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Previews

BioShock 2 Hands-On Preview

Big Sisters, Rivet Guns and aggressive, beautiful Rapture

Last month PSM3 Magazine got down and dirty in the first BioShock 2 hands-on and yesterday morning, with notepad and extra strong coffee in hand, we travelled to Take-Two in Windsor to do the same.

Stepping into the shoes of the first Big Daddy, Delta, to stomp around the even more rapidly decaying streets of Rapture is, unsurprisingly, an instantly familiar experience.

The feeling of isolation induced by the drip, drip, drop of the Atlantic ocean from every crack and crevice - a constant reminder that you're imprisoned in this mentalist dystopia - is rekindled immediately as we pull into a battered train station.

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The city of Rapture has slipped even further down the slippery slope to self-destruction. The desperate and Adam-obsessed locals have modified themselves into even more horrific creations, and destruction and graffiti tarnishes every once-beautiful surface.

Our hulking character stomps off the train - every footstep birthing a metal thud - as we manoeuvre our vision around the brass edges of Delta's visor to examine a wall of ice blocking the train's path ahead. We'll need to melt it to move forward - more specifically with the plasmid ability, incinerate.

Our quest for the fiery plasmid leads us through Ryan Amusements; an 'educational' theme park designed to teach the children of Rapture what they're doing several miles below the sea - and why they shouldn't ever go back up to dry land.

As you'd expect from BioShock the park's attractions are propaganda-filled, occasionally hilarious - and sometimes disturbing - with animatronic Andrew Ryans preaching the evils of land government through battered 1930s speakers.

One scene has a giant set of hands - presumably that of the US government - literally pulling the roof off a family's home to steal their well-earned cash from within. Another has a family enjoying themselves in front of the television, before young Jimmy is dragged off by the same set of anamatronic mitts to "go to war and die".

This is but one tease of a seemingly rich narrative set to return in the second game. Ryan Amusements alone is scattered with audio diaries, scribbled messages on the walls and splicers madly screaming their tales down the corridors - and every element tells a story.

This time around the splicers and inhabitants of Rapture have been allowed a more believable presentation in both look and voice acting. One wrench-carrying mentalist moaned of his wife's desire for more kids, while another madman went ballistic when we entered the room, certain that we were "the bank" coming to collect his debts.

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It's probably fortunate that the mutated citizens have been fleshed out in this way, because as a powerful Big Daddy you'll be seeing - and fighting - a lot more of them.

Big battles - such as those triggered by the harvesting of a little sister (more on that in a second) - are real spectacles this time, with more enemies and fireballs raining down on you at once than at any point in the first game.

Thanks to your suit of armour, gore-fountain drilling and plasmid-weapon combo abilities, you can easily take on five or six baddies at once, nailing one to the wall and electrocuting another before darting in with your pointy melee weapon for a bloody finish.

Again, the splicers seem more believable in combat than in the first BioShock. If you swiftly murder half of the group the remaining few will flee, terrified of your gigantic frame. Similarly a violent spin from your drill will see the leftover aggressors tremble with fear. But not everyone in the new Rapture is afraid of a Big Daddy.

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