BioShock 2 HD Remaster (PS4) — A review.

While the original creators of BioShock don’t even seem to want to acknowledge the existence of this game, after finishing this first full playthrough of the game (yes, I’ve never played this all the way through before), I feel it deserves to be known. Undeniably it retreads a lot of familiar territory from the first game but honestly are there many, better, foundations than the original BioShock?

More than that, I’d argue that while the narrative is nowhere near as compelling as the one found in the original game (until its messy conclusion anyway) this sequel does a few things just as good, if not better. Especially when it comes to the weight of your moral choices which in return results in a far more satisfying climax than all the wasted opportunities (which this game is happy to pick back up and do justice) and silliness at the end of the first BioShock.

The only areas I feel BioShock 2 is the lesser, at least in terms of gameplay, is how tough it is. Expect to die… a lot… even on the easier difficulty settings. The odds were overwhelming in the first game, but the enemies were just nuisances which were easily silenced with a fist full of lightning. This time around enemies soak up much more damage, even early in the game, the odds are usually even more overwhelmingly stacked against you with the introduction of a bunch of new and very powerful enemies and the whole game is an even bigger war of attrition as there seems to be even less stock lying around to keep you topped up on the things you need to survive Rapture. Some of the game is honestly nothing more than a real pain in the ass, which is pretty damning of any game really.

Outside of those moments of frustration though, I would still argue that overall, at least in a general shooter sense, BioShock 2 is just so much more fun to play than the original. You can now dual wield plasmids and guns at the same time, the way they are upgraded (along with your tonics) is much more fascinating than it was the first time around, even if little truly new is added into the mix. Well, other than some late game surprises I wont spoil and the choice to swap Jack out for a Big Daddy and in turn swap the wrench for a drill. If you can keep it fuelled the drill is one hell of a good time and so is this game, most of the time.

Visually the remaster seems to have had little work put into it but BioShock 2 is still undeniably well designed. Some of the new, sprawling, areas of Rapture we get to explore feel right at home with the first game, even with the new neon glow everything has. Just like the first game, half the joy of BioShock 2 is soaking in the sights, watching the splicers interact with one another and piecing together what the hell went down to cause Rapture to become the husk you’re travelling through today. To capture that magic twice, is pretty special.

Bottom Line? While there is no experience quite like your first visit to Rapture in the original BioShock, I’d actually dare to argue that as an all round package BioShock 2 is superior. No wonder the original creators don’t want to acknowledge this title.