01 July, 2010

Reviews: BioShock 2, NecroVision

written by Blain Newport on Wednesday, 30 June, 2010

BioShock 2

Developer: 2K Marin
Platform: PC
US Release: February 2010
Genre: First Person Shooter
Price Paid: $15
My Score: 3 of 5

It's more BioShock. I would say it dilutes the wonder of the first game, but the first game already did that by overstaying it's welcome and having a pretty weak ending. It's still a decent progression of getting and using new weapons and powers. But that's its own problem.

BioShock 2 suffers from an abundance of inventory. A lot of games streamline inventory by limiting what the character can carry, but BioShock still lets you carry eight weapons (with three different ammo types each) and eight special powers at once. Also the powers reorder themselves when you upgrade them or get new ones. In the later stages I felt like I spent more time managing my arsenal than playing the game. And having a tough fight because you forgot you left a certain gun loaded with the wrong ammo is no fun.

And the interface to organize and buy things wasn't the best. I tried using the scroll wheel on a menu and it scrolled the menu out of view. This is definitely a rough around the edges port.

The collectivist take on the first game's theme did nothing for me. I think that's largely because I never felt included. For someone who thinks the common good and larger family is all, the idea that the villain never tries to offer you a place in the organization feels weird. I think they missed an opportunity there.

SPOILER SECTION (highlight to read)
The bits near the end where you get to fight alongside your daughter are cool, not so much for the fact that the AI is good but because it feels like my decision to be nice to the little sisters and judge some opponents as redeemable and some not shaped her personality. I will never play the game again because that's probably a really easy illusion to tear down, and I like it in place.

Also the good ending involves you dying and living on, literally, inside your daughter, seeing through her eyes. It was probably supposed to be heart warming, but the thought occurred to me that she's entering sexual maturity. That's messed up.



Developer: The Farm 51
Platform: PC
US Release: February 2009
Genre: First Person Shooter
Price Paid: $4
My Score: 4 of 5

The demo of NecroVision was pretty bad. The combination of mediocre performance, punishing load times, and punishing gameplay was not promising. But the combo based, melee heavy combat system intrigued me, so I was willing to risk the four dollar purchase. Initially I was very pleased. The performance was great (especially when I turned the resolution down a bit). The load times were still a bit long, but bearable. And the gameplay was so much easier I wondered if the developers hadn't released a baby version for Americans. I still wonder about that.

So the bad stuff was gone and the good stuff was still in. I could still charge across a room, stab a guy with my bayonet and kick him away, knock another guy down with my rifle then shoot him, then switch to my knife to kill a guy with an end over end circus throw, all while getting powered up with combo energy for doing it. When it's going well, NecroVision is the game Bulletstorm wants to be when it grows up.

If it wasn't for some pacing problems, save game bugs that lost me hours of progress, map bugs that forced me to reload a few times, some tedious flying sequences, and a final area with lousy visibility and enemies that aren't fun to fight, I would have given it a five and told you to go buy it already. As it is, I'll probably play the fun levels a few more times and jump into the sequel.

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