For more BioShock 2 talk don't forget to read PC Gamer's massive first look too.
The first BioShock - one of the most critically acclaimed games of the generation - didn't leave much open for a sequel. Story-wise it's got enough plot twists to fill an entire season of Lost and the rock-solid conclusion wraps things up pretty satisfyingly for Jack and the Little Sisters. But despite all that - and even without the original developer at the helm - 2K's bravely going back to Rapture for the sequel.
Ken Levine and 2K Boston have set sail. In their place is newly formed 2K Marin, a team comprised of both a handful of BioShock veterans and other "enthusiastic" newcomers, all led by the designer of the first game's best level.
"BioShock is a hard act to follow," proclaims creative director Jordan Thomas, maker of the excellent Fort Frolic and Thief's famous Cradle. "We wanted to make sure that we could surprise you no matter what you were expecting. BioShock had a unity with the systems of play underneath it that hadn't really been seen before and it also offered hard choices to the first-person shooter player.
"So for BioShock 2 we had to trust you with more difficult moral decisions and allow you to shape your own role in the narrative in a way that is new and surprising - and that means adding new mystery to Rapture."
It's been ten years since the events of the first BioShock, and the remaining inhabitants have slipped even further into the depths of desperation. The once underwater utopia has become even more flooded, ruined and full of absolute mentalists struggling to survive and desperate for ADAM.
But after a 'monster' runs amok kidnapping little girls along the Atlantic coast, Rapture's sprung back to life again... and there's another story to tell.
Thomas is talking to us via the magic of technology in 2K's plush London offices, where we're visiting to take a first look at the 2K Marin-developed sequel via a pre-recorded gameplay demo, including extended scenes from this released footage.
Our demo kicks off with the distinctive, haunting sound of a little sister's song; "Mr. Bubbles, Mr. Bubbles, are you there?" As the player character comes to we realise he's face down on the floor, a puddle revealing his true face... it's a Big Daddy.
A radio crackles in our ear. It's Dr. Tenenbaum, the guilty guardian of the Little Sisters from our first voyage to Rapture. "Hello? Hello? You can hear me, yes? Wake up, your time for sleeping is over." Our Big Daddy climbs to his feet, his yellow visor reflecting in the watery floor as he regains his focus.
"As you can see, BioShock 2 allows you to step into the boots of a Big Daddy," pipes in Thomas. "One of the things that allows you to do is master the Big Daddy's signature weapons, the best known of which is the drill," he says, as the main character smashes through a wooden door with his man-sized toy.
Off the bat BioShock 2's undoubtedly a better looking game than the first. Lighting in particular has advanced well beyond the last time we saw the city and flashing lights and streaky shadows ooze the kind of atmosphere Rapture thrives on.
There also seems to be more detail lavished on this decayed section of town. In the first room our Daddy comes stomping into, a huge section of the splintered, wooden floor is missing. A group of Splicers are huddled directly below.