E3: BioShock 2 is just as delicious, creepy and fun as the original

BioShock is still considered to be one of the coolest games out there: A secret Art Deco utopia under the sea that went all haywire, residents who have all gone insane after major genetic modification, Big Daddies in diving suits and creepy little sisters with glowing eyes. A first-person shooter that manages to feel like an RPG. The sequel has a lot to live up to.

Thursday at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, SCI FI Wire got a behind-closed-doors peek at BioShock 2: Fall of Rapture, developed by 2K Marin, and it looks just as deliciously creepy and fun as the first one—at least, the single-player version does. BioShock 2 also has multiplayer modes.

The single-player part of the sequel takes place 10 years after the first game. This time you play as a Big Daddy, and not just any old Big Daddy: You are the prototype, with free will, more speed, more smarts and the ability to use weapons like the drill and rivet guns. Unlike other Big Daddies, you also get to use upgradable plasmids. And when you run into Little Sisters, you can choose to either harvest them or save them.

The big threat in the game was revealed to be a Big Sister, who wants to change Rapture back to the way she remembers it. Painted on the walls of the room in footage we previewed were the words "Big Sister is Watching." The little that we saw showed that Rapture has declined quite a bit in the past 10 years, and the ocean is slowly creeping in.

The actual gameplay we saw was in the multiplayer mode, which takes place exactly one year before the events of the first BioShock. And it's got a completely different, though not quite as impressive, feel.

It starts well. You can choose to play as one of a number of customizable characters, and each player has their own apartment. (Beautifully rendered, by the way.) You have been recruited to participate in a product trial by Sinclair Solutions.

The weapons company leaves you oddly cheery messages about how lovely it will be for you to try out its new home-security products, which just happen to be weapons. We were told that Sinclair Systems promotes you as you go along, giving you access to more and more "trial products" and upgrades for the ones you have. All good so far.

You start out with a number of these lovely products to choose from. Your "starter kit" consists of a pistol, a shotgun and three elemental plasmids. You have your own bathysphere in your pad, which takes you to your fighting location. When you get there, the multiplayer begins.

The mode we played was "Survival of the Fittest." You chase each other around, using plasmids of different sorts to attack each other in addition to your regular weapons. The plasmids are chargeable for more powerful attacks.

We saw a fire plasmid, which gives your enemy fire damage over time, and an ice plasmid, which freezes enemies and makes them more fragile during a gunfight.

You can also control turrets, which can take out other players even when you are fighting elsewhere. A randomly dropped Big Daddy suit can be worn by one player, and when he or she is taken out, it re-spawns for whoever finds it first. It gives you greater protection and abilities, but it also makes you a big fat target.

The gameplay we saw didn't seem particularly different from any other multiplayer shooting game, outside of the beautiful graphics. But we only got to watch, and it was only a small section. I'm reserving judgment until I actually get to play. Multiplayer had three announced modes (Survival of the Fittest, Civil War and one yet to be announced) and supports up to 10 players.

BioShock 2 will be released for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC on Oct. 30 in Europe and Nov. 3 in the United States.

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