Rapture: 10 Years Later (Lev and I Freak Out Over BioShock 2)

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Raise your hand if the original BioShock title from 2K gave you the heebie-jeebies. It’s okay, no one can see how much of a weenie you are on the Internets if you raise your hand. I promise. Just the thought of certain splicers gives me goosebumps. So you can imagine my apprehension at the prospect of reentering Rapture at any point in the near future.

But the perils of this position require me to do such things whether I want to or not. Luckily for me, Lev was there to hold my hand as we both entered a newer, creepier and mind-blowingly awesome Rapture.

Set 10 years after Jack brought Ryan to his knees, we reenter Rapture as a Big Daddy and not a puny human. A few core mechanics have changed, but it’s nothing an avid BioShock player would notice or lambast 2K over. You can now dual-wield your choice of plasmid and firearm. Minor tweaks to the engine have been made, but nothing major, says Jordan Thomas, creative director, 2K Marin. [Work on Bioshock 2 seems to have been divided between Marin, Canberra and China. It’s a small world after all.]

With Ryan out of the way, Sophia Lamb (more on her later) has taken over Rapture, which I have to admit looks much, much cooler than what we’re used to seeing even though 10 years have gone by. The level of decay is apparent around every corner. We only ventured through the Ryan Amusements level, but what we saw was visually horrifying. The equivalent might be what Warren Spector is doing with particular Disney rides or parks in Epic Mickey. It’s quite frightening. Oh, you’re probably wondering what Ryan Amusements is, right? It was a theme park that Andrew Ryan erected to deter residents of Rapture from ever wanting to visit the outside world. Pure propaganda.

The quick and dirty on Sophia Lamb is that she was modeled after John Stuart Mill, whose father isolated him to try and turn him into a genius. Lamb turns to religion in an effort to spread her philosophy of utilitarianism. Think Jim Jones.

Before we get into Lev’s impending love affair with a Big Sister, let’s jump back to a few gameplay elements that have changed. The AI has actually evolved and will hunt your Big Daddy ass down even when you’ve taken cover. If they manage to get past you while your little sister is busy harvesting ADAM from dead bodies, they will harass her and that’s a bad thing. It’s pretty eerie, actually. 2K has ditched the water-pipe hacking minigames and replaced them with a simpler minigame that’s similar to the free throw shooting mechanic in most basketball video games. It’s sort of a “whatever” for me, but Lev seems to have liked them. [Because I rocked at them. And because the water pipes made my tiny brain hurt. –ed] I think those were the major changes based on what we saw. Now we can talk about the good stuff.

The weapons in BioShock 2- at least the ones we saw- were ridiculously fun to hunt with. Lev and I both giggled over how awesome the spear gun was. Rather than seeing a dozen splicers sprawled across the floor, you can hang them from the rafters or walls as trophies. There was a level towards the end of BioShock that was like that, wasn’t there? Anyway, ammo is sparse so you can actually retrieve spears and replenish your supply as you go. Trap rivets from the rivet gun can be set with explosive outcomes (you can’t set them off yourself), but if the splicers manage to circumvent those on their way to you then you can retrieve them if need be. There’s also a dedicated hack gun that can be fired from a distance allowing you to hack away without being in harms way. Plasmid usage fell to the wayside because of that damn spear gun, so no comment there.

Big Sisters are the gaming equivalent of a buttaface. They look good from afar with their foxy silhouette, but that’s about it. The noises emanating from those creatures are enough to keep you up at night. They will stop at nothing to end your life and they’re very good at it. Thomas told us that they were modeled after greyhounds, which are jittery and finicky when still. But you wouldn’t know it when you see them in their element: water. They’d surely make any country’s synchronized swim team unless, of course, they decide kill them all. Lev asked whether or not they were all sexy and hot underneath their armor to which Thomas replied, “no comment.” [I predict hot Big Sister make-outs. It will happen. — ed]

We both liked what we saw yesterday and can’t wait for it to come out on February 9, 2010.