the gameplay. As always, I'll jump back in for the graphics, sound, and conclusion.

The original Bioshock remains one of my favorite games of the generation, primarily due to the nearly unparalleled atmosphere, surprisingly solid and interesting storyline, and what I could only call the inclusion of RPG elements in a standard FPS. Those Plasmids – magic-like abilities that can easily be equipped and utilized with the left half of the controller (soon to be explained) – were just so much fun, and the campaign featured great level design and intriguing scenarios. The very concept of a giant dude in a scuba outfit acting as protector-to-the-death for a seriously altered little girl is quite…exotic. It’s hardly surprising to see the sequel is bigger and arguably better in a variety of ways; the atmosphere is once again excellent, the sound is a huge bonus (see Arnold's praise for the great sound effects, ambient effects and soundtrack), and the presentation is both slick and refined. However, this being said, there do seem to be just a few inconsistencies and balance issues this time around.

The controls are basically the same as they were in the first: you can hold R1 and L1 to bring up your menus for firearms and Plasmids respectively, and R2 and L2 uses the equipped weapon and Plasmid. This took some getting used to on my part; the number of times I switched my weapon by pressing R1 (you can quick-switch by simply tapping it) when I wanted to fire is countless. Think about it: how many FPSs do we play where R1 is the button for fire? Well, anyway, the entire system works extremely well as it did before, but I keep getting the feeling I’m moving slower than I did in the original. This could be all in my head but then again, you do play as a Big Daddy in this sequel so perhaps you really are moving a little more slowly. It’s not really a problem but the Splicers are faster and more agile than ever, and the Big Daddies you face definitely seem quicker. All in all, it just feels as if you’re facing a much stiffer challenge this time around. Damn good thing you can pause the action.

The Splicers seem to do way more damage – one toting a machine gun can eliminate all your health in seconds – it takes a ton of ammo to take down bigger enemies, and there are more tough enemies, like the Brute Splicer and the Big Sister. A Big Sister can show up after rescuing or harvesting a Little Sister and you absolutely must take her down before progressing. They aren’t as strong as a Big Daddy, but they’re faster and a colossal pain in the ass. The Splicers aren’t any stronger but there do seem to be a lot more of them. Or perhaps that’s only because once you’ve defeated a Big Daddy and picked up the Little Sister, you have to get her to harvest ADAM from certain corpses and during this time, Splicers rush you from everywhere. And then there are the respawning enemies. At first, I really thought I was imagining it; that the enemies were simply coming from other areas. But then I realized they would continue to show up in any given major area, provided I stuck around long enough, and that’s annoying. In general, at the start, you are going to feel very weak and very vulnerable. Save often.

But once you get your feet wet, you’ll certainly have a blast if you enjoyed the original. Scrounging about for helpful items and ammo never seems to get old, hacking is a little repetitive and it’s not exactly an inspired puzzle mechanic, but it’s still fun, and there’s a great deal of strategy involved. For instance, this time you get a research camera and you can take pictures of enemies, which will then yield valuable information that can greatly assist you in your quest. And then there’s the inevitable balance one must strike between Plasmids and firearms; you expend EVE when using Plasmids and of course, you use ammo when using your weapons. So maybe if you’re low on EVE, you’ll have to rely on your firearms; if you’re low on ammo, you’ll have to rely on your Plasmids. But what Plasmids to equip? What’s best for the situation? Freezing enemies with Winter Blast is great ‘cuz you can shatter ‘em to bits, but once shattered, you can’t search a corpse for potentially valuable items. Electro Bolt stuns enemies but doesn’t really hurt them, and enemies on fire can set you on fire.

See what I mean? It’s one of the wonders of these games. It always makes you think at all times, even when buying items and ammo. You hardly have unlimited funds so you often have to prioritize; i.e., do I need health or ammo or EVE more…? Then you have to decide on the Gene Tonics (passive boosts and abilities) you want to equip, the Plasmids you want to buy and take with you, and which weapons you wish to upgrade. It’s probably a good idea to boost your Health and EVE as quickly as possible, and I would suggest enhancing the damage on all your weapons first, too, but after that, it’s entirely up to you. You’ll definitely feel better once you’ve moved forward a bit; you won’t always feel like a walking target. However, if you wish to get all the ADAM you can and rescue all the Little Sisters, you’re really going to have to be dead-on accurate with your shots, and plan ahead all the time. The Trap Rivets are definitely your best friend when defending a Little Sister who’s harvesting ADAM… The entire package just works so well, despite the amped-up challenge.

Bioshock 2 is very likely the sequel you expect. I don’t like the story quite as much and the Splicers sometimes feel endless when I’m trying to be patient and conscientiously search my environment, but beyond that, the atmosphere and action always grabs me. I sense no collision detection issues, wandering and exploring this broken, undersea world is very entertaining, the controls are tight and reliable, and I guess my only complaint is that security bots that are on your side tend to get in the damn way. The multiplayer is also a blast, thanks to multiple and various modes, different objectives, and little in the way of technical problems. It got a little laggy at one point but that’s about it. Take the intricate combat of the campaign and put it into a multiplayer setting, and you can guess at its addictive quality. But even so, I think it’s clear that 2K didn’t skimp on the single-player campaign, and it remains the focal point for this title. If you were a fan of the original, I’m not sure how you can’t be a fan of the sequel.

I must admit, Bioshock 2's visual presentation leaves a lot to be desired. Immediately as you boot up the game, you're shown a rather pixelated and poor looking logo as the game performs its install. Then you begin your journey and notice that overall texture detail is pretty bad in a number of spots. Furthermore, an option for framerate enhancement will degrade the visuals a bit more (but to be honest, I saw virtually no difference), and I highly recommend enabling it, because boss fights can really drag the framerate down in the standard setting. There's also a lot of aliasing and jaggies, which really degrades the overall visual experience considerably. Bioshock 2 may have fantastic art direction and atmosphere, but it looks unusually bland, washed out, and doesn't boast any visual enhancements over the two year old original - and that, to me, is unacceptable.

On the other hand, the audio is nothing short of superb and downright haunting. Voices will echo all around you, and every audible effect, whether near or far, comes through with great clarity. Even though the visuals aren't the prettiest, Bioshock 2's audio is so rich that it really makes up for the loss of visual immersion, by engrossing you into this foreign and unusual environment through the clever use of sound. Truly you're not getting the full experience out of this game, if at the very least, you don't have an audio setup that can deliver the right sounds. The speakers on your TV just won't cut it, trust me. Lastly, to complete this package is voice acting that's about what you'd expect from a high-profile game these days - good stuff, all around.

Bioshock 2 won't win any awards for its visuals, and maybe the sequel's story isn't as captivating as the first game. But for the most part, the sequel lives up to the original and fans of the original will still love every ounce of what this game has to offer. Audio is superb, as is the art direction, and the overall atmosphere. The game's 'good' ending is a decent one, and even Ben said he was moved by it. But we personally think that the game endings could've been longer. Perhaps sacrifice the numerous ending variations for just two nice and long endings; give the gamer a bit more reward than a 60 second finale - makes us feel a bit cheated.

2/28/2010 Arnold K. & Ben D.

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Comments (47 posts)

OtisFeelgood
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 12:13:56 AM
Reply

I still need to finish the first one before I pick this up.....but that's going to be awhile because I'm playing catch up. >_<

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mike rlz
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 12:57:18 PM

just got a motorola droid :)

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inkme101
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 12:15:26 AM
Reply

wow you guys never post this late

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 12:30:19 AM

Apologies on that; we're just really busy right now.

I will PROMISE that you won't have to wait long for the GoWIII and FFXIII reviews.

Agree with this comment 12 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

ArnoldK PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 12:45:08 AM

My fault, really. I've been crazy busy with a bunch of other stuff.

Agree with this comment 8 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

inkme101
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 1:20:54 AM

can we have them now then?
lol

Agree with this comment 6 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Wage SLAVES
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 4:54:26 AM

@Arnold

Seriously dude. You've been MIA for a while now...love to get your perspective here and there. And the car reviews? You started a good thing.

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IonHawk
Monday, March 08, 2010 @ 2:02:44 PM

@Ben, @Arnold - I admit I haven't finished the game yet (there's so many new games I keep skipping from one game to another, never finishing anything), but in the first couple of hours that I have played I noticed that somehow, even though you're a big daddy you seem to have the same (lack of) health as Jack (Bioshock 1's protagonist). I would have thought being a Big Daddy would have made you even more of a badass. What did you guys think of that?

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frylock25
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 12:27:54 AM
Reply

i am playing it right now. love the game. i say this review is dead on with how i feel of the game. i bought the special edition for the hell of it. gonna listen to that record when i find a player. showed the girl i was dating for a little bit the record and she didnt know what a record was. she was only 18 though. funny

Last edited by frylock25 on 2/28/2010 12:28:36 AM

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Qubex
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 10:42:31 AM

Oh my goodness... that really does make me feel old... well as old as Wizards should be anyhow... It proves one thing, how fast your life goes by, my goodness I ams till in shock!

Q!

"make.believe"

Last edited by Qubex on 2/28/2010 10:42:50 AM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 1:25:11 PM

lol, is she blonde frylock?

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Shams
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 12:58:37 AM
Reply

Great review, Ben & Arnold. One question: Is having played the first crucial for enjoying the sequel?

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herukuti
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 1:08:35 PM

to understand the surrounding politics it is necessary to have understood and possible played or read about the themes and characters of the first game.it is not necessary to grasp your self without having played the first game.

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Shams
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 1:58:32 PM

Hmm. Thank you.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 7:37:26 PM

I don't think it's quite as complex as that. Having played the first one will certainly help, but I know you can still have a blast with the sequel without that prior knowledge.

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Qwarktast1c
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 1:03:35 AM
Reply

@ Ben & Arnold

good review guys! it's a shame to hear about the visual downfalls, but oh well, at least the audio is still top notch :)

one question though, does the synch of voice and lip movement still suck?? cause i remember in the first it did, like when you meet Andrew Ryan....

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Qubex
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 10:43:57 AM

Ditto that... it was a great review gents... looking forward to reading about GoWIII and FFXIII now :)

Q!

"make.believe"

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 7:40:29 PM

You see very little of characters when they're speaking, actually, but yeah, it still sucks.

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Qwarktast1c
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 9:47:55 PM

@ Ben

ok thanks i was just wondering

i still want the game though!! :)

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inkme101
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 1:55:18 AM
Reply

hey ben and arnold

back around christmas you guys asked what kind of changes wed like to see on the site. i was just wondering if u guys been cooking anything up or if it was just for gits and shiggles?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 7:39:59 PM

That was research. We didn't ask for no reason...

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inkme101
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 10:10:57 PM

then will we be seeing any changes anytime soon? just curious

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Taha1
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 7:33:22 AM
Reply

why does the xbox version look and perform superior to the ps3 version.
lazy no good developers!

great game though.:D

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Naztycuts
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 11:07:06 AM

Maybe because it doesn't, developers that know how to design for ps3 dont have huge quality issues with their titles.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 7:39:36 PM

I noticed very little in the way of technical hang-ups in the PS3 version.

Trust me, I hate that kind of thing, and we DID recommend the 360 version of Dragon Age for this very reason. But the PS3 version plays just fine.

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NeoHumpty
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 10:04:39 AM
Reply

When I started the game my subwoofer on my surround was busted. The game's been on the back burner while I've been playing Heavy Rain and Borderlands. Thanks to Craigslist, though, I now have a fantastic sounding Polk Audio sub that makes all the difference in the world on my sound. I can feel the rumble of the motorcycles on Heavy Rain. Can't wait to feel the ground shake as a Big Daddy comes at me. The sound creeped me out (in a good way) on the first one.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 1:27:05 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong but I think you ARE a big daddy in this one.

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NeoHumpty
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 6:57:34 PM

Yeah, but I haven't heard the same heavy stomps as I did when I became a Daddy in part 1. It would get annoying to hear that all the time.

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piratedrunk
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 11:21:26 AM
Reply

I had a great time with this game. I felt it improved enough of the gameplay of the first game to fix all the issues I had with it.

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Taha1
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 11:35:29 AM
Reply

@ Naztycuts

Bioshock 2 definitely runs better on Xbox.

I have done an analysis myself and the PS3 version suffers more from fps dips and torn frames, and you do notice it on the PS3 although it didn't really take away from the experience for me.

I agree that developers who know how to utilise the power of the PS3 don't have such problems.

Hell look at uncharted and killzone just as TWO examples!

Could NEVER be done on xbox;)

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 1:29:09 PM
Reply

These dual reviews are pretty cool. Did you guys try the MP? Wonder if the addition of that forced the visuals down.

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trgdor
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 1:48:09 PM
Reply

Unlike the first one you can change the controls which make a huge difference in the overall gameplay.

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Taha1
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 2:41:16 PM
Reply

@ world you do play as a big daddy but you also fight against other big daddy's.

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InBlackestNight
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 4:50:44 PM
Reply

Bioshock still stands as one of the few fps games I really enjoy. That being said, I loved this game a little less. It was short (6-7 hours) and really too easy (even on hard) due to overpowered weapons (especially the drill and overpowered plasmids (I'm looking at you winter blast 3). I miss the ability to backtrack and as stated the story is weak and there are WAY too many unexplained aspects (who are you? Who are the big sisters?). Loved the game but just not as much as the first because I feel that there wasn't too much in the way of innovation. . Also, the inclusion of an online mode was completely unnecessary and I feel that space used for that completely unneeded add-on could have been used for the single player game.

Last edited by InBlackestNight on 2/28/2010 4:51:40 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 7:38:05 PM

You probably enjoy it because with the "magic" (Plasmids) and ability to pause the combat and access radial menus, it feels a lot like an RPG. I know that's why I love it. ;)

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TEG3SH
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 6:40:43 PM
Reply

i hate FPS but BIO 1 was superb and everyone is saying apart from the graphics this is better than the first so how the hell is it only 8.9????
this game should be at least a 10.lol

U ARE A BIG DADDY FOR CRYN OUT LOUD !!!

Last edited by TEG3SH on 2/28/2010 6:43:10 PM

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bigrailer19
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 8:20:40 PM

Maybe "everyone" except psxextreme- "Bioshock 2 won't win any awards for its visuals, and maybe the sequel's story isn't as captivating as the first game. But for the most part, the sequel lives up to the original and fans of the original will still love every ounce of what this game has to offer."

Not to mention the level of quality games has risen since the original bioshock released.

Also i just finished the first game, and being a big daddy did nothing new for you. Besides being able to call the little sisters. Personally becoming a big daddy would have been better granted something special came about, (different powers, bigger guns) but that didn't happen, making becoming a big daddy just a set piece in the story rather than enhancing the gameplay.

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 2/28/2010 8:25:07 PM

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TEG3SH
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 9:11:26 PM
Reply

if it aint broke dont fix mate. the first one is awesome the best FPS of all time IMO ofcorse. no more additions really??? how about the drill and the trap system not to forget little sisters capturing nectar and stuff that makes all the diff again IMHO ofcorse ;)

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attack88
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 9:28:29 PM
Reply

anyone having problems logging into the psn on yor ps3. whats up with it???????????????????????????????????????

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Jed
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 9:34:03 PM

Me too. Don't know why.

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attack88
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 9:35:53 PM
Reply

ok good thought it was just me lol!!!!; and although i never got into the whole bio shock its still a fun game

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Alienange
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 9:50:56 PM
Reply

Besides the fact that I do not agree that great audio "makes up for the loss of visual immersion," it's a good review. It's told me everything I need to know. I will buy this when it's cheap.

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oldmike
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 12:32:13 AM

to many good games to get all at full price
this is one of my get cheep ones

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darxed
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 10:21:31 AM

Same here, I barely managed to get Heavy Rain, FFXIII and GOWIII thanks to my birthday... Will totally get this some months down the road though

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FM23
Sunday, February 28, 2010 @ 11:27:05 PM
Reply

This is one late review, but the most accurate. Definitely agree with everything especially the terrible blurry graphics. Imagine if Bioshock 2 had Uncharted 2 graphics, Bioshock 2 experience would be bumped up to stellar, but the graphics as are, are upsetting, besides that, the gameplay is fun as hell.

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Robochic
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 12:27:49 AM
Reply

@ Ben and Arnold, Great review I agree with the score. The visuals to me we lacking but the audio was good. I have enjoyed what I have played thus far.

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___________
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 1:02:30 AM
Reply

the only thing that lets down bioshock 2 is the graphics and length of the game.
best part has to be the story or the sound, which i seriously can not understand why does everyone ignore this aspect?
the water sound effects in this game were fan fu**ing tastic!
the gun shots, the plasmids, the sparks, cracks in the glass, big sisters, big dadies groans.
everything sounded amazing.
and nothing is more scary than having the lights blow out than hearing this large thump and it gets louder, louder and lasts for so long, than you gradually hear metal tapping on the roof than one of the trick splicers jump down in front of you.
brilliant, just brilliant!
bioshock 2 had me jumping out of my skin more than f.e.a.r 2, dead space, RE5 and every other "horror" game released within the last 2 years put together!
all i ask for bioshock 3 is PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! DITCH THE UNREAL 3 ENGINE AND CREATE YOUR OWN ENGINE.
UE3 is dated, its a disease clinging onto life, its time to turn off the life support!

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