Dealspwn Rating: 8/10
Developer: 4A Games
One question: aren’t games supposed to be fun? Metro 2033 is many things – well executed, atmospheric, psychopathically challenging – but fun isn’t a word that springs to mind.
It’s set – as you’ve probably guessed – in an underground system in 2033. The location this time is Moscow. The reason you’re living in the underground system? Chant it with me people: Nuclear war. Yes indeed, Metro 2033 is another – everybody! – post-apocalyptic first person shooter. What’s going on in games development world? Is it only Disney that’s allowed access to the colours? Enough of the greys and browns! Can’t we just once have a first-person shooter set in a meadow?
Sorry. I digress. You play Artyom, a 20-something man who was born in the last glory days of Moscow but raised underground, as one of the last band of survivors. You’ve never known life above ground and probably never will, since the apocalyptic event turned the surface poisonous. You’ve also never known life outside the station where you live, because of all the mutants and nasties and, indeed, Nazis that dwell there. As one of your colleagues says, if it is about survival of the fittest, then mankind has already lost.
Your station-bound status is about to change however, which is just as well, because otherwise this would be the most depressing game ever made AND the most tedious. With a new threat approaching, you’ve stumbled into the role of messenger and must get to another outpost of survivors and warn them. All together now, one more time - the fate of mankind is in your hands...
Dealspwn Rating: 8/10
Developer: 2K Marin
Publisher: 2K Games
I’m going to have to admit right away that I came to Bioshock 2 with a certain sense of trepidation. Since learning that 2K were planning on giving us another glimpse of Rapture I have worn my fingernails down to the bone so that now my hands themselves look like fingerless gloves for the undead. It’s not that I thought they’d manage to screw up a sequel, but rather that the original game didn’t need one, that what came next bearing the same name couldn’t possibly hope to be quite as special as the original.
A little recap for those yet to check out the underwater city, Rapture was built by a man named Andrew Ryan, and designed to be an objectivist Utopia. Unfortunately, the discovery of mutated sea slugs that excreted a substance named ADAM ruined proceedings, as it was learned that ADAM could initiate instantaneous genetic modification, or awesome superhuman Plasmid upgrades to you and me. So the citizens of Rapture began to fight over them and a whole bunch of lost and abandoned children were turned into ADAM harvesters, or Little Sisters, using their own bodies to refine the material. They, in turn, were protected from the ADAM addicted lowlifes of the city, or Splicers, by Big Daddies, read oversized armoured psychopaths with the Mole from Thunderbirds for an arm.
If Rapture sounds like a bit of a twisted place then you’d be right, it’s both beautiful and diseased in equal measure and, just like the first game, you hold its fate in your hands. Bioshock 2 takes place a decade on from its predecessor: Ryan is gone, but the city is still as warped as ever, under the direction of one Sophia Lamb who has eschewed Ryan’s individualistic philosophy for one of community collectivism, and set herself up as a quasi-religious leader. Big Daddies still stomp the streets, Splicers can be seen slinking about the shadows, giggling maniacally and muttering curses and Lamb’s voice bounces off of walls throughout Rapture’s halls and corridors.
The trailer for this one grabbed my attention instantly, thanks to Bobby Darin's classic track eerily drifting out of my speakers whilst chaos ensued beneath the waves. Bioshock was also one of the reasons that I ended up moving from my good old Playstation 2 and walking into the world of the current generation of consoles with my first Xbox 360 Elite.
You're thrown into the action right from the start as the plane Jack's on crashes into the ocean and you break the surface to find your the only living person amongst the flaming wreckage. After swimming to the nearest piece of land, you venture inside a structure to find a lone bathysphere waiting for you. Once you step inside and pull the shiny irresistible leaver, a screen drops down and a film reel narrated by Andrew Ryan starts up. During the course of the mini-movie the screen rises and you're treated to a truly jaw dropping scene as you get your first glimpses of Rapture. When you come to a halt and step foot in the underwater city things really kick off.
The story behind the game is one of the best that I've ever come across and it's full of twists and turns that keep you firmly in the game's grips until you finally get to the end. You'll also come across a plethora of intriguing characters, like Andrew Ryan, Atlas, Brigid Tenenbaum, and Sander Cohen, most of whom are at each others throats due to the civil war that's ripped Rapture apart.
Rapture is one of the truly impressive achievements of the game and it's a spectacular character in itself. At times it can be beautiful, whereas at others it can be deeply disturbing. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore and I'd advise you to spend as much time as possible rooting around so that you can discover all the audio diaries that are scattered about the environments. However, you won't have much time to stop and stare because that'll lead to your early demise at the hands of some aesthetically challenged addicts.
I am of course talking about the various Splicers that populate the city and will do anything they can to get hold of the tiniest amount of ADAM. Chances are you'll hear the Splicers before you see them, as they creepily sing songs, ramble crazily, or drag their weapons across any surface that'll cause fear to seep into their enemies bones. The majority of Splicers can be dispatched pretty easily, however Spider Splicers are probably the toughest and scariest of the lot and can be quite tricky to deal with, as they jump around and crawl over the walls and ceilings. Houdini Splicers should also be mentioned because they can be extremely irritating as they teleport around you and blast you with fireballs.
Jack's not exactly helpless though, there are plenty of weapons that you can pick up and defend yourself with. Some weapons are better than others and pack a fairly hefty punch, whereas others are good for spraying ammo about, and a few are great for setting traps. You'll also have to think tactically when you're taking on certain enemies, by picking ammo types that'll sort them out quickly and effectively. Once you've found the one's that you feel most comfortable with, chances are they're the one's that you'll upgrade first using the Power To The People machines that are craftily hidden away. Another important bit of kit in your inventory is the camera, which you can use to research your foes for damage upgrades.
Now, Bioshock probably wouldn't be quite as much fun if it was a straight forward first person shooter, so it's a good job that plasmids were included! Plasmids grant you special abilities that can definitely tip the scale of a battle in your favour. To be honest you can probably make it through the majority of the game using just the electrobolt plasmid and then bashing people over the head with your rusty red wrench. They're not just offensive weapons though, they can also help you to get to otherwise inaccessible areas, for example the incinerate plasmid can be used to melt ice that's holding doors closed. In addition to the plasmids, you can beef yourself up using gene tonics that grant you permanent bonuses, and you'll have to decide what you want to excel at before you waste a valuable slot.
If you want to augment yourself as much as possible, then you're going to have to go after the Little Sisters, who skip around collecting ADAM from the numerous corpses that are lying around. You can choose to harvest, or save, the Little Sisters, and the ending depends on how you treat them. I'd say that your best course of action's to save them though, because then you'll receive some pretty good bonuses from Dr. Tenenbaum.
Of course, I've made it seem like getting your hands on the Little Sisters is an easy task, which of course it isn't because of their hulking chaperones. There aren't many hostile video game characters that you intricately plan out fighting, but that's exactly what you'll need to do to survive your encounters with the Big Daddies. I've found the best course of action's to use explosive and armour piercing ammo types, after setting traps for them using the Grenade Launcher and the Crossbow, and of course blasting them with electrobolt should give you a crucial couple of seconds to make a break for it before they charge at you again! They can be fairly challenging on the lower difficulty seconds, but if you're running around with the game set on hard then you've got your work cut out for you.
The only down sides to the game that I can manage to come up with, and believe me finding negative aspects to Bioshock is quite difficult, are the lack of a multiplayer, the fact that you can't duel wield plasmids and weapons, and the endless hacking that you seem to have to get through. Hacking can turn hostile security device into friendly allies, or grant you special items and price cuts when it comes to vending machines, but it takes up a lot of time and gets fairly repetitive after a while. The simple solution's to fork out more money for the items that you need, blast security devices into oblivion with your weapons, or fire the incredibly useful automatic hack darts at electrical devices to instantly turn them to your side.
When you look at it as a whole, Bioshock's a true diamond in the rough that provides you with hours of high quality, enjoyable gameplay, and delivers a story that'll take your breath away on more than one occasion. Finally, whilst there are only a couple of endings, you'll more than likely find yourself plunging down to the depths of Rapture time and time again because it's just too good to stay away from.
The Short Version: Bioshock's an outstanding game, with a few easily overlooked and forgettable flaws, that everyone needs to get through at least once, and chances are you'll go back for more because it's an absolute joy to throw yourself into.