Why BioShock 2 is a TERRIBLE IDEA

When I first heard that a sequel was on the cards, my ambivalence rapidly gave way to a series of possible concepts. I came up with two overall directions the game could take. One was a new setting and story in a new place and time, taking the broad themes of BioShock and reimagining them in a different context. It still wasn’t 100% necessary, but it could have led to a fairly satisfying and worthwhile companion piece. The other idea was a grab-bag of unimaginative, clichéd, painfully obvious ‘twists’ on the original game’s formula, which required less than five minutes’ thought in total to compile.

Above: The last place I wanted to see, believe it or not.

With no exaggeration I can (un)happily say that every BioShock 2 reveal so far was festering at the bottom of that bag months ago. Seriously. It’s like a check-list of everything I didn’t want:

Rapture was f*cked-up and great. If we set it in Rapture, but years later and even more f*cked up, it’s bound to be even more great, right?!

Wrong. It will be something we’ve already seen before with a few more cracks and leaks. The magic of Rapture came from its newness. It was the sheer originality of its design that made it such an immersive world to explore. It was a beautifully crafted achievement; all at once alien and familiar, beautiful and terrifying. To retread its creaky boards will achieve nothing but to cloud its specialness.

And we’re supposed to be excited that the first-generation Splicers have degenerated and become feral? The reason the Splicers were so damn unnerving wasn’t their superhuman physical abilities. It was their degraded humanity. It was the fact that they had enough left of themselves to remain sympathetic, despite their horrific physical and mental decay. If a bunch of them have become genero-monsters (as the Doom-Imp-style designs in the preview video below imply), then Rapture is going to be even duller than I’d feared.


Big Daddies are awesome. Let’s play as one!

How agonisingly unexpected. [/sarc] Not only is the idea the most obvious form of thoughtless fanboy-bait (particularly given the last sections of the original game), it doesn’t even hold together as a game mechanic. To make a Big Daddy actually work as a protagonist, 2K Marin have had to make him faster and more agile, and downgrade his power. He’s also got plasmids and a built-in research camera. So he’s basically Jack with a big fat drill strapped to his arm. Massively contrived and boring. Quite an achievement.

Rapture is under the sea. Big Daddies wear diving suits. Let’s go swimming!

Yeah, we’ll be able to explore the sea bed in BioShock 2. And we’ll instantly lose that sense of panicked claustrophobia so inherent to even BioShock’s most expansive areas. While BioShock 2’s devs have rightly pointed out that the sea was an ever-present character in the original game, their justification for going outside – the idea that you’ll finally be able to meet that character face to face – is simplistic and misguided in the extreme. BioShock’s sea was a silent, oppressive threat, and the tentative distance between you and it maintained the tension. Going for a swim is going to be like Jason Voorhees taking off his mask and sitting down to talk through his issues.

There are Big Daddies and Little Sisters. How about we really subvert things by making a BIG SISTER! Like a Big Daddy, but female!

Oh for f*ck’s sake.

And it gets worse. We’re getting a predictable repeat of the radio-guidance narrative mechanic using an inexplicably-still-in-Rapture Tenenbaum. And the contrivance of the protagonist character has forced a prototype Big Daddy plotline, which will no doubt lift the lid on (read: ruin) the genuinely disturbing history so delicately sketched in the original game.

Every idea is obvious. Every idea is pointless. Every idea feels like a desperate, contrived, flailing subversion attempt which will detract far more from the original game’s design than it can ever hope to add.

Need more evidence? The next page holds two simple but massively important coffin nails for BioShock 2.

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  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - March 25, 2010 12:17 a.m.

    now the same guy made an article about what he wants in bioshock 3.. fuck him
  • FunkyDarkKnight - March 18, 2010 6:35 p.m.

    this game is out, it p0wns
  • TrojanGold - November 6, 2009 10:44 p.m.

    Yeah I never felt threatened by the water...
  • afroninjakatana - July 21, 2009 4:18 p.m.

    You guys that hate Bioshock2 before it's even out are douchebags.
  • darkus - May 19, 2009 8:39 a.m.

    i got scared the first time i saw it!!!
  • LandoGriffinnn5334 - May 15, 2009 9:13 p.m.

    You (Article writer) raise some interesting points, but there is a fundamental flaw in your argument i.e. you speak in absolutes. Your entire argument hinges on the notion that the perfection that was the story/environment/closure of BioShock means that we don’t still wish to revisit it. Your argument will fall on 2 sets of deaf ears. 1. Mouth-breathers who luv rippin’ shit up and kickin’ some ass. 2. Non pseudo-intellectuals who have managed to understand that the essence of the return to Rapture should hinge on 3 simple questions: a. Do you want to experience more of Rapture? b. Are you open to new examples of the wonders/horrors/wondrous horrors of Rapture? c. Are you able to view it as something additional, perhaps episodic in a sense and not be so fanboy-douche as to decry a fan service (and admittedly fiscally) motivated effort to give gamers another opportunity to enter the utopic dystopia that of the BioShock world. You sound like the disillusioned Star Wars fans who wish the prequels never would have been made. As a man who looks back on the original trilogy with adoring eyes while casting a scornful glare at the prequels, it does nothing to diminish my love for the originals and my appreciation that there was an attempt to recapture the magic. It failed ultimately, but it was better to have tried, failed and have many of us declare it non-canon that to have never had anyone try to bring us back to that place. BioShock 2 may very well disappoint, but don’t waste your life being so smug as to not welcome an opportunity to revisit something so many of us have been clamoring for. And a preemptive retort to your intended reply, if I may ~ Yes, BioShock 1 was basically perfect and “closed” and yes they should be investing in the next original IP in the System/Bio Shock vein, but the undeniable truth is that the vast majority of those of us who made the initial journey to Rapture are not yet ready to leave.
  • solsunforge - May 14, 2009 9:09 p.m.

    Hmm I get a strange feeling that the big daddy original and the big sister are or rather were married or in a relationship. It would be a obvious plot twist they could take and if its not they can have the one i offered for free. Here is another original big daddy and big sister are father and sister and were te ones that had experiments done to them and tenebaum could possibly be the mother she allowed it to happen in name of science and as a result felt guiltry and thats the reason she houses the little sisters who are clones of big sister. In effect her children. Those are free the rest I have will cost you a job on the dev team :) har har. Hope its a decent game whichever path they take.
  • sundaysupreme - May 13, 2009 1:56 a.m.

    "Don't mind the scratches made through wear and tear, the monitor is still running." I just said that, but in secret, the little things be what bothers me most. I feel you broher, let's burn Biotwo.
  • Hecktor - May 12, 2009 5:52 a.m.

    Chris Berman should be sent to Rapture to die. I can't wait till this jew has the big one on air and Tom Jackson puts his whole face in his lips trying to give him CPR. Should be a Tivo moment.
  • Elementskater - May 12, 2009 2:56 a.m.

    oh well. if you don't like it, don't play it. its not like your gonna stop them from making it by saying why they shouldn't.
  • d0x - May 11, 2009 6:56 p.m.

    I agree with alot of this. I do not want to play as a Big Daddy and that whole video interview thing makes me not want to play the game. Oooh so terrifying! Its cool we get to play more Bioshock but it really does lose everything that made it special in the first place. Honestly we should be playing a prequel so we can see the fall of rapture.
  • garnsr - May 11, 2009 4:46 a.m.

    I'm amazed that most of the comments in this thread actually have thoughts in them, not just saying "It'll be awesome, you suck," or "yeah, it'll suck." The sequels to star Wars were not absolutely necessary, but Empire was the best of the lot. Then they went for the prequels, and ruined a lot of the magic of the originals. I fear Bioshock 2 will fall into the latter category, but we'll see. Sometimes you need to have a whole trilogy or so for all of the parts to add up to a magnificent whole. Sometimes you just need the one.
  • TheWebSwinger - May 11, 2009 4:09 a.m.

    Definitely well reasoned, but come on. That video embedded in the article is pretty damn sweet, which certainly doesn't strengthen the argument. I, an enormous fan of BioShock 1, and extremely excited for BioShock 2, and really do have hope it'll be good. The end.
  • Zalb - May 10, 2009 11:48 p.m.

    I think I am the only one who hated Bioshock. I bought it last week and beat, I was disappointed. The reasons people like it are the very same resons I hated it, claustrophobia, dark atmosphere, annoying incomprehensable radio chatter, alarms, turrets, not being able to go into the water! Shall I go on? Yes it was original and I will be getting Bioshock 2 because it looks like major improvement.
  • SunshineHobo - May 10, 2009 10:57 p.m.

    2 sequels. There are only two film sequels I have ever like better than the first, Godfather Part 2 and Toy Story 2. A sequel almost never lives up to the original and if it does, its even rarer (is rarer a word) for it to surpass the sequel. Bio 2, your work is cut out for you.
  • solsunforge - May 10, 2009 9:49 p.m.

    I think that sequels arent a bad thing usually. I think that in a game where a sequel is needed it is usually to tie up some loose plot points or to further tell the story of the main character or reintroduce the antagonist in some new and inventive way. The original bioshock is a brilliant game. Admitingly I will say that at first I didnt understand the big idea of what was so special about it. I loved the city and I loved the enemies and the creepy oh shit feeling when I saw a big daddy and I was only down to a few cheap trick plasmids and 2 shotgun bullets. I remember the feeling of running down the hall only to encounter more splicers then I had bullets for. To me there can be a bioshock 2 and it can potentially be awesome except.... The ending of the first one seemed tacky and added on. Hey look I can control you so i want you to kill me. It just seemed someone ran out of ideas there. The end battle was a bit to easy I mean I didnt know what the hell I was doing for a good minute but I had enough health and wits to stay out of danger until i figured it out then the battle was so easy that I actually went back to play the battle to make sure I didnt get lucky. Now the uninvolvement of ken levine could kill this game or it could help it. As a side note I would be interested to know if ken levine intended there to be a sequel to his game. Regardless The direction he was taking the game was great it was full of awesome moments some awesome plot moments and it truly seemd as though I was exploreing a city that I quickly realized was in peril. This direction it sounds like its going from everyone is play as the original big daddy. I admit I didnt even know there was a sequel in the making for the original and it caused me to create a account stop doing my college work and write. But to play the game as a big daddy that immeadietly un irrevocably gets rid of the feeling of orginiality,creepiness and hoplessness of encountering multiple enemies with not much but a few plasmids and a wrench. The whole reason why so many liked bioshock was the experience of going through it and being in constant peril. Being a big daddy rids you of that feeling it in my opinion gives a god mode type of feeling. To me a watered down sequel is not better then nothing at all.
  • BLACKICE - May 10, 2009 4:15 p.m.

    I think bioshock is a great game and I cant wait to play it Why do you really care that much itz a game if you dont want to play it no one is going to make you play it so I m glad there is going to be a bioshock 2
  • TRAVthe3RD - May 10, 2009 3:10 p.m.

    i was excited bout a sequel.. now im dead inside.
  • miles42 - May 10, 2009 7:44 a.m.

    I am really looking forward to this game and this article doesn't dispell that, but props, this is a very well written article and I respect your opinion.
  • Llanthas - May 10, 2009 6:25 a.m.

    So very true.. and you didn't have to reach so far back for an example of the same. Fable 2 was a massive disappointment for me, after the brilliance of the first one.

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