Bioshock 2: The First Ten Minutes

Right out the gate Bioshock 2 blows Bioshock 1 out of the water.

Bioshock 1 opens with a mystery, follows up with intriguing visuals, and then thrusts the player into doing random crap for a total stranger for no deeper reason than because it's a video game and that's what you do when a random radio voice in a video game tells you to do things. Things don't really go up from there, narratively... in a game that really wants you to take its story seriously.

Bioshock 2's opening cinematic tells us everything we need to know to understand the coming story in three minutes: even if you're not familiar with Bioshock's setting, and thus don't have the context on what a Big Daddy is or what a Little Sister is, you know you're playing someone who cares deeply about this little girl, who will fight and kill to protect her, and that she cares about you back. You know she's been taken from you, and it's self-evident from there without anything being explicitly said that your primary goal of the game is going to be to find her and to get her back and make her safe. And you know that the villain who takes her -a woman who speaks as if she's the girl's proper mother and you the monster- was willing to make you kill yourself in front of the girl (Even though said girl was clearly horrified by what she was watching), establishing quite firmly that leaving the girl in this woman's hands is completely unacceptable.

That's just the primary plot threads it weaves in, mind. It also conveys -for those not familiar with Bioshock 1- that for some reason little girls with glowing eyes will be preyed upon by others, that the society you're in used to have an upper-crust that, while offended by a lower-class being such as yourself wandering around, was not in any way surprised by you or the little girl whose eyes glow, establishing that this is all normal. In turn, once gameplay starts and you find yourself amid ruins, you already know they used be something classier, that something has happened in the intervening time even if you're not sure how much time has passed or what precisely caused things to come apart. When you find Splicers, and they're crazy looters who attack you on sight, this isn't surprising, even if you didn't necessarily know it was coming.

Then you meet your first Big Sister, and while it's a bit murky on what precisely is up with them the essential information -that they're a recurring hostile that's more powerful than most of your foes and they don't like you doing things with Little Sisters- is all conveyed in moments.

It's amazing how much vital story is crammed into so little time.


Next time, I talk about some clever, twisty stuff Bioshock 2 does.


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