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BioShock 2 Preview

Hands-On: Going deeper underwater

Last month we brought you our first hands-on impressions of BioShock 2, after playing the opening hours of the massive underwater sequel. Now the handcuffs are off and we can finally share our experiences with the later hours of our preview code - the real meat of the second visit to Rapture.

After passing through Andrew Ryan's eerie amusement park (read our impressions of that here) our Big Daddy protagonist ends up in the seedy lower class streets of Pauper's Drop - a level that does a far better job of showing off what BioShock 2's all about than anything we've played prior.


According to various audio diaries, Pauper's Drop is a gritty housing district, originally built as temporary flophouses for the Atlantic Express railway crew. It was never intended to be permanent - and now it's the 'worst neighbourhood in Rapture'.

Like most Rapture environments, the streets are covered in litter and destruction, but the signs of a once functioning society are there - such as living apartments, diners and shops.

Unlike the areas in the first BioShock, though, this level still has some 'sane', un-spliced inhabitants waiting to meet our protagonist.

The main attraction is one Grace Holloway - the elderly nanny who had a child in her care snatched and turned into a Little Sister.

Unsurprisingly, she's not exactly happy to see a Big Daddy come wandering into her neighbourhood, and sends every Splicer and beastie at her disposal smashing towards your rusty visor.

As with the first BioShock, Grace is fantastically voiced - even if the visual acting doesn't quite match the aural quality. The surroundings of Pauper's Drop are also full of personality, history and plot. Audio diaries tell of the plight of the area's poor inhabitants and the scenery maps out the destruction following Rapture's decent into madness.

Quickly we bump into one of Rapture's new monsters - an Brute Splicer. These fat beasts are for all intents and purposes Tanks from Left 4 Dead; they'll charge and knock you down, lob scenery in your general direction and they take about 20 clips to take down.

Fighting them is a change of pace from the general baddies, who usually rely on overwhelming you to come out on top.

To help B-Daddy deal with these lardy antagonists, we need to find a new research camera, which light detective work reveals is held up in an old pawn shop. This new cam is more of a video capture device; you need only press the trigger to start rolling, and then every hit you land on the captured enemy contributes to your research.


It works far better than the original game's snapper - and requires much less effort. You can even track your research via a new tab on the map screen.

To get to the pawn shop we need the pass code, and predictably of all the people in Pauper's Reach it's our new biggest fan, Grace Holloway, who has it.

Still taunting us via radio, we begin to fight our way through the destroyed - but beautiful - living quarters, where not a single wall is not covered in graffiti (and oddly, butterflies).

Occasionally, we bump into an odd scene of splicers worshiping at a candle and a scribble-filled alter. The new theme in Rapture seems to be spirituality - and like a typical ruined society, the inhabitants of the underwater world have turned to religion to maintain some sort of order.

Unlike Andrew Ryan, new antagonist Sophia Lamb believes in equal opportunities and the strength of a united society, and through BioShock 2's plot and plethora of audio diaries there are plenty of twists on the first game's themes of objectivism.

On our travels we're introduced to one of BioShock 2's new and awesome weapons; the double-barrel Shotgun, which while only capable of two shots before a reload is immensely powerful.

This far into BioShock 2 the game's weapon upgrade system also starts to show its colours, with our first full top-up granting the Rivet Gun incendiary powers (and the Little Sister on our back spurting the amusing dialogue, "even Daddy's toys have toys!").

Other fully-upgraded weapon goodies include the Tesla Shotgun and bullet-bouncing Ricochet Machine Gun, so there's certainly plenty of reward for planning your customisation this time around.

The most impressive part of this section of BioShock 2, however, is how it delivers on 2K Marin's promise to flesh out the first game's properly Tesco Value "moral choices".


Instead of a laughably simple "press X to save, press Y to kill" (although that's still in there) the new developer pledged more in-depth decisions for the sequel, and to make it more obvious that you were going down the good or bad route. They haven't disappointed.

Eventually our Big Daddy makes it to Grace Holloway's apartment. Without spoiling the game, you're able to choose how to deal with her (and it's not a clean-cut choice - Grace mistakenly believes you turned her child into a Little Sister).

It's this kind of dilemma - and how the narrative reacts to your decisions - that make BioShock 2 a step above the original. We can't wait to see more.