Is Bioshock 2 really as bad as we remember? (Spoilers)

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In light of Yahtzee's review, and his humorous reaction to the mention of Bioshock 2, I feel it would be a good idea to revisit the black sheep of this trilogy.

First, let's get the obvious out of the way:
Yes, it was a tacked on, redundant, game that featured the stupid concept of a former little sister being able to project mental images to a big daddy that had died to avoid being mentally forced to be a no-free-will slave to "utopia". There were obviously forced retcons, and the setting itself was already overused before the game was even released. There, it's been mentioned, but that can't be the only reason to hate this GAME (not book... not movie).

Admittedly these are just opinions, but here's a list of the improvements upon the first game... that were then later removed for the third game:

Combat -
Shooting people in the face was never Biohshock's strong point. Even it's grandaddy, System Shock 2, was weakest when you were having to shoot people in the face. Thankfully, 2K Marin realized this and gave you several other options besides using guns. They gave you the ability to hack from afar (and eventually scout ahead), so you didn't actually have to get into firing range in order to use the environment around you AND you could get gene tonics to make the machinery last longer or even repair them. The plasmid upgrades were designed to take over on damage if you didn't want to use guns AND you could get gene tonics that made relying on Plasmids much easier. In fact, they added a lot of tonics designed specifically to shape combat to the way you wanted.

You still might've disliked every option given to you, but the point I'm making is that you were given the options to avoid the worst part of Biohshock (shooting people in the face).

Interactivity with the Environment -
They didn't really add anything here, but they didn't remove anything either. And they made an important thing better. There were two main ways to interact with the environment... hacking and using your plasmids to make a path. Like in Bioshock, they made sure to intersperse the levels with bits of ice or a malfunctioning door to use your plasmids on so they didn't feel like they were just for combat. They also kept the hacking, which they made several times better. Instead of an awful plumbing game, they put in a sort-of quicktime event. Still a bit weak, but miles better than the tile game. It was less of a slog, and you didn't have to pause the game just to hack something.

Choice -
The moral choice of slicing a little girl open or magically curing her of monsterism is still there. Moral choice systems are still as crap as they ever were, but I'll get to the ending in a bit. In the meantime, they've also added three big "kill or forgive" choices. Now, I think they improved on the system by making you feel like your choices are making a difference as you go along (instead of just at the ending). At a certain point in the game, it became apparent that you're having an effect on Eleanor. If you were saving girls and forgiving people, then she was a nice person. If you had been a murderous revenge machine, then she would be just as bad. That was after all the choices had been made, but even before then, Sophia's tone would be less assured as you were more benevolent. Her main followers would be questioning her and she'd adopt a stance based on desperate justification rather than of the smug self-righteousness she has when you're a dick.

Ending-
This is where moral choice systems go to defecate. And yes, in Bioshock 2, the moral choice system had some spicy mexican food before stopping off at the ending to make a right smelly mess. But I contend that this ending suffers the least from the all that shit being everywhere. This game had an alright ending, the story clearly built up to them escaping to freedom together and then they escape to freedom. It didn't, and this just a completely random example, build you up to escaping but then spend the last 20 minutes in an exposition walk-a-thon that only serves to confuse things. It also didn't pull a Bioshock and put in a second, less exciting, ending. No, in Bioshock 2, you have a thrilling escape just before you fade to black at the "we've escaped" part.

This had less to do with the game part of the game... but I thought I should make this point in response to what Yahtzee said about Bioshock endings.

---

So, I pose to a question: Was Bioshock 2 really that bad?

I never thought it was bad in the first place. Gameplay was far improved, I don't think many people would argue with that, and despite what others might say I liked B2's story better, as I actually felt like there was some LIFE in Rapture other than me and the few crazies.

My favorite part of gameplay was probably the reworked Insect Swarm Plasmid. In the first game I never really used it because, well, it was kind of shit, but in the second game, at Insect Swarm 2, it's not only fun but powerful as well. That, and the Drill charge I spammed like nobody's business, as it made me feel like an angry freight train.

Nah. I don't think as much that it's as bad as people "remember", it's more that people who rag on it tend not to have actually ever played it, basing their opinion on reviews or news.

The Gameplay was obviously better than Bioshock 1, and the story was equivalent and at times better than it in my eyes.

I don't think people hate Bioshcock II for what it is, but for what it represents. The first Bioshock had already wrapped everthing up and making the main character a big daddy was a decission cleary made by bussinessmen looking at whatever was popular in the first titel. It seemed there to take advantage of the first Bioshocks sucess rather then to tell an interesting tale or create an amezing world.

It isn't bad, it just has a lot less ambiguous and well written plot than Irrational's entries.

No, it wasn't.

There are a lot of people that want to poo-poo it, but Bioshock 2 is my favorite of the series.

The combat is much better then Bioshock 1 (I hated having to wait 3 seconds every time I wanted to switch between weapon and plasmid, just ugly and painful) and Bioshock: Infinite (standard guns and no special trap ammo). Setting up a maze of traps before doing each little sister harvest was loads of fun, made it feel very tactical.

I love the story. I think people complain because it doesn't have a "shock value" moment, but I don't think it needs one. Lamb is a great villain, excellently played as the antithesis of Ryan. I like how the choices you make are actually reflected in how Eleanor behaves at the end. Sophia Lamb says something to the effect "She looks to you as her father, in bringing you back, Eleanor was asking you how to behave". And I loved that.

Eh I liked it. My biggest issues with it was it feels like they had a specific story they wanted to tell which granted was not bad story but it feels like shit just happens because it needs to happen to make the plot work not because it makes sense and I hate that

Of course Lamb is not as interesting as Andrew Ryan but she wasn't bad. I really like the big sister too.

The actual gameplay was much much better though which is why I've replayed it whereas I only went though the first once because I just cannot stand the combat which just feels far to clunky and slow for me. I actually like defending the little sisters while they harvest but many people seem to hate anything that requires you to defend something.
I dislike when you are given a choice as to what the character you're playing does only to take that off you at the end so they can give you a good or bad ending based on points. However in bioshock 2 case it's fine because you aren't the one actively changing the ending, Eleanor is.

I actually quite liked Bioshock 2, myself.

I liked that the story was more personal than the first Bioshock, and contrary to at least what the OP says, I thought the combat was quite satisfying as a Big Daddy. Rapture admittedly wasn't as majestic comparatively, but I feel the game did a decent enough job of justifying itself and really, while Andrew Ryan completely outshines any NPC in 2 (and most games, for that matter), Atlas was the only other really interesting character in the first game, whereas 2 had much better, more fleshed out backstories for some of the characters you run across. The choices to kill or spare certain people were a nice touch too, especially with how they actually implemented their impact on the rest of the game.

Bioshick 2 was bad?

Well if it was bad, then BS 1 is horrible.

BS 2 is WAY better than BS 1. Gameplay 1st, 2nd Sound/Music 3rd Grapchis............. 8th History IMO.

CANT COMMENTS ON BI I havent played it yet...

A lot of these threads popping up lately...

I liked bioshock 2 very much, sure it didnt have the same impact as first because of it using the same world. Luckily that world is very interesting and they obviously looked at what was left vauge in the first and expanded on it (some of that being how the big daddies were made).

The combat was much better with a nice refinement of upgrades, making the combat even more customizable. I actually really enjoyed protecting the little sisters because it made me rub the toolkit together for traps and ambushes.

The only thing it fell on a bit was the story and characters, which were still good but not as good as the first. However the ending was much better.

I do think the minerva's den DLC had a great story. Nearly as good a twist as the first bioshock :)

TLDR: Maybe not as good (in parts) as the first, certainly not as fresh. But definitley not the trainwreck Yahtzee and co. would like you to believe. The story is good, the combat interesting and the game is long. Which is more than you can say for the majority of shooter's.

I haven't played Bioshock II, so I'm guessing, but I think the problem is that Bioshock is not actually all that good. The core shoot people in the face gameplay mechanic is mediocre, and while Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite have such stunning story and set elements that I forgot that while I was playing it'd be very very easy to miss that mark and be left with a game that's just kindof ok.

I never understood the hate around Bioshock 2. Bought it at launch, replayed it immediately after my first completion and have very fond memories of Minerva's den so no it was not a bad game by any means.

Bioshock 2 I found a lot of fun. It was just more of the same, but after finishing Bioshock 1, that's exactly what I wanted.

It surpasses Bioshock 1 in combat, but falls behind in story & characters. It lacked a villain as self-righteous as Ryan or one as batshit mad as Sander Cohen.

That said, I very much enjoyed the section in 2 dealing with Grace Holloway. One time the moral choice system worked was then.

Also, Trap Ammunition. That is all.

Y'know, I don't mention it in the original post because I was comparing things between the three games. All the Bioshocks have interesting sub characters, but I like the sub characters best from Bioshock 2. Gil Alexander happens to be my favorite villain from all three. Much better than Sander Cohen, he had the duality of his sane, regretful, self and this new insane monster. Even at the end, when it was time to make the choice to kill him or not, he wanted to live. He begged for his life. Meanwhile, when it came down to it, Cohen was just another houdini splicer... ready to fight (to the death) the same guy who's wasted every other splicer to cross his path.

To me, that grotesque lizard thing that lived in a fish tank was more of a believable character than the artist who wanted pictures of dead people. That, and he was interesting... tied much better into the narrative than the out-of-place Cohen.

Oh, and since BS:I exists: Columbia's "boss of a company" guy is Fink, and, well... you don't get to know him very well. Maybe he was a better character than the other two... but... we really didn't get to see that much of him.

The other two easily comparable sub characters is Diane McClintock and Mark Meltzer and I enjoyed following Meltzer's journey through rapture more than McClintock's. Both of them followed (somewhat) the same paths you did in the different games, so you were constantly finding their recordings. Then you eventually met both, Diane as a dead person and Mark as a big daddy. I just happened to find Meltzer's journey more cohesive and compelling.

Oh, and since BS:I exists: Columbia didn't have one of these characters. There wasn't anyone else taking their own journey separate from you, so... yeah.

In my opinion, Bioshock 2 is a fantastic game, and the reason why people like to hate on it is because it was a game that didn't necessarily have to exist. Bioshock told a very captivating story, dropping you into a strange place and having you to piece it together by yourself. Bioshock 2 doesn't do that, figuring you have already played the first game and isn't so much a mystery.

Instead, Bioshock II relies purely on the atmosphere, and expanding upon the mythos of Rapture. You explore more of the social aspect of the city- how people lived, the political undercurrents of the society, the divergent classes - and learn more about about the fall of Rapture. It essentially is a "Further stories of..." kind of adventure.

I could echo a lot of what has already been said in this thread, but instead, I will just also like to point out that the DLC "Minerva's Den," is easily one of the best story-driven DLCs I've ever played in any game, and is an excellent epilogue for Rapture.

I always thought it was an alright game.

But an alright game jammed between two utterly fantastic ones is not going to fair all that well.

I actually liked Bioshock 2 quite a bit. It's gameplay was fun, its atmosphere was the right blend of creepy and engrossing, and its retcons weren't big enough to put a dent in the original's story. Speaking of the story, I thought it was a unique, if imperfect one. However, with Bioshock 2 came Minerva's den, which was one of the better stories told in that game, and a fantastic example of posthumous characterization turned on its head.

Kinda had mixed feelings about the game. On one hand, I kinda like how the story felt a bit more personal. On the other hand, to me, playing as a Big Daddy didn't really feel all that different from playing as Jack from the first game. Plus I remember the game being a bit too short.

The combat was definitely an improvement though. Plasmids AND guns being used at the same time? Hell yeah!

It was an alright game. But looking back, I don't think it had quite the same impact the first game had.

Bioshock 1 is severely overrated. It's one of the best games of this gen, but it's still overrated.
Combat was a bit-above-average at best. Ammo was too prevalent (minor gripe). The post-climax story falls very much flat, especially the ending (although I liked playing as a Big Daddy temporarily).

The story and context, and especially the amazing atmosphere, level design, and nuanced antagonists were what made it great.

Bioshock 2 makes the combat actually quite good. The atmosphere is still great, but unfortunately it isn't as original solely by virtue of being a sequel set in Rapture, and suffers for it. In my opinion, however, the game is a better game than Bioshock 1. I actually enjoyed the multiplayer in fact, although I didn't play it very much (I'm more of a single player kind of guy). However, Bioshock 1 will be the one that people remember as being amazing, and for good reason.
That said, the hate for Bioshock 2 is undeserved. It was very good in its own right.

Having retread the series in light of my severe disappointment with Infinite, BioShock 2 stands out as something of a favourite. I'd argue it's probably the best installment in the series, not least from a ludic perspective.

One thing which has stuck with me is how instantly sympathetic the little sisters are in that game, compared to the profoundly creepy dollfaces they were in the original. The animation and model work is leaps and bounds better.

Bioshock 2 gameplay was better. I didn't replay it 8 times because I wanted to hear the "awesome" story again, I can tell you that.

People say Bioshock 2 sucks because all they think about when they hear "Bioshock" is The story, "would you kindly" and the electro-bolt plasmid. Bioshock 2 story sucks so everyone hates it. Nuts to that I say, I'll take gameplay over some stupid story any day. Story has little replay value. If all I want is a story I'll go watch a movie.

It's the middle child. It's just fine in it's own right (Great, even), but because it's treading familiar ground it doesn't have the same "wow" factor of the original or Infinite.

I enjoyed it a great deal.

I didn't play Bioshock until right before the deuce came out. I really enjoyed the second one because the first left me wanting more. I was able to dive right back into Rapture with improved gameplay more robust RPG elements without replaying the same game again. I remember it feeling like a more modern game at the time. I've never really understood all the hate for Bioshock 2 sequels almost never live up to the initial story and discovery of originals, but its a still fun game to play.

Not even close. While I never beat the first Bioshock, even I can tell you that the story of Bioshock 2 was much worse. However, I actually liked Bioshock 2's gameplay quite a bit outside of some of the plasmids being horrendously overpowered. I actually enjoyed the gunplay, smashing people with a giant drill like you were some Incredible Hulk / Gurren Lagann hybrid never got old, the weapon upgrade and tonic systems really encouraged exploration while adding a lot of creative perks to the mix (ice drill that reflects bullets ftw!), and having to plan your method of attack beforehand was very enjoyable for me. My main issues gameplay-wise were the previously mentioned balanced issues with certain plasmids and the game being one of many games - such as Fallout 3 / New Vegas - that I've played that seemingly necessitated playing on the hardest difficulty on the first playthrough in order to be a decent challenge. Like those games however, I still enjoyed Bioshock 2 quite a bit and just never quite agreed on the common consensus that it was all-around bad.

I will admit though that the multiplayer was utterly bland and terribly unbalanced. That really didn't need to be made or at the very least needed a lot more time to get right, which may as well been put into making the singleplayer better. I wholeheartedly agree that the multiplayer deserves all the flak it gets.

Off Topic: You spelled "Bioshock" wrong in your title. Grammar Police, AWAY! :P

I actually thought it was pretty good, I mean yeah it was a tacked on sequel if ever there was one, but everything I loved about the original game was still there: The atmosphere, the setting, the swingin' 40's/50's soundtrack, it was still allot of fun. Plus it didn't have the dumb ass pipe matching mini-game.

It's inferior to Bioshock 1 without question, and even though I haven't played Infinite yet, I'm reasonably (and correctly) certain that it's better too, but Bioshock 2 isn't a bad game by any stretch of the imagination.

Pebkio:
First, let's get the obvious out of the way:
Yes, it was a tacked on, redundant, game ...There were obviously forced retcons, and the setting itself was already overused before the game was even released. There, it's been mentioned, but that can't be the only reason to hate this GAME (not book... not movie).

Of course it can! If a sequel adds nothing to the story or characters and actually to worsens the original story through pointless retcons and changes then it is doing a bad job. (See the Star Wars prequels) Bioshock was famous for its story, it was what elevated the game from a mediocre shooter (Personally I found the gameplay kinda lacking) to one of the best games of this generation. A hastily written sequel tacked on for no other purpose than to squeeze a few dollars out a franchise is bad, end of story.

Zhukov:
I always thought it was an alright game.

But an alright game jammed between two utterly fantastic ones is not going to fair all that well.

Damn it, Zhukov, stop coming up with the best summerizations of what I want to say, I'm getting tired of quoting you.
Anyway.
I regard Bioshock 2 the same way I regard the Star Wars prequels:
Are they as good as the originals? No, not even close.
Are they as bad as people keep saying they are? Same answer.
Except for Episode 2. That one is exactly as bad as people keep saying it is.

I always felt it was not as good as the first, but still an enjoyable game.

Pebkio:
snip

Meltzer's story was pretty big. He was the main character of the "theres something under the sea" bioshock 2 marketing campaign. Following how he worked out where rapture was and where all the little girls were disappearing too. The logs you find carry on from that. Really well done.

True about some of the secondary characters in infinite. Fink wasn't gone into too much, neither was the leader of the vox populi or that war guy in the museum either to be honest. I get that the stories meant to focus on booker and elizabeth, but at what cost?

redmoretrout:

Of course it can! If a sequel adds nothing to the story or characters and actually to worsens the original story through pointless retcons and changes then it is doing a bad job. (See the Star Wars prequels) Bioshock was famous for its story, it was what elevated the game from a mediocre shooter (Personally I found the gameplay kinda lacking) to one of the best games of this generation. A hastily written sequel tacked on for no other purpose than to squeeze a few dollars out a franchise is bad, end of story.

Unneeded? Maybe. Made the original worse? Nope. The retcons were minor at best. I don't remember rapture suddenly blowing up at the end (bioshock 1's ending was quite ambiguous and rushed.) So bioshock 2 was just a continuation of what was still going on down there.

Jack becoming a sort-of worshipped character of the splicers was pretty cool. I reckon he only escaped with a handful of little sisters or splicers.

Zhukov:
I always thought it was an alright game.

But an alright game jammed between two utterly fantastic ones is not going to fair all that well.

Well, yeah.

Bio 2 is not bad, it's actually a very solid game. It's just that it gets beaten up by its two other far better (received) games in the series. You take it on it's own and it's rather good.

I liked it a lot, but it did feel a bit too tacked together story wise.

Being a big daddy was certainly very fun though. Just wish the multiplayer had a more reliable netcode, thing lagged like a mother...

V da Mighty Taco:
Off Topic: You spelled "Bioshock" wrong in your title. Grammar Police, AWAY! :P

Dammit! I'm always doing that... Bioshock dammit... a biosock just sounds nasty.

redmoretrout:
Of course it can! If a sequel adds nothing to the story or characters and actually to worsens the original story through pointless retcons and changes then it is doing a bad job. (See the Star Wars prequels) Bioshock was famous for its story, it was what elevated the game from a mediocre shooter (Personally I found the gameplay kinda lacking) to one of the best games of this generation. A hastily written sequel tacked on for no other purpose than to squeeze a few dollars out a franchise is bad, end of story.

But a game, as was my point, should be judged by more than just what you can also find in a book or a movie. Another point I made in my first "list" paragraph, was that 2K marin made the game feel less like a shooter and more like a fist person RPG. So while the story had to save the mediocre shooter "Bioshock", it didn't have to save the fun RPG "Bioshock 2".

I mean, really, if you're only in gaming for the stories, you might have better luck just reading books. I'm sure there's a novelization of Bioshock out there...

I think the reason people think BioShock 2 was "bad" was because it was, more or less, a lateral movement where most were expecting a step up.

I thought it was good. Not amazing, maybe not even great, but good.

So basically, it's bad because it wasn't what most people were expecting. Well, maybe. I didn't do the research.

2 was great compared to 1. I actually gave a shit about the plot in 2.

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