Bioshock 2

Bioshock 2 - Minerva's Den

When everyone is talking about Bioshock Infinite and Columbia, we get to delve down into the depths of Rapture once more and suit up as a Big Daddy in Minerva's Den.

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It is 1968, and this time the setting is the semi futuristic district of Minerva's Den. Just as in the main game we are in control of a powerful Big Daddy, but don't make the mistake of thinking that this is a continuation of the story in Bioshock 2. It's more of a side story that has little or no connection to the rest of the universe. All the ingredients that made the series a success are there; little sisters, audio diaries and a surprising plot twist towards the end, and it's starting to feel a bit too familiar.

The objective for our Big Daddy is to find the central computer of Rapture - The Thinker. It controls all the electronics of Rapture, and this in turns leads to Minerva's Den looking a bit like a wet dream of Nikola Tesla's. There are surveillance cameras all over the place and bots flying, and the environments are crammed full of gadgets. Unfortunately you won't find many examples of the creative diversity found elsewhere in Rapture, and you spend a lot of time in similar looking brown corridors, and the beautiful and varied scenery present especially in the first game are a rare sight in Minerva's Den.

But even if the level design sometimes feels a bit like something from a previous generation of first person shooters, there are also new additions that give the nostalgic a more positive twist. The most obvious example of this is a new weapon, a powerful laser gun, that could have been taken straight out of Quake 2, and it comes with a delightful golden beam of death and a splendid humming sound effect. A very entertaining plasmid, Gravity Well, has also been. It creates a vortex that sends enemies and objects flying until they finally explode.

But there are also new enemies to contend with, on top of new editions of Splicers and Brutes, there is also a new Big Daddy version. The Lancer is equipped with the same laser gun, and he is capable of a brutal blitz attack, the temporarily blinds you. While you are trying to find your bearings again, the Lancer can move away and flank you from another direction. It adds another dimension to the fire fights, and a more intense and dynamic feel, and it is much needed as the gameplay has remained pretty much the same since the original game.

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You will shoot your way through Minerva's Den, but the game doesn't quite tie in the story with the action enough, something that I also found with Bioshock 2. Fundamentally there is a lack of motivation for the player, and it's annoying that there is enough of a narrative foundation, as this is what lets us immerse ourselves in the world and feeds our appetite to explore.

From a technical perspective, Minerva's Den, is obviously built on the same engine as Bioshock 2, and it's starting to show its age. The most obvious and annoying flaw is the slow loading of shaders, which results in various objects looking blurry. When problems such as these haven't been corrected since the release of the main game it's easy to criticise, and as the game also fails to set it self apart from a presentation point of view, it feels as though the visuals have been left a bit to the wayside.

Minerva's Den is no revolution. It's a distilled and accessible chapter of the Bioshock series, that lacks the dynamic interchange between story and gameplay, that made the original game such an enjoyable experience.

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If you enjoyed the combat heavy Bioshock 2, you won't be disappointed by Minerva's Den, as it gives you more of the same. But Rapture doesn't feel as novel anymore, and the concept is wearing thin. The developers just can't seem to present the city or its inhabitants as interestingly or nuanced as before.

Minerva's Den is clear evidence that it's high time to move on from Rapture and the bottom of the ocean. Instead of building on the strengths of the series such as atmosphere and story, this is more of a standard shooter experience. But for 10 dollars or 800 points you are getting good value for your space bucks as it will take a handful of hours to complete, as we all await the next chapter of the Bioshock franchise in the airborne city of Columbia.

Bioshock 2
07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
Great additions to the weapons arsenal, challenging new enemies, lots of content.
Thin and poorly told story, environments aren't varied enough.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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