The first quarter of this year has been pretty crazy in terms of the quality and quantity of games. I'm taking advantage of the slight lull to catch up on a few releases I never quite got around to finishing.
I restarted BioShock 2 earlier in the week. I'm thoroughly enjoying it. As a huge admirer of the original, it's been a pleasure to return to Rapture, comfortably one of the most fascinating game worlds I've ever explored.
The narrative hasn't quite engaged me to the same extent as it did in the first game. In theory, the setup has potential - Lamb vs Ryan is a neat ideological dichotomy; playing as a Big Daddy, a creature with no free will, is a neat twist on the meta-themes of the original - but I'm not quite feeling that same pull, that same urgency.
I agree with N'Gai Croal when he argues that the opening setup was rushed. Like Croal, I wanted "the opportunity to form an emotional bond with my Little Sister," an opportunity the hasty introductory sequence fails to deliver. If BioShock has always really been about familial bonds, then 2K Marin missed their chance to allow the player to really connect with their "daughter" and provide us with that pull, that urgency to rescue Eleanor.
But, on the other hand, I am loving the combat. I've focused my tonics on extracting the most out of my Big Daddy-ness: the drill is my friend, basically, and all my tonics go towards empowering it, while my plasmids offer support via Decoy, Cyclone Trap, Hypnotize, etc. I've quite deliberately avoided weapons and plasmids that rely on projectile attacks - except Telekinesis - as I feel the real fun of BioShock 2 is when you don't play it as a shooter.
The triumvirate of defend-the Little-Sister, take-down-the-Big-Daddy and fend-off-the-Big-Sister set-piece battles are brilliant. They invert the usual shooter tropes that see the player constantly on the offensive; here, you have time to plan your attack, setup your defences, and then strike. You're always fighting on your own terms and on your own turf. It's great stuff.
I'll be playing - and hopefully finishing - BioShock 2 this weekend. I'm also hoping to jump back into Call of Pripyat and finally check out Fragile Dreams on the Wii.
What are you playing this weekend?