Yes, BioShock 2 has new guns, new powers, new tools and new multiplayer. For the first time, you can shoot rivets or drill through enemy flesh as a Big Daddy, control turret guns from across the room with remote hacking darts, combine plasmids for electrified tornado death traps and go head-to-head with friends in a raging online Splicer War.
That’s not why you’re anticipating this sequel so much, however, and that’s not why you’re reading this article. You want to be frightened by BioShock 2. You want to be disturbed. You want to be unsettled. And after experiencing an entire level of the game, we can confidently predict that you will be. Here’s what creeped us out during our hands-on time…
In the first BioShock, you assumed you were a generic everyman just trying to survive, then shockingly discovered that you were a mentally programmed slave and a lost son of Rapture. In BioShock 2, though, you play as the original Big Daddy. A protagonist this powerful must be in control of his own destiny, right?
Maybe not. During the preview demo, we learned that you’ve been “awakened” by someone else, whose reason for doing so is unknown. In addition, your overarching mission in the sequel is to seek out your original Little Sister, the girl that was paired with you decades ago. This innocent, almost naïve wish reveals a childish mentality in our new hero, one that is reminiscent of Frankenstein’s monster, and one that could easily be taken advantage of by others.
That friendly voice sure is familiar. Unfortunately, so is that growing sense of suspicion. Augustus Sinclair is your radio tour guide in BioShock 2 and, like the original game’s Atlas, he’s always willing to provide helpful directions or dispense with folksy local insight. Can’t move past a large obstruction of ice? He’ll point you to the nearest Incinerate plasmid. Can’t decide whether to rescue or harvest a Little Sister? He’ll relieve your guilt, assuring you that her death is more euthanasia than murder.
The doubt and deception increase the further you play. Sinclair starts talking about your unique blood and how it’d be “worth a pretty penny on the surface.” Later, you come across audio tapes with references to Sinclair Solutions, a company that shipped dangerous, needle-filled toys to children and was often hired to “fix” Andrew Ryan’s problems. Is this new ally a new traitor as well? Or a red herring to distract us from BioShock 2’s real villain?
He was omnipresent in the first game, a figure that followed you with every step, lectured you from every television and towered over you through every looming authoritarian statue. But in BioShock 2, he… is a she. The character that seems to run the show this time around is Sofia Lamb, an attractive blonde woman (at least in her outdated, black-and-white profile photo) and former political opponent of Andrew Ryan. She’s just as snide and condescending as he was, but potentially a lot more dangerous.
To begin with, she apparently wants to destroy Rapture – with you in it – and, during the demo, flooded an entire section of the city in just such an attempt. We also found her book, Metamorphosis & Transformation, scattered everywhere, including what looked like the site of a cult suicide. Sofia Lamb’s scariest trait, however, might be her mysterious relationship to you. Did we forget to mention the name of that former Little Sister, the girl with which your Big Daddy protagonist is desperate to reunite? It’s Eleanor Lamb.