Bioshock 2 - 360 - Preview 5

Certainly one of the biggest early titles of the year, Bioshock 2 is a game that fans have been approaching with varying degrees of elation and trepidation. Rightly so, considering that its predecessor has been often considered one of the greatest games ever made following its release a little over two years ago. However, after spending some extended time in the new Rapture, I can safely say that the game is on the right track, delivering some unique and fun moments as well as the fantastic art design and attention to detail that made the first game an instant classic.

In the original Bioshock, Rapture was a very different place. Under the rule of Andrew Ryan, the city was in chaos, pulled into a free-for-all where most of the city's citizens fought amongst themselves for their next ADAM fix. However, under Sophia Lamb, the city seems to have changed quite a bit. Many of the big players in Rapture's power structure have sworn loyalty to Lamb, believing that she has the ability and desire to turn the city around from wanton destruction to its former glory. You'll see this happening a lot as you make your way through the new Rapture, as its citizens (while still psychotic) have a sense of purpose now instead of simply killing you and pilfering ADAM from any source.

Bioshock 2 Xbox 360 screenshots

For this preview, we check out two new areas of Rapture, Pauper's Drop, and Siren's Alley. Pauper's Drop is a section of the city that is more of a shantytown than any other area of the game so far, and a stark contrast to the more upscale areas that you'll see earlier in the game. Pauper's Drop introduces a new type of splicer, the Brute Splicer. The Brute Splicer is big, fast, and very angry, charging at you at the drop of a hat.

The first game introduced a camera mechanic, which allowed you to research enemy types by taking their picture. This would give you specific attack boosts against them when you take them on. Bioshock 2 takes this even further by giving you the ability to film your enemies as you attack them, employing a trial-and-error style of research. After activating the camera that you find in Pauper's Drop, you'll throw everything you've got at an enemy, and as you use different weapons and ammo type as well as different plasmids, you'll earn attack boosts against them and even unlock special moves that can be used later on.

Bioshock 2 Xbox 360 screenshots

Siren's Alley was the next portion, and introduces several huge plot twists. Without spoiling anything, Siren's Alley is definitely a turning point for the game's storyline, and one for Rapture as a whole. You'll get into some pretty hairy firefights here, and get some pretty cool new weapons and items as well, including mini-turrets that are extremely helpful during the ADAM gathering segments involving Little Sisters.

All in all, Bioshock 2 is shaping up quite nicely, presenting a fine sequel for fans of the original game. The art direction and design of Rapture and the changes that you see throughout the city are very well done, and the refinements to the gameplay, while not quite as groundbreaking as the first game, are very solid and improve the mechanics. Look for more on Bioshock 2 as the game nears release.

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