Its time for another installment of Video Game Club, where I write about a video game as I’m playing through it. Today, we pick up with Bioshock 2.
Spoilers through the Dionysus Park Level
I have to admit that tearing through this section I was changing my mind about Bioshock 2 every few seconds. Is it a weak retread of the superior original? A game that subtly builds on the themes of its predecessor? Or something else entirely? It sort of depends on the level, doesn’t it?
What did I like? Well, I’m intrigued by the idea of not necessarily having to kill every boss you meet. Take poor Grace Holloway, for instance, a woman who seems more like a deluded pawn in Lamb’s big scheme than some sort of evil mastermind. But, like Bioshock’s other moral dilemnas, there’s a pretty clear right and wrong answer here, made all the more clear by the obvious fact that she was gonna leave you more goodies throughout the game. More comlicated was Stanley Poole, who offered to help Delta escape from Dionysus Park in exchange for assistance in covering up the terrible things he did there. What terrible things? Well, pretty much every awful thing that the game’s writers could think of, including sending Eleanor off to be a Little Sister and turning Delta into a Big Daddy.
I’d be interested to know what you did with them. I saved Grace and then got bored with being such a boy scout so I killed Stanley. The interesting part of making these choices is that you can never quite tell who’s manipulating you or what they want. Lamb lets you kill Stanley, but of course you’re also helping the person who is your mortal enemy in the process. And does Sinclair have another reason for wanting Grace dead? Much less interesting, the dilemna itself. Is a little ambiguity too much to ask for? Yes, Grace is sending people to kill you and Stanley is not (although by the time I had to go through my fourth Big Daddy fight, after one of them lost his Little Sister halfway through, I’d have been ready to kill Stanley whether or not he was evil incarnate), but the game stacks the deck pretty heavily.
My biggest problem, however, is how tedious everything is starting to feel. You’re basically running around, killing a bunch of splicers, and then fighting off a boss and Big Sister. I wish that the game didn’t take the “2″ in its title so seriously. Rapture is such a rich, engaging world, but the game has reduced itself down to a series of firefights in various art deco locations. I guess after doing that for 15 hours in Bioshock, I’m not exactly sure what Bioshock 2 has to over. Its themes so far are the same jumble of individualism, free will, and greed that the first one already explored in depth and its hard to escape feeling like this game is just a drawn out version of the You Become a Big Daddy sequence from the first one.
That said, I’m approcahing Fontaine Futuristics and, hopefully, a meeting with Lamb and Eleanor that will kick start the game into motion.
Other bulleted thoughts:
-Vita Chambers are still annoying me. Its especially amusing when there’s all this build up for a Big Sister to come, and then she kills you and you respawn two feet away with more EVE, ready to keep wearing her down.
-I skimmed over the part with the crazy preacher, mostly because it was just another episode, but I actually kind of enjoyed that boss fight.
-As far as the big story goes, I’ve pieced together that the plan is for Eleanor to be injected with all the ADAM to turn her into some kind of super-being. Meanwhile, Lamb is still crazy and Sinclair is still sleazy.
-Oh, and I guess that makes Lamb a socialist. I’ll buy that, going along with the cut and paste theme of the sequel, we’ve substituted Marx for Rand, but does it really make sense to impose a socialist state on top of an objectivist one? And will it work as well thematically as Rand did in the first one? It feels more like the game designers are looking for another Big Idea to take on.
-Despite that fact that it seems like my mood has curdled a bit, I’m still engaged by the story and want to know what happens next. I just can’t shake the feeling that it’ll be the same as what happened before.