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Default Bioshock 2 - Review @ GameBanshee

February 28th, 2010, 16:54
Brother None(?) reviews Bioshock 2. With such statements as 'overly dramatic pieces of tripe' it doesn't come with much surprise that the conclusions are not entirely positive.
All throughout my time playing this game, I couldn't help but feel the game was shouting I'm unnecessary! at me. Contrary to what game publishers would like to think, not every successful property warrants a sequel, and while there might have been some potential in BioShock for a sequel or spin-off, the cop-out of handing it to another division to just bang out a cash-in title shows, painfully so. It's hard to play this game without being aware that it's just cashing in, from the feel of it being just a level pack, to the derivative story, to the somewhat half-assed ideas added by the new studio.

If you absolutely adored BioShock and couldn't wait for more, I could imagine the very similar BioShock 2 could fill the need, though it'll do it somewhat deceptively as it's really filling the emptiness with well more emptiness, not adding but at points even detracting. To me, BioShock already disappointed after its hype, and BioShock 2 just adds insult to injury. Yes, the gameplay tweaks improve the shooting action, and it is unquestionably a better shooter than its predecessor. But the game suffers under having no evolution in the RPG elements, repetitive level design hurting the fun, and a terrible story dragging along throughout. At only 12 hours long, I'd have a hard time advising people to buy what is essentially a competent but at points heavily flawed map pack with a multiplayer patch.
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February 28th, 2010, 16:54
Why the (?)? That's mine, yeah. Who else could spit so much bile on an AAA title?
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February 28th, 2010, 17:45
Good review. I had no plans to buy the game before and now I can bookmark your review to remind me why I don't even want to buy it out of desperation.
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February 28th, 2010, 17:46
I try to play bioshock 1 and i never liked it, is just a shooter with some story behind.
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February 28th, 2010, 18:04
Not comment about this review specifically (i can understand and accept this opinion) but just in general … I don't get that how in the rpg community it often seems accepted and non-contradictory to argue that Bioshock 2 is utter crap and ME2 is the best thing that ever happened to rpgs ?

There is very little difference between these two games IMO. Both are "shooters with some story behind " and minor and superficial rpg elements. I personally preferred Bioshock 2 more than ME2, but I wasn't being told constantly that I was playing a revolutionary rpg so my expectations were more realistic.

I'm sure it has something to do with Bioshock professing to be carrying on the justifiably beloved System Shock tradition and ME2 is not. However, that cannot fully explain the huge dichotomy here.
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February 28th, 2010, 18:05
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Why the (?)? That's mine, yeah. Who else could spit so much bile on an AAA title?
Don't want to put words in your mouth if I'm not 100% it's true. You're here enough to confirm it yourself.
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February 28th, 2010, 18:11
Originally Posted by dagoo7 View Post
I don't get that how in the rpg community it is accepted and non-contradictory to argue that Bioshock 2 is utter crap and ME2 is the best thing that ever happened to rpgs ?
I find this hard to really address since I haven't played ME2, but I'll assume in RPG-level it's similar to Mass Effect 1. In which case: I don't think your comparison is correct. BioShock 1 and 2 are RPG-lite compared even to FPS/RPGs like Deus Ex or Vampire: Bloodlines. You could called Mass Effect a TPS/RPG or action RPG, but it has a lot more going for it on the RPG front than BioShock 2; varied choices with varied, in-game consequences, separate side- and main-quests, dialogue system, non-combat skills, stats having more of an influence on combat.

I think I get your point, as far as critiquing seeing ME2 as the "next evolution in RPGs" goes, obviously both BioShock 2 and ME2 share that they're simply less RPG than the RPG of old. Is that an evolution? I wouldn't say so. Is it where mainstream "RPGs" are going? Sure.
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February 28th, 2010, 18:54
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
I find this hard to really address since I haven't played ME2, but I'll assume in RPG-level it's similar to Mass Effect 1. In which case: I don't think your comparison is correct. BioShock 1 and 2 are RPG-lite compared even to FPS/RPGs like Deus Ex or Vampire: Bloodlines. You could called Mass Effect a TPS/RPG or action RPG, but it has a lot more going for it on the RPG front than BioShock 2; varied choices with varied, in-game consequences, separate side- and main-quests, dialogue system, non-combat skills, stats having more of an influence on combat.

I think I get your point, as far as critiquing seeing ME2 as the "next evolution in RPGs" goes, obviously both BioShock 2 and ME2 share that they're simply less RPG than the RPG of old. Is that an evolution? I wouldn't say so. Is it where mainstream "RPGs" are going? Sure.
I think with ME2 its even more apparent. With respect to story choice, ME2 does a better job of creating the illusion of meaningful choice, but in the end those choices affect the way you play or experience the game (other than cutscenes) to, in reality, only a slightly more significant degree than the "choices" in Bioshock 2 to save or kill certain people and whether to harvest or rescue the little sisters.

With respect to character development, one could even argue that Bioshock 2 requires more meaningful choice. At least in Bioshock you have to choose which passive and active powers you carry and this at least nominally affects the way you play and approach the game. In ME2, other than initial class choice, you simply choose to max out power A before power B. In the case of Bioshock 2, I would argue that the loadout doesn't really matter because you simply end up shooting repeatedly at everything (whether it be right click or left click) regardless of which powers are equipped. However, the same could be argued for ME2, the choice of class or powers maxed out first doesn't really change the game from hide, shoot, hide, shoot, activate power x, hide, shoot.

I'm sure I will be vilified as an elitist with an agenda for saying these things. And I know I should just shutup, but I find this deification of ME2 among certain reviewers and members of the rpg community particularly irksome as contradictory opinions about other games seem to be held at the same time. IMO both Bioshock 2 and ME2 are decent games, ME2 is better experience probably overall, but IMO, they are, in reality, cut from much the same cloth. IMO both are "shooters with a story" and not much beyond that.
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February 28th, 2010, 18:56
repetitive level design hurting the fun, and a terrible story dragging along throughout.
If B2 have repetitive level design and terrible story then I wonder what ever would satisfy the authors demands.

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February 28th, 2010, 19:22
Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
If B2 have repetitive level design and terrible story then I wonder what ever would satisfy the authors demands.
Repetitive level design might be badly phrased; it's referring to the grind of Save Little Sister-Protect Little Sisterx2-grind x3-fight Big Sister repetitive nature of each level. The variation in aesthetics and layout is there; the variation in how the levels actually play is not.

And yes, BioShock 2 has a terrible story. Stopping for one moment to look at it carefully is all it takes to reveal that, and the fact that it's wrapped in the same bombastic language as its predecessor may be enough to fool my colleagues, but not for me. It's not just that it is derivative in almost everything being a lazy mirror image of BioShock 1, it is - as explained in the review - the inconsistent writing that did it for me. It's as bad as Fallout 3, it just hides it better.
What does satisfy me story-wise? BioShock 1 did. It wasn't great, and setting and backstory were both stronger than the main plot, but it was certainly good enough. BioShock 2 isn't.

Originally Posted by dagoo
I'm sure I will be vilified as an elitist with an agenda for saying these things. And I know I should just shutup, but I find this deification of ME2 among certain reviewers and members of the rpg community particularly irksome as contradictory opinions about other games seem to be held at the same time.
Like I said, I'm not qualified to address this point since I didn't play ME2, but I'm glad this criticism at least does not apply to GameBanshee, where both games got put through the grinder for lack of RPG elements (though I didn't focus on it much for BS2, since it's essentially the same as BS1).
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February 28th, 2010, 21:21
while the story isn't great, hard to live up to the first, its full of a lot more emotion than its predecessor though considering some of the lead designers are female, while most gamers not, its not suprising it gets lambasted. to me paupers paup and grace where 2 of the best level and character in either bioshock. it definately wasn't the masterpiece as the first but for me no sequel is no matter how good ala gothic 2. also for those thinking the backstory which was there wasn't enough, you really should have checked out the flash site something in the sea before hand or even now. even if you don't attempt the insanely hard puzzles the artifcats, letters, and voice recordings, and a host of characters add an unpresedented amount of free content pre game. most sadly seems to have not trickled into bioshock 2 itself save the protaganist of the site mark metzler who has a number of audio diares in bioshock 2. i will be thrilled if the single player dlc has something to do with the other characters from the site as they were in some ways better than most of the bioshock 2 characters. bottom line though is bioshock had a typical hero/revenge bad guy(s) theme that most game players eat up. the 'good' ending in bioshock 2 had themes of mercy and altruism—sadly not traits vauled by most people let alone game players, especially shooters…so conscious or not that has to impact mosts view or feelings towards the game because in the end it added better level design, weapons, splicers all the while somehow being a shorter and less intense (horror, awe, wonder) than the first. wait for the price to go down if you're not a diehard bioshock fan, but if you pass on the game your doing your self a disservice.
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February 28th, 2010, 21:45
Originally Posted by curious View Post
while the story isn't great, hard to live up to the first,
The first wasn't that good. Good, yes, but not worth the praise the game journos heaped on it. The backstory and setting remain, while BioShock 1's actual plot was probably its weakest point, you would think it's not that difficult to work with that, simply make a better plot and insert it into the already great backstory/setting. BioShock 2 opting for a weak derivative plot while harming the backstory/setting is probably the worst choice you could make.

Originally Posted by curious View Post
considering some of the lead designers are female, while most gamers not, its not suprising it gets lambasted.
I don't see what that has to do with anything, there are other games written by women and I have no problem with any of them. It seems a bit odd to assume women can't write for men.

Originally Posted by curious View Post
also for those thinking the backstory which was there wasn't enough, you really should have checked out the flash site something in the sea before hand or even now.
I followed the PR while newsposting it, as is also my job at GameBanshee. PR is irrelevant to reviewing a game, since it's not a part of the game.

Originally Posted by curious View Post
bottom line though is bioshock had a typical hero/revenge bad guy(s) theme that most game players eat up. the 'good' ending in bioshock 2 had themes of mercy and altruism—sadly not traits vauled by most people let alone game players, especially shooters…so conscious or not that has to impact mosts view or feelings towards the game because in the end it added better level design, weapons, splicers all the while somehow being a shorter and less intense (horror, awe, wonder) than the first.
Sorry but you're jumping too much from one thought to the next. It's like reading BioShock 2 all over again. You lost me.
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February 28th, 2010, 21:46
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
What does satisfy me story-wise? BioShock 1 did. It wasn't great, and setting and backstory were both stronger than the main plot, but it was certainly good enough. BioShock 2 isn't.
IMO BioShock 1's story was pretty good up until The Big Twist (tm). After that, it just felt like a way over-extended endgame.

Deus Ex, OTOH…
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February 28th, 2010, 21:47
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Repetitive level design might be badly phrased; it's referring to the grind of Save Little Sister-Protect Little Sisterx2-grind x3-fight Big Sister repetitive nature of each level. The variation in aesthetics and layout is there; the variation in how the levels actually play is not.
Yes, I agree. I found the level design to be quite variated, but collecting Adam felt like grinding.

Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
And yes, BioShock 2 has a terrible story. Stopping for one moment to look at it carefully is all it takes to reveal that, and the fact that it's wrapped in the same bombastic language as its predecessor may be enough to fool my colleagues, but not for me. It's not just that it is derivative in almost everything being a lazy mirror image of BioShock 1, it is - as explained in the review - the inconsistent writing that did it for me. It's as bad as Fallout 3, it just hides it better.
What does satisfy me story-wise? BioShock 1 did. It wasn't great, and setting and backstory were both stronger than the main plot, but it was certainly good enough. BioShock 2 isn't.
I enjoyed the overarching story in B2, thanks to being interested in the philosophy it's based on.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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February 28th, 2010, 22:01
Have to agree with this review, I still feel the burn on my butt from buying this damn game.
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March 1st, 2010, 02:23
I enjoyed Bioshock 2 a whole lot, it was good to be in Rapture again and the gameplay was fun. Bioshock 1 is one of the greatest games of all time and Bioshock 2 doesn't live up to that level since part of the appeal of 1 is that the setting was amazing and new. As far as comparisons between Bioshock 2 and ME2 yes they both use "shooting" as the main component of combat but there are way too many differences for them to be close to "almost the same game." There is tons of conversation in ME2 and almost none in Bioshock 2, in ME2 you can frequently pause and give orders (for yourself and for your two teammates) while in Bioshock 2 you can't do this; these two differences are huge in my view. The setting is completely different from each other in the two games. So yes they have similarities but aren't anything close to the same game. I happen to enjoy ME2 a whole lot better than Bioshock 2 but that's because ME2 in my view is one of the best games of all time along with Bioshock 1, Planescape Torment, Baldur's Gate 2, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, and a few others (not in any particular order).
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March 1st, 2010, 02:57
Originally Posted by NFLed View Post
Bioshock 1 is one of the greatest games of all time.

Yikes… I enjoyed Bioshock a lot, and I think it's better than what a lot of people give it credit for, but there's no way I'd count it among the greatest games of all time.
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March 1st, 2010, 06:40
I found Bioshock 1 to be one of the more enjoyable games of this generation. It had many of the components which modern games simply doesn't contain; originality, philosophy, morality, story etc. It had some real vision. It was different. The art design was great (although unspliced human models looked like crap already in the first game).

Still, beneath all that it was a rather simple game. Sure, you could do a lot of tricks to get past a situation, but like most modern games there's no need to think about how to use the mechanics properly, it's just faster to just shoot whatever is standing in your way. And even with the special powers you could buy and upgrade, it was still "just a shooter".

I finished Bioshock 2 using electricity exclusively. I also never used several weapons as they felt uneccessary and I finished with over 1000 adam "spare" which I found no need to use. Fire, Ice and Electricity actually works the same way; it damages and it stuns the foes, groups at higher levels. The differences between them are too slim to care for. Fire can melt paths and electricity can sometimes open doors but I found no extra use for Ice in B2 (I think it could freeze flames in the first). You can use levitate to damage foes, but in the end it's more of a hassle than just stunning and shooting them. Same with swarm that still just stuns so you can shoot. But maybe that's what "normal" difficulty is all about?

Makes me wonder what they would have been able to accomplish if they had skipped the multiplayer game.

Another issue I had was that I didn't feel like a Big Daddy. I felt like the guy form the first game plus a drill. I had expected to play something that could squish traditional splicers with ease, but with stronger foes up ahead, but there were few new opponents in B2. There's one time you smash through a barricade but otherwise the whole "humanoid wrecking ball" concept simply wasn't in here.

Still, I found the story to be pretty good. It had plenty of layers which it brought in from both psychology and philosophy.

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An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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March 1st, 2010, 11:01
Originally Posted by dagoo7 View Post
I'm sure I will be vilified as an elitist with an agenda for saying these things. And I know I should just shutup, but I find this deification of ME2 among certain reviewers and members of the rpg community particularly irksome
I wonder why you'd think you will be vilified… but anyway, these reviewers mostly did not review Mass Effect 2 as an RPG, but simply as a game. As such, I feel that it definitely has a lot to offer, maybe even those 90+ scores. You just have to put away those expectations and RPG glasses, first.

As for the comparison with Bioshock 2, there are also plenty of choices to make in Mass Effect that affect the way you play.

- The team mates that you take with you
- The weapons configuration that you take with you
- The upgrades you buy
- How you upgrade your powers and those of your team mates
- Doing the loyalty missions of your team mates, unlocking a new power for them

You can choose to "duck-shoot-duck-use power-duck-shoot", but that's not your only option. You can, like in the first Mass Effect, also choose to order your team mates around, use their powers to good effect and basically play the game more tactically. If guess that gets even more important on the harder difficulties.

So I don't get the comparison with Bioshock 2. I've only played the first, but I guess the basic gameplay is the same. Let's not forget the tons of other gameplay that Mass Effect 2 offers. I spent hours just exploring and talking to NPCs yesterday. Can you do that in Bioshock 2? To me, the statement I read a while ago that said, "remove the combat and there's not much game left" simply isn't true.

But I guess we'll never see eye to eye on this issue.
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March 1st, 2010, 11:07
Overly harsh review, most likely based on anti-casual-market bias - which I can easily sympathise with.

But that's just my opinion

As far as shooters go, Bioshock 2 - much like BS1 - is pretty good and the story, shallow as it is, is still quite a bit ahead of the average shooter stuff.

I'd rate it 7.5/10 - something like that.
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