(2K Games for Xbox 360)
By Mike Delano
The drowned world of Rapture, the unforgettable setting of BioShock, was so full of brilliant architecture and rich storytelling that anyone who visited it would want the chance to return. But with the creators of the original not on board for the sequel, is there any way BioShock 2 can deliver a worthwhile follow-up to one of the greatest games ever created? Yes, actually. The storytelling, while solid, falls well short of the original’s superlative status, but elsewhere, the series has been polished up nicely. The combat is improved, from the inclusion of more elaborate set-piece battles against spastic Big Sisters to the meatier melee weapon of the drill to the ability to wield your weapon and Plasmid ability at the same time. The unexpected multiplayer is addictive and surprisingly polished: The chaos of hordes of Splicers blasting each other with myriad superpowers can be controlled and satisfying, believe it or not, and it’s nice to have some post-campaign content to come back to. The real star of the show, of course, is Rapture, with its meticulously designed atmosphere of faded beauty, ever-present violence, and overwhelming dread. Even though subsequent visits might not recapture the Earth-shaking impact of the first time, it’s an underwater trip worth making again and again.