[Review] Bioshock 2 Remastered – Nintendo Switch

Written by Kieran Fifield
  • Developer: 2K Marin
  • Publisher: 2K Games
  • Release Date: 29/05/2020
  • Price: £15.99 / $19.99
  • Review copy provided by 2K Games

Introducing: Bioshock 2 Remastered Nintendo Switch review

The second act can often be the toughest. Following something as utterly rapturous – pun very much intended- as a game as inimitable as Bioshock, is a hard ask. Bioshock 2 Remastered succeeds at ramping things up whilst simultaneously failing to recapture the magic. Familiarity so often breeds contempt, and despite being a phenomenal sequel and game in its own right, Bioshock 2 Remastered is impeded by its predecessor.

You shook me all night long

Bioshock 2 Remastered sees you take control of an early Big Daddy prototype, labelled Delta, and after being a dealt a (phenomenal wordplay Fifield) particularly treacherous hand early on, you wake up almost a decade later, searching for your designated Little Sister, Eleanor.

As a follow up, Bioshock 2 Remastered implements changes that freshen up the incredibly dated gameplay of the original. A Plasmid and weapon can now be equipped at the same time, allowing the old shock/wrench combo to be performed altogether more naturally. Oh, except now your wrench is a drill, a monstrous drill attached to your arm which can literally bore through the skulls of those who oppose you.

Bioshock 2 Remastered starts at a real snail’s pace, and this really drives home the feeling of monotony that lingers throughout the opening few chapters. Some of the gameplay loop unfortunately feels all too familiar with its predecessor and by the time I was tasked with finding a camera to research Splicers; a gameplay trope ripped straight out of the original, I was almost willing to take a break from Bioshock 2. Thankfully I persevered, and saw this repetitive gameplay ideology through. Not just to experience the entirety of Bioshock 2 Remastered, but also because the reward was an all-new attack that immediately makes you feel like a Big Daddy, for real-io!

Just to clarify, up until this point I never felt much different from young Jack, the first game’s protagonist. From this moment though, I relished the chance to take control of a Big Daddy and smite any and every Splicer that I could. God, I despise Splicers.

Big Daddy, Big Sister. Big Brother?

One of my biggest gripes with the original was the lack of enemy variety. Thankfully, this is something that has been augmented accordingly for the sequel. As well as the Brute Splicers, there are also much more sinister enemies in the form of the Big Sisters. Big Sisters appear after you have either harvested or saved the last Little Sister in each area. They’re nefarious foes and having just put down two Big Daddys, the last thing I needed was another intense fight. Another intense fight however, was exactly what I got. Every single time!!

With both titles being remastered, it’s hard to differentiate too much in terms of graphic fidelity. What 2 does demonstrate infinitely more than 1 is scope. Exploring underwater sections – either outside the confines of Rapture or in flooded areas, is a sight to behold. As a shark swam through a tunnel that I’d earier traversed on foot, I did admittedly, make like a tree!!

Lockdown march

Talking about the un-compressed, unbridled audio design of the Bioshock trilogy is something that I’ve done a lot recently and as always, the reason being, it’s so good. No. So good doesn’t feel like it does it enough justice. It’s unequivocally as opulent as anything from the Zelda franchise. Once again, the narrative is intricately woven through audio recordings and conversations and during particularly fervent moments, the music takes centre stage by layering atmosphere and tension to perfection. While this is in no way a bad thing it is, once again, cut and paste directly from Bioshock 1 Remastered.

Performance in Bioshock 2, for the most part, is once again faultless. However, the game did crash on me once whilst playing in handheld. Despite auto save being active, I had at that point just fought (not all at once) three Big Daddies and, two Big Sisters (those were at the same time). In what was perhaps the most difficult section of the game to traverse, the game crashed and I had to do it all again. Admittedly, maybe I’m due an upgrade. My Nintendo Switch is a launch day model and has seen A LOT of action. I’m talking, Russel Brand and Lindsey Lohan locked in Rapture alone levels of action.

DLC (Daddy loots crates)

Bioshock 2 Remastered wouldn’t be a true complete edition without the inclusion of all of its DLC and Minerva’s Den is widely regarded as some of the finest DLC of all time. It’s easy to see why, with its short and intense story, while being standalone, elevating Bioshock 2 Remastered. From the outset, Minerva’s Den makes you feel like an OG Big Daddy, like Rapure’s MVP!! It’s utterly euphoric. After having to endure Splicer’s holding their own against you in the base game, the satisfaction of utterly annihilating them feels like just reward for the failings and misplaced steps of Bioshock 2 Remastered’s handling of being Mr. Bubbles.

Final wrap(ture) part II

Bioshock 2 Remastered is a victim of the series’ initial success. While gameplay mechanics have been invigorated, for the most part exponentially, the familiarity of Rapture means that nothing really shocks. If you’ve played the original, you’ve seen it all before. That being said, playing as a Big Daddy is, eventually incredibly moreish, and the last hour or so, the stunning finale is as good as anything in the Bioshock collection in terms of story, resonating deeper than the location of the undersea dystopian city.

Pros

  • You play as a Big Daddy
  • Wielding plasmids and weapons simultaneously
  • Furthers the lore and history of Rapture
  • New gameplay ideas
  • Minerva’s Den

Cons

  • Feels overly familiar
  • Pacing is awful
  • The photography section can feel the wrath of ALL of my plasmids

Verdict
Bioshock 2 Remastered is a solid sophomore offering that is held back from true greatness by its own identity crisis, particularly the lack of a distinct, inimitable one.

3.5/5

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