Bioshock 2

First up in my ‘let’s play all the old 360 titles sitting on my shelf, and then finally trade the whole lot in for cash’ project is Bioshock 2.

I remember learning of the existence of the Bioshock Infinite thanks to an episode of the podcast Coverville which featured the oldey-timey version of Everybody Wants to Rule the Word. I played that back in 2014 (actually buying it new on Amazon) and enjoyed it greatly. So I figured I’d give the previous game a shot when I saw it going cheap at CEX.

Bioshock is all about the aesthetic: art deco gone to hell. It fits with the overarching narrative of the Bioshock universe perfectly; a constructed idyll of 1950’s society, corrupted by human weakness and descended into dystopia. Playing it a decade after its 2009 release on a slightly crumbling system, it still looks gorgeous. The underwater sequences provide an ethereal loveliness in contrast to the blood splattered grime of the main levels. The creepy little girl trope is working overtime here, as you employ clone orphans to suck out genetically modified upgrade goo from the many corpses dotted around. The moral angle is played fairly heavily, with specific ethical decisions making a substantive difference to the conclusion of the game.

One aspect I really enjoyed was collecting the audio ‘diaries’ left by the main characters, and other denizens of Rapture. These can be easily ignored if you like your violence un-contextualised (and no judgement here if that’s your bag) but it ticks a box for players like me who are here for the interactive storytelling. Crucially I really enjoyed how once you collect a diary you can set it to play, and it will do so whilst you carry on playing, meaning you don’t have to choose between getting your fill of backstory and maintaining a seamless integration into your environment. A shout out here as well for the voice-acting, in particular Fenella Woolgar who is truly menacing as Sophia Lamb.

Bioshock 2 took me a leisurely couple of weeks to play through over evenings and weekends. I didn’t get the addictive sense of being unable to put down my controller (probably a good thing) but it was an enjoyable enough yarn. Having played it through the once, however, I am more than happy to put it on my pile of completed games, although I might check out the other two endings on YouTube (I decided to play white hat and consequently got the most positive of all available conclusions).

On to the next!