DEVELOPER: 2K Games and Digital Extremes
PUBLISHER: 2K Games
SYSTEM: Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3, PC)
ESRB RATING: Mature
REVIEW RATING: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Big Daddy, Big Sister, Splicer, Adam, Eve, Rapture; these words might create conflicting imagery in the minds of the uninitiated, but like Pavlov’s dog, those in the know salivate at the mere thought of playing “BioShock 2.” This engrossing sequel provides an exciting extension to the first game and also introduces several fun online multiplayer modes to round out the undersea package.
Ten years after the mayhem that ensued in the original “BioShock,” Rapture is once again in turmoil. While the first game ended with players donning the suit of a lumbering Big Daddy, players begin “BioShock 2” as one of the steel-toed behemoths. Someone has been snatching young girls and turning them into Adam-leeching Little Sisters, and only a Plasmid-wielding Big Daddy can stop them!
That’s right, this Big Daddy can use gene-splicing Plasmids in addition to lethal weaponry. Players can literally bore enemies to death with their gas-powered drill-arm while lighting them on fire or electrocuting them with plasmids. Not surreal enough for you? How about shooting an enemy with the new Trap Bolt ammo and watching them run up to their comrade, who inadvertently triggers it in close proximity and kills himself? Now that’s quality entertainment!
One of the more interesting aspects of playing as a Big Daddy is temporarily adopting Little Sisters. Just like in the original game, the Big Daddy carries them around on his shoulders and protects them from nasty Splicers, while she harvests Adam from fallen enemies. If she is successful, the Little Sister gives the player some Adam to spend on new Plasmids. Players must fight other Big Daddies to obtain a Little Sister, but it seems easier to defeat them this time around.
“BioShock 2” offers seven addictive multiplayer modes that pit players against each other in the bowels of Rapture, which only makes it harder to return to reality.
Will You be Assimilated by ‘Star Trek Online’?
DEVELOPER: Cryptic Studios
SYSTEM: Windows XP/Vista/7
PRICE: $49.99 (plus monthly fee)
ESRB RATING: Teen
REVIEW RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
Glue on those rubber Vulcan ears and set your plastic phasers to “nerd,” as “Star Trek Online” has finally invaded cyberspace! Yes, the cult sensation that made “geekiness” an admirable trait is now an MMO that lets anyone assemble their own away team and blast the hell out of every alien they meet! Not surprisingly, the real star of this interstellar show is the awesome space combat.
Promising space explorers begin their epic adventure by choosing the race, appearance and skill-set of their captain. Three classes and several different humanoid and alien races from the Star Trek universe are available, and the robust character creator offers players nearly limitless options.
Then it’s time to warp into space and start tackling different quests. Unfortunately, this is the weakest aspect of the game as most quests have a generic feel to them. I like how some quests force players to engage in both space and land combat, but nearly every ground level seems like it’s randomly generated. This makes them mind-numbingly similar and usually boring.
Thank goodness the space combat is so … ahem … stellar! As a space nut myself, I enjoy simply looking at each beautiful space level, and fighting amongst its majesty is magnificent! Several factors, ranging from shield strength to crew size, are integrated into space combat, which gives it a slower-paced, dynamic feel. One of my favorite strategies is incapacitating enemy ships with a tractor beam and pelting them with Photon Torpedoes! It’s also possible to target enemy subsystems or send small boarding parties to disable enemy ships.
Too bad the action-oriented ground combat isn’t nearly as fun as fighting in space. Players can fill their away team with custom NPC officers or other players and beam to a planet or spaceship to fight enemies, but it gets old fast. This is where class-specific abilities like healing and setting up laser turrets come into play, but no matter which class you choose, ground combat is still awkward.
“Star Trek Online” can be fun at times, but it will only have long-term appeal to die-hard fans.
REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM
5 stars = Must Have
4 stars = Very Good
3 stars = Above Average
2 stars = Bargain Bin
1 star = Don’t Bother
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
E10-plus: (Everyone 10 and older)
T: Teen (13 and older)
M: Mature (17 and older)
To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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