Set approximately ten years after the original Bioshock 2 sees the player taking on the role of one of the Big Daddies that featured prominently in the first game. Initially this sequel can seem rather too similar to its predecessor. The underwater city of Rapture that was once such a unique setting now offers few surprises and for the first hour or so it is easy to feel like you have seen it all before. Give the game time however and a wealth of improvements start to become evident.
Arguably the most important of these is the redesigned combat which sees more enemies attacking at once with a greater variety of splicers to take on. The game also pens the player into narrow corridors far less frequently with levels providing a mixture of open and tighter spaces in which to operate helping to make for more chaotic but tactical fights. The ability to duel wield plasmid powers with weapons is another simple yet important addition that allows combat to flow more naturally and testing out different combinations for yourself is great fun.
The kill/save mechanic involving the Little Sisters returns and as with the combat some minor tweaks have helped to negate criticisms levelled at it first time around. Once liberated from their Big Daddy they can be harvested immediately or kept to gather vital Adam from selected corpses. Once they are full the same choice is given but this time around saving the Little Sister also provides some Adam ensuring the player is able to continually upgrade their abilities regardless of the choice they make.
One area in which the game does fall flat is in the story department. This time around we see new ruler Sophia Lamb attempting to reunite Rapture's war torn society but the writers often make things far too complicated to the point where, aside from the central relationship with Little Sister Eleanor Lamb, it is difficult to maintain interest. There are some attempts to force the player to make moral choices but these are very limited and add little to the game.
The multiplayer provides an interesting distraction from the main game but thanks to a poorly implemented perk system and Big Daddy suits that appear randomly on maps it is not particularly inviting for new players. With practice it is probably possible to compete with experienced players but following yet another game where my deaths far outweighed my kills I soon gave up on it.
Overall whilst Bioshock 2 may lack the interesting characters and story as well as the original setting of the first game it is certainly the superior of the two titles and a bargain at its current price. I wouldn't recommend playing it too soon after the first game however as the familiar ground could easily become tedious.