The Top 7… ways BioShock 2 is better than BioShock 1

 Our first trip to Rapture was a revelation. We didn’t realize first-person shooters could be so daring, so intellectual and so beautifully bizarre while still satisfying our action-hungry trigger fingers. And yet… we weren’t sure we wanted more. We feared a second trip to Rapture would be less a revelation than a familiar retread. A sequel that, through its very existence, would cheapen the impact of its predecessor.

Well, as you’ll know from reading our recent review, we’ve completely changed our minds. BioShock 2 is another deep, dark and disturbing masterpiece that not only lives up to the experience of the original, but in some very important ways, actually manages to surpass it.

Still skeptical? Here are the top seven things BioShock 2 does better than BioShock 1... we dare you to disagree!



In the first BioShock…

You were a disembodied pair of hands with a single “goal” – do whatever the guy on the radio tells you to do. You don’t know who you are, where you came from or why you’re rescuing this random stranger’s unseen family when you could be saving yourself. Of course, unlike most generic shooters, BioShock had an incredibly compelling reason for all of this blank-slate mystery… but until that big twist arrived, you might as well been a Doom Space Marine.

In the second BioShock…

Your goals are clear and, more importantly, personal. As a Big Daddy, you require a Little Sister, and yours is gone. The bond between you is more than a friendship, and more than a relationship between protective father figure and loving daughter figure. You’re genetically linked soul mates. Without her, you’ll die. Without you, she may die, too. Motivated yet?


In the first BioShock…

Rapture, the BioShock series’ underwater utopia-turned-dystopia setting, was presented as a haunted house filled with freaks. Everyone you met was either a mutated Splicer or an insane titan of art / commerce / science / industry. The latter wrestled for control of the city, while the former just wanted to wrestle you for another ounce of gene-hacking drugs. This nightmarish extremism was most evident in the Medical Pavilion, where an obsessed plastic surgeon displayed bloodily disfigured women as his “masterpieces,” and in Fort Frolic, where an obsessed playwright displayed plaster-imprisoned lovers as his “masterpieces.”

In the second BioShock…

Rapture feels almost… real. The world… believable. The people… sympathetic. Sure, you’re still wandering through super creepy settings, fending off super bizarre citizens, but BioShock 2 does an admirable job of making these places and personalities relatable. Listen to enough audio diaries and you’ll understand why your enemies moved to Rapture, what they hoped to achieve – or escape – and how those dreams were eventually shattered by new war and new greed.

Instead of the upscale neighborhood of Olympus Heights, you visit the impoverished ghetto of Pauper’s Drop, where Rapture’s poorest live under the train tracks. Instead of the glitzy, glamorous Fort Frolic, you visit Siren Alley and witness the life of desperate, disadvantaged prostitutes. And instead of fearing the Big Daddies and Little Sisters, you’ll eventually come to understand exactly how they think… and how they perceive their awful situation.


Top 7


  • MackVanLobster - September 30, 2012 2:53 p.m.

    So, here's the thing: I strongly agree with every point here, other than 6 & 7. If you have any kind of open imagination (or are just twisted enough), you can relate to and understand nearly every character. Yes, Steinman was way past relatable, but Cohen? No way in hell. My creative side and the artistic sides of my friends totally got his pretentious satire - it complemented the world and it's heavily saturated presentation. And you are nothing near generic as a character, not even up until the plot twist. Here are things that prove that: - Searching Rapture and finding audio diaries reveals Ryan to be your father. - Finding prior diaries to these reveal an entire back story to your mother, who was a stripper and secret lover to A.R. Basically, you're a primary bullet in a web of intrigue. - The plane crash implies mystery and a real back-story (that kicks you in the ass when you find out what that story really is). - You're a survivor and a victim, not an overpowered super-soldier (given you play higher than the “this is my first shooter” difficulty). And, just to be clear, I'm not just trying to be an opinionated dick-head. I love Bioshock 2 infinitely more as a stand-alone shooter. But you can't generalize the artistic value of the first title with things like “You were a disembodied pair of hands with a single 'goal' – do whatever the guy on the radio tells you to do.”
  • codystovall - October 25, 2011 3:48 p.m.

    I played bio 2 and was bored as fword, honestly it just feels like any other shooter. Never played the first so its possibly better but this was an empty revisit.
  • Ultimadrago - October 24, 2011 4:16 p.m.

    Wasn't going to get Bioshock 2 at first, but I wanted to complete every part of Rapture's story. I am so glad I made the decision. Bioshock 2's story is fantastic and shows what is behind the Big Daddy you feared so greatly in the first. Great story, great gameplay, great improvements. I love you, Bioshock 2.
  • noobeater - February 22, 2010 10:27 a.m.

    i actually wasnt going to get bioshock 2 at first but after completing it i would say it is almost twice as good, the story the settings, i was blown away by the ending, i got the good one i believe, i just think you are part of rapture was better then some stranger doesnt know what hes doing. However i too was dissapointed about the lack of music at the vending machines
  • GrandMoffBubbles - February 20, 2010 12:15 p.m.

    As a Bioshock purist, I was uneasy starting my first playthrough of Bioshock 2. Needless to say, those feelings soon vanished upon serious interaction with Rapture again. When I think about it, its really Rapture ITSELF that I was wary of and not the new voyage into it. That's the lasting impression that the first game had upon me. To my great delight, Rapture has the same spooky beauty that enthralled and bewitched me the first time. I have nothing new to add to the conversation and find myself in complete agreement with the author of this article.
  • philipshaw - February 20, 2010 11:57 a.m.

    Only got to reading this article now because I beat it last night. I agree with Charlie that the combat, choics and the end are better than the first game but it didn't hook me like the first game
  • TrollMan - February 19, 2010 12:21 p.m.

    fuck i wish i did not see that picture of the final boss im about done with bioshock 2 just 3 more levels
  • BloodTsunami - February 19, 2010 7:19 a.m.

    This is the perfect example of why GR is one of the few sites I trust. I couldn't have said it better myself. Oh wait did I ...
  • JakCass47 - February 19, 2010 5:57 a.m.

    Although it doesn't have that wow factor that it did the 1st time I played the 1st game I must wholeheartedly agree with it being an all around better game in all the ways that were mentioned, especially the much more interactive & emotional involvement with the little sisters. As far as closing areas after you leave them, I read that they did that for pacing and its seems to keep things moving pretty well at that.
  • HDBawllz - February 18, 2010 11:46 p.m.

    Love both games but I liked Bioshock 2 more. I felt like it was easier for me to get into. Plus being a Big Daddy kicks ass! And I did not miss the sounds from vending machines. I did at first but then I was glad they were gone.
  • enderjsv - February 18, 2010 5:21 a.m.

    I could not agree more. I liked the first Bioshock, but always felt it didn't quite deliver on the promises it made. I feel the second one did far better of exploring morality and the inhabitants of Rapture. Good article.
  • joy - February 17, 2010 10:40 p.m.

    Loved it. Not sure if I loved it more than One, but so cool. @KREATIVEassassin + Amnesiac - I am so pleased I am not the only one who missed those sounds! I get why they took them out, but.. but... @ FrozenImplosion - Ohhhhh!! Marshmallows!! @Jacob816 - can you transplant your hard drive? Unless the HD is stuffed you might be able to moved it too the new PS3 and keep your saves??
  • Shifty1001 - February 17, 2010 8:19 p.m.

    @WAY2DOPE: Then I guess you're bad? Also, playing as a Big Daddy effing rules. You lose.
  • jonfarist - February 17, 2010 12:04 a.m.

    i just finished it. boy that was a plot twist.
  • WAY2DOPE - February 16, 2010 7:58 p.m.

    I really like this game but i don't like playing as the big daddy and i find myself dying like every second
  • TooSpliced - February 16, 2010 6:20 p.m.

    To Ror444: Go die To BishopofHipppo, yeah perty funny achievement. But if u havnt played the first, u wouldnt get why its funny.
  • 1One1Winged1Angel - February 16, 2010 5:02 p.m.

    Personally i don't think you can rate Bioshock on the fact that it didn't quite make a deep impression like the first one because you had been to Rapture before and it was all familiar. It's like if you a play a franchise like Zelda and when a new game comes out you don't stand about and say things like ''omfg i've seen Link before, doesn't have the same impact as when I saw him for the same time, this game sux, it's the same characters etc.''
  • BishopofHippo93 - February 16, 2010 4:19 p.m.

    Also, I was surprised at how fun the multiplayer was. I was expecting an awful tacked on attempt to please those people who only play games for the multiplayer aspect of them. It is actually pretty fun, chaotic yes, but actually quite fun.
  • BishopofHippo93 - February 16, 2010 4:16 p.m.

    Personally, I agree with both the article and just about everyone here on the message board. Bioshock 2 was a fantastic game, but for me it felt a little half-baked compared to the first. To me, Bioshock is one of the most epic and complete games I have ever played and is probably my favorite game of all time. The second installment was fun as hell and really did have a deep emotional attachment. I actually found it hard to go back a second time and harvest the sisters and make the evil choices to see that ending. This tin man does have a heart. Also, secret achievement if anyone wants it, I believe it's called 9-irony, in Ryan Amusements, at one of the "From the desk of Andrew Ryan" areas, there is a golf club, if you grab it with telekinesis and throw it at the animatronic you get the achievement.
  • Ror444 - February 16, 2010 5:09 a.m.

    I don't like either of them =D

Showing 1-20 of 55 comments

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