Game: Bioshock 2 / Minerva’s Den DLC
Released: 2010 / 2011
Available On: Xbox 360 (Review), Playstation 3, PC
Genre: First Person Shooter
I was pondering what game to review next and Nathan suggested that I should review Bioshock. I debated this for a few moments and then decided against it. There really wouldn’t be anything exciting about me talking about Bioshock, what with it being my absolute favorite video game. You’d just hear me yammer on about all the positive things and then I’d give it a 10/10 and we’d move on. It wouldn’t be that interesting and you read my elitist rants once a week as it is (speaking of, go read Monday’s Stuck Up Cinema, I’m sure it was great.)
Instead I have taken Nathan’s advice and turned it on its head. Instead of reviewing just Bioshock 2 I am going to review both Bioshock 2 and, for juxtaposition, its DLC Minerva’s Den. I don’t feel as positively about Bioshock 2, so this review will hopefully be a bit more informative and interesting. No promises though.
Let’s start with Bioshock 2.
I was hyped to hell and back for Bioshock 2. As mentioned above, Bioshock was my absolute favorite game (10/10, 5/5, A+, 100%, etc.) so it’s understandable that I was excited for its sequel. My roommate bought it and whenever he put it down to rest his Xbox I immediately turned it back on and played for myself. I got through the game itself pretty quickly and in the end I let out a giant sigh of disappointment. That’ll teach me for getting my hype-boner going for a game.
What really let me down, like a dad not showing up to your baseball game, was that all the atmosphere and environment of the first game was completely gone. Sure, we were in Rapture but it wasn’t the real Rapture; it was merely a Rapture that a bunch of fans of Rapture cut and spliced together soullessly and mercilessly. It’s like a bad fanfic of Bioshock that removed what made the original story and universe so compelling. Basically, Bioshock 2’s biggest enemy was the idea of all the potential it had.
Let’s flashback to certain great moments in Bioshock. Fort Frolic, the Medical Wing, the big OMGWTFBBQsauce twist. Now let’s go to Bioshock 2… uh… maybe, there is the part with Alexander the Great? On its own Bioshock 2 would’ve been an alright game, but when you have an older brother who’s really good at sports it’s kind of disappointing when you grow up spending every weekend on the couch eating Cheetos. There was no moment in Bioshock 2 when I would cock my head back in excitement and scream ‘Yeah! I’m playing Bioshock 2!’ Instead there were countless moments where I was just bummed because they could’ve done something fun but instead just meandered around video game simplicity.
I had such hope, all the way until the end, that I would enjoy Bioshock 2. However the game still managed to surprise me with its blandness when the final boss came around. Don’t worry, this isn’t really spoilers. The final boss of the game is a few waves of the enemies you’ve been fighting the entire game before. Something like that is the biggest copout and the biggest piss off to boss fights anywhere. Sure, Bioshock’s final boss was also disappointing, but Bioshock 2’s final ‘boss’ made me want to die. It made me want to just fall to the ground, curl up in a ball and starve to death. There was this narrative and this build all to the final moments, a build that was so successful that it actually started to hype me up again, and it was just thrown away in the final ‘last stand’ boss fight. I was very disappointed and just, frankly, insulted.
After I beat the game I didn’t think I’d ever play it again. It just left a sour taste in my mouth. Sure, it controlled very nicely, the hacking was better, and the two handed combat system was better than Bioshock’s, but all of that can’t add up to disappointment from all the other glaring negatives. All seemed hopeless until I randomly saw Minerva’s Den, it’s DLC story, was on sale. I don’t know what compelled me to actually download it, maybe it was the achievements, but I’m so glad I did…
Minerva’s Den is a short little story following a completely different character than Bioshock 2 (well, not completely different, they’re both prototype Big Daddies or something like that, yadda yadda.) You’re tasked with exploring Rapture to help stop whatever ADAM crazed mofo is messing it up this time. However, Minerva’s Den contained something that Bioshock 2 forgot to include… I have no real better word for it than, well, good.
Minerva’s Den is what Bioshock 2 should’ve been. If Bioshock 2 had the same feeling, atmosphere and emotional kick as its DLC it would’ve been a great game. I wouldn’t have to cry about how disappointing it was whenever I put down the controller, instead I put down the controller after beating Minerva’s Den and thought ‘wow, that was really surprising. I think I need to sit and think about how much that just emotionally effected me.’ This is the reaction I wanted to have at the end of Bioshock 2, so I’m glad I was able to experience it somehow through Bioshock 2, albeit DLC.
Another big issue that Bioshock 2 had that Minerva’s Den solved was the fact that I just felt no empathy whatsoever with my character. I mean, he’s pretty much a machine. Yes, there is a human inside of the machine and, yes, that’s sad, but you can only tell me something is sad enough times before I stop giving a damn. Throughout Bioshock 2 I would be in danger and just brush it off and think, whatever– that’s not good. Minerva’s Den has you, once again, be a machine, but now you can piece together what exactly is up with your character and then you start to feel for him. Empathy. It’s beautiful.
I could nitpick more about Bioshock 2, but in the end it’s all just disappointment. I loved the first one, I was genuinely excited to play the second and when it spat in my face and threw rocks at me I was suitably upset. I’d recommend the game to anyone who is a fan but I’d preface it heavily by saying it falls short in SO many aspects. I’d recommend it, however I don’t actually think it’s a good game, especially when a much better version exists. Minerva’s Den on the other hand IS a good ‘game’, even if it’s technically only a chapter of gameplay. It’s also sad, because Minerva’s Den shows what could’ve been. Alas we are stuck with a great first game, a sequel trying so hard to be the original, and now the third one coming out… which looks goooooood. Overall I think Bioshock is a good series and will be important to gaming in the future, and I’m not just saying that because BIOSHOCK. OMG. 10/10/101/10101010-1/1101/10.
Bioshock 2: 6/10
Minerva’s Den DLC: 8/10
I just remembered another good moment in Bioshock 2! There is a moment when you see Rapture through the eyes of the a Little Sister. Okay, I can admit that was pretty sweet. It’d push up the score out of 10 by a .5 if I actually gave .5s.