>Bioshock 2: the first hour

>I don’t like going to bed angry, but that’s exactly what happened to me last night.

I was back in Rapture, you see. And even though I had been highly skeptical about Bioshock 2 and repeatedly questioned the necessity for its existence, I found myself as absorbed and invested in the new game as I had been in the original. The thing that I loved most about the first game – more than the story, more than the combat – was the atmosphere; I loved exploring every nook and cranny and the original game constantly rewarded such exploration with loot, backstory and, if nothing else, incredible tableaux. And the first hour of Bio2 felt much the same way – I was enthralled with the world, again, and running around and exploring was just as rewarding as it used to be.

But more than that, the game certainly felt better – the combat was more responsive, and the duel-wielding of plasmids and weapons makes perfect sense. OK, so the story is a little obtuse, and the storytelling method is so identical that it feels somewhat cheap, but that’s OK – the world of Rapture is still among the most vivid and unique as anything in the medium.

And then I got to the part of the game where you have to defend a Little Sister while she harvests ADAM, and I nearly threw my controller out the window.

Let me back up here a second. A lot of people gave the original Bioshock a lot of shit for taking strange liberties with the audience’s suspension of disbelief – i.e., the unprompted self-inflicted plasmid injection at the beginning of the game, the idea that year-old potato chips found in garbage cans actually increase your health, etc. – but I fell for it anyway. The most controversial element in the first game, though, was the way it handled death. If you died, you respawned at the nearest “Vita-Chamber”, and the world would be just as you left it.

In Bio2, death is handled somewhat differently, and it makes me want to kill it.

So here’s the scene. (I’m still at the very beginning of the game, so I’m not really spoiling anything.) I’ve adopted my very first Little Sister. In order for me to get to the next level in the game, I need to inject myself with a plasmid that will let me shoot fire out of my hands. And in order to get that plasmid, I need ADAM. And to get ADAM, I need to escort a Little Sister to a particular dead body and defend her against Rapture’s crazies. (In this particular case, I need to harvest ADAM from 2 dead bodies; I’m at the 2nd body.)

And now, I need to set traps, because we’re in the corner of a room and as soon as I set this little girl down, we’re going to get swarmed. So I set up all the traps I’ve collected over the last hour, replenish my ammo, and hack the nearest health-vending machine, and I set the girl down. The crazies come pouring in, and in spite of my traps I’m soon overwhelmed, and right before the girl is done harvesting, I die.

I respawn in the Vita-Chamber directly behind the girl. And now, I’m in a bit of a pickle – all the ammo I used in my last fight is gone, all my traps are gone, the health machine is toast, the sentry bot I hacked is destroyed, I have no plasmid energy or medical packs, I have no money because I spent it all replenishing my ammo before I died, and – to top it all off – as soon as I recover what I can and get set to defend the girl again, I notice that the girl has to start harvesting from scratch. Harvesting appears to take between 1-2 minutes; there’s no way I’ll have enough ammo, let alone anything else that might help. So I die, again. And again, and again, until I can loot enough from the accumulating corpses to put up a halfway decent fight, although it won’t nearly be enough.

I spent close to 45 minutes trying to get past this fucking area last night, and never even got close to succeeding. And furthermore, I didn’t think to save before that section started, because I didn’t think I’d be getting my ass kicked so thoroughly this early into the game, so I’m probably going to have to replay the entire level again in order to be properly equipped.

And that fucking SUCKS.

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