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  1. #1
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    Bioshock 2: Multiplayer Musings

    oes Bioshock 2 need multiplayer? Is it handled with a delicate touch? Or is Fall of Rapture, the multiplayer prequel to the stellar RPG shooter, a travesty that needs to be shipped out to sea? There's a warranted level of cynicism here, given the staunchly single-player original game was so tightly constructed.

    Now that we've seen the game, more questions have been raised than answered, but we think the framework is there for a really compelling multiplayer experience – even if it's still bringing gung-ho machismo into what was a solitary and evocative experience in essence.

    With this in mind, we've broken the experience down into core components that make up the whole. Think of this as a summary of what the developer, Digital Extremes, has done to ensure that the experience is as authentic (and, critically, inoffensive) as possible.


    Originality and Reverence

    There's a very unique structure that ties Fall of Rapture to the core Bioshock setting. For starters, the multiplayer mode is given its own sub-heading, which is curious in itself. Clearly, this is mean to be a separate experience taken on its own merits. That said, Fall of Rapture's prequel setting has been lifted from the original games – however, each stage has been restored to its pre-'civil war' glory.

    This includes your fantastic art deco apartment; a wonder of velvet, marble and leather, with paintings adorning the walls. This is your hub before entering a Bathysphere and thereby kick-starting a multiplayer match.

    It's a pretty cool idea – each player's apartment acts as their home base, allowing you to customise your Splicer character and their load-outs (weapons, powers and so on). Beyond this, though, we weren't clear if the apartment serves any other function other than something like a 3D menu; we'd love to be able to collect some trophies of our victories and achievements, almost like PlayStation Home, and store them there, for instance.


    Hunting the most dangerous prey of all... man.


    A Sense of Story

    It's also within your apartment that the story framework becomes apparent. For those wishing to jump straight into the fray, you can totally ignore all the side-story stuff on offer – but for all others (and those who want to know how all of this fits into the body of the game), you can hear pre-recorded messages that essentially catch you up on what's happening in the city of Rapture. Each time you level up (by collecting Adam from killing, assisting, hacking, becoming or killing the Big Daddy), you're treated to the next chapter.

    Apparently – although we didn't see this ourselves – the items in your apartment also serve to further the story. The idea is that each character that you face off against also has his or her own backstory too; the quips and battle cries that they yelp out are there to suggest something about their history, their profession and current state of mind (which, generally speaking, is 'insane and angry').

    Your Character and Motivation

    In Fall of Rapture, you start off as a normal human resident of Rapture – an employee of Sinclair Solutions who has volunteered to take part in the 'home defence' project, injecting yourself with highly unstable and experimental drugs to give yourself incredible powers to test them in the field and compete for Bronze Club benefits and… uh, well, the background basically justifies the chaos, to be honest. We can't imagine the elite residents of this underwater paradise really wanting to go out of their way to upset their perfect existence by doing battle with each other just for the hell of it.

    Given the benefit of the doubt, you can assume that Splicers became batty after one too many genetic enhancements, and when two crazy people end up meeting, they will inevitably do battle. Good enough.

    In terms of actual character customisation, Digital Extremes is still mostly allusive at best. We don't know, for instance, exactly how much control you'll have to create your own genetic reject. Instead, the dev team member we chatted with suggested taking a look at the kinds of costumes and creatures from the original Bioshock to get a better idea of what to expect in Fall of Rapture.


    Don't do highly unstable and experimental drugs in an art deco wonderland under the sea, kids.

    Bioshock Redux

    The key to remember, though, is that this is a multiplayer mode now. The levels have actually been redone in terms of layout to hold true to the 'feel' of each area, rather than strictly adhering to the level design. As such, maps are more symmetrical and hemmed in, with more tiers and corridors from what we could see. Each also retains some key trademark symbolism – towering statues, the classic logos and texture work, as well as the evocative colouration and effects work.

    The role of Big Daddies has also been switched up. Instead of being able to commandeer one through hypnosis or simply opt to be one, class-style, Big Daddy suits are hidden in maps and used as a power-up – a bit like permanent Quad Damage for the Quake III fans out there. As the Big Daddy, you lose your native speed and flexibility, but you're a walking tank and you deal damage like one. Naturally, every player on the map is going to want to take you down, too – so having the suit instantly paints a target on your arse that most players will happily wipe off with a dose of Incinerate.


    Baby you ready, for Big Daddy?


    Plasmids Redux

    To better suit the multiplayer nature of Fall of Rapture, plasmids have been given a thorough retooling. First off, there are tons of new ones coming – though these are tied to the single player game and are still off-limits to the public eye. The one multiplayer-only plasmid we have seen was 'Aero Dash', which acts much the way it sounds – allowing you to do a speedy long-jump from one end of a room to the other, or over massive chasms and gun fire.

    Second, plasmids can now be charged up by simply holding down the trigger and building up its strength and effectiveness; the effects also last longer and you won't be penalised for holding it down for any period of time. You can also now dual-wield plasmids and weapons to save you time switching between the two. This will allow for some great one-two punches; start with a dash of Winter Blast and then finish the job with a shotgun to the face.

    You can also customise three load-outs at one time, meaning that if you're having trouble in one round, the ability to change tactics and introduce new combinations of plasmids and weapons between spawns is an important tactical option. These roll-outs allow you to store a maximum of two weapons and two plasmids each – just enough for decent variety or even 'themed' roll-outs.

    Perhaps most tantalisingly, however, is the hint of plasmids that now act with each other; so called 'hidden combos' for players to discover. You've no doubt heard about the ability, for instance, to activate a tornado, then Incinerate the flurry to set enemies within its radius on fire. With all kinds of new plasmids on the way, we can't even begin to imagine the kind of potential for experimentation. In fact, it's ideas like this that actually redeem the whole multiplayer argument for a franchise like Bioshock; tactics make the shooter, and the single-player Bioshock experience was all about tactics, so why not make it work in multiplayer?


    A Few Questions We Have

    While we're pretty satisfied that Fall of Rapture is doing right by the fundamentals of the franchise, we still have a few concerns we want addressed – purely based on what we've seen so far.

    For starters, the balancing still seems a little off between some of the plasmids in multiplayer. In the build we saw, Winter Blast seemed to be the plasmid to have, since one shot with this actually freezes your opposition in place, and all it takes is a single shot with a weapon to shatter them for an instant kill. Yikes. That seems overpowered to us – though we've heard word that this is being retooled.

    The Big Daddy suit is a neat addition, but we're still not clear on how much damage the suit can take or whether the developer's had much trouble in balancing it. We can envision conniving players simply dominating every match by donning the suit early, getting well-armed and then cranking everyone they come across. After all – it's very hard to get anyone to cooperate to bring down a target in a free-for-all match.


    Too ugly to live.

    Digital Extremes is using 'popularity reports' to determine how often people are using each weapon and plasmid – and therefore whether there are balance issues. Hopefully there will be enough data to really fine-tune this stuff before launch.

    On the other, more technical side of the coin, matchmaking is purely automatic and based on skill at this stage. There was no mention of how hosting would work or to what extent players would be able to customise their matches.

    Finally, given that Fall of Rapture really does intend to tell the backstory of Rapture's mighty demise, we'd like to see some bells and whistles in your apartment that really make you feel like there's more to the experience than a pre-recorded message every level-up. A few cutscenes or even a daily newspaper delivery with some fresh headlines might flesh out the experience even further – perhaps foreshadowing some of the story events in Bioshock 2.

    Regardless, we're definitely excited to get some actual hands-on time with both Fall of Rapture and Bioshock 2, but wary gamers can rest happily in the knowledge that this is far from a strange genetic aberration, spliced into something we all cherish.

  2. #2
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    it is going to be awesome

    "The real rulers in Washington are invisible, and exercise power from behind the scenes."


  3. #3
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    First day buy for me...multiplayer experience is going to be absolutely intense. The newspaper idea is ingenious, devs could release bits of information like they did on that 'theressomethinginthesea' website that would give us a little insight as to whats happening in Rapture (possible a method of announcing game updates/patches as well).

    I'm intrigued as to whether there will be separate game modes or just a few generic death matches to tell the story? This game was screaming out for a "one person is the big daddy, everyone take them down...how long can you last?" sorta mode - seems they have incorporated it into normal play.

    Its inevitable that there will be issues with overpowered plasmids...only real solution to this would be to limit ADAM so players have to be wise when using their powers. Then, ADAM refills as you kill more people (much like how Resistance 2 berserks operate) with the more powerful plasmids using up more ADAM then the less powerful ones. Possibly as you level up your ADAM capacity increases and the more plasmids you can use - and if you do matchmaking games based on rank it will avoid unfair fights. On a side note I would love to see a "slow motion" plasmid to slow a player and the bullets they are firing, catch with telekinesis and send right back.

    Good to hear its making progress, seems like its on the right path to be a truly awesome experience. As you guys can tell, I'm stoked about this game...

    Cheers for posting!

    PSN: Hohjirozame

  4. #4
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    i think with uncharted bioshock and mag
    MW2 CAN SUCK IT

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  5. #5
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    Can't wait, sounds awesome!

    First day buy for me too.
    20...

  6. #6
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    Still not convinced on Bioshock 2 MP. It sounds great and all, but the simple fact is that, for me, the gunplay itself wasn't all that great in the original. But then that isn't why I played it. Whereas in a MP FPS, the gunplay is the game.

    Will still be buying it day 1 for the single player though.

  7. #7
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    And so it begins.... Next up, Devil May Cry and Tomb Raider will get multiplayer (just guessing but it would not surprise me at all if it really happened).

    Did not really feel like reading all that, but there are already so many games that focus so much on multiplayer while making the singelplayer feel a bit unfinished (Like Killzone for example), that I would rather have either singeplayer or multiplayer only, instead of half-assed multiplayer and great singelplayer or vice versa.

    Hopefully I am wrong and the singeplayer will not suffer, but that is rare.
    Almost everyone will say: buy console that has games that you want, and those who say otherwise are ignorant.

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  8. #8
    Mighty Boosh
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terminator 101 View Post
    Hopefully I am wrong and the singeplayer will not suffer, but that is rare.
    your wrong. 2K arn't even working on the multiplayer, its being handled by a separate team. they have stated time and again that the single player game is the main focus and has been since day 1. so rest easy.

  9. #9
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    I didn't think that even BioShock needs a multiplayer mode the first
    was very good but kinda short .. for me I don't care too much if the game
    have multiplayer mode as long as the single player is very good and rewarding .

  10. #10
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    Dont really care for multiplayer, single player is where the real Bioshock experience is at!

    Day -1 buy.

  11. #11
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    i love bioshock, and whatever they put in the second one i cant wait to play. i think the idea of multiplayer for an amazing game like this sounds like fun to me

  12. #12
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    The one thing that is saving it at this point is it appears to be more than a "just kill each other" affair, looks like they intend to tell a story through multiplayer which seems pretty interesting to me.

    PSN: Hohjirozame

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    Well this will already be a day one purchase regardless of multiplayer. I am not getting my hopes up for a good multiplayer, but that is irrelevant since the single player should (Most likely) be amazing.

  14. #14
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    Have the writers at IGN always been this bad? It was so poorly written, I didn't get past the second paragraph before I started ignoring the point. I started counting the sentences that made no grammatical sense, and the vast amount of unnecessary commas.

  15. #15
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    To be honest I wish it didn't have multiplayer BioShock as a S.P game was a breath of fresh air why does everything have to have multiplayer online, everyone will start to moan slightly when they see it has online trophies for platinum.

    It maybe developed by another company but thats beside the point it should have stayed SP to be honest. And looking at them pictures it so looks like a updated version of Time Splitters because it has characters like that I swear it did a mad doctor.


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  16. #16
    Mighty Boosh
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    i just dont understand the gripe about bioshock 2's multiplayer. it will have no impact on the single player portion of the game, which is still the main focus. plus, the multiplayer will actually have story significance and will be taking place before the original bioshock, durring the civil war that turned Rapture into what we know it today. i think that sounds really really awesome. and deffenitly with the weapons and plasmids, and the excellent settings, it can make for a very exciting multiplayer experience. im also hoping they will throw little sisters and big daddies in there to disrupt the battles but give the lucky victor some extra adam to go spend on new plasmids durring the battle.

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