When the city of Rapture was first unveiled, it was an underwater dystopia ravaged by civil war and self-destructive genetic manipulation. This strange and unforgettable world was also one of awe and wonder. Set nearly a decade after the events of its precursor, BioShock 2’s Rapture is just as haunting and atmospheric the second time around (and perhaps even more so), but the sunken tomb of Rapture has lost much of the mystery that made it so memorable. Everything seems a bit too familiar, and the story that accompanies your journey is not as impressive or shocking as the original. Despite this, BioShock 2 plays host to several enhancements over the first, including an expanded set of moral dilemmas, improved shooter mechanics, and a surprisingly fun and engaging multiplayer mode. Whether or not you’ve experienced Rapture before, BioShock 2 is an all at once beautiful, disturbing, and thought-provoking experience that stays with you after you’ve shut it off.
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon.” Scrawled across the wall above a board covered with photographs, these words greet you in the waterlogged, decaying opulence of Adonis Spa after you awaken. Ten years have passed since the surprising events of BioShock 2’s opening cinematic, and you’re a man with a mission: to find your Little Sister. As Subject Delta, one of the original Big Daddy protectors first introduced in BioShock, you were pair-bonded with a Little Sister named Eleanor Lamb through a love that could literally kill you. Your mutual desire is to be reunited, but Eleanor is now being held captive by her mother, Sofia Lamb, the new master of Rapture. As an altruist and collectivist, Lamb is the diametric opposite of Andrew Ryan, the wealthy industrialist who founded Rapture as a place where mankind could be unfettered by petty morals, the hand of government, or the word of God. As an antagonist, she lacks Ryan’s charisma and larger-than-life presence, but her personal philosophy and particular brand of madness nonetheless provides an interesting, if heavy-handed, alternative to his.