>Bioshock 2 – final thoughts

>More apologies. I finished Bioshock 2 over the weekend and have been meaning to write a quick thing about it, but time has gotten away from me. But let’s be honest here – the game itself isn’t all that inspiring to write about.

It’s not necessarily a bad game; it’s just unnecessary. And yet, ironically enough, I would love to keep exploring the world of Rapture. My favorite moments in Bio2 – as they were in Bio1 – were the moments in between battles, when I could take in the architecture and explore all the nooks and crannies of such a meticulously designed world. Make no mistake – Bio2 may be uninspired as a game, but its vision of Rapture is just as sumptuous to take in as in the original.

Let’s just say this – Bio2 does work better as a game. The combat mechanics are a lot more solid and satisfying, and the clunkiness of the first game’s interface has been replaced by a much more efficient design. (And this must be said – it’s awfully nice to not have to hear “Welcome to the Circus of Values!” constantly, unceasingly.)

But there’s also a great deal of Bio2 that feels awfully contrived; the constant babysitting of Little Sisters (of which I struggled with at first and eventually got better at) is the worst offender, but pretty much all of the game’s forward momentum is clearly scripted and inelegantly presented. And I am really, really tired of the game’s strict adherence to plot development via tape recorder and offscreen narration; after a while I just tuned it out, and as a result I’m still not quite sure what the hell I was doing or why I was doing it. It feels lazy, and the voice acting and dialogue is too stylized to feel urgent. My own personal motivation for finishing the game at all was that in spite of all the aggravations that the game foisted upon me, I just wanted to see more of Rapture.

So let me say this, then. If there must be another Bioshock game, let it be something different. Get away from the Big Daddies and the Adam and the plasmids and the combat and all that shit. Give me more of Rapture. Give me characters that actually talk to me, face to face. I would ABSOLUTELY play a Bioshock Zero prequel if it meant seeing Rapture in its heyday, before all the badness happened. Fuck, let me play it as Andrew Ryan, SimCity style. I’ll even settle for a 3D point-and-click adventure game, if it came to that. I want to walk around and see shit that I’ve never seen before. Rapture is one of the most atmospheric worlds ever created – let me soak it in, rather than making me run through it and kill things for no apparent reason, other than that I have to.

At the end of the day, Rapture is the star of the show, and the fiction is what gives it weight. The combat is certainly OK, and I guess you need it in order to sell millions of copies, but it’s not nearly as interesting as the world itself. There are lots of stories that can be told in the city at the bottom of the sea; I would much rather see one of those, than having to go through the same motions as before.

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