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Previews

BioShock 2 Preview

Opening hours played

We've got BioShock 2; it's sitting on our desk right now. Not the full game, but a single- and multi-player preview - which is more than enough to justify taking the debug Xbox 360 home for Christmas... and perhaps not bring it back until February.

We've played sections of the BioShock 2's single-player story before (read our last BioShock 2 hands-on) and have every impression that the team at 2K Marin is capable of constructing a worthy sequel. But this is the first time we've been able to experience BioShock 2 as a near-final package; opening cinematics, spoilers and surprising multiplayer mode included - and it's looking very good.

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Our second visit to Rapture starts in a daze, as our new protagonist, Delta lifts himself up off of the ground, getting a glimpse of his large yet slimmed-down Big Daddy suit reflected in the wet floor.

Immediately we can see that Rapture's taken a beating since the last time we saw it; in this corner of the city ('Adonis Luxury Resort') water leaks from every surface and nature's slowly started its reclamation as sea coral and other growth spreads across the walls and floor.

Armed with just a drill, we battle our way through the water rock to escape our sleep chamber to - just 60 seconds into the game - get our first glimpse of a Big Sister, who screams and clatters across the ceiling and into the darkness.

BioShock 2 definitely doesn't believe in gentle introductions; we know Rapture, it's an iconic, instantly familiar locale, and 2K Marin goes about teasing us into the new rules - and rulers - of the once-beautiful dystopia.

Very quickly you pick up your first plasmid - Electro Bolt - lying in a Gatherer's Garden and a small story sequence (which we won't mention) makes Delta's motivations clear.

As a Big Daddy, Little Sisters pay a big role in BioShock 2, gathering Adam on your behalf and of course acting as the main source of moral string-pulling. In the first few minutes of the game you meet your first little one, before she's swiftly snatched by the ever-present Big Sister.

In pursuit, we make our way through the corridors and courtyards of Adonis, which suggest that Rapture's even more beautiful in its decaying state. It's also reassuring to see the subtle environmental cues from the original return, with graffiti and audio diaries alluding to the presence of Rapture's new overlord, Sophia lamb.

We also hear from an old friend, Doctor Tenenbaum, the Little Sister guardian from the first game, who urges us to meet here at Atlantic Express train station.

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But despite the huge amount of story detail in the environment, BioShock 2's opening doesn't drop the tempo, and soon we stumble upon our Little Sister - but Big Sister doesn't want us playing with her.

With a scream the Big Sister jumps acrobatically across the scenery and comes smashing down on our head. A visceral, fire and electricity-filled battle ensues, and we're left barely standing as our skinny foes smashing into the next room.

On pursuit it's clear we're not ready to take on one of these speedy flame-hurlers just yet, as the Sister dashes across and cracks the massive viewing window and the front of the room, causing the Atlantic Ocean to intrude all around us.

It's a fast-paced, eventful opening to what at the very least is likely to be another great story in the BioShock universe. What really surprised us though is the well-presented multiplayer mode, which takes place during the initial downfall of Rapture before the original game.

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