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BioShock 2 Hands-On

How does the beginning of the game compare with the opening of the original?

2009-12-21
You probably know the basics of how BioShock 2 differs from the original. It still takes place in Rapture, but it's 10 years later, someone named Sophia Lamb is running things, and you play as a Big Daddy. You can duel wield weapons and plasmids so there's no more need to switch in between during a fight, and you'll come across a number of new weapons and gameplay mechanics as you progress through. Numerous previews have been written about the game so far, including single-player impressions and thoughts on the all-new multiplayer mode, but what still hadn't been seen was the very start of the game. That's what I'll talk about here.

If you've played the original, you know the start was something special. You were a man on a plane that crashed in the middle of nowhere over the Atlantic. Miraculously you survived, and amidst a ring of flame on the water's surface swam up to a mysterious structure near the crash site, since it was really the only alternative to drowning. Once inside, you discovered it was an elevator to an underwater metropolis called Rapture where bizarre beings in barnacled diving suits protected twisted girls from violent genetic freaks, some of whom could teleport. Then, at one point, you discover you can shoot bees out of your hand.

I should point out that while this preview isn't going into deep detail regarding plot or character motivations, it will touch on bits and pieces of what's going on as well as describe the initial opening sequence. If you're hoping to head into the BioShock 2 experience with a totally fresh perspective, then consider that your warning.


Sophia Lamb thinks the sweat on your brow belongs to everyone.

Things begin in BioShock 2 in a much more subdued fashion, as your Big Daddy character pushes itself up off the ground, stares at its hands, and notices a reflection of itself in a pool at its feet. Soon after you stand up and are in full control, already within Rapture, staring at a cracked stone fountain that's spilling onto the floor. In the distance what sounds like the whispers of Little Sisters are skittering, and the uneven creaks and groans of Rapture's infrastructure are audible. Once you move into the room, the splashing of water trickling down from holes in the ceiling can be heard as pools swirl at your feet. There's a Vita-Chamber behind you that'll serve as a respawn point should you die, and in front is a lighted section of wall across which are etched ominous phrases.

There's only a drill arm available to begin, and with it you can slam into enemies with a melee attack or rev it up to deal faster damage. Using your drill arm's motorize function consumes fuel, canisters for which are liberally sprinkled throughout. Much like in the first game, you'll be pulling loot from nearly every corner of the environment; from shelves, from filing cabinets, from desks, and from the bodies of enemies. The first enemy shows up pretty soon after starting, and on the way you'll come across details like a wall filled with frayed pictures of what are presumably Rapture's citizens before everyone went nuts with genetic modification, the glowing eyes of a Little Sister from behind a sheet of falling water, and bits of pink coral you'll need to snap apart with melee swipes to proceed.


Hunting the most dangerous prey of all... man.

You'll also see the Big Sister, who shows up early on, sprinting just beyond your field of vision or across bits of background architecture. Then without warning, she'll drop down right in front of you and very early on you'll need to engage her in combat. It's not a battle to the death, but you'll only have a very rudimentary assortment of offensive capabilities, making it an exciting battle that'll likely require you to use up most of your health packs and EVE hypos.

In the sections before Ryan Amusements two plasmids were made available, and the first one acquired is Electrobolt. If you remember, this is the lighting one that lets you shoot jets of electricity from your hands to shock and stun enemies, setting them up for a high damage melee swipe with your drill arm. It also allows for similar kinds of ways to take advantage of environments – if a few splicers are standing around in a pool you can hit it with Electrobolt to stun and damage them. The scene that plays out once you acquire this plasmid is presented in a more elaborate way, like the first game. Instead of just picking up the item and adding the ability to your active plasmid selection bar, your Big Daddy snatches up the jar the plasmid is in and pokes a needle through the cap, yanking the stuff out and injecting it into a slot in his arm. The Big Daddy is then incapacitated momentarily as his body adjusts to the jolt of its new power, and shortly thereafter you can shoot lighting. Because dual-wielding weapons and plasmids is an option, you'll thereafter run around with your weapon readied in the bottom right corner of your screen and the active plasmid up in the left.

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