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BioShock 2: What's Changed...

Behind the scenes with single and multiplayer


This is just part of Xbox World 360's BioShock 2 multiplayer report, from its exclusive visit to developer Digital Extremes and behind the scenes access with 2K Marin. Pick up the magazine next week on June 9 for a monster 14-page BioShock 2 preview with full exclusive details, screenshots and interviews - plus the first Xbox 360 review of Prototype.

Set eleven years before the events of BioShock 2, hence one year before the original game, multiplayer tells the tale of Rapture's plummet from underwater paradise into leaking tomb. You're just a normal civilian trying to survive, and the only way to put food on the table is to work as a product tester for the questionable Sinclair Solutions; an up-and-coming Plasmid and Tonics research company dedicated to inventing new genetic modifications.

The story is the perfect excuse for some CoD4-style upgrade systems, with Gene Tonics acting as the popular Perks. As your chosen character accumulates XP you'll rise up from rank one to the maximum rank of 20. Each new level brings with it a host of goodies. Prove your skills with the initial Plasmids and Tonics and Sinclair will ask you to test some better, more volatile, gear. Weapons, upgrades and genetic modifications are all handed out in this manner.

In Bioshock your fighting systems were clunky because of their modularity. Toggling between Plasmid and weapon usage limited combo opportunities, which is why the ability to now juggle these two offenses simultaneously with the off-hand Plasmid model is the biggest single leap in a series' mechanics since Halo 2 introduced dual wielding. Refreshingly for a game which seemed so short of multiplayer-friendly systems, Bioshock's lore hasn't been treated as sacrosanct. Elements which don't fit the multiplayer mould have been dropped, which is why you won't be seeing hacking mini-games, Vita-Chambers or even certain Plasmids.

The most striking change, dual-wielding notwithstanding, is in the health system. The red-over-blue health/EVE HUD is immediately familiar, the regenerating life bar less so. If opponents aren't taken down quickly they'll soon replenish their health, and likewise the option to turn tail and live for another fight is always available should you be on the wrong end of an ambush. Be warned though: health bars are on show to everybody so you'll probably be chased down and killed unless your escape route's hard to follow.

All multiplayer Plasmids have been designed with three uses in mind, as demonstrated by new addition Geyser. The classic attack is still present (point your reticule at a splicer and fire for a health-draining effect) but Geyser also has a secondary attack. Fire the Plasmid at a floor or wall and it will dig in. As soon as somebody runs past the trap they'll be catapulted into the ceiling or walls, and if the trap's been imbued with electricity from a secondary burst of Electo Bolt the damage will be even greater still. Geyser's third usage is defense. Much like a Portable Grav Lift, Geyser can be deployed in a large room and used to leap onto higher platforms to escape or set up camping spots. These may already be inhabited by enemies using Aero Dash - another new Plasmid which allows you to bridge large gaps by dashing forward in a straight line at great speed.

"I absolutely saw the binary catch-all ending and was saddened that some players felt cheated," Creative Director Jordan Thomas tells us. "They harvested just one little sister because Altas was such a charming, convincing Irish bastard and all of a sudden at the end they were Hitlerzilla. One of the pieces of the spiel when I play the [Bioshock 2] demo is about the sense of moral agency and trusting the player with greater control over their role in the narrative. The first game gave you one moral choice and there was one binary ending. In Bioshock 2 you make a number of new choices which are much greyer, that have nothing to do with the little sisters. Those decisions inform the ending, as does the fact that when you're closing in on the end you will be given the opportunity to see ahead to the person you are becoming and how you're changing the world. Then you make another decision based on that. We're giving the player greater intentionality as they're deciding their own identity."

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