BioShock 2: Minerva's Den DLC review

BioShock Infinite may represent the future (and explore the past) of the beloved shooter franchise, but the BioShock 2 adventure isn't complete until you've experienced Minerva's Den, a fascinating new campaign add-on that explores previously unseen areas of Rapture, adds fresh abilities and enemies, and offers an achingly emotional side story.

Minerva's Den adds three new campaign chapters to the BioShock 2 experience, but this isn't a quick jaunt in and out of Rapture -- we sunk at least four hours into the chapters, which surprised us, considering the meager $10 entry fee. Housed within Minerva's Den is the Thinker, the intelligent computer system that controls the delicate, underwater metropolis of Rapture, and much of the campaign centers on the fate of its creator, Charles Milton Porter.

Luckily, the add-on does more than simply reuse all existing assets from the game disc. As Subject Sigma, another recently awakened Big Daddy, you'll wield the new Gravity Well plasmid, which sucks up and tosses around enemies (and opens several key doors), as well as the new Ion Laser weapon, which burns through or ignites whoever you aim it at. You'll also face the new Lancer Big Daddy, who can temporarily blind you with his own Ion Laser, as well as Splicers armed with their own plasmids. Otherwise, Minerva's Den plays like another chunk of the existing BioShock 2 experience, with intense Big Daddy/Sister battles, grim environments, and frequent taut and terrifying moments. No complaints there!

But what really makes Minerva's Den a must-play extension of the BioShock 2 universe is its narrative -- an affecting portrayal of the man who built Rapture's technological backbone. It's a more personal tale than anything we've seen from BioShock, with Porter painted as a man who suffered the loss of his wife at a young age, dealt with racial bias and stereotypes, and was put in peril due to a scheming associate and the suspicions of Andrew Ryan. While you may see the big twist coming near the end, what follows is a heartbreaking and pitch-perfect epilogue that explores Porter's demons, and considers the power of artificial intelligence and how far we're willing to go to seek comfort following tragedy.

It's heady, absorbing stuff, and arguably a more interesting tale than BioShock 2 presented on the disc. Assuming you haven't sold off your copy or sworn off the game entirely, Minerva's Den is an exciting and truly interesting voyage back under the sea, and easily worth the investment. It's a shame that this is the last planned DLC for the game, though -- we'd happily plunk down $10 every few months to keep exploring new facets of the BioShock universe before Infinite drops in 2012.

Sep 8, 2010

Andrew Hayward
Freelance writer for GamesRadar and several other gaming and tech publications, including Official Xbox Magazine, Nintendo Power, Mac|Life, @Gamer, and PlayStation: The Official Magazine. Visit my work blog at