As before, you won’t get far without Plasmids; genetic alterations that give you the power to fling fireballs, freeze enemies with ice, move and throw heavy objects with the power of your mind, or hypnotise foes so they’ll take your side in battle. By combining plasmids with conventional firepower, you can take on anything Rapture can throw at you, but if you do fall, don’t panic. Within seconds you’ll reappear at the neatest Vita-Chamber (though hardcore FPS players should note that you can switch this off if you fancy a challenge).
In a range of ways, however, things have changed quite dramatically. The ability to dual-wield plasmids and guns is just the start. The splicers now behave more intelligently, working together more in groups to bring you down. You can still hack turrets and security cameras, but hacking has been changed from a sliding-block puzzle mini-game to a simple stop the needle on the guage affair which doesn’t keep you in the game world (and potentially in danger) all the time. The drill, meanwhile, is a significant melee weapon, chopping through splicers in horrifying fashion and still providing service when it runs out of fuel with a hefty swing that soon batters back all but the toughest Brutes and Big Daddies.
Most importantly, BioShock recognises your Big Daddy status by changing your relationship to the Little Sisters. In the old days you needed a substance called Adam to purchase new plasmids, and the only way to get decent quantities was to take down a Big Daddy, grab his Little Sister, then either ‘rescue’ or ‘harvest’ your quarry. In BioShock 2 you now adopt the Little Sister. Instead of escorting her, you place her on your shoulder, at which point you can pretty much forget she’s there. At the press of a button, however, she’ll detect the nearest source of Adam, sending you to the loaded splicer corpse with a trail of silver mist. When you get there you drop the Little Sister off, then stand guard while she sucks out the Adam with a huge syringe.
Easy? Not on your nelly. The second you put her on the floor, every splicer in the district will descend on your location, hungry for Adam and blood. The focus for you, therefore, is on making the area defensible. For a while this won’t come naturally and you’ll find yourself getting blasted into smithereens, leaving you and your Little Sister back at square one. With time, however, you remember that many weapons come with secondary ‘trap’ ammunition, and that hacked security devices, certain plasmids and the environment can be used to your advantage. Each ‘harvesting’ process effectively becomes a set-piece stand off where you do part of the setting up yourself.