That was ridiculously awesome. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. THIS is what a DLC should be. Instead of feeling like a weird hybrid of Infite battle arenas and Rapture that ultimately turned it into something less than both of them (a la Episode 1), Episode 2 managed to recreate that Rapture feeling from the first BioShock without rehashing the gameplay, an incredible accomplishment.
Was it easy? Yeah, I found it fairly easy (I play on easy, but I suck so that doesn’t matter). I also didn’t care. The problem with the “explore Rapture” section of Episode 1 was that there was absolutely no tension and no incentive to explore except “Wowie, cool!”. You stop learning anything new from the citizens after like five minutes in. And then the underground section just felt as if they were trying to shoehorn in the fighting style from Infinite into Rapture, and it didn’t fit at all.
Episode 2 fixes every mistake and then some. What made Rapture such a memorable place in the original game was not only the beauty, but also the enormous amount of content and the tension of possibly running into a splicer at any given moment. It kept you on your toes and added an element of suspense and terror to the explorations. Episode 2 recreates Rapture beautifully in their new engine, but instead of setting up pre-staged battle arenas like Episode 1 it once again spreads the splicers throughout the game. While not being spotted might be relatively easy you still need to pay close attention to what’s going on and strategize. This adds a HUGE dimension to the game that Episode 1 was noticeably lacking.
And then there’s the content. Rapture is once again expanded into an entire, exploreable world. There are hidden notes, audio logs, writing on the walls, plasmid uppgrades, and just in general an incredible amount of detail hidden in the game and ready to be discovered. It’s all fascinating, and of course the excellent voice acting of Courtnee Draper is not to be forgotten.
As for the plot, I could get behind it. Think too much about it and it really doesn’t make sense, but accept it at face value and I was definitely entertained throughout (I particularly liked how they explained the vigors, and why we don’t just ingest the plasmids in the original BioShock…if you missed that, pay attention to the chalkboards and whiteboards!). Atlas was a compelling villain. It was nice to see his character get fleshed out so much, since the original was all Ryan, all the time (who, by the way, is as compelling as ever in his brief appearances).
I wish they could have figured out a way to keep Elizabeth alive, but I wasn’t too mad about that. The only thing that really made me mad was what they did with Fitzroy. They awkwardly retconned her character reveal from the main game in an obvious ploy to try and respond to criticisms of racism (because apparently black villains=racist or something). It didn’t fit at all with the rest of the plot and I felt like I was ripped off. Ridiculous.
Gameplay, as I said, was simple but fun. To nitpick, they probably shouldn’t have let you upgrade peeping tom so much. It made you a bit too powerful. But then, as mentioned earlier, difficulty was almost besides the point. I felt like the stealth was just a cool way to up the tension, and it was extremely effective and a ton of fun.
In summary, Episode 2 was a perfect way to end the Infinite saga. It improved upon its predecessor in every possible way and was absolutely compelling from start to finish. Some minor combat and story quibbles aside, this DLC helps cement Infinite’s place even more firmly as a worthy successor to the original BioShock.
I don’t give number ratings, mostly because I feel they’re hard to do objectively, so this is just a thumbs up and my highest recommendation. This is a must-play if you’ve played the other BioShock games (except 2, because fuck BioShock 2, right guys?).