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How BioShock 2 will be better than the first

Even the biggest BioShock fan has to be a bit skeptical. The extraordinary originality of 2007’s underwater shooter seems impossible – possibly foolhardy – to repeat. Yet here we are, just two years later, getting our first look at the sequel… from someone other than series mastermind Ken Levine.

Can this really work? New creative director Jordan Thomas thinks so, and over the course of an hour-long demo and interview, he sets out to prove it to us. He shows us the nightmarish new characters and explains how the game will “humanize” them. He shows us bizarre new areas of Rapture and explains why the player will be desperate to explore them. He shows us frantic new combat and explains how no two fights will be alike.

But why repeat everything when we can recreate the BioShock 2 demo for you? In the B-roll footage below, you’ll see nearly every frame of gameplay that we saw. Got questions afterwards? We’ve included the best answers and most interesting tidbits from Jordan himself. By the end, you’ll know just as much about BioShock 2 as we do.


Oh, and if you still haven’t played the first BioShock, you might want to head elsewhere - spoilers and such.

Would you kindly? No. This time, you are in control.

Jordan Thomas, Creative Director: “In BioShock 2, our thesis statement is ‘trust the player.’ We’re going to give you more agency to shape your own role in the narrative and more of an ability to sculpt your identity in a gameplay sense as well.”

“The subtext of the first game put us in a position of needing to afford the player greater free will. This time around, you make pretty strong, key decisions at various points that no other character can, related to the fates of not only the Little Sisters but of new characters… human, unspliced characters that you get to spend direct time with. The way in which you treat them changes the way in which the story resolves.”

And you have evolved.

JT: “One of the biggest changes this time is in who you play. BioShock 2 allows you to step into the boots of the Big Daddy. The story is very much a tale of a man trapped inside a monster. He is a deep part of Rapture’s history and, over the course of the game, you find out how you became this iconic character and how you had these atrocities perpetrated on you.”

The protagonist, however, is even more of a mystery.

JT: “Core to BioShock 1 was this sense that the player was very much a cipher. You were just somebody who crashed in the middle of the ocean and, over the course of the game, learned about your own relationship to Rapture.

“As a designer on the first game, I similarly found the Big Daddies to be a living mystery. What was behind that mask? So it appeals to me to put the player in the position of wondering, ‘What do I look like inside here? Who am I?’ and over the course of the game, uncovering more and more about your own identity.

“Big Daddies are these unspeaking juggernauts - very similar to the ‘cylinder of death’ that is the player in a first person shooter. The idea of being removed from the other characters, but having them gaze into you and project what they think that your motives are onto you – and then having your actual actions update what they think about you over the course of the game – seemed very powerful to me.”

The antagonist, meanwhile, is far scarier than Andrew Ryan.

JT: “You play the very first Big Daddy ever… sort of a prototype model who’s lighter and faster than any of the Big Daddies you encountered in the first game. Since that constitutes a hell of a threat to the ecology of Rapture, there has to be something out there that’s stronger than you are from the get-go, and is terrifying, and can take out a Big Daddy… Maybe that something needs a place in the Adam ecology, able to drain it from bodies like a Little Sister.”

“The Big Sister is aware of the fact that you are not conditioned like the other Big Daddies. Early on in the story, somebody cuts you off your leash, frees your will and allows you to start making decisions. So when you take a Little Sister away from her Big Daddy – when you decouple them – she sees you disrupting the status quo. To her, as an ex-Little Sister, all is well when the BioShock ecology is humming along. You’re going in there and disrupting what she sees as home.”

59 comments

  • user-name - June 1, 2009 11:55 a.m.

    now THIS looks like a game i would play! recaptcha: 49ers disgrace . what a coincidence
  • shadowleon - April 29, 2009 6:22 p.m.

    This is going to be awesome
  • Dave8800 - April 29, 2009 4:47 a.m.

    I love Bioshock as much as the next guy. Which is why I think this sequel is horrible idea, trying to make a sequel to a game like Bioshock is like trying to make a sequel to Schindler’s List, in that the sequel will be nowhere as good as the first and it will cheapen its predecessor to boot.
  • Person5 - April 29, 2009 1:04 a.m.

    I got a couple things to say first-to everyone who's saying they don't want one big escort mission, protecting the little sister is optional, you can harvest her if you want its just to get more adam, second at R_U_Guys_From_British I'm sure that's it, he did survive because of the vita chambers and he is the big sister! but he's in disguise so you don't know its him, and last at Demonflare...really? there was a time when short games were critisized have we passed that point? I hope this game is longer than the first! why is a long game bad now?
  • Demonflare - April 28, 2009 8:22 p.m.

    The BioShock was cool, but took forever to beat. Bioshock2 looks good. Hope its not as long as the first Bioshock!
  • VideoGameKing - April 28, 2009 3:04 a.m.

    so,the "big sister" is stronger then the 'big daddy'?
  • Madvillain - April 27, 2009 9:58 p.m.

    See, as excited as I am for this game, its really unfortunate and risky that the head dude Ken Levine isn't involved in the sequel. I'm still gonna buy it, but I have my reservations
  • iKOemos - April 26, 2009 7:58 a.m.

    hey @ dontsayimfirst: u said dont say first and jst comment on the damn game but u said nothing about the game. Just a bit hypocritical. I still havnt finished the first bioshock and my PS3 was stricken down by the YLOD so i hope its fixed by the time this game comes out
  • m_gamer234 - April 25, 2009 12:57 p.m.

    Bioshock 2 is going to be the shit! Even though i think its going to be real easy, i/'m sur3 the story is going to be great! Which is one of the main reasons why i am getting it!
  • BurntToShreds - April 25, 2009 5:47 a.m.

    Like a lotta people before me, I despise escort missions. I just hope it doesn't become one. I also hope that little yellow meter in the bottom left isn't a Little Sister life bar...
  • R_U_Guys_From_British - April 24, 2009 11:43 p.m.

    andrew ryan is pulling the strings in bioshock 2, trust me
  • vekrote - April 24, 2009 11:28 p.m.

    definately a first day buy :D RECAPTCHA: taped affair (wtf?)
  • Sash - April 24, 2009 10:55 a.m.

    There are, you have to protect them lol
  • Auron - April 24, 2009 10:08 a.m.

    Are there Little Sisters in Bioshock 2? They were one of my favourite characters. + Being a Big Daddy?! Awsome!
  • ironman5 - April 24, 2009 1:35 a.m.

    I'm so excited for this game! I played and beat the first one several times, and have almost forgot about it. Now I'm ready to play some more BioShock!
  • BoondockSaint54 - April 24, 2009 1:35 a.m.

    Looks fun to me. I just hope it's not one big escort mission, though. I can't stand those.
  • bron1417 - April 23, 2009 11:29 p.m.

    wooo yea i cant wait for this game!!
  • jar-head - April 23, 2009 9:09 p.m.

    i understood this completely: one little sister grew up and went back to rapture, in the trailer, and she become just like Andrew Ryan. You are the first Big daddy, a prototype, and you can walk the ocean floors, and are ment to protect the Little sisters, whom The big Sister has stolen, as in that website "Theres something in the sea". i understood this thanks to GR
  • Jedipimp0712 - April 23, 2009 9 p.m.

    i love this article, and im definately going to get it on release date. also, you still have to deal with other big daddies. and i cant wait for the new plasmid upgrades, that flamethrower version of incinerate looks fucking awesome. what i am wondering is if there is going to be cash again, and also how you will upgrade plasmids? like if it will be at a vending machine again, or if you can do like fable did where you can do it at any time. the one thing that i dont like about this, is the whole "defend the little sister" that was my least favorite part of the last game. But, im worried about if there will be an instant death if you kill to many big daddies, and the big sister gets pissed. i want to be able to have an auger effect like in Dead Rising, where the zombie would stay on the auger. i hope that happens with the drill like in the movie when you let the title screen sit for a bit, and the splicer gets drilled through from first person... that was BRUTAL!!
  • FrozenImplosion - April 23, 2009 7:08 p.m.

    YAY i was WAITING for an article from gamesradar on bioshock 2. THANK YOU.

Showing 1-20 of 59 comments

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