Since the fall of Andrew Ryan, the underwater city of Rapture is deteriorating and is being ruled by Sophia Lamb who has tried to kill you; and if that isn’t bad enough, she has also taken away your daughter. I’m not sure if Eleanor is really your daughter or just a Little Sister you were given to protect as a Big Daddy. That’s right, in BioShock 2, you play as a Big Daddy who protects Little Sisters responsible for gathering Adam from corpses. Big Daddy’s are bound both physically and emotionally to their little sisters. Separation will result in insanity or a coma. To put it bluntly, your life depends on saving Eleanor.
You’re not the only Big Daddy around, and you will have to defeat other protective Big Daddy’s to adopt their Little Sisters to gather Adam for you. Adam is used as currency to add and upgrade your plasmid powers and gene tonic slots. The plasmids haven’t changed much since the original BioShock. The plasmid powers include the ability to throw fire, shoot lightning bolts from your hands, or send swarms of bees to attack your enemies. The most common enemies are the crazy splicers that used to be human before they got hooked on Eve. Eve is available in vending machines, and it’s used for recharging your plasmid power; think of it as mana for magic.
Your health can be replenished by eating food, drinking alcohol (too much makes you dizzy), using first aid kits, or using a healing machine. Healing machines cost less to use if you hack it first. Hacking is a vital skill that can score you some free goods as well as injure enemies that try to use the device you hacked. The hacking concept is pretty simple to grasp but takes some practice to master. When you’re hacking a machine, you’ll see a needle going back and forth and you have to stop it on a green or a blue zone. If you stop it on a white zone you’ll get zapped and will have to start over. If it lands on a red zone, prepare for a fight, because the security bots are heading your way!
There are lots of weapons at your disposal including various guns, rocket launchers, and your built in arm drill. All of the weapons need ammunition of some sort, and you can buy them in vending machines. If you look around hard enough you can find ammo, health, and eve scattered around the world.
Like Bioshock, the story of Bioshock 2 is told through audio diaries left in various parts of the levels. The diaries are left by both major and minor characters in the game. Sometimes the information left behind is trivial while other times you’ll discover key codes for pass code protected doors.
The diaries will discuss relationships between the characters and everyday life in Rapture. Some of the messages have foul language or go into details about Rapture’s red light district. The language and the violence in this game did not bother me as much as some of the choices available for you to make.
While I like the option to save or spare lives of characters who may or may not have deserved it, I still can’t get over the option to kill Little Sisters. This by no means a vibrant or cheerful atmosphere since there is a lot of death and lunacy in Rapture. When the Little Sisters gather Adam from corpses, you can choose to restore them to their human form, or kill them for more Adam. I could not bring myself to kill any of them, but they do plead for their life if you decide to go that route.
There are multiple endings that you can earn depending on the decisions you make when it comes to sparing the lives of the Little Sisters or humans (not splicers) you encounter. The good ending did pull at my heart strings and put a lump in my throat watching it. While all of the endings are good, getting to that point may not be worth the disturbing content you have to wade through.
Without giving away too many spoilers, there is a point in the game where you play as a Little Sister and I was amazed at how they portrayed the world of Rapture in their eyes. When you play as a Big daddy the world is wet, falling apart and you see corpses and raving lunatics everywhere. It’s not a pretty sight. However, Little Sisters see the world as beautiful, with bright colors, sun beams and flower pedals floating in the air serenely. While they gather Adam from a corpses, they see the world as it truly is for those few moments. It’s rather interesting how they are vulnerable physically and mentally while doing that task.
Protecting the Little Sisters is a task, since when they draw Adam, splicers swarm and try to attack them. This is such a key element of the game that there are multiplayer modes involving protecting the Little Sisters. Some of the multiplayer modes are team based while others are last man standing. After a couple of years there are still people playing this game, but you may have to wait for enough people to queue up before a match will start. The civil war mode seemed to be the most popular and it was the only mode I was able play since the others lacked players and interest. The civil war mode is a team based battle between splicers favoring Andrew Ryan or Sophia Lamb.
The multiplayer character development is rather unique. You can choose your character’s occupation, hat, weapon, and plasmid load out. As you play, you gather experience and can level your character up to forty. There are some free DLC packs and some paid for ones that offer a couple of new characters, outfits, and a higher level fifty cap. One major disappointment here is that this game was shipped with some of the DLC already on the disc, and you have to pay to unlock it. I can understand charging for new content, but to charge for content that’s already on the disc when you take it home is unacceptable in my book.
DLC aside, the single and multiplayer campaigns will give you your money’s worth. I was happy with my choices in this game and was touched by the ending. The violence and the option to harm the Little Sisters still leaves a bad taste in my mouth though. This game definitely earns it’s mature rating.