Xbox 360, PS3, PC
It was its setting that separated the original Bioshock from other first-person shooters. The undersea dystopia of Rapture was spooky, unpredictable and, most importantly, new. Problem is, you can never go back somewhere for the first time, so Bioshock 2 has its work cut out.
This time, you play as a prototype Big Daddy (a large, armored monster thing for those unfamiliar), who has awoken a decade after the events of the first game. You'll discover that Rapture has completely gone to hell, but your only concern is reuniting with Eleanor, the little sister to whom you've bonded. Catch is, Eleanor is the daughter of Sophia Lamb, the current head of state. Not keen to lose control of her daughter, she'll send a new enemy, the Big Sister, along with the rest of the city, to make sure you don't succeed. En route you'll find allies who'll assist you while you do your Big Daddy thing, which sees you adopting other little sisters — and defending them — as they collect "Adam," the life-force juice of Rapture, and the source of your amazing plasmid attack abilities. (Adam is extracted with a giant needle-like thing from bellies of people.)
Boasting a wide variety of weapons, and the special "plasmid" attacks, surviving requires a different mind-set than most first-person shooters. You'll soon find that a run-and-gun approach doesn't work and you must use Rapture itself to your advantage by setting traps and using a combination of plasmids and the environment to beat back waves of enemies. Many upgrades — including the surprisingly solid online multiplayer option — allow you to customize your character to your strengths, which leads to an intriguing romp against your very formidable foes.
The original Bioshock was acclaimed for its groundbreaking storytelling and atmosphere. While the sequel doesn't quite have that effect, it does improve on its predecessor in almost every other way. Coming home can be hard, but 2K Games succeeds.
Xbox 360, PS3, PC
There's a reason why most schools don't allow Wikipedia as a reference tool for reports. The fact anyone can edit an entry leaves Wiki open to ugly historical errors. In a way, Dante's Inferno is the same way. EA and Visceral Studio's interpretation of Dante's journey down the circles of hell has very little in common with the Divine Comedy's first chapters.
The revised storyline goes like this: Dante is a crusader, tasked with liberating the holy land from the forces of Saladin. While he's good at what he does, all he wants to do is go home to his beloved Beatrice. Unfortunately, usually pious Beatrice has made a deal with a demon and when it comes collection time, Dante, with the poet Virgil as his guide, follows her into the depths of hell to get her back.
Along the way, Dante encounters characters from the original poem, such as the aforementioned Saladin, King Minos and Cleopatra. That's close to the source material, right? Well Dante didn't do battle with Cleopatra while demon spawn erupted from her boobs in the poem, did he? Gameplay controls will feel very familiar to vets of the God of War series. In fact, while the developers took liberty with the storyline's source material, they did not do so with the GOW-like gameplay. It's almost exactly the same, down to the heavy use of quick-time events. So the gameplay is fast paced, the controls tight — it's only the beast-riding that feels awkward.
Despite its faults, Inferno has a lot in its favor. Depicted in all its glory, hell is well ... hell. With each ring designed to correspond with its cardinal sin, a walk through this garden ain't pretty. Overall, you've got an accurate portrayal of what God of War would be like in Christian hell, and an F on your paper if you try to use the game's storyline in a book report.
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