Claustrophobia’s a dangerous thing. Trapped in confined corridors, already deep under the surface of the water, your mind plays tricks and Bioshock 2 knows this because it exploits it from the very moment the game hands over control to the player. Before that, though, is one of videogaming’s most explosive openings, dispensing with the gradual setup of the first game with a thrilling set-piece that, if nothing else, grabs your attention.
From there on in, so far at least, Bioshock 2 is Bioshock, the sequel. The setting is largely the same, although you’re visiting different areas of Rapture, and this helps to convey the feeling of familiarity despite the change of focus from human to Big Daddy. Your slower, more considered pace gives the game a weightier sense of physicality and the weaponry, immediately different but still appropriate, assists with this ‘new but old’ mechanic.
Visually Rapture is still beautiful, the water effects as convincing as ever and the dystopic buildings, greenery, and neon surely pushing Unreal as far as it can go. The atmosphere is tangible, the air deep with tension and excitement, every step is another into the unknown, and although I’ve only spent a couple of hours with the game the storyline looks likely to be as clever as the first’s. Twists aplenty, and the return of some characters you may remember.
Is it a safe buy? I’d say so – if you’re looking for a smart, lengthy first person adventure this weekend Bioshock 2 is probably essential, especially if you enjoyed the first game and just want to see what’s next. There’s enough new features to make the continuation of the story a must for fans, but it’s open enough for newbies to jump in and see what’s going on. Just be warned, those of you with claustrophobia will have plenty to fear…