BioShock 2 Extended Multiplayer ImpressionsBy Brian Leahy - Posted Dec 21, 2009
BioShock 2, easily one of the most anticipated games of 2010, is fast approaching its February release date. I was recently given the opportunity to play the first few hours of the game as well as log some time in the franchise's new multiplayer mode, developed by Digital Extremes.
If you haven't been following the story of BioShock 2, Jake Gaskill summed it up nicely in his preview from October:
"It’s been a rough 10 years since a mysterious stranger named Jack strode the soggy corridors of the underwater metropolis known as Rapture in BioShock. The city’s founder, Andrew Ryan, is no more; his utopian society lies corrupted, decayed, and, like his face (and the putter used to bash it in), broken on the sea floor. The city’s genetically mutated inhabitants, who foolishly assumed the infallibility of rational self-interest, continue to tear themselves and their world apart in pursuit of their own selfish and vicious ends, driven by their lust for the precious genetically altering substance known as ADAM. Like I said, it’s bad times. But guess what? It’s time to dive back in and find out just what the hell happened to turn this once twisted and cursed city into the hierarchical nightmare that Rapture has become in BioShock."
For an in-depth look at BioShock 2's singleplayer campaign, be sure to read Jake's excellent preview.
Right now, it's multiplayer time. Going in, I was skeptical. Digital Extremes has veterans that worked on games like Unreal Tournament, but after Dark Sector (especially the multiplayer) I found myself a bit worried about BioShock 2's offering.
The good news is that the foundation of the experience is solid. Gamers will earn points during their multiplayer sessions that rank them up and lead to unlocks like weapons, weapon mods, Plasmids, and Tonics. There are even "Trials", which are basically Modern Warfare style challenges that reward bonus ADAM, the game's experience points. Players will create loadouts with two weapons, two Plasmids, and up to three Tonics as they level-up and head into battle. Just like in singleplayer, there are pools of water and gas to shock or ignite and freezing someone, only to shatter them with a quick melee strike from a trusty lead pipe, is incredibly satisfying. There are even turrets to hack and gain control of and vending machines that hold ammo and EVE hypos can be rigged with traps to kill unsuspecting players. Players can also "research" the bodies of slain opponents to gain a damage bonus against them until that players scores a kill against you.
There are several game modes to choose from, all variations of classic multiplayer modes like deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag (Little Sister), territories, and capture and hold. Of the bunch, the objective gametypes stand out because it funnels all of the action to one place. The map design is a bit uneven. In one team deathmatch game, my entire team went right as the match began. We circled around the map for what seemed like 5 minutes before even seeing a member of the other team. It turns out they had also gone right and the map was a giant circle. By the time the fighting started, it was already halfway through the match. Teamwork is a must and a good mixture of Plasmids and weapons across a team can really help a group get ahead of the competition.
In most games, a Big Daddy suit will spawn from time to time on the map. The player that finds it first will don the suit, get the rivet gun, proximity mines, and a stomp attack, but will lose the ability to use their Plasmids. The Big Daddy suit can easily turn the tide in a game or just serve to put the winning team even further in the lead. It's hard enough to bring down when the Big Daddy is solo, but when he or she has a full team backing them up it can get a bit harsh. The Big Daddy player won't regenerate health like everyone else, though.
Everything discussed here so far, on paper, is all good. The problems come from the execution. BioShock 2, running on a heavily modified Unreal 2.5 engine already looks dated. In multiplayer, the level of detail has been toned down even further to support the player count and action. The netcode isn't spectacular and the framerate is prone to dipping below 30fps at times. Now, it should be noted that I was playing on an unfinished build, but the technical issues are worrisome, especially with just over a month before the game is released.
BioShock 2 Multiplayer Trailer
In the end, BioShock 2 didn't need multiplayer and what I've played of the singleplayer campaign is well-made and true to the original. The online component should be a bonus here for players that really enjoy BioShock's combat and might be curious to see what it's like against human opponents. For the rest of us, it will probably be something we try and quickly forget. At least 2K Marin focused on the meat of BioShock 2 and brought in Digital Extremes to try their hand at multiplayer.