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 ourrecent 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.

Charlie Barratt
I enjoy sunshine, the company of kittens and turning frowns upside down. I am also a fan of sarcasm. Let's be friends!