Monday, June 14, 2010

Quick Late Review: Bioshock 2

(I'm going away on vacation, so I wanted to dump everything in my brain while it's still there. I have to stop writing games sometimes. Working on Avadon is making my brain melt.)

Looking at video games from an artistic viewpoint, Bioshock 2 might be the most unnecessary game ever made. Bioshock was an incredibly satisfying self-contained experience, and there's just no way to have a sequel make sense. How long can a city at the bottom of the ocean be run exclusively by insane, drug-addicted zombies before a poorly maintained pipe breaks and the whole place floods?

And yet, I can totally understand why Bioshock 2 exists. Someone said, "Hey! There's a really cool shooter at the core of Bioshock, and people would probably like to play more of it. Also, we like money."

So my review of Bioshock 2 is this: You can get the magical ability to make swarms of bees, and they fly around killing your enemies, and when they kill someone the body is infected with bees, and when a different enemy gets close to the corpse it explodes and makes more bees.

How can you not want to play that game?

Also, early on, you can get the ability to freeze the enemy you're fighting. Once you have it, all boss fights become completely trivial for the rest of the game. Once, when I was younger, I would have seen this as a flaw. Now I am old and slow and I think games just get too darn hard, so the ability to instantly freeze and obliterate everyone is awesome. In my fantasy world, I don't want to be a loser who is incapable of ever succeeding.


  1. Let me get this straight: God of War is the anti-art, but Deadly Bee Disease is awesome?

  2. @Nick: Yes.

    The difference is between having a story that is easy to totally ignore but it meant to function as a story if you pay attention and having a deliberately maximally repellent story which is there to punish players who focus on everything but the gameplay.

    A lot of work went into making Bioshock 2's story, unnecessary as it is, and some people will pay attention to that for that. In other words, its story is meant to be something the player can potentially get a reward from. Which makes it completely different from God of War 3's story.

    And this has NOTHING to do with the awesomeness of deadly bee disease. That's not art. Just awesome.

    - Jeff Vogel

  3. Ha, like that. :D

    Have a good vacation!

  4. I have never played Bioshock or then sequel but I do hope you have a good vacation.

  5. Also, early on, you can get the ability to freeze the enemy you're fighting. Once you have it, all boss fights become completely trivial for the rest of the game.

    Mass Effect 1 also had this problem (Stasis). Which is why BioWare has been nerfing their lock-down powers in their more recent games.

    However, in BioWare games I can pause and look around. This old guy will gladly trade that ability for more sane and balanced lock-down powers.

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