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Bioshock 2 3-Years Later Review



BioShock 2 is not going to win awards for its graphics compared to today's titles, but it still stands up quite well. Textures and objects are quite detailed, helping to bring the environment to life, even if Rapture is dead and/or dying around you. Nothing stands out as looking great or looking bad, which is fine for a three-year-old game.

Even though the events of BioShock 2 take place years after the previous game, Rapture seems to be in pretty good condition with many sections well powered and lit. There may be collapsed walls and ceilings in those areas of course, but at least you can see where you are going by the city lights almost the entire time. The rest of the time a flashlight on your suit turns on.

Speaking of your Big Daddy suit, there are a number of sections that take you outside Rapture and onto the ocean floor. There you can see the various colorful flora, as well as some more complicated life forms, including the sea slugs that Adam, the chemical that drives the Plasmids, is harvested from. These sections also give you an interesting look at Rapture, as you are able to take in its grandeur. Up close its decay may be evident, but at a distance it still stands as a wonder of engineering.







Back inside you will find some pools of water and leaks. The leaks are somewhat simple two-dimensional animations that distort your vision as you look or walk through them. Pooled water is definitely more interesting as it reacts nicely to your presence. Your wake as you walk through the fluid spreads out very nicely, disturbing the reflective surface as it travels.

Fire is another common fluid, and thanks to the Incinerate Plasmid, you can summon it just about whenever you want to. The fire is nice and thick, but it can also have a somewhat two-dimensional look to it. (The thick look is coming from its opacity and not a spatial thickness.) Basically whenever the flames are staying in about the same place, they look like an animation on a plane. When the burning subject is moving however, the fire definitely looks more real, as it follows the motion. Of course it would be nice if the fire looked that good the entire time, but we cannot have everything we want. This is definitely close enough for me to be happy though.


Ice is another fairly common element, again thanks to a Plasmid (one of my favorite, as well). To be honest, the effect is not very believable, though in hindsight, that may be a good thing. The layer of ice added to the models is bumpier than I find realistic, making it look more like slush in some places. In other places the large amount of white added to the object is equally unnatural to me. The light distortion the ice adds does look pretty good, though.

So what do I mean by the unbelievable ice possibly being a good thing? When you freeze something, you need to know it is frozen, so you can respond to it accordingly. If the ice was too transparent and too smooth, you may not notice the status of the enemy immediately. By having the ice effect almost appear to be a caricature of actual ice, it is obvious when something is frozen, and that is a good thing. Gameplay trumps realistic graphics.

Performance time, so here are my specs:

  • Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
  • Cooling: Corsair H110
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
  • GPU: EVGA GTX 770 2 GB
  • PhysX: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
  • PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
  • OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit

The game ran perfectly at max settings on my computer, maintaining nearly solid framerates the entire time, with two exceptions and one note. The note is that after freshly loading the game, I would notice the textures streaming in over time. It never took long for the quality textures to appear, but still long enough to notice the load time.


For some reason, BioShock 2 occasionally would abruptly crash to the desktop. I do not know what caused this to happen, but it never happened at the same place twice, so it did not impair my progress. It just meant I would have to repeat myself every now and then.

Another issue I had actually returns from the previous game. For some reason I do not know, after loading a save game or transitioning to a new area, the mouse would no longer behave as it should. It would feel like the sensitivity was turned down and inertia was enabled. After a moment the cursor would return to normal. I am not sure if this is because of the game or my mouse/mouse drivers, but I still mention it, just in case anyone else experiences it.


After three years, BioShock 2 is still a decent to good looking game. It may not stand out from the crowd much, but that does not mean its quality should not be appreciated.

  1. BioShock 2 Review: Introduction
  2. BioShock 2 Review: Graphics
  3. BioShock 2 Review: Story
  4. BioShock 2 Review: Gameplay
  5. BioShock 2 Review: Additional Gameplay Images
  6. BioShock 2 Review: Conclusion
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