On the Ball: Teabagging in Rapture

Jordan Deam | 17 Feb 2010 21:00
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Count me as an early skeptic of BioShock 2's "Rapture Civil War" multiplayer mode. When 2K announced it at E3 last year, I made little attempt to contain my cynicism at the prospect of a bunch of over-caffeinated pre-teens flooding the halls of Fort Frolic and turning its studied theatricality into a hormone-fueled mess. "I can't help but feel BioShock 2's multiplayer might end up diluting the fictional world from which it draws inspiration," I wrote in my E3 preview of the game, "all for the sake of appealing to an audience that never belonged in Rapture in the first place."

I was far from alone; many other gamers and game journos expressed variations of the same sentiment. BioShock was the quintessential single-player experience: an open-world environment so packed with subtle details that each successive play-through was a kind of revelation. It was the rare game that gave players both something meaningful to ponder (the potentially corrosive effects of extreme self-interest) and the space to ponder it. Those sorts of lingering details are nigh impossible to communicate in a setting where you're constantly at risk of being beaten to death with a rolling pin by a spliced-up '50s housewife.

So I'm happy to report my initial worries about BioShock 2's multiplayer mode were pretty much unfounded, and a bit elitist to boot. I can't speak toward the rest of the game - see our review for an assessment of the single-player campaign's merits - but after spending roughly half a dozen hours freezing, electrifying and incinerating my fellow splicers, I've come to the conclusion that this isn't just a mechanically solid online FPS - it's a worthy addition to the BioShock universe.

No, you likely won't be pausing to admire the 1930s d├ęcor while fleeing from the Big Daddy that spawned 20 feet away from you. In fact, like most online shooters, the scenery is a distraction more than anything else - success in this arena means tuning out every single piece of information that doesn't help you put a bullet between your opponents' eyes. But it doesn't take long to realize that anyplace the developers could find to flesh out the setting without inhibiting the gameplay, they have. And while players strictly in it for the satisfaction of gunning down human opponents can safely ignore most of these additions, it wouldn't really be BioShock without them.

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