A mere 11 years after the game first was released, brining with it the sunken city of Rapture, I have finally wiped Bioshock 1 from my pile of shame and I enjoyed it so much I went right along and completed Bioshock 2. As of writing this I've also finished the Bioshock 2 DLC Minvera's Den and I started playing Bioshock Infinite yesterday. Today I want to talk to you about my first double bill experience of Rapture.
My journey started, as everyone else's did, with a plane crash. Landing in Rapture for the first time was quite a strange experience, even now I don't think it is common at all for a AAA game to release you into a game world without you really know what is going on. You get this type of experience quite regularly in the Indie scene, but not so much in AAA games. Despite how famous and incredibly popular this game is I knew relatively little about it thankfully, the extent of my knowledge was that it was an underwater City and some people with Drills protect little girls. As I started exploring the city of Rapture it soon drew me under its spell. This is one of the finest examples of world building I have ever seen in a linear game, the difference being that I see world building as a very different skill in open world games. From the plasmids that give you what can only be described as magical abilities, to the drug riddled enemies you fight called Splicers, this all together would fall down flat if it wasn't supported with a highly intriguing story and stellar cast of fleshed out secondary and tertiary characters.
I only have one problem with this game, and that is the way the story is portrayed to the player. What I mean by that is the fact that there were a lot of small chunks of the game when the main story wasn't being progressed, but little side characters were being developed mainly through audio diaries you can pick up. This may have been a bigger problem for me due to my play style, which was to clear every last corner of the map before moving on, so it is possible that I was playing at a slower pace than was intended. However I would spend as much time as I wanted searching the map for extra ammo or cash etc. then proceed with the objective and felt like I was picking up the main story again after listening to a lot of audio diaries, thus be slightly confused with what people were referring to. I will say now that I had this same problem in Bioshock 2, so it may be the fact that I played it slowly, or it could be a design floor that the snippets of conversation that makes up the main story were punctuated to frequently by lore building audio diaries that gave the story in the exact same way by people talking to your radio. There are no cutscenes in Bioshock 1 apart form to start and finish the game so there is also the fact that sometimes when people are speaking to you, progressing the story in some way, it is possible that you are in the middle of being attacked by Splicers, meaning that you aren't paying attention to what is being said. Lastly I want to quickly mention the plot twist that occurs in Bioshock 1, which I will not be spoiling, which I absolutely loved, it changed the aim of the game and also totally surprised me which isn't often the case with plot twists in games.
Moving on to Bioshock 2, I had no idea what to expect from this one, as it felt like Bioshock 1 had been wrapped up very neatly, but the way they reintroduce a more dilapidated Rapture, 8 years after the first was a very interesting premise. The first few hours of Bioshock 2 and I was ever so slightly disappointed, the experience at that point felt very much like Bioshock 1, with a lack of innovation or meaningful change. I can't say for sure whether I simply accepted this fact and got on with enjoying the game, or whether the game slowly changed further and further away from Bioshock 1. By the time I finished Bioshock 2 I was totally convinced that I had enjoyed this more than the first.
There are several key differences between Bioshock 1 and 2, they are the combat, the map size and the lore. Firstly the combat is different by the fact that you don't need to change between being able to use a Plasmid and a Weapon, rather you are able to use both at the same time. This seemingly simple change had a huge impact on the way I approached combat in the game, in the first game I barely used Plasmids, as my weapon of choice simply was more effective than swapping to use a Plasmid. It felt so refreshing to be able to adapt the plasmid I was using on the fly at the same time as firing my weapon. The flip side to this fantastic change to combat is the lack of innovation as far as the weapons are concerned, in Bioshock 2 you are basically using the same weapons as in Bioshock 1 just with a different aesthetic. This definitely did disappoint me, but I was thrilled to see the new weapon upgrade system in Bioshock 2 which felt like the upgrades had more meaningful changes than in the first game. This is also aided by the revamped Tonic system, in Bioshock 1 you can only equip a maximum of 5 of any one category of Tonic. In Bioshock 2 you are still limited in the number of Tonics you can have active, but no longer limited by their category, meaning that I can use more combat focused Tonics in 2 than 1, thus giving me a greater sense of freedom in terms of how I want to approach the combat. On one quick final note partly related to the new Tonic system, the hacking in Bioshock was so unenjoyable that I never did it, I either bought the Hack off, or just moved of. In Bioshock 2, the Hacking was so much more enjoyable and resulted in me hacking everything I wanted to!
The next two major changes are very closely linked, the map size and better lore. The size of map has both increased in terms of scale, from one end of the map to the other, and also the density, with it being quite common to have multiple floors to a building. This increased density means that there are more places to hide Audio Diaries, which I genuinely had as much narrative fun listening to as the main story. There are far more Audio Diaries hidden away, to fill out the new sized map, some of which are stand alone tales of people who lived in Rapture. Some are linked to the main characters of the story, some are incredible links back to the events of Bioshock 1, and some are connected to other Diaries, meaning that by finding the Diaries you are effectively uncovering a side quest of story content. There is a trophy that I earned close to the end of the game for listening to 100 Audio Diaries, just to give you an idea of the quantity.
Well then, I think I have written quite enough about these two games for one day, the TLDR of it is that I love both of them to bits, and once I have finished Bioshock Infinite I am confident I will look back at playing all three games back to back as one of my favourite gaming experiences ever. It annoys me greatly that I have been a gamer for so long without experiencing these incredible games, if you are like I was, having never played a Bioshock game, I urge you to try the Bioshock Collection for yourself!
As always thank you very much for reading,
Friends of The Games Critic:
My name is Ed, I write everything here, covering all kinds of games, but I only play them on the PS4!