Is Bioshock 2 better than the original?

The return to Rapture sparks another heated team debate


It's a far better FPS and the storyline doesn't fade out towards the end.

Don't get me wrong: BioShock is one of my favourite games of all time. But it's clear that it's far from perfect. As a shooter it feels lightweight and archaic, and the narrative slows to an unsatisfying crawlinthe final chapters after the 'Would you kindly?' reveal. These are two things the sequel noticeably fixes.

Combat is nowtaut and dynamic, thanks to hugely improved AI and the simple, but game-changing, decision to let the player wield Plasmids and weapons at the same time. Toying with the Splicers is more satisfying than ever thanks to the wealth of tonic, weapon and Plasmid combos, and they'resmarter playmates, using the environment against you.

And the story, while riffing on similar themes as its predecessor, is more cleverly told. No level ever feels like it's dragging on thankstobetter pacing, and the story reveals are frequent and fascinating. The morality system is moreengaging too. The choices are still binary in themselves, but have further-reaching consequences.

2K Marin spent a lot of time analysing the original BioShock, figuring out what it did well, and improving on that. And they had no qualms about getting rid of things they felt marred the experience, like the intrusive 'Pipe Mania' hacking mini-game. So while the sequel doesn't feel as radical as the original did when it was released, it's been improved in the areas that count.

Andy Kelly


The Sequel just doesn't have the same impact as the first Bioshock

I think it all boils down to one thing - you only get one chance to make a first impression. The initial descent down the bathysphere. The first time you come face-to-dismembered face with a splicer. The first time you hear a Big Daddy clunking down a hallway. That splicer with the pram. The disturbing imagery on the walls of Dr Steinman's office. That reveal. These are the moments people will talk about ten, twenty, even fifty years from now.

BioShock 2 is a well crafted sequel with a beautiful and poignant storyline, but it really is just a supplemental to the first story. The original BioShock was the visionary. We came into Rapture as fresh as Jack himself. By the time the second story came along, all that wonderment had evaporated into familiarity. We knew what was lurking down the rabbit hole.

Even if we're comparing like for like, the first BioShock's levels are by far the cleverer of the two, each suffused with layer upon layer of subtext, connotation and sinister mystique, in a way that BioShock 2's just aren't. As a game, BioShock 2 is probably the better. The controls are tighter, the gunplay more exciting, and the morality is handled far more intelligently than in the original. But BioShock's true appeal was never in how it stood up as a first-person shooter. It's the setting that makes it the emotional rollercoaster it is, and in that respect, the original game is the only one worth turning on the waterworks for.

Alex Dale