OXCGN’s Bioshock 2 Second Look Review – The Philosophy Of Utopia

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by Chief Jimbolaya:

©2010 Aaron Klein:

[ED:- OXCGN”‘s Second Look Review is aimed at re-capping a game that has been out for a while, but given some time for adequate play-through and the addition of other DLC to enhance the game. Come check out the Bioshock Second Look.]

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Bioshock 2 is a great game that still doesn’t manage to entirely crawl out from the shadow of its predecessor.

While it perfectly replicates the role-playing, superpower-fueled shooter gameplay that made the original game revolutionary, the story does not have the same M. Night Shyamalan narrative twist that made it genius.

Bioshock is one of the few game franchises where the setting is the star. The underwater city of Rapture is beautifully implausible, constructed in an imaginative art deco style reminiscent of the work of Hugh Ferriss, whose perspective drawings of New York buildings in the early 20th Century inspired legions of architects.

Ayn Rand would feel right at home in Rapture, a city founded on the principle that a man is entitled to the sweat of his brow and that the great should not be constrained by the small.

Its founder, Andrew Ryan, felt that government and religion-imposed morality impede achievement in art and science. The philosophy of utopia is a strong theme.

But that was before the fall. With unchecked scientific breakthroughs and exploitative capitalistic practices, the residents soon harnessed the power of a substance called Adam to “splice” their genes to give themselves super powers.

An arms race and power struggle followed. The survivors were mutated addicts, damned to wander the doomed hallways in search of their next fix.

It is in this world where the game takes place, nearly ten years after the civil war. And the signs of the struggle are written in the details of the leaking metropolis; scrawlings on the wall, audio diaries and pamphlets and advertisements.

The player takes the role of Subject Delta, the first “Big Daddy.” Big Daddies are genetically conditioned humans in armored diving suits that protect the “Little Sisters” as they harvest Adam from dead bodies. You are on a quest to reunite with your ward, a grown up Little Sister who is the focus of an emerging cult.

Wielding a weapon in your right hand and supernatural “plasmid” powers in your left, Rapture is a gamer’s playground.

Plasmid powers react with the environment, meaning you can shoot lightening bolts from your hands to electrocute multiple enemies standing in a pool of water, or freeze an enemy and smash him into a million pieces with your large drill.

You can even spray angry bees from your fingertips that seek out and swarm your attackers.

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The weapons have an industrial feel which is furthered with MacGuyver-style upgrade attachments.

Every weapon has three unique ammo types with both offensive and defensive capabilities. Limits on the amount of ammo you can carry leave you constantly feeling vulnerable.

The new multiplayer mode takes players to the dawn of Rapture’s downfall. Instead of following the single-player storyline, in multiplayer mode you play the part of a plasmid test subject taking part in the uprising that destroyed Rapture.

It is refreshing to see the city before barnacles conquered its intricate interiors.

Note: Aaron Klein is a U.S.-based freelance video game writer. Read more of his reviews at cornfedgamer.com.


©2010 Aaron Klein

For OXCGN’s first look review of Bioshock 2, click here.

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2 thoughts on “OXCGN’s Bioshock 2 Second Look Review – The Philosophy Of Utopia”

  1. Rapture is indeed based on largely Randian principles. However, this is not what brought it down. Rather, Rapture was actually made great – the most advanced city in the world – because of it.

    Andrew Ryan is largely responsible for the decline of Rapture when he violates a Randian principle. He bans Bibles. While Rand was very much an ardent atheist, she was also a hardcore believer in freedom, and would emphasize that censorship of any kind is never justified. The ensuing riot, combined with the nonrealistic situation of mass insanity thanks to splicing, is what brings down Rapture.

    I’m rather tired of people saying that the Bioshock games somehow showcase failures of capitalism and a freedom-based philosophy. The technology and development of Rapture actually depict the incredible things people can do when given freedom. That’s all that Rand’s philosophy is about.


    1. Great read ther emate, and some interesting concepts and insights on a great franchise.

      It will be interesting to see where they tak ethe 3rd and final episode in this series, there will be more btw.

      If you ever feel moved to put something together on the games history, the whys-wherefores etc of BioShock, then please do send the editor an email. He’ll them let you know what our “contributor” requirements are.

      We always welcome well versed gamers on OXCGN, the more the merrier. Grant


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