The trickle of information about Bioshock 2 has led to fan speculation about whether the game is a sequel or prequel. During a behind closed doors session at E3, 2K answered the question – it’s both.
Getting details about the single-player experience was difficult, but they revealed that it takes place 10 years after the original, making it a sequel. Rapture continues its slide towards destruction as the sea slowly reclaims large parts of the complex. With no stability, the remaining Slicers have run wild and become even more savage. Amongst the chaos, a shadowy figure, the Big Sister, is attempting to restore Rapture to its former glory by kidnapping girls from the Atlantic shore and turning them into Little Sisters.
Rather than playing an outsider, Bioshock 2 finds you behind the faceplate of a Big Daddy who has somehow gained free will. This concept plays a central role throughout the single-player game. As a Big Daddy, you journey around (and outside) Rapture in search of the new Little Sisters. Once found, you are presented with the choice of either helping them harvest Adam or stealing it from them, an act no Big Daddy would ever commit. Offing the girls is a quick, easy way to nab some Adam. If you decide to help, you can either return them to safety via one of the numerous portholes around Rapture or protect them as they continue harvesting. The latter choice is riskier, though it could yield more Adam in the long run.
When it came time to introduce multiplayer to the series, the developers at 2K decided that they needed a mode that was just as compelling as the single-player game. Part of this involved recruiting Digital Extremes, who were familiar with the Bioshock world (they helped with the PS3 port) and had extensive multiplayer experience. The easy approach would have been to make a few maps and just toss players into a lifeless, generic multiplayer mode. However, Digital Extremes wanted to offer a multiplayer side that was just as compelling as single-player.
In an effort to bring multiplayer closer to single-player, Digital Extremes reworked every element of the single-player experience to support faster play. Multiplayer takes place before the first game during the Civil War that ripped Rapture apart (making it a prequel). Players take the role of a test subject for the then-experimental Plasmids created by Sinclair Solutions. First-time testers are given a handgun, rifle and three Plasmids (Frost, Flame and Electricity) and can purchase new Tonics and Plasmids with Adam (experience) earned in matches.
During multiplayer matches, you use charged and quick versions of Plasmids. Quick shots deliver short, weak attacks while charged shots are usually enough to kill opponents. Knowing when to use each is vital to success and should help set Bioshock 2 apart from other online shooters.
Matches take place in reworked versions of notable locales from around Rapture. The demo showed off the Kashmir, but in much better condition than the last time we saw it. As part of the “faster” play experience, vending machines are one-stop pick-up spots for health and Adam. Devious players can even hack (hacking is simplified in multiplayer) the machines to give opposing players a shock.
One of the session’s bigger surprises is the ability to play as a Big Daddy during multiplayer via a special pick-up. With a Big Daddy in play, the focus of the multiplayer game shifts. The Big Daddy is a formidable foe online and will require co-operation from all players to take down.
Finally, 2K revealed that Bioshock 2 hits stores November 3 with a simultaneous release on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.