Bioshock 2 3-Years Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - January 2, 2014
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A useful feature of sequels is that they allow mechanics to be evolved and refined, and that is definitely the case here with respect to Plasmids. These are special abilities that can prove very useful in combat. You can set opponents on fire to deal damage, freeze them in ice to make them easy targets, or stun and damage them with electricity. Before, using a Plasmid required you switch away from your more conventional weapon, but Delta is able to hold the weapon in one hand and throw Plasmids with the other. This change has a huge impact in combat, making it much faster paced as that delay when switching is no longer there. Even restoring your Eve, the fuel for Plasmids, is faster now as it no longer requires both hands to do.
No longer having to switch between weapons and Plasmids has had one not-positive impact, however. I cannot say it is a negative impact, but it is slightly annoying to me. The mouse scroll wheel is mapped to cycle through the conventional weapons all the time now, so cycling between Plasmids requires reaching to the function keys. That is not too bad in the beginning of the game, when you only have a few, but by the end you will have to stretch from WASD to F5 or F6, and that is the last thing you want to do in the middle of a fight. Plan ahead is all I can think to say about that. Know what Plasmid you intend to use in upcoming fights and just keep that one ready.
Another change to the Plasmid system, which is definitely welcome, is how the tonics are applied. These passive abilities are no longer grouped by type, so anything can be applied to a tonic slot, making managing them a bit easier.
As before, collecting more Plasmids or upgrading them requires Adam, which you gather from Little Sisters. The gathering process, however, has changed some. You still have to dispatch the guardian Big Daddies before you can get to the Little Sisters, but once that is done you have the option to adopt them. Remember, Delta is a Big Daddy, so he is able to adopt the Little Sisters and protect them while they harvest Adam from corpses. Each one can gather from two corpses found somewhere on the level, and once they do you can either harvest them for all of their Adam, or rescue them from this life.
After dealing with every Little Sister on a level, there is a chance you will meet another guardian of theirs; a Big Sister. These enemies are about as lethal as a Big Daddy and significantly faster. They may not have as much armor, but can hurl fire attacks at you as they leap around your attacks. Never expect a fight with them to be easy, but defeating them does present a nice reward that includes some Adam.
The hacking system has been overhauled in BioShock 2. Now a needle just moves back and forth on a meter, and you have to activate it when the needle is over the correct block before time runs out. This is considerably more approachable than the previous system, and thus a welcome change. You also acquire the ability to fire remote-hacking darts, so you do not need to be near the device you are hacking.
During my playthrough, I rescued every Little Sister and went everywhere I could, resulting in a game time of nine hours and 41 minutes. That is just shy of the apparent ten hour average of many FPS games, but then I may just be an above-average gamer. (Don't worry, I can't hear you laugh at that remark.) There is some replayability to BioShock 2 that can increase game time, as it has multiple endings.
Something I do want to mention before moving on is that throughout my playthrough, Xbox controller buttons were shown next to some menu buttons. I played using a mouse and keyboard, so I am not sure why controller-only buttons were presented to me, except as an indication that this game is a console port.