BioShock 2

Game Description: Follow-up to BioShock, 2K Games' critically acclaimed and commercially successful 2007 release, BioShock 2 is a first-person shooter set in the fictional underwater city of Rapture. As in the original game, BioShock 2 features a blend of fast-paced action, exploration and puzzle-solving as players follow varying paths through the overarching storyline based on the decisions that they are forced to make at various points in the game. In addition to a further fleshing out of the franchise's popular storyline, players can look forward to new characters, game mechanics, weapons, locations and a series first, multiplayer game options.


BioShock 2 Review

The Waves are Many, but the Sea is One

BioShock 2  Screenshot

HIGH Sloshing through the darkness at the end of Siren Alley.

LOW The unimaginative construction, storyline, and objectives in Dionysus Park.

WTF Doesn't it matter to you that I killed all those innocent men?

Andrew Ryan built the underwater city of Rapture on the ideal of the individual striving for achievement. In 2007, BioShock examined and repudiated that philosophy, depicting Rapture as a city doomed by its lack of a moral center. But Rapture did not die with the dream. BioShock 2 returns us to it, ten years after the events of the first game. The city is still inhabited by the crazed splicers, who modify themselves with fantastic powers using plasmids and the mysterious substance called ADAM. Now, though, they are united by an ideologue preaching solidarity. Instead of re-examining the original's ideas, BioShock 2 wisely shows us BioShock as seen through the looking glass, engaging ideals and systemic roles opposite to the original. It fails as a philosophical exploration of these opposites, but it succeeds as an emotional journey through them.

The only reliable source of ADAM in Rapture is the Little Sisters, children conditioned to harvest the precious substance from corpses. Due to the danger from splicers, mighty, armored Big Daddies have been assigned to protect these girls. As an advanced prototype Big Daddy named Subject Delta, the player has the strength to simultaneously wield weapons and plasmids, making for devastating combinations. Delta was pair-bonded to a specific Little Sister named Eleanor, and he must journey across Rapture in order to reunite with her or else die.

BioShock let the player choose to be a splicer, scrounging ADAM in exactly the same way as any other screaming, molten-faced nut in Rapture. BioShock 2 flips the perspective, because Delta can adopt other Little Sisters temporarily. On this side of the Rapture ecosystem, ADAM is gained by taking the girls to corpses where they can harvest the substance, which they will share with Delta so he can gain new abilities. These harvests, however, bring splicers crawling out of the woodwork (and occasionally spawning in obvious fashion). Although the player can cover an area in various kinds of traps, the waves of splicers quickly exhaust them. The ensuing firefight is always intense, even on the easiest difficulty level, thanks to artful staging and use of music.

BioShock 2 Screenshot

Once the Little Sisters have finished with the corpses, Delta can choose to rescue the girls from their conditioning or harvest their remaining ADAM (with fatal consequences). Here the developers clung too tightly to the source material, because this is the wrong moral choice for this game. Unlike the blank-slate star of BioShock, Delta has a known history and character, and especially in light of his conditioning I never felt like harvesting was something he would plausibly do. BioShock 2 should have turned its moral gaze towards the Big Daddies that the player must slaughter for access to a Little Sister. Massive and powerful as they are, the Daddies are also helpless and innocent; although the player is in a position to have a unique perspective on this, the game unattractively glosses over their deaths. Only the pretty little mind-controlled girls matter, it tells us, not the big, ugly mind-controlled men.

The pretty girl at the core of this story, Eleanor, is held captive by her "mother," Dr. Sofia Lamb, whose collectivist transhumanism stands in stark opposition to the individualist ideals of Andrew Ryan. As an overarching antagonist she is easily more loathsome than Ryan (or even Frank Fontaine), but the game never really manages to capture her philosophy as the original did for Ryan. Lamb claims to have the common good as her objective, but that's an incoherent statement unless we have some idea what the "common good" means. For all her talk, Lamb's perspective on that never becomes clear. Several times, Lamb takes actions that necessarily cause the deaths of dozens of her own followers, for no apparent gain. What common good does she envision coming from that?

Lamb's counsel, moreover, offers fulfillment of individual wishes. She offers Grace Holloway a family, encourages Simon Wales to take the orders, and dangles her approval before the smitten Gil Alexander. These people become her fanatical devotees and Delta's antagonists, their fate eventually left to the player's decision. Because Lamb's beliefs are so slippery in practice, it's never clear whether they're fanatically held or just cynically displayed; she seems to waver between these extremes over the course of the game.

BioShock 2 Screenshot

When Delta reaches Dionysus Park, once the site of Lamb's own artistic commune, it seems like we might finally get a handle on her utopian vision. This should have been a place that articulated Lamb's collectivist ideals with shared spaces for living and creative endeavor. Unfortunately, the game stumbles badly and we get a smaller, emptier version of Fort Frolic, covered in seaweed, and an order from the game's least interesting villain to kill three Big Daddies. Here alone this game seemed to be a lazy rehash of the first installment, a BioShock 1.5 rather than its own independent entity.

Failing to coherently articulate Lamb's philosophy doesn't hurt the game, because BioShock 2 isn't in a position to say much about her thinking—the first-person shooter represents a style of play based on the idea of individual exceptionalism. Attacking Ryan's philosophy from the position of play that assumes its truth was brilliant and subversive, but it's begging the question when it comes to collectivism. The individual's triumph over Lamb's "Rapture Family" doesn't mean anything because a superior individual overwhelming a massive group of enemies is what must happen in this kind of game. Unable to critique the philosophy, BioShock 2 instead succeeds by approaching family emotionally, from the position of parenthood.

The plasmids, weapons, and raw strength of Subject Delta make him feel big, but for BioShock 2 the operative term is "Daddy." Like any child, Eleanor looks up to her "father" and takes after his example. When the game nears its end and she takes a larger hand in the proceedings, her choices will be based on what she has learned from Delta. BioShock 2 upends traditional RPG tropes with the idea that in shaping ourselves we also shape others.

In the culmination of this story BioShock 2 outdoes the original and establishes its own worth, with a closing sequence that hits every note perfectly. As the city's last secrets are revealed, the effects of the player's choices unfold with marvelous impact. The choices Eleanor made filled me with pride and horror beyond anything I had felt in making those same choices myself. The final battle recaptures the incredible intensity of the harvest sequences while giving a nod to Dr. Lamb's ideas. It's no singular man that must be confronted in the end, no "boss." The whole city is the enemy, and the only victory is to escape from Rapture's sea of broken dreams. What will emerge from that undersea cocoon will depend on your example. Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Disclosures: This game was obtained via retail store and reviewed on the Xbox 360. Approximately 32 hours of play was devoted to single-player modes (completed 2 times) and 0 hours of play in multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game contains blood, intense violence, sexual themes, and strong language. Drinking alcohol benefits the player's reserve of health and special powers, although drinking to excess causes a blurred screen effect. Part of one level is a red light district and involves an extended tour of a brothel. Some dialogue has a sexual subtext that may disturb players. Also, there are little girls drinking blood out of a syringe, which never stops being creepy.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing: All major dialogue is subtitled, but audio cues that have no on-screen counterpart provide important information about the approach of certain enemies (spiders, houdinis) and security apparatus. In addition, enemies respawn frequently in cleared areas; the only warning of this is hearing their dialogue in the distance (no subtitles). Hard of hearing players may therefore find the game more difficult. Also, Negative Gamer's Wardrox has reported that color-blind players may have difficulty with the hacking minigame.

BioShock 2 Second Opinion

Rapture Without Reason

BioShock 2 Screenshot

HIGH Guiding Little Sisters to Adam-filled corpses.

LOW Being a Big Daddy doesn't feel very Big or Daddy.

WTF Does anybody really sit and listen to all those audio logs?

(Note:This review does contain some spoilers.)

In his main review, Sparky does a fine job of tackling some of the loftier issues in the cerebral side of BioShock 2, and I don't disagree with his conclusions. However, where I do think we diverge a bit is in our final estimations. For me, the return visit to Rapture was certainly a pleasant enough trip, but far from what it could have been.

While I thought the original BioShock was a fine enough game, it wasn't a religious experience for me the way it was for some. Accordingly, I'd say that my expectations for this sequel were quite reasonable. I knew another "would you kindly" moment would be virtually impossible to pull off, and the entire industry was aware that matching or topping such a successful first effort would be an absurdly stiff challenge. The devs must have felt the same way, because rather than trying to bring something new to the formula, BioShock 2 offers an experience that's nearly identical.   

People who played the first game will know exactly what to expect: Collecting Plasmids, hacking security bots, researching Splicers, and listening to those tediously contrived audio logs is all very familiar stuff. Granted, the adventure is set in the same location and same world as its source material so things shouldn't be night-and-day different, but I did think there were some missed opportunities that a true sequel might have explored.

The biggest and most obvious issue I had was that playing as one of the iconic Big Daddies didn't feel any different than playing the "average Joe" from the first game. Taking on one of those armored, hulking brutes in combat was serious business before, so finding that the player doesn't command the same level of imposing physical prowess was disappointing. Despite being significantly different in terms of concept, the two protagonists are clones of function. I understand that being able to bulldoze through the entire game as an unstoppable powerhouse would not have been the optimal answer, but there just wasn't enough done with the premise.

BioShock 2 Screenshot

Looking at another area that could have been expanded, near the end of the game players briefly control a Little Sister. I found this part fascinating since the Adam-collecting children see Rapture in a totally different way. Rather than the decrepit, rotting ruin that it is, everything viewed through their eyes is glowing and beautiful. The contrast is stunning. Also intriguing was that the Little Sister is defenseless against predators. Unfortunately, the sequence is over before it really starts and doesn't serve a significant purpose. Quite disappointed, I couldn't help but wonder how the game might have been richer if the player had been tasked with actively hunting down Adam-rich corpses while an AI-controlled Daddy kept watch? What kind of tension might have been generated if an unprotected player in a Sister's shoes had to escape roving packs of Splicers? I suppose we'll never know.

Those were just two brief examples of missed opportunities, and there certainly were others. Despite new characters and attempts at "continuing the story" of Rapture, the bottom line (as cliché as it is to say) is that BioShock 2 is simply more of the same. Those who enjoyed the first adventure and craved more will definitely get it. Those not previously satisfied won't change their minds due to anything on this disc.

While there weren't many (or any) risks taken, it should be said that the technical quality of BioShock 2 is just as solid and carefully-produced as it was before. It's a fine project with generous production values and a goodly level of polish. Setting enemies on fire with pyrokinesis and following up with a few shots from a grenade launcher is violently enjoyable, defending a Little Sister from Splicer onslaughts was certainly exciting, and the level design is generally more linear, in a good way. Progress through the game is fast and rarely slowed by sticking points, which was something that I appreciated.

After watching credits roll, I can't say that playing through BioShock 2 was a regrettable or negative experience; it plays well, it's pretty to look at, and the mechanics are as pleasant as they were the first time around. That said, it never significantly diverges from the original, and brings nothing substantially new to the table. If the game was half as long as it is, I'd call it the world's best DLC and recommend it to anyone. However, the fact is that it's not DLC—it's positioned as a full-fledged, numbered sequel. Viewed from this perspective, the title comes up short, and perhaps even irrelevant. This return trip to Rapture amounts to barely more than a quick jaunt down memory lane. Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Disclosures: This game was obtained via retail store and reviewed on the Xbox 360. Approximately 8 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. No time was spent in multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game contains blood, intense violence, sexual themes, and strong language. Drinking alcohol benefits the player's reserve of health and special powers, although drinking to excess causes a blurred screen effect. Part of one level is a red light district and involves an extended tour of a brothel. Some dialogue has a sexual subtext that may disturb players. Also, there are little girls drinking blood out of a syringe, which never stops being creepy.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing: All major dialogue is subtitled, but audio cues that have no on-screen counterpart provide important information about the approach of certain enemies (spiders, houdinis) and security apparatus. In addition, enemies respawn frequently in cleared areas; the only warning of this is hearing their dialogue in the distance (no subtitles). Hard of hearing players may therefore find the game more difficult. Also, Negative Gamer's Wardrox has reported that color-blind players may have difficulty with the hacking minigame.

The Horror Geek presents: BioShock 2 in action

I'm not entirely sure I'd classify BioShock as a horror game (it certainly had some creepy moments, though), but it's one of my favorite games and it's a slow news day today.

So, here's a trailer with gameplay footage for BioShock 2 courtesy of the folks at Game Trailers. Looks a lot like the first game to me, but that's not a bad thing.

Enjoy.

Find more on The Horror Geek blog.

The Horror Geek presents E3 2009: Bioshock 2 trailer

Bioshock still stands as one of my favorite games of this generation. Its creepy atmosphere coupled with some excellent writing and narrative design make it stand out as one of those games that should be mentioned whenever the tired discussion of "games as art" pops up. To say I'm excited about the sequel is an understatement.

Here's a look at a new trailer for the game. This year's E3 has seemed to focus on great looking games that aren’t coming out until 2010, but Bioshock 2 remains on course for a November 3rd 2009 release on the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.

Find more on The Horror Geek blog.

The Horror Geek presents: Your return trip to Rapture has been postponed. BioShock 2 delayed

bioshock2

Bad news for anyone hoping for another trip to the underwater utopia of Rapture this year. Shacknews is reporting that BioShock 2 has been delayed. The title has shifted from its original November 3rd street date to a much more vague "sometime in the first six months of 2010".

Take-Two made the announcement yesterday, and had this to say in their official press release:

"We concluded that moving the release of BioShock 2 into fiscal year 2010 was the right decision for the product,” said Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick. “We believe the result will be a more compelling consumer experience and a better performing product in the marketplace.”

Once the wave of initial disappointment wears off, this might actually be for the best. Releasing Bioshock 2 in November makes sense (it's out in time for the holiday rush), but as we all know that's a window where there are too many games and not enough time to play them all. Moving it to sometime after the holidays (or even to June of 2010) gives gamers a triple A title to look forward to during what is the biggest gaming drought period of the year, and it pretty much guarantees that Take Two will sell more units as there's not much in the way of competition. Metal Gear Solid 3 and Grand Theft Auto IV released in a similar fashion and both did well. There's no reason to expect that BioShock 2 won't reap the same benefits.

That being said, it's still a bummer. I was really looking forward to duking it out with Big Sisters this November…

Find more on The Horror Geek blog.

The slippery slope of consumer respect and disc unlocks

BioShock 2 Screenshot

The other day, the subject of BioShock 2's recent Downloadable Content (DLC) came up and spurred a lively debate between a few people and myself on Twitter. As any tweeter knows, it's difficult to carry on an in-depth conversation with a limit of 140 characters, and trying to jump back and forth between several people at the same time is an even greater challenge. As a way of continuing the chat without the technical barriers, this post.

For those unfamiliar with the news, it was revealed that BioShock 2's "DLC" was not so much additional content as it was an unlock key for content that was already encoded in copies of the game. BioShock 2 isn't the first game to do this and it certainly won't be the last, so before the rant begins, I just want to be clear in saying that this particular post is about the concepts of unlock keys, DLC, and ethics, and not about BioShock 2 in particular.

(Also, as another preface, I would invite you to check out my good friend and esteemed colleague Thom Moyles' blog, That's right, time machines. Thom's a brilliant, standup guy, and I've got nothing but respect for him. However, this time we found ourselves on opposite sides of the issue. To see the counter to what I've got here, go check him out.)

Now, getting down to business…

In general, I'm a big fan of DLC. I can't even begin to count how many transactions I've completed, and I keep a pretty vigilant lookout for new additions to titles I've enjoyed. I think DLC is a great concept, I believe it adds value to games which would otherwise be cast aside or traded in after completion, and I support it as an effort on the part of developers and publishers to recoup losses they claim are incurred due to sales of used titles.

(Are used games really costing them money? I'm not going to go there right now because that's an entirely different topic, but for the sake of this post, let's just assume that it's so.)

However, I do believe that there is a certain ethical element involved with the production, implementation, and sales of DLC, and I feel that it's often ignored or looked at as irrelevant in deference to the rights and profit of developers/publishers.

In Thom's blog, he states "The problem here is that [Brad's] applying the pragmatics of physical ownership to that of computer data. You see this a lot on the Internet, and it never works. It never works because when you buy game media, you're not buying every bit of information contained in that media, you're paying for whatever bits (literally) of that data that the game company chooses to give access to."

Thom is not the only one who has cited this particular piece of logic, but in my view, anyone advocating this line without qualifying it is either profiting from this new era of online transactions, or simply drinking Kool-Aid to a certain degree. I certainly don't mean to insult Thom or anyone else, but I really don't see why the concepts of ownership that have served the human race since the dawn of time have to be chucked out the window just because we have so many new ways of controlling and limiting access. "Can" does not equal "should".

As someone who works for a living, who has responsibilities and bills to pay, value for the money I spend is always foremost in my mind. When I decide to put cold, hard cash down, I want to know exactly what I'm getting.

In the case of games which contain "extra" content on the disc that can't be unlocked without paying an additional fee, I can't help but feel that there's something inherently dishonest about the practice. If I put $60 down on something and it's sold to me, I expect to be able to take full advantage of everything on the disc that is intended to be played.

The phrase "intended to be played" is an important distinction I need to make because as Thom pointed out, it's extremely common for any game to have a certain amount of content locked away for various reasons—the developers weren't able to effectively implement it, there wasn't enough time to bug-test, certain things had to be censored, so on and so forth.

For example, Rockstar locked away the infamous "Hot Coffee" in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for good reason, and it was never intended to be accessed by anyone. The same goes for a more recent example, Yakuza 3. In that case, Sega said up front that certain parts of the game were going to be removed (most probably disabled and not actually removed) because they were deemed "too culturally Japanese" for the US audience.

In these (and similar) instances, I absolutely respect the decisions on the part of the developers and publishers to snip, tailor or edit a product until it takes on the appropriate qualities and profile that they're after. However, if Rockstar came along later and said that the infamous locked scenes could be made available for an additional $3, or if Sega said that Yakuza's host bars could be unlocked for $5 online, I would have a serious problem with that.

To me, if there is content on a disc I have paid for and own, and if that content is actually intended to be used and played at some point in time, then I'm of the view that developers and publishers have an ethical responsibility to say so up front. Full disclosure. They obviously have planned it in advance, so it's not as though they can say they had no knowledge of the contents status. Why don't they disclose? Because they know that the audience would go ballistic and never stand for it. And who could blame them? In my mind, that's the same thing as buying a house only to be told after the fact that a bedroom you weren't shown will remain forever locked unless you pony up another couple thousand. It's the same thing as buying a new car and then being told later that you actually have anti-lock brakes, but that they require a fee to be activated. It's always an unpleasant surprise to find that you didn't buy exactly what you thought you were buying, and not in a good way.

No one wants to feel taken advantage of, and people who are spending good money (especially in this economy) want to feel like they're getting an honest deal. If developers craft content that's actually on a disc being sold, it feels very dishonest to be asked for an additional monetary contribution in order to see a part of a unit that the consumer has already paid for.

This is where the "physical/data" part Thom mentions comes in. As I mentioned earlier, I really don't see the need to throw out concepts which humans have employed since we as a species were able to understand buying, selling, and ownership. Regardless of what publishers and developers may want to convince me of, the simple fact is that if they sell me a disc, I see it as mine, and I expect to use it as I see fit. Trying to turn that simple idea into the current concept of "developers and publishers get to do what they want because everything is licensed and the player doesn't really own any of it" feels incredibly disrespectful to the consumers and fans who keep the industry going. I'm not interested in participating in this Brave New World where portions of a product I paid for are locked away and held prisoner to micro-transaction greed.

Assassins Creed 2 Screenshot

As a consumer, I don't feel that this new philosophy is ethical, and that has nothing to do with any kind of imagined "gamer entitlement"—it's just a simple truism inherent to the concept of buying and selling, and intimately linked with the diminished perceived value of something that is suddenly revealed to be less than what the buyer thought it was. Disclosure from the seller and the buyer's ownership of the property in question is the basis of any financial transaction, and trying to modify (and then justify) this age-old understanding only sours goodwill on the part of consumers and flaunts the current imbalance of power.

Just because it's possible (and even legal) to slap all kinds of partitions, controls, DRM or any other sort of control system in games sold to consumers, that doesn't mean it's right. Supporters of this new e-control philosophy can try to manipulate words and twist the issue as much as they want, but ask anyone on the street if they're happy to pay for an unlock key to a disc they've already bought and the answer will always be the same—Hell no.

Call me old-fashioned, archaic, behind-the-times, or any other title you'd like, but if the content was ready to go at launch, if it's actually on the disc, and if it was intended to be played at some point in time, then people who have paid for these discs should have full access to all of the content on them. If not, then there'd better be a disclaimer somewhere on the package telling me that I'll need to chip in another $5 to get the "full" experience. (And no, don't bring up the whole "you get the full promised experience without the unlocks" argument. It doesn't make the practice any less shady, and it doesn't make the consumer feel any less taken advantage of.)

Will the practice stop? Probably not. If consumers knew about such practices ahead of time, we could potentially vote with our wallets—but with this knowledge intentionally and consistently held back to avoid such a circumstance, there is no way to know which games are guilty and which aren't. The fact that this knowledge is routinely hidden speaks to the attitude of those engaging in the practice. If publishers and developers genuinely thought it was all on the up and up and that nothing was wrong, then why not be straightforward about it? In this case, actions most definitely speak louder than words.

Like I said earlier, I'm not against publisher and developers earning a profit, I enjoy and partake of DLC just as much as the next guy (and probably more so) and I'm all for extending the life of games that I've enjoyed. That said, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about doing this, and no matter which way I look at it, I can't see disc unlocks as anything other than dirty, disrespectful business. DLC will keep getting made and I'll still buy it, but I certainly hope that those with the power to make such decisions will show consumers some respect, concede that there's an undeniable taint to the practice, and avoid this delivery method in the future. It just makes everyone involved feel icky.

BioShock 2 would have made great DLC

BioShock 2 Screenshot

Thanks to the current lull in big releases (thank goodness!!) I had enough time to start and finish BioShock 2 without putting my review schedule in jeopardy.

If you missed it, here's my review of the original BioShock. As heretical as it may seem to some, I wasn't completely in love with the game. Don't get me wrong—it was certainly an enjoyable experience that I don't regret, but it didn't impact me or make the same impression that it apparently did for the majority of people who played it. As a result, I didn't have very high expectations for the sequel, and I didn't feel very disappointed when credits rolled.

I think I'm going to actually pen a Second Opinion on it so I won't spill all my thoughts here, but I think in a nutshell it would have been the world’s best DLC if it had been half as long and had increased the role of some of the peripheral characters. Being a Big Daddy was a great idea, but it didn't feel very different from being the main character of the first game. In fact, the game suffers from a feeling of sameness overall, with the few creatively bright spots going mostly unexploited.

It certainly wasn't bad, I just think the developers' sights were set a bit low.

BioShock 2: Minerva's Den has much-needed human element

BioShock 2: Minerva's Den Screenshot

Just finished the recent BioShock 2 DLC, Minerva's Den.

In an interesting turn of events, I think the final scenes of this DLC are probably some of the best to be found in the series, and it got me thinking... if there was one thing missing from both of the BioShock games, it was that there was not enough of the human element.

When constantly on guard, running from hallway to hallway on the alert for attackers, it's hard to really focus on the more cerebral side of Rapture. I've always felt that although it was a visually rich environment, the entire world got short shrift thanks to too much combat and an over-reliance on painfully artificial storytelling mechanics. There are entirely too many "microblogger" audio samples to be found in every corner of the underwater complex, and it's quite rare when a player encounters (much less interacts) with an NPC who isn't a deformed mutant or assault robot. I've spoken to many people who swear by the atmosphere and story of BioShock, but it's never really clicked with me until these final scenes in Minerva's Den.

What made this particular scene so good was that there was no combat, and I had a few moments to reflect on the story and the dramatic elements the developers had created. I didn't have to look over my shoulder for splicers, I wasn't checking every single box in the area for ammo or cash, and I had enough mental space to take a few breaths and chew on what was before me—and you know what? It was really effective. It really worked. I actually started to feel a bit for what happening in the story, and my immediate next thought was…

"Why couldn't they do this with the rest of BioShock?"

(…And although both BioShock 1 and 2 are guilty of this sort of detached, stilted dramatic side, 2K Marin got it more right than Irrational did, if you ask me.)

While I'm glad I've had the chance to play through everything that's been offered so far and I definitely enjoyed time with the iconic Big Daddies and Little Sisters, it was a little bittersweet to finish with Minerva's Den. That brief taste of emotion and those extra few minutes spent on the human side of the game put everything else that came before it in a somewhat shallow, unflattering light, and made me wish that the developers of both games had made slightly different choices and strayed a bit further from their formulas.

More importantly, I hope that the good people working on the upcoming BioShock Infinite will take a few moments to retool the 'Shock identity, and not be content to simply take the gameplay ideas from under the sea and relocate them to the skies above.