I reckon Bioshock 2 is better than Bioshock

18 Mar

Why? I’ll tell you as soon as I say this contains spoilers all over the bloody shop.

Creepy animatronic objectivists spout propaganda in a destroyed amusement park.

Your character makes more sense

In both games you play an unstoppable deity who shrugs off bullets and pipe wrench blows to the skull like you’re being tickled. The difference is that Jack, the faceless, voiceless cardboard cutout you control in the first game, is just an ordinary man. Despite this he can still take considerably more punishment than the garden-variety Splicers he faces, despite them having been tampering with ADAM (a kind of DNA-bending wonder-drug that can make you invisible or shoot bees out of your hand) for years, whereas he’s only been fiddling with its awesome-inducing capabilities for hours. Playing as a prototype Big Daddy, with sufficient agility to prevent movement becoming a chore at the expense of toughness, makes a lot more sense. Your suit removes the need to explain why you’re not dead in two shots, and your motivation (find the Little Sister you were bonded to before the bond breaks, killing you) is a much stronger motivation than Jack, who only seems to want a little wander around.

Being Big Daddyfied also means you can pull off the magnificently weighty, perfectly realised drill dash attack. And you’re not wearing a silly jumper.

This man is a millisecond away from a terrible, power tool related death.

Combat is less fiddly

There was a trailer for the original Bioshock where, from your character’s POV, swapped between shooting to ice-lobbing to telekinesis in a matter of irritatingly fluid seconds. Maybe it’s my own crap hands (I can only type accurately with my forefingers – am I a bad person?) but I could never swiftly swap between specific weapons and plasmids in the first game whilst under attack – generally it was easier to hit them with whatever I had equipped , regardless of the need to conserve ammo or EVE. The only time I could perform any fancy plasmid theatrics was if I snuck up on someone unawares, opportunities to do so being rarer than a solar panel in Rapture. Being able to equip a plasmid and a gun at the same time in Bioshock 2 feels so naturally and user-friendly I’m still surprised it took two games to implement. I still don’t have the dexterity to freeze someone, shoot a guy then throw the first frozen body at a third guy with the power of my mind, sadly.

Not shown: the three guys huddled around a fire that I chucked a tank of petrol at.

Little Sisters are more interesting

I never like it when a game offering “Moral choice!” turns out to only give you the opportunity to role-play Jesus or take up Hitler’s old job. Bioshock 2 doesn’t entirely solve this problem, but the options given to you when faced with a Little Sister are a bit less binary. You can now adopt her, plopping her on your shoulder whilst she points you towards ADAM-rich corpses. Frankly I don’t see many similarities with this and the godawful pace-ruining escort mission near Bioshock’s climax. Little Sisters are invincible without exception, in transit the only effect your new friend has is yelling disturbingly innocent encouragements into your ear (“Cross his eyes!”), and she won’t stop gathering unless a Splicer gets right up in her adorable little grill. these moments – where you must fend off a wave of Splicers whilst she extracts ADAM from cadavers – are a neat twist in themselves, being one of the few situations where you can prepare yourself as much as you like before making a daring stand against the incoming hordes. Once she’s done you can still harvest or save her, but unlike the first game harvesting just one won’t make you the most evil dick ever to step foot on the sea bed.

Another plus: they no longer look like they were hit in the face with a wok.

The ending isn’t bollocks

Fight Dr. Manhattan then either become either the most drug-infused adoptive father ever, or impress your Splicer enemies so much with your child-murdering exploits they agree to help you hijack a nuclear submarine. Bioshock’s final moments were Narrative Hari-Kari, and the mere fact that none of Bioshock 2’s endings are remotely as jarring with the rest of the story is enough to make it superior.

Still, there’s more. I like how your actions didn’t just determine your fate, but also influenced another character (suitably enough, your bonded ‘daughter’). This softens the blow when the game unavoidably misinterprets moral choices – whilst I didn’t stick a three-foot drill through the eyes of a couple of nasty characters, it doesn’t mean I wanted the woman who spent the last ten hours trying to mill me to not only live, but to escape with me as well. I did leave them to rot in a slowly decaying underwater dystopia, after all. Still, the fact that it was someone else who saved my worst nemesis – even if it was due to my example – meant I wasn’t gawping in disbelief as my character followed the orders of the scriptwriters against my will.

Whilst we’re on the story in general, I sensed many were disappointed by the lack of a major plot twist in the vein of Would You Kindly. True, the allegiances of the big players are never called into question (I was, in fact, surprised when Sinclair failed to double-cross me at all), but I suspect that were Bioshock 2 to include a bombshell of a similar magnitude to Andrew Ryan’s golfing mishap, it would only end up feeling derivative of that most infamous of scenes.

Crayons - always a hoot.

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