With Bioshock Infinite only days away and the recent re-release of System Shock 2 on Good Old Games I figured now would be a good time to dredge up this article from the darkest depths of my drafts.
When I was writing my Games of 2011 there was one game I wanted to include but couldn’t because a) it was released in 2010 and I’d restricted myself to 2011 releases, and b) I’d already written most of this as a separate article. That game was Bioshock 2.
I picked it up on Steam for £3.49 during a summer sale and in truth I didn’t expect an awful lot from it because, while it had generally been well received, it apparently didn’t measure up to its much lauded predecessor — a game which I didn’t share such a glowing fondness for. Whatever expectations I had however, where blown out of the… uh, yeah, I’ll leave that pun in my head where it belongs.
I suppose I ought to start with Bioshock.
I think it was back in 1999 when I played the System Shock 2 demo. I simultaneously soiled myself and fell in love with it, prompting me to go out and purchase the full game. Anything capable of doing such a thing to a person must surely be bought at the highest price. I didn’t get very far with the full game because using a keyboard and mouse is extremely difficult when you’re curled into the fetal position under your desk. Many years later, and with Bioshock not far off, System Shock 2 remained unfinished: I had simply been too scared to play it. So one day in 2006 when I was a jobless bum living with my parents I decided it was high time to man up and finish the thing. And that’s just what I did. Despite the rather dismal closing moments, I loved every minute of it too. I was particularly surprised by how gracefully the Dark Engine had aged. It held up remarkably well thanks to its excellent sound propagation, the sense of weight and connectedness with your avatar and, of course, the lighting. After years of Thief, it was like slipping on an old pair of shoes.
When Bioshock was released in 2007 however, I was surprised by how familiar it felt. There was the hacking and manipulable security systems. There was a similar assortment of weapons: a wrench, a pistol, a shotgun, a machine gun and a grenade launcher, each with their own ammo types. There were plasmids, the game’s techno-magic stand-in for psionics. There were upgrade stations and vending machines. There was a research system that allowed you to gain bonuses against your enemies — enemies that steadily spawned at random keeping you on your toes. There were similarly themed areas: the Medical Pavilion (the MedSci deck), Arcadia (Hydroponics), Hephaestus (Engineering), Fort Frolic (the Recreational deck), Rapture Control Center (Operations — both home to the big reveals). There were ghosts hinting at past events (otherwise known as residual psychic emanations in System Shock 2). There were Vita Chambers (the equivalent of System Shock 2’s quantum bio-reconstruction units). Areas were non-linear and connected by lifts. There were audio logs strewn everywhere requiring the player to piece the story together, and there was a rogue voice guiding you through the unknown. Bioshock even featured the same twist. It was almost as if Ken Levine was reselling System Shock 2 in a different wrapper.
But something wasn’t right. Certain things had been lost, some more welcome than others. Gone was the horrible, suffocating sense of malevolence and survival horror of the Von Braun as you slunk around scavenging for supplies and jumping at the slightest noise or sign of movement. Gone was the character customisation that opened up various play styles but closed off others. Gone was the agonising decision-making that came with it. Gone was inventory management– hell, the inventory was gone altogether. Gone was weapon jamming, maintaining and repairing. Gone was that sneaking feeling that you were going to be assailed any moment because none of the UI overlays (such as hacking, upgrading, purchasing, viewing logs, your inventory etc.) paused the action — time spent gawping at a cybernetic upgrade station was time spent not watching your back. Gone were psionic monkeys.
Simply put, I was expecting more than a retooling and streamlining of System Shock 2. I was expecting something more akin to Bioshock’s original design document (which if you haven’t read already, go and take a look, it’s very interesting). Sure, the game was considerably more competent in the shooting department, it looked and sounded absolutely gorgeous, it had a philosophical edge and satire baked into its very mechanics and… well, it had Rapture, let’s not forget that. It also had Big Daddies and Little Sisters. And a wrench that froze enemies… that was pretty badass. But other than what did Rapture ever do for us?
No, Bioshock felt familiar in too many ways for me to enjoy it as much others. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, on the contrary, it was just an experience that lost its lustre the more I played it. The real spanner (or wrench) in Bioshock’s works for me was its final third which unfortunately buckled under the pressure of the big reveal. Irrational had turned the volume up to 11 and had nowhere to go — it seemed the only way was down. And down it went through a number of locations that I scarcely remember, a kludgy escort mission, and finally bottoming out with an underwhelming boss battle. After System Shock 2’s nasty closing ten minutes I expected Bioshock’s end game to be a lot better but it disappointed me even more. Third time lucky eh Irrational?
Bioshock was always going to be a tough act to follow though — never mind that it wasn’t really intended to be followed — but 2K Marin managed to take a sequel that I suspect was conceived as a cash cow, and turn it into what I thought was a better game. I know many people simply won’t agree with me here, but here goes.
As a shooter, Bioshock provided a sandbox full of weapons, ammo types, abilities, environmental elements and enemies that could all be manipulated and harnessed to give the player the upper hand. Unfortunately, you could only play in this sandbox with one hand. Switching back and forth from weapon to plasmid (as well as through the various ammo types) made the combat more unwieldy than it deserved to be and certainly given how robust the combat system ultimately was. The one-two-punch combo was zap, switch weapon, then whack.
In Bioshock 2, not only did 2K Marin see fit to simultaneously put plasmids on your left hand and weapons on your right, allowing you to fire both at once, but they also gave each weapon a gun-butt melee attack. With an extra hand that sandbox was suddenly a lot more fun to play in. The one-two-punch combo was now simply zap and whack.
One night just before falling asleep following a long play session, I remember wondering whether I could cover a fuel drum with trap rivets and carry it around using telekinesis whilst toting my gun. The following morning I woke wondering whether I could pull enemies on to my drill using telekinesis. Later that day, and much to my gleeful satisfaction, I discovered that both of these things were indeed possible. I can’t think of a combat system I’ve enjoyed more than Bioshock 2’s; it’s creative, empowering, emergent, violent, frenetic and immensely gratifying.
The problem with Bioshock’s hacking system was that it was too obtrusive and — eventually — hard to fail at, so it quickly became tedious despite how solid and thematically consistent it was. It also conveniently paused time so there was never any fear of being caught in the act whether it be by splicers or the turret you were actually hacking. Hacking in mid-air after jumping to reach a security camera wasn’t uncommon either.
In Bioshock 2 there was no more pausing time to play a game of Pipe Mania, instead there was a much leaner and more crucial real-time system in place that involved trying to land a moving needle on certain sections of a dial. It was a quick and twitchy affair as opposed to a cerebral one that worked as well in the heat of battle as it did when the coast was clear. Things started off deceptively easy but before you knew it, you were rushing around trying to find the nearest bot shutdown panel after nonchalantly trying to hack a safe and failing.
There was also the curious addition of the self-explanatory ‘hack dart’ tool which at first seemed a bit pointless to me. However, when I considered that hacking didn’t pause time anymore and certain turrets and security cameras were hard to get close to without getting spotted, it proved invaluable in dealing with them across large open spaces. Firing a hack dart caused turrets or security cameras to zone in on you so you had seconds to successfully hack them before triggering the alarm or getting riddled with bullets. Hacking a security camera from a safe distance in an area crawling with splicers was a very entertaining way of conserving ammo too.
Researching in Bioshock was a counter-intuitive affair involving a camera and snapping enemies as they attacked you rather than trying to defend your soggy butt. The camera made a return in Bioshock 2 only this time, instead of shooting photographs, it shot video. Once you’d hit the record button you had a short amount of time to inflict holy hell on your subject. The more varied your attacks the more data you’d accrue. Coupled with the more dynamic combat this method of researching worked a treat. One of my favourite tricks was to start the film rolling and hypnotise nearby splicers so they’d attack the subject. Add a few security bots and few of my own attacks and the data came rolling in.
There came a point in Bioshock, shortly after the big reveal, where the game ran out of tricks and monotony started leaking in. Much to my own surprise this isn’t something I encountered with Bioshock 2. There were plenty of recycled elements in there but 2K Marin managed to bring enough new ideas to the table and gradually introduce them to keep the experience ebbing and flowing. The underwater down-time between areas, the roll out of the locations and environments, the Adam collecting and Big Sister attacks, the variety of set pieces (particularly one towards the end involving a Little Sister), the few new (and improved) plasmids and enemies. Whether you enjoyed the game or not, it was undeniably consistent. For me, it opened strong and continued this way right to the very end.
The Adam collecting and Big Sister attacks
For me, these were two of the most enjoyable and surprising additions to the game. One of the things that really differentiated Bioshock from System Shock 2 were the Big Daddy encounters. Attacking a Big Daddy required preparation, a plan and a good understanding of your immediate surroundings. It was a great opportunity and perhaps the only real one in the game to make full use of the environment and all the weapons and abilities at your disposal. Sure, you could use them against splicers but they weren’t nearly tough enough to warrant such heavy-handedness — a few rounds from your favourite weapon usually sufficed.
In Bioshock 2, following the acquisition of a Little Sister came the possibility of collecting Adam from specific ‘angels’ situated in various locations in the area. When your Little Sister started collecting Adam every Tom, Dick and Harry in the vicinity came flooding in to stop her. Selecting the right angel to collect from was one thing but rigging the place with all manner of traps and stacking the odds in your favour was quite another. Suddenly all those trap rivets, electro-spear tripwires, proximity mines, mini-turrets, cyclone traps, oil slicks, fuel drums and other environmental opportunities had another use besides dealing with Big Daddies. Instead of focusing all your arsenal on one tough predictable lumbering foe who would in turn focus their attacks on you, you were up against a sizeable mob of weaker enemies that could come from any angle en masse and cared very little for you — they were after the girl. It made a refreshing change to say the least and felt a smidgen like tower defence, which, incidentally, I love.
Big Sister encounters occupied some unnerving middle ground between the two and only appeared after harvesting or saving all the Little Sisters in an area. Their entry point was unpredictable as was their movement. They were tough, considerably more agile than Big Daddies and formidably equipped with plasmids. They were a welcome adversary that required the player to think fast and act even faster. And there was nothing quite like watching a hypnotised Big Daddy face off with one and a bunch of splicers. Pure carnage.
Free of the System
If Bioshock felt overly familiar — resembling a sort of System Shock 2 having an identity crisis — then Bioshock 2 in the hands of another developer felt like a separate entity; unpredictable and free from expectation (albeit still anchored to Rapture). Bioshock 2 knew it was a shooter first and foremost and geared all of its mechanics towards making the very most of that. And in a world where writers across various mediums are falling over themselves to out-twist each other, Bioshock 2 perhaps had one of the biggest twists of them all.
Spoiler paragraph ahead.
Seriously, there’s a spoiler in the next sentence. It didn’t have one, despite it feeling as though I was going to get stabbed in the back at any moment. No, Bioshock 2 didn’t distract you with big twists and turns, instead it focused on what amounted to a much more direct, personal and — to me — compelling story spanning a number of beautifully designed environments and featuring a cast of memorable characters, some of whom you get to meet face-to-face for a change.
There were also a couple of actual, for real, interesting moral decisions that didn’t involve Little Sisters that subtly affected things later on in the game. One in particular had me sitting there for a good ten minutes deciding what to do. Then there was a string of audio diaries that were so intriguing that I couldn’t help but comb each and every area for fear of missing one and consequently missing out on perhaps my personal highlight of the game. What was truly wonderful about this side-story was the subtle blink-and-you’ll-miss-it resolution. If you happened to notice it, it was a real punch to the gut.
But that’s what ultimately set Bioshock 2 apart for me: its surprising identity as a sequel and its consistency. It avoided the familiar beats of Bioshock while refining and fleshing out the more compelling parts of it. I could moan about the irritating antagonist, or the continued use of audio diaries, or the same abundance (and hoovering up) of supplies strewn across Rapture (a place supposedly stripped dry by splicers), or even the absurd number of hotkeys for your weapons and plasmids (number keys 1-8 and F1-F8, no less, and not a radial menu in sight on the PC version). Rapture was never going to have quite the same magic a second time round but 2K’s return to it held me under its spell a lot longer, in fact, I couldn’t stop playing it once I’d started, which, for somebody like me who seems to be getting more and more easily distracted these days, is quite something.
What’s more surprising though, is that after 30-40 hours I still wanted more. Unfortunately, the patch required to play Minerva’s Den (the critically acclaimed DLC by some of the developers now at The Fullbright Company behind Gone Home) totally screwed the sound up on my system — from silent Little Sisters(!) to inaudible gunfire and explosions — so it remains unplayed in the fetid bowels of my GFWL account. This made me so angry I banged my head on the rather incredible brick wall that is 2K ‘Support’ for several months trying every damned ‘fix’ imaginable before they told me that formatting my PC might be the only way to be certain it isn’t an issue with my system. Aren’t they great? Thanks for the bone 2K Support. One day, when I next format my PC, Bioshock 2 and Minerva’s Den will be the first things I install, and if they still don’t work then 2K Support better be ready for Return Of The Gregg: The Problematic One Has Returned. They may have marked my problem as ‘solved’ because I never followed up their mildly inconvenient format-your-system-and-download-and-reinstall-everything-again-with-a-1.2Mbps-connection advice, but I’m still unable to play Minerva’s Den thanks to a patch.
Anyway, looking forwards and not bitterly backwards, to Infinite… and beyond… the sea…
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
To contact the author of this bilge, email email@example.com
Even as I read your words, Infinite preloads. This must mean something, some cosmic confluence of power.
Bioshock 2 is a game I played for about… oh… 35 minutes. Dobry lent me his PS3 copy. It’s not that I didn’t like it, it’s that I just didn’t get into it for some reason. My recollection is mostly that I’d sat down to play at a time when I didn’t feel like playing a game, and Bioshock 2 happened to be the victim there. Many people I know and respect consider it the better of the duo, and I must try it out one of these days. The fact that Bioshock 2 was led by none other than Jordan Thomas should have been enough. A former level designer who worked with both ION Storm and Irrational, he created Robbing the Cradle for Thief: Deadly Shadows and Fort Frolic for Bioshock. You don’t get a resume stronger than that. But I missed it.
This is a great piece, Gregg, I’m glad you wrote it. It seems as though not enough has been written about Bioshock 2, while so much was written about the first. Do you think this game would age well? I assume the technology would manage just fine; would play and story still work today? The original Bioshock still looks great, but some of the complaints you outline here are much more glaring today. At the time I called Bioshock a masterpiece but noted that it would largely be remembered for what it failed to do; this is something I think time has borne out. I wonder how much of that influenced the reception of this, what sounds like a more ambitious game all around.
Gregg, pretty much every negative thing you said about Bioshock, I wholeheartedly agree with. I didn’t hate it either – I did finish it, but, yeah. I remember when I finished it. I sat there for a bit and couldn’t form a clear opinion of what I actually thought of it. Over time though, its shortcomings became more obvious.
I acquired Bioshock 2 via Playstation Plus and have only spent a few minutes with it. If I get in the mood for a FPS, I’ll give it more time. Your comments make it sound very good, without all the inconsistencies of its predecessor.
Steerpike I just finished reading your comments. I was not aware of who Jordan Thomas was and that he was connected to Bioshock 2. That alone makes it sound even more intriguing.
Perhaps the lack of attention given Bioshock 2 is that it sits in an odd place. The, shall I say, more discerning gamer – one who would naturally gravitate towards a Bioshock – would likely see Bioshock 2 as an unnecessary addition. While the typical, COD-type FPS gamer would likely see it as too artsy-fartsy for his dude-manly consideration. Thus, not much philosophical ink spilt over it.
Of course, being a bigger fan of this game than its predecessor I’d say it would age better simply because it’s more consistent and improves on most, if not all, the mechanical elements of Bioshock (the combat, hacking, researching, collecting Adam, moral choices etc). I can honestly say that I don’t feel as though Bioshock 2 ever dropped the ball, which is quite a rarity in itself because I usually have a few things to moan about after finishing a game.
The story too is a lot more… well, personal, and defined, because it centres around you — Subject Delta — and your Little Sister, as opposed to escaping or helping some random dude or whatever you were supposed to ultimately be doing at the beginning of Bioshock. Bioshock 2 starts with a more tangible setup, you know where you are and you know what you’re supposed to be doing: your Little Sister has been taken from you and you’ve got to get her back. Of course, it’s not quite as straightforward as that but it’s Bioshock’s own ‘My name is Guybrush Threepwood, and I want to be a pirate!’. Rapture is still there doing its thing but it doesn’t take centre stage like it did in the first game, which was a good call in my opinion. Having said this, 2K did a great job of keeping the setting feeling fresh with some excellent level and environmental design and art direction, not to mention a number of amazing set pieces.
@Botch: To be honest, it was partly your comments in the System Shock thread that spurred me on to get this article finished! The timing was right too with Infinite on the way.
I’ve nervously skimmed this article, wary of spoilers for a game unfinished, but must register my dismay – having just read Rock Paper Shotung’s Wot I Think for the imminently-released Bioshock: Infinite.
Alec Meer regards it as a step backwards in player freedom and interaction from BIOSHOCK. I was hoping that was impossible for Irrational. Oh dear.
I can’t disagree with anything you’ve written here, Gregg. BS2 improved almost every aspect of the original, fixed some things, threw away others, and mechanically it is much more sound; more enjoyable from a technical standpoint; or actual “play” if you will.
Still, for some reason I don’t feel as fondly toward it as I did BS1. Maybe it’s the “I was there” factor, the sequel feeling somewhat “been here done this” to me. I’m not quite certain. Either way, they’re both fine games.
Whatever the consensus of Columbia and Infinite in general may become, I suspect I may diverge from the norm, like you have for BS2, simply because over time I’ve come to believe more and more in shedding my own expectations to give a fair and honest look at various works. That may come off as apologist…fine. I don’t care. Expectations are rotten.
Lowered or perhaps more accurately, sidestepped, expectations are after all what allowed you to give Bioshock 2 a fair look. I commend you, this was an enlightening read.
I read that RPS piece too. It definitely seems to be going against the general grain of “It’s the most awesomest of awesome.” Am I being cynical to point out that the gaming press seems to go into full-on sycophant mode over games such as Bioshock because, you know, it’s so narratively bold? It made us question our motitivations as gamers don’t you know! It’s brought the art of gaming forward and stuff!
Yeah, I feel my inner cynic taking hold, so I’ll leave it at that.
The cynic is often a useful hat. Just remember, there’s a world full of Duke Nukem Forevers, Season’s Passes (yes, I know Infinite has one), and Yearly Madden Roster Updates out there, too. Er…which all necessitate…further cynicism? D’oh. 😉
(Ah yes, the defense of “there are worse things” … we have dismissed that claim.)
Registering my agreement – have always thought that BioShock brought the big narrative ideas, the worldbuilding, the characters, and then BioShock 2 brought the gameplay refinement, variation and mechanical/narrative consistency the original lacked.
I’ve only spent a few hours with Infinite thus far but it seems… no. Actually, I’m not going to talk about Infinite here. 🙂
There is nothing wrong with being named Guybrush Threepwood and wanting to be a pirate. That’s the stuff dreams are made of.
I think BioShock 2 will age better because it’s simply a superior game and a superior story that doesn’t hinge on something that, sooner or later, will probably be as universally spoiled as the cake being a lie. (Remind me never to write a twist that sounds like a meme.) That said, I don’t know that it will be as remembered simply because of being overshadowed by the first.
Thanks for the comments everybody and sorry for the delayed response! Between Bioshock Infinite occupying my time at home and work not allowing access to sites like Tap, I’ve not managed to get on here!
@Jakkar: As mentioned above, I’m playing Infinite right now (aren’t we all?) and so far, yes, it’s been very linear, startlingly linear compared to all previous Shocks, but here’s hoping at some point it opens up a bit.
@xtal: I try to keep my expectations in check to avoid disappointment. That sounds cynical, but it’s also practical because it keeps my wallet shut! It also leads to more surprises, as in Bioshock 2’s case, which is arguably one of the biggest surprises I’ve had in gaming.
Playing Infinite right now amid a whirlwind of positivity feels very strange because I’m usually months or years late to any sort of big community-wide gaming event. Expectations are high as a result, so no pressure eh Infinite?
@SynBotch: No, I think you’re right. I’ve always thought there was a bit of a conflict between the boldness of Bioshock’s narrative, and the relative safety of its gameplay. Big ideas married to a game where you spend most of your time shooting things in the face. Bioshock 2 on the other hand wasn’t as ambitious with its narrative but it pushed the gameplay further while casting you as a type of Big Daddy so it felt a lot more harmonious to me; it struck a great balance. I’m keen to know how Infinite will fare in this regard because from what I’ve played so far, it’s looking to be just as narratively bold/intelligent as Bioshock, but the gameplay feels like a more streamlined Bioshock/Bioshock 2. I dunno, again, big ideas and… a shooter, of all things. I’m looking forward to what the rest of the game has to offer though, it really is full of promise. We’ll see!
@ShaunCG: You had to go and succinctly summarise my 3000 words in under 40 didn’t you? Eh? But seriously, that’s a good overview of my thoughts right there. And I will keep an eye on AR for your thoughts on Infinite! I’m intrigued!
And finally @Dix: Wow, I’m amazed at how many people have come out of the woodwork and agreed with me. I honestly thought I was an outlier even amongst our ranks. Thanks for chiming in! Also, I remember Dave Grossman saying that that opening line in The Secret of Monkey Island was there to give the player a goal straight away so they knew what they were supposed to be doing. A great line with an ulterior motive!
I *really* enjoyed playing through the first Bioshock. Thought it was a great game, but yeah, I guess it did get a tad bit repetitive near the end. I still haven’t played the sequel, and I had not heard about the DLC Minerva’s Den until you mantioned it. Sounds like one needs a ‘game for windows’ account to buy and download it and the other DLC then for this game? Sorry the patch you downloaded caused the DLC to freak out. The bane of PC gaming (and now consoles) is the endless patches and the fact they can break as much as they fix.
You’ve completely sold me on Bioshock 2, Gregg, especially now that everyone’s playing Infinite. It seems only fair to have played through all of them, and your description of the improvements B2 brought over the first intrigue me thoroughly.
Pity about the lack of radial menus on PC, though – makes a big difference. Maybe I should invest in one of those $2000 keyboards from Art.Lebedev that let you program custom graphics into the OLED screens on each individual key.
[…] Bioshock 2 as a better Bioshock (Tap-Repeatedly) […]
I’m replaying this game again at the moment. Finishing Infinite left a rather large BioShock shaped hole in my time, a hole I feel can only be filled by more BioShock. So rather than finish BioShock for the 8th or 9th time, I thought I’d finish BioShock 2 for the second.
Oh, that and the fact that BioShock appears to be painfully incompatible with Windows 7. Bleurgh.
On second play through, this is a better game than I remember it being. A much better one, actually. I don’t know what happened with my first play through. My recollection of it was that I liked it enough, but at the same time sort of stumbled my way through and over it. A sort of forgetful romp through familiarity, rather than anything that stuck with me. But I’m enjoying the game a lot more second time.
The story has hooked me in a way it didn’t first time around. There’s some really smart and very interesting expansion on both Rapture and its inhabitants here, particularly on the Big Daddy/Little Sister relationship and the conflict of political interests that helped tear Rapture apart. Rapture is just a glorious location visually, artistically and everything else besides, whichever way you look at it. I think the first time I played BioShock 2 I was stuck in the same “well it’s not as good the second time around” mentality as a lot of those who unfairly criticised the game at release, but after quite a long hiatus and via a trip to Colombia, I’m just glad to be back. The place is gorgeous, and its increasing state of disrepair since the first game is a nice touch.
The combat is very good as well. Really meaty, particularly the melee attacks, rivet gun and machine gun. In terms of both the balance of the plasmids and weapons, and how the game asks you (rather than forces you) to use them, BioShock 2 actually does a lot of things I prefer to both BioShock and Infinite.
I should have said this in the main article, but if you intend on playing the base game of Bioshock 2, do not, I repeat, DO NOT update the game beyond v1.0. Anything after v1.0 totally fucks up the audio to such an extent that it takes all the physicality out of the combat. It absolutely butchers it. Worse, if you intend on playing Minerva’s Den, you’ll have to install the Protector Trials DLC to restore the sound of the Little Sisters because the 1.5 patch breaks their audio. Nice work 2K, and thanks for never fixing it. Even with the Protector Trials fix however, the rest of the audio is totally screwed still. In fact, I’ve been watching Let’s Plays of Minerva’s Den on YouTube and it seems that this problem is prevalent across all systems but very few people seem to have noticed it, which is fucking incredible given how much love it received. Did anyone pay attention to the sound? Like, anyone?
Anyway! The only reason you’d want to use GFWL is to download DLC, patch the game, and to play multiplayer, so if you’re just wanting to play the base game you can avoid GFWL altogether. To do this download: http://timeslip.users.sourceforge.net/current/bioshock2-xlive.7z and follow the readme.txt. It’s literally as simple as dropping a single file into your install directory and GFWL is gone for good. To cut a long story short, this article is based on a full playthrough of Bioshock 2 unpatched.
So to recap:
Stick to v1.0 vanilla for the base game.
Disable GFWL by dropping the above file into your install directory.
You might want to check out this page for a few other tweaks as well: http://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/BioShock_2
Just finished my second run through of BioShock 2. I definitely enjoyed this game a lot more second time around. It has a lot more to offer both narratively and in terms of gameplay than I recall when I originally played it. Sofia Lamb is actually a really fantastic villain of the piece here.
I’m going to do another Infinite run soon, but there will be quite a lot of things I’ll miss about BioShock 2 when I do.
One of the main ones being the random encounter design, which I took for granted before but which felt really exciting coming straight off Infinite, where I can’t remember there being much if any of that in the game? BioShock 2 was seemingly choc full of moments where I’d walk into a room and find splicers randomly duking it out with a Big Daddy, or where splicers/Big Daddies would get caught in the cross fire and start fighting between themselves. I really loved all that stuff.
Yeah me too. I think I only saw it happen once in Infinite between the Vox, a Handyman and the Columbian police but it was in the distance and short lived. A shame really because it’s mightily entertaining seeing the AI fighting itself.
It’s great to hear you enjoyed it more a second time round though Mat. Coming off of Infinite and firing up Bioshock 2 again over the weekend I can safely say that everything I’ve said above I still wholeheartedly stand by. I enjoyed Infinite immensely but I think Bioshock 2 still pips it for the moment-to-moment play as well as all the other cool things it does with choice and variety. I do miss radial menus in it though…
Oh well, there’s always Dishonored for those!