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BioShock 2: You're the Daddy

Company: 2K Games

It's fitting that Lost and Bioshock 2 would debut within two weeks of each other. Both are properties built on mystery and littered with philosophical questions about morality, mortality and the nature of being. Losties still have, as of this writing, about 16 hours of episodes (and countless weeks) to go before getting their answers, while Bioshock fans only have to wait until February 9 for their fix.

Though not as closely guarded as Lost's Season 6 details, 2K have kept tight wraps on Bioshock 2's plot and play experience. At E3 2009, we learned the game would be both a sequel and a prequel to the original game. The single-player experience takes place 10 years after the original. After Andrew Ryan's demise, a power vacuum emerged in Rapture, allowing Ryan's political rival, Sofia Lamb, to take over.

Lamb's reign marks a distinct philosophical shift in Rapture. Ryan's Objectivist view of the power of the individual is replaced with Lamb's Marxist views revolving around the power of community. Lamb's views have spread like wildfire through Rapture, leading to cult-like devotion from some of Rapture's Slicer population. As with any political shift, however, things are not bright and cheery in Rapture (not that they ever were... but you know what I mean). In the midst of Rapture's ideological turmoil, a mysterious new citizen - the Big Sister - begins stalking Rapture.

Rather than playing as an outsider, Bioshock 2 finds you behind the faceplate of a Big Daddy. Not just any Big Daddy, you're a prototype Big Daddy, Subject Delta, who has somehow gained free will and is seeking the Little Sister you bonded to years ago.

Free will plays a major role throughout the single-player experience. As a Big Daddy, you journey around (and outside) Rapture in search of 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. The first game offered a similar choice, though either way the eventual gains added up. Harvesting Little Sisters yielded quick Adam gains, though in the end, you had the same amount if you saved them. As in the last game, offing the girls is a quick, easy way to nab some Adam and will actually make you more powerful quickly, but at a cost. Choosing to save Little Sisters opens up a new mechanic, adoption. Rather than letting the girls run back to their portholes, you can choose to protect them as they continue harvesting. The latter choice is riskier, though it could yield more Adam in the long run.

As a protoype Big Daddy, Delta has a few advantages over his counterparts. He's faster than the slow, lumbering hulks seen throughout the first game and can equip the Rosie's Rivet Gun and Bouncer's Drill, as well as a slew of new weapons. Delta can also use Plasmids. One of the bigger changes introduced in BioShock 2 is the ability to equip and use Plasmids simultaneously with weapons, opening up unique attack combos. For instance, players can use the Freeze Plasmid to freeze an opponent, then quickly follow up with a blow from the drill, shattering them.

Multiplayer take players back to Rapture's heyday and has them playing as a group of Plasmid testers during the program's early days. Players choose to play as one of six characters, each with their own story and customization options. Each begins with a handgun, rifle and three Plasmids (Frost, Flame and Electricity) and can purchase new Tonics and Plasmids with Adam earned in matches.

Multiplayer matches are designed to give a faster version of BioShock's core gameplay. Plasmids come in charged and quick versions. Quick shots deliver short, weak attacks while charged shots are usually enough to kill opponents. Matches take place in reworked versions of notable locales from around Rapture. 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. Some matches will also allow the ability to play as a Big Daddy 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.

Whether you want to see what happens next or want to know how it began, BioShock 2 delivers it all. Look for BioShock 2 in stores February 9.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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