Most of the pleasure I found in playing Bioshock came from the story and the development team's deft use of Ayn Rand's objectivism in the game.
When I met with Alyssa Finley, executive producer for Bioshock 2, that's the first thing I wanted to know. Bioshock was a solid shooter, but not one that stood apart, except for its story, I said. Will Bioshock 2 be able to match all but the original game's ending?
"We take story very very seriously," she said. "The reason the game is set back in Rapture is because we think there are more stories to tell of Rapture, more stories about Rapture."
Bioshock 2 will tell the story of what happened in the sunken city in the ten years since Jack Ryan left Rapture and will do so in a way that takes into account the decisions players made at the end of the original title.
"I don't think it would be Bioshock if we said the only thing that really happened was this," Finley said. "The choice the player made, whatever it was, was a valid one."
In the years since Ryan's departure the city has continued to struggle.
"There has been a power play," Finley said, "by other people who have other schools of thought. That's going to give us an opportunity to tell some different stories, show some different ideologies."
"Andrew Ryan built Rapture and it was built on the principals he espoused. This is not a story about Andrew Ryan, it's a story about a city and what's become of it."
As with the original game, Bioshock 2 will be careful not to push the story at players, but rather allow them to work it loose from the scenery on their own and piece it together. What is known already is that players will take on the role of the Big Daddy, not a Big Daddy, but the Big Daddy.
"People have no idea what the Big Daddy is," Finley said. "They've seen the dumbed-down versions, they haven't seen the prototype. This is the one from which all of the others have evolved and early on it's being let off its leash."
Moral choices will return to the game as well, she said, as well as other types of philosophy that deeply impact those choices and the underlying themes found in the story.
"I think that we can convince people there is a worthy story to keep telling here," Finley said. "But at the end of the day it's still all about choice. If people choose to buy the game, that's great."