Stunning visuals highlight ‘Bioshock 2’

Bioshock2

In 2007, gamers were introduced to the mysterious underwater city of Rapture, where iconic leader Andrew Ryan and the city’s inhabitants use a substance called ADAM to genetically modify themselves. The eerie "Little Sisters" would harvest this precious substance from dead bodies while being protected by their "Big Daddies." The political backstory and social issues surrounding the clever plot were unique and won many players over and fans wanted more to dive into. Now in 2010, the story continues with "Bioshock 2" on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

Players assume the role of Subject Delta, the first Big Daddy to be bonded to a Little Sister, and must fight maniacal new ruler of Rapture, Sofia Lamb, to reunite with his Little Sister, Eleanor Lamb. This is no simple task however, since Eleanor is locked away on the other side of Rapture and Lamb does everything in her power to prevent Delta from reaching her.

To even the odds, a number of different weapons and "Plasmid" powers can be utilized to take out the opposition. Weapons include a giant mechanized drill, a rivet gun, launcher and spear gun among others. Plasmids such as Incinerate or Electro Bolt can also be used to damage the enemy head on or set traps for a more strategic option. Throughout the game both weapons and plasmids can be upgraded to become more powerful and efficient, as well as add new uses. It will take everything the player has and more to defeat some of the new enemies in the game. Beside the returning crazed Splicers, robot fodder and Big Daddies, new Brute Splicers and the ominous Big Sisters provide an ample challenge and are always interesting encounters.

While searching for Eleanor, players can go out of their way to search for hidden audio diaries that add to the Rapture mythos and relate to the previous game. There are also item depots and weapon upgrade stations to find and enemies to research, as well as some unique items like a rose or experimental Plasmid.

Players looking for replay value can have six possible endings depending on what moral choices are made in the story. There is also a multiplayer mode that features standard modes such as death match, capture the flag and king of the hill. A "Bioshock" flavor also includes unique multiplayer plasmids and one Big Daddy suit to discover. Various upgrade levels provide new rewards as an incentive to keep playing online as well as some multiplayer exclusive achievements and trophies.

The return to Rapture is as almost as awe-inspiring as before with new underwater segments that showcase the unique world, as well as some nods to the previous game with the indoor environments. The graphics and sound are stunning, AI has become more intelligent, and annoyances such as the puzzle-hacking minigame have been fixed. All these elements come together to create something that is as much a game as it is art.