previews\ Dec 20, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Bioshock 2 - 360 - Preview 4

In what promises to be a huge start for 2010, there are several high-profile games on the release docket for the beginning of next year. One of the biggest titles on the horizon is Bioshock 2, 2K's follow-up to the hugely successful original Bioshock, which launched in 2007 to great critical acclaim and commercial success. Back in October, GameZone was given an opportunity to delve into the game's single-player element as well as its new multiplayer modes. Now, we've been able to jump back into Rapture and try our hands at the single-player campaign and spend more time with the online portion.

Bioshock begins with you being awakened by Dr. Tennenbaum, who should be familiar to players of the first game. Tennenbaum hastily tries to explain your situation over radio transmission; you are special type of Big Daddy that has free will, and you must quickly make your way through the city to get to her, where she'll give you more details on the situation. As you make your way through a variety of new unexplored areas in Rapture, you'll find yourself seeing a pretty different place from the first game, one that has been taken in a new sociopolitical direction courtesy of the new leader, Sophia Lamb.

Bioshock 2 Xbox 360 screenshots

Lamb's direction does a complete 180 on the views of Andrew Ryan, placing emphasis on spreading the wealth and the good of the people versus the more self-serving goals of Ryan. You'll find pro-Lamb propaganda on many walls throughout the game's levels, which will start you out at a broken down resort for affluent members of Rapture's upper-crust and take you to several new areas, including some portions that take place in the ocean (as you're a Big Daddy in a beefed up diving suit, this doesn't really pose much of a problem).

Playing as a Big Daddy does feel somewhat different from being the main character in the original Bioshock. You do feel quite a bit heavier than before, as your character will move a tad slower than before, and your jumps are shorter and carry more weight to them. Additionally, there's a vision border on the edges of the screen that makes you feel like you're wearing a helmet (a la Metroid Prime), which is a pretty nice touch.

The other main area where being a Big Daddy feels different are the weapons. While you're still able to make fine use of plasmids and combine them with your weaponry for greater effect, you're also able to do things like use rivet guns and gas powered drills to defeat your enemies, really adding to the effect of putting you in the shoes of a Big Daddy. The drill is a great melee weapon, and allows you to pull off some cool moves like a plasmid stun followed up with a drill bash, which is pretty visceral and fun to do.

Bioshock 2 Xbox 360 screenshots

The game's multiplayer element hasn't changed much from when we last saw it back in October, but it still stands to be a very deep and compelling mode for fans of the game and its universe. Beginning the multiplayer mode starts you out in a prologue area, where you discover that you are partaking in a sponsored trial for Sinclair Solutions, a private company operating in Rapture and supplying weaponry and plasmids to citizens during Rapture's Civil War. You'll learn these elements as well as customize your character through this prologue, choosing their initial loadouts and any additional perks that you may have. Similar to games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, you'll be able to level up your character as you play, unlocking new weaponry, plasmids, and special perks to assist your character.

Bioshock 2 is shaping up very well, with some truly compelling moments that rival those of the landmark original. If all goes to plan, this could be a must-own title in early 2010. Look for more coverage as the game nears release.

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