• Recommended by TR
BioShock 2


Our Score


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In the end, then, BioShock 2’s single-player campaign finds a rapturous redemption. What’s more surprising is that the all-new multiplayer option doesn’t let the side down. I expected a lazy, half-assed effort, but instead we get a selection of all-against-all and team competitive modes which work hard to fit in with BioShock’s setting, atmosphere and core mechanics. This goes beyond adding plasmids to the armoury or using Little Sisters instead of flags or control points.

It extends to the ways in which you can use all the tools at your disposal – from hacking turrets to analysing fallen foes for a damage bonus – to get a vital edge on your rivals. It still feels like BioShock, and the decision to centre the multiplayer mode on a persistent character with an experience-based plasmid and weapon upgrade system works wonders. The more you play, the better you’ll get and the more fun you’ll have.

So, BioShock 2 isn’t as good as BioShock, but what matters is that it’s still great. Taken mechanically, stripped down point by point as an FPS it still falls victim to the gripes that so many whingers and moaners had about BioShock, but then the appeal of BioShock was never just about the gameplay: it was about the atmosphere, the emotions, the experience. The sequel improves the gameplay, and if it takes a long time to reach the same heights with the narrative, then at least it gets there in the end. Prepare for some early disappointment, but if you loved BioShock, you really don’t want to miss this.


The return to Rapture in BioShock 2 suffers slightly from ‘second time’ syndrome, but give it a few hours and an outstanding game shines through. The single-player campaign is so much more than a retread, and the multiplayer mode works better than you might expect. Rich, emotive, and ultimately very rewarding.

Our Score

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February 11, 2010, 1:40 pm

I purchased Bioshock on Tuesday, it's rare that I would buy a game without waiting for reviews but, well... It's Rapture! To a degree, the game is almost irrelevant, Rapture is without a doubt the most intriguing, detailed, and wondrous world that's ever been created for a video game. And that&#8217s all made it through into the sequel.

I've only got as far as the forth level having just completed what I can only call the most fun I think I have *ever* had in a single level of any game. Ryan's Amusements, or more specifically, "Journey to the Surface" is an absolute riot. And not just because it's the first game, to my knowledge, to allow you thwack the heads off of working animatronic people... It&#8217s also houses your first experiences with many of the games mechanics and your first big battles. The script writing and the voice work are wonderfully done and the amount of detail put into every nook and cranny should be an inspiration to other game developers.

If you remove Rapture from Bioshock, the game mechanics still seem solid. There's nothing ground-breakingly new, but it all seems to work well. I've only got a couple of weapons and a couple of plasmids at this point though, and only one Big Daddy and Big Sister battle down...

If I can make one recommendation, and I said this to everyone I know who played the first game too, turn the Vita Chambers off. It adds so much to the game and makes you think about every battle, planning your tactics and prepping the battle grounds... With the Vita Chambers on, you&#8217re just grinding each bad guy and you risk the whole thing becomes more repetitive.

Bioshock 2 is a great start to another gaming year; good luck to all games that have to follow.


February 11, 2010, 2:07 pm

I was exactly half way through the original Bioshock, when my Xbox went down with a RROD! I have to get back on the wagon and finish the first one before going in with the sequel. Looks like I've got a lot to look forward to.


February 11, 2010, 3:34 pm

I stopped playing the original Bioshock after a while, not sure why. So far, Bioshock 2 seems more... riveting. Not sure why. I only glanced at (p)reviews, and it's a good thing too, because I had no idea about the nature of the protagonist, which was a pleasant surprise and made the beginning even better than the already fantastic beginning of the first game.

I agree that playing with Vita Chambers off makes you think more carefully -- I've actually left them on, but it feels natural to go back to your last save after you die. Of course it does mean you have to (quick-)save regularly, which is a chore I'd much rather have the game automate, ideally in addition to manual saves.

I also chose the Hard difficulty, seeing it described as "You've played a lot of shooters" which over the last 15 years I certainly have. Together with the lack of free revivals it keeps you on your toes and you need to use features of the environment to your advantage; going into a room with two or three mundance splicers guns blazing will mean death or at least a severe depletion of your med packs.


February 11, 2010, 3:51 pm

"turn the Vita Chambers off."

Couldn't agree more, the game is much better with them off.


February 11, 2010, 3:57 pm

It always amuses me that people say to turn the Vita Chambers off. While I agree that you shouldn't use them, you don't need to turn them off. Just load your last save game when you die.


February 11, 2010, 4:26 pm

It also has the benefit of letting you use a chamber in a pinch. Like when you forget to save for an hour and loading would mean having to replay from the beginning of the level. Hasn't happened to me yet (I put quicksave on what is the console key in other games), but I'm willing to concede that it might.

Jon Jones

February 11, 2010, 4:27 pm

I know Bioshock is synonymous with Rapture, but I still maintain that one major thing that lets the sequel down is that Rapture is no longer a fresh property and much of the story had to be shoehorned to fit in with the original (which was fairly self-contained and didn't really require another visit to Rapture to continue). It's called Bioshock, not Raptureshock. Why not make a spiritual successor to this one and set it in a fresh new setting and story line? It may not be a good comparison, but that philosophy has worked arguably well for the Final Fantasy series...


February 11, 2010, 4:36 pm

@Jon Jones: A very good point, though developing a whole new setting would've been a much greater challenge and we probably wouldn't have seen a sequel for a while longer. Presumably that will be the plan for the next 'shock game though.


February 11, 2010, 5:25 pm

With the VitaChambers, I can kind of see why they&#8217ve been added... It opens the game up to a lot more people without making the big daddies unrealistically wimpy. Imagine how easy boss battles in some of your other favourite games would be if you could die as much as you wanted during a single fight. It would, in my mind, devalue much of the experience.

Yes, it requires more skill, but it&#8217s worth it in my opinion... It&#8217s certainly not for everyone though.

@JonJones - A very fair point, but the world that was created for Rapture - and that includes the ADAM, the Plasmids, the Big Daddies and Little Sisters and everything else along with the physical setting - is what made people fall in love with the first Bioshock, I think they did good to keep the familiar setting. That said, there is certainly scope to leave Rapture in the future, I personally think that there must still be so many stories to be told within the pressurised walls of the sprawling city, it would be a shame to leave it behind... There have been mentions during both games of so many places that would make great levels, apparently there&#8217s a zoo somewhere within the city...

@Ed - If you agree that you shouldn&#8217t use Vita Chambers, then why not turn them off if you&#8217re given the option? It&#8217s like deciding not to use health packs in a game because they&#8217re unrealistic, but stashing them away for a rainy day just in case... Remove temptation and you won&#8217t be able to fall foul of it :)


February 11, 2010, 5:28 pm

@Jon Jones: This is part of the reason why I had trouble really connecting with the game to start off with. The good news is that everything in Bioshock 2 leads me to believe that we will see a different setting next time around. I think the series has a future, and I for one am very interested to see where it goes next.


February 11, 2010, 8:31 pm

I was going to give this one a miss after they stuffed up the first one with that pantomime ending but if this does have a good last third and a good multiplayer I might pick it up at full price.

Hans Gruber

February 11, 2010, 10:29 pm

@Xiphias - I enjoyed the original ending to Bioshock, it was a helluva twist and well worth playing the game through to the end.

In a future iteration, it would be nice to see more emphasis given to the earlier Fontaine era as the illicit use of plasmids began and his power and influence increased. As commented, I think there is huge scope for different storylines, I'd love to play out the part of a character from the early part of Rapture's development, to see it in its glory (pre-destruction).

Bioshock's one significant fault for me was that its setting is almost always too dark and gloomy, yet I have just placed an order for the sequel which I am now awaiting with anticipation. Looks like Stu has been really busy playing games in the last few weeks/months, isn't life hard for games reviewers? :p


February 11, 2010, 10:40 pm

@Xiphias - Busy doesn't cover it. Between this, Mass Effect 2, Bayonetta, Darksiders and Heavy Rain I can't remember a year starting with such a strong line-up of great games. And we still have Napoleon: Total War, Aliens vs Predator, Final Fantasy XIII, Battlefield: Bad Company II, Brink, Just Cause II and God of War III to come before Easter! The good news is that I'm more excited about games than I have been in a long while. It's a hard knocks life....

Hans Gruber

February 11, 2010, 11:11 pm


Just as well you enjoy playing games then! I can imagine an awful lot of personal time goes into this dedication, much appreciated too. I found your review very enjoyable and interesting reading and it brought back many fond memories of the original Bioshock. I quite enjoyed laying down some elaborate (and amusing) traps for the Big Daddies to fall into once I'd gotten their attention.

I played the AvsP multiplayer PC demo and got completely thrashed (pwnd as they say) by some kid playing as an invisible Predator. I was easy meat. It'd been helpful if I knew what I was doing and I didn't really have the opportunity in finding out either. Your review will make for interesting reading I'm sure.

As a seasoned Battlefield 2 player I've been looking forward to an update but fear the worse for Bad Company 2 since it'll likely be just another poorly thought out console conversion with horrendous controls and extremely dumbed down gameplay, if my sceptism and cynicism from many prior letdowns serves me right. Didn't get on with Fuel of War, since it just didn't feel right. I hope EA allow not just for externally controlled dedicated servers but also give the modding community proper support to develop spin offs, something which made the PC games market unique once upon a time.

Have fun then!


February 11, 2010, 11:11 pm

SupCom 2! Don't forget SupCom 2!

Paul Dickinson

February 12, 2010, 12:26 am

This game, like the first, is brilliant in the design and the implementation. Kudos to the team who developed it and produced it - thanks for hours of pleasure!

Lord Comben III

February 12, 2010, 2:12 am

@StuAndrews - Awww does sound hard having to play all those games :)

Tell you what throw Final Fantasy XIII my way (PS3 preferably) and I'll play it for you, fair deal I say

Cliff 2

February 12, 2010, 3:46 am

The identity of Subject Delta is killing me! Who is he? Love 2K Games!


February 12, 2010, 4:22 am

@red: I felt rapture was a sad setting with all those poor unfortunate people in a collapsing city. With that ending they turned it something about violence and unpleasantness, themes we've seen far too much recently (GTA, Portal, Dragon Age, etc. etc. etc.) Not to mention they seem to have gone mad and thrown every cliche they could find at it from a giant superhuman mutant to a final boss battle.

Simon T

February 12, 2010, 1:04 pm

@Cliff... You didnt just drop a spoiler did you? Thats not nice.

Hans Gruber

February 12, 2010, 4:36 pm

@Xiphias - Fair comments that I more or less agree with. I don't want to add spoilers so can't give details but I felt repulsed by the whole Andrew Ryan golfing segment though it really was novel in storyline and execution (ho hum). I enjoyed the setting though, with all the mad splicers and things though it was too dark for my liking (literally rather than figuratively since the whole warped nature of Rapture's dystopia was a large part of the appeal). Totally agreed about the ending and last battle - it was ultra cheesy and completely hackneyed and somewhat out of kilter with much of the intelligent plot-line. Bioshock was far from 100% enjoyable for me as it really did feel repetitive much of the time and you were largely dragged along a fixed route (classic corridor shoot 'em up theme). As mentioned the Art Deco, modernist (to sound even more pretentious), sociopolitical and philosophical futurist ideas of the early 20thC art movement were really well captured, I think that was a pretty amazing thing to see in a game though I'm still not sure how it will play out a second time (I wanted to see a pre-collapse Rapture at the time things started to go a little funny). Ah well, no such thing as a perfect game I suppose. It'd be nice to just roam Rapture completely free of game designer's choice of path for you (once you'd completely the game perhaps).


February 12, 2010, 6:48 pm

@xiphias and a number of others, for what it's worth, the multiplayer element (which I haven't tried yet) is set just-pre-fall of Rapture during the Plasmid testing phase were the whole city is still intact and functioning; Maybe not completely what you're after. As much as I would love to see the same, just to be given a chance to freely wander the rooms of Rapture in it's hay-day, I don't see how that could be worked into a playable, enjoyable, game. It would have to be set right at the same time that the current multiplayer is. There's scope for it to be done I think, but it would be duplicating what we've already been given now to a degree...


February 12, 2010, 7:29 pm

Great review now if I can just tear myself away from Modern Warefare....

Quick question I have both the ps3 and xbox360 does anyone know of any significant benefits of the one version over the other. Example I know Bayonetta looked way better on xbox360 than ps3.

Thanks for the great review.

Cliff 2

February 13, 2010, 8:25 am

@Simon Twine Was not a spoiler when you find this out within the first 5 minutes of playing BS2. Sorry if any one thinks it was some sort of spoiler.

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