You may or may not have read my other posts but in them I've said money has been tight and I can't be frivolous so I have to be real careful choosing which games to buy now. Bioshock is one of those sure hit franchises in which there has never been a bad game in my book. Needless to say, this experience only furthered my findings that there is no such thing as a bad Bioshock game.
The game looks fantastic. Not just by way of graphics but the use of lighting, textures, everything looks gorgeous and mouth dropping. Seeing the angelic statue for the first time feels like a dream and watching it crumble like a level later is just as powerful as the first time I saw it. Pools of water, blood and even oil look spectacular, even on my 360. I hear that the PC has even better graphics which astound me. And the game somehow just keeps that feeling of awe.
The combat is fairly good and it's nice they haven't diverted from the previous game's much. Shooting feels like shooting and using powers is always awesome. Instead of Plasmids, you have Vigors. Basically reminiscent of when street peddlers would sell cure alls back in the 18-1900's. The powers divert a bit and show a thing that isn't just the re-texture of the plasmids. You don't get your shock power until about 30 minutes into the game, depending on whether or not you choose to find everything you can in the world. They do reincorporate the 'water + electricity = more damage' element which is nice they haven't forgotten it. What's different about Vigors is that they have two different modes: a fire and a charge. A fire is just simply flicking it off for a quick attack and a charge allows you to create simple or elaborate traps with unique effects. Playing the game will showcase how useful it is at times.
While you won't find a Big Daddy, there are plenty of enemies in the game. Instead of Splicers there are regular humans in a few variants. The Patriot is a walking death machine with George Washington's face on it. The Handymen are unpredictable and surprisingly agile. Every enemy is actually fairly smart. You'll not often find a single enemy by itself unless it's one of the tougher ones and at times these three enemies can be found all in the same battle, forcing you to utilize every single weapon and Vigor at your disposal intelligently.
Another nice bonus are these bottles you can find around the world which will boost your Salt meter (magic bar if you will), Health meter and a shield which will take all the damage before breaking then recharging. Doing this allows for a unique character which can utilize different tactics while a person with a high shield and health can take the punishment, a person with a high salt meter is very versatile and can whip off Vigor powers with ease.
The main problem I saw with the game before it came out was Elizabeth, seeing it more like the game was an entire escort quest in which you'd have to constantly protect this weak person. Boy was I wrong. Shortly after I rescue her and she rescues me, the game tells me she can protect herself so there's no need to worry about her. On top of that, she can call rifts to aid you in battle whether summoning a Patriot, a turret, a few ammo/healing places or just randomly being able to throw me items both in battle and out. She would find cash for me and all I'd have to do was press a button and she threw it to me if I was in her line of sight. When my salt meter was low, she'd throw a bottle to me and I was back up to full. It's nice to see a smart NPC in a game that actually helps you rather than hinders you. Out of battle she's kind of interesting. She'll find random things to look at and sometimes comments on them. Not always did this work as I was impatient and quickly kept moving, but it's a nice turn of events. I have to say her AI is the most unique I've seen in any game. The facial expressions are also a very interesting way to show things. When Elizabeth was happy, mad or distraught she showed it. Really made me feel for the character and see she was more than a few lines of code and someone really took the time to program her like a human.
The thing this game holds over all the rest is I actually wanted to walk around and find stuff. You are always rewarded whether big or small for exploring. I also do like how the point you're supposed to go isn't in flashing lights and clearly laid out for you. But there is a feature which will quickly point you in the right direction. Too often I used this button for the sole purpose of not following it and simply look around.
The racism in this game is put down to a very realistic sense. Not to spoil anything, but there's a raffle in the town which turns out to be kind of horrible in the end which is when the game really sets off.
There's also a new mechanic which allows you to equip clothing to give yourself extra boosts. I wish I could see them cosmetically but just having them is a nice feature in and of itself.
The game sort of becomes very basic after a while. Though it's nice to change up the combat a little while, other than a few tiny changes with enemy tactics nothing much changes. You can't really buy new weapons from as far as I've gotten and instead of buying Vigors like Plasmids, you get them after beating a boss or just finding them in plain site, meant for you to see it immediately. This isn't bad, but it's worth mentioning if just to say it's a factor you may face.
The zip lines made me dizzy and nauseous. I know they're not called zip lines but it's pretty much a zip line. The idea of the thing isn't bad, in fact it's kind of cool. However, it messes with your depth perception if you aren't keeping it at a normal place. It's nice though as you don't have many of these sections forced upon you as well as you being able to change speeds by simply pulling on the joystick either way and being able to easily switch back and jump to and fro from the line you're on. You get an instant kill on lesser enemies if you jump on them after you're on the line and it's clearly laid out where you can jump of and on via some green pointers. Nevertheless, I feel nauseous using them, so I try to avoid them.
I didn't really have a problem with recurring NPC faces save the main characters and key people showing up. It's not really off putting because there's a decent variant of them while still being noticeable if you look hard enough.
I could take or leave that the new protagonist has a face and voice. Often he's saying more by being coy or cryptic which is nice. He doesn't talk too much or too little and just at the right point. Both Booker and Elizabeth sometimes ease the tension of silence that constantly falls over. As I've said, I can take it or leave it being neither mad or happy about it.
The story, while decent, is kind of predicable. Bioshock had an amazing ending and that's put the team at a crutch. Everyone knows there's going to be a twist or something jaw dropping, just not what it is. That won't really take away from the eventual reveal, but a shock scare is best used once.
There's not much horror in this game. I don't like horror games but Bioshock had the perfect amount of horror. With creepy splicers coming up from unusual and places I didn't think to see them. I was kinda hoping for more horror elements but too much would have been awful so very little was nice. The only part I was kind of scared of was when you fight in this war museum. There's some creepy posters that are racist as well and I was expecting something to jump out of them or from behind them.
Personally I find too many coincidences in this game. It's not bad, but from a stand point of seeing everything revolve around Booker, it's kind of weird. In Bioshock, you were just a faceless, nameless guy. It's not bad but again, it feels like it's leading up to something.
If you were on the fence about this game, don't be. This game is fantastic and did it's best to go back to what made the first game so awesome and cool. It's a pretty good buy and I've been getting a nice time playing it. I'm definitely not regretting buying it to say the least.
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