Was there a more anticipated game coming in to E3 2009 than 2K's BioShock 2? If there was, I haven't heard of it. We managed to have a sit down with several developers of the game and came away very impressed with the changes to the original's formula.
The first and biggest change this time around is that you don't play as Jack from the first game any more. This time you play as a Big Daddy, but not just any Big Daddy. You play as THE Big Daddy, the initial prototype upon which all other Big Daddies are based. Unlike the Big Daddies from the original, this one is far more powerful, agile, and faster than the rest. You even have access to the drill, rivet gun, and other weapons you've seen from the first game.
Also, if there's anything more awesome to play as than a plasmid wielding Big Daddy, but I haven't thought of it yet.
The game takes place ten years after the events of the first game, and still takes place in Rapture. Rapture has become a very different place since the events of the first game. The city is still collapsing, but the plot involves a mysterious individual who wants to rebuild Rapture and begin the reharvesting of ADAM from the ocean floor. 2K wouldn't reveal who exactly this shadowy figure was, but they may or may not be the Big Sister.
The Big Sister is the very definition of terrifying badassery. Much like Nemesis of Resident Evil fame, the Big Sister will stalk you throughout the halls of Rapture, impeding your progress at every turn. The Big Sister is an agile beast who can climb walls, use telekinesis, has speed to burn, and a huge drill on her arm, and she's not too happy when you guide little sisters around.
Being a Big Daddy, you can bring along a little sister on your travels, allowing her to gather ADAM from various sources, namely corpses. Like the first game, moral choices come into play throughout the game, and BioShock 2 takes that idea just one step further. Now, players can choose when and where to harvest or save the little sister following you around, meaning that you can either save up ADAM or harvest small amounts at a time.
While more details were not available at the event as far as single player goes, rest assured that BioShock 2 retains the original's distinct art style, moral choices, and stunning game play.
We were also able to get a few details on BioShock 2's multiplayer mode, a first for the franchise. Interestingly, the entire multiplayer mode is developed by an entirely different studio, Digital Extremes, who handled the PS3 port of the original title.
What was most unexpected about the multiplayer mode is that it remains a story driven affair, with distinct ties to the canonical storyline. The multiplayer mode takes place a year before the events of the first game, and you play as an average Rapture citizen who becomes embroiled a civil war. Now, there is never any war without someone behind the scenes acting as a profiteer, and this conflict is no different.
You are a tester for a company known as Sinclair Solutions, an arms and plasmid dealer that has contracted you and anyone else playing to test out their weapons against other Rapture citizens.
You start multiplayer in your own Rapture apartment. From here, you can outfit your character and go to your personal bathysphere. The second you pull the lever, the bathysphere moves and places you instantly in the best available match.
The multiplayer plays generally like BioShock does, with a few major differences. First, players will have the ability to charge up their plasmids up for extra power and neat effects. For example, if you charge up the lightning plasmid, you will release a burst of electricity around you. Also, there is new quick select options and load outs you must select since you no longer have access to the select wheels you do in single player.
Hacking also plays a role in multiplayer. For obvious reasons, the pipe dream minigame has been removed in favour of a simple loading bar. Once hacked, the turrets will attack your enemies until they are able to hack it for themselves.
Best of all, there will be random spawns throughout the matches that allow one player at a time to become a big daddy. Obviously, this gives all sorts of extra powers and a huge amount of health, but it paints a huge target on the player's back as well. It's an extra layer of strategy that makes BioShock's multiplayer a very unique experience.
2K is promising three different multiplayer modes, including survival of the fittest (free for all), civil war (team deathmatch), and a as of yet unannounced third mode.
As you gain ADAM through kills and assists, you'll go up in levels. At new levels you'll gain new plasmids and weapons which you can then load out in your apartment. There are 20 levels worth of experience to earn as well.
BioShock 2 is certainly looking like a more than worthy addition to the game many of us fell in love with nearly two years ago. Lucky European gamers will have early access to the game on October 30th, while us Canadian and American gamers must wait until November 3rd to play the game on our Xbox 360's, PS3's, and PCs.