I recently rented this game from a local store, and went into it a little worried.  I had heard the game was fun, but not as great as the original.  Being without Xbox Live, I loved the focus on the single player experience of the first, since that is lacking these days.  Knowing that multiplayer was added in a game where I didn't think it made much sense, I was afraid the single player section would suffer.  In the end, I guess it probably didn't make too much of a difference, as a lack of originality and newness is what keeps this game from greatness.


The game starts very suddenly, with a strange cutscene reintroducing Rapture, Big Daddies, Little Sisters, and a few new characters.  The action starts suddenly, too, as you are just dropped into a level and start moving around.  You realize quickly that you're a Big Daddy this time, and the game begins.  Gameplay is very similar to the first, except now your melee weapon is a giant drill instead of a wrench.  This adds more destructible force, but since you quickly run out of drill fuel (thus limiting its power), it's just like having the old weapon.  You quickly acquire guns, all of which have three different types of ammo, giving you quite a few options in the killing department.  You'll have to swap these up, too, as the ammo supply is limited, keeping you from using your favorite gun over and over again.  You also get plasmids, which give you powers of fire, ice, telekinesis, and a few other options.  Once you get well into the game, you'll only use two or three of these over and over again, as they become so powerful there's no need to use others.

My biggest issue with the game was immediately noticeable and plagues the game the entire time.  I'm talking about the lack of feeling like a Big Daddy.  In the first game, every time you approach a Big Daddy, you get ready for a long, intense fight that's going to take a large majority of your health.  When I heard that this game would have you playing as one of these monsters, I was excited about feeling super powerful and taking out the residents of Rapture.  However, once I started playing, it didn't feel like I was in a giant, indestructible suit.  You do not take damage well, and I found myself constantly using first aid kits and dying.  This should not happen against ordinary residents.  I should be evenly matched with other Big Daddies, not incredibly overwhelmed.  This disappointment lasted the entire game, and by the end of it I was just running past enemies instead of engaging them to save myself the frustration of repeatedly dying. 

The story is also a bit slow.  You meet a new leader of Rapture, Sofia Lamb, and learn through the diaries of her conflicts with Andrew Ryan (from the first game) and how she came to be in charge.  You gradually progress through various areas of Rapture, each watched over by a different person whom you'll try to track down in order to progress.  While the story is there, it's just not as intriguing as the first, where you're trying to figure out how this place came to be and what is going on.  Towards the end, I started to get a little more interested, as your former Little Sister becomes a bigger part of the plot line.  However, you still won't have that wonder of the first, and so you'll leave a little disappointed.

If you have not played the first Bioshock, you owe it to yourself to do so.  After that, if you enjoyed the game, I'd recommend giving this one a rental.  I didn't get to the multiplayer, so there might be some replay value in that section, but I personally would not be interested in going through the single player section again.  I will give the game credit in saying that the last hour is some of the most intense gameplay I've been through in a long time, but I still was trying to hurry through it just to beat the game.  With more creativity, this could have been a great sequel, but as is, it's only good.