BioShock 2: Minerva's Den Review

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BioShock 2: Minerva's Den Publisher: Take-Two Interactive (2K Games)
Developer: 2K Games

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC
Reviewed on Xbox 360

The "Sigma" model prototype Big Daddy has been reactivated to perform a critical task. He must back up the operating system of Rapture's computer system and transport the workings of this phenomenal machine safely to the surface world. In doing so, Sigma is trapped at the fulcrum of the power struggle between Charles Milton Porter and Reed Wahl, the co-creators of "The Thinker" – Rapture's computer system. Porter fell from grace and remains obsessed with his long-dead wife. Wahl is obsessed with probabilities and Hari Seldon-style mathematical predictions of the future. Will Sigma reach the computing core, or fall victim to the decaying infrastructure of Rapture and maniacal splicers.

Kyle Ackerman

BioShock 2: Minerva's DenMinerva's Den may simply be $10 downloadable content for BioShock 2, but it's the game I wanted BioShock 2 to be (albeit shorter). My problem with BioShock 2 was that it was simply a shooter, where the original BioShock was an engrossing story about dystopia and a fascinating world to explore.

Minerva's Den tells an intriguing story that contributes to the lore of Rapture, BioShock's wondrous city under the sea. BioShock 2 made BioShock's philosophical and political commentary almost cartoonish, but Minerva's Den considers issues not faced by either BioShock or the sequel. How did Rapture's inhabitants learn to rewrite genetic code without massive computational power? If, as BioShock explained, splicing could be used to change appearance or even gender, why wasn't splicing used to overcome the complicated race relations of the era? And what was the first undersea computer game ever invented?

BioShock 2: Minerva's DenThat last one may not have been a pressing question, but Minerva's Den delivers on every question, in the form of Rapture Central Computing. Of course Rapture had a massive computing facility, with The Thinker as its centerpiece. Minerva's Den presents another facet of Rapture – one cluttered with vacuum tubes, R.O.D.I.N.-themed punch-cards, magnetic reel-to-reel tape and a ton of flashing lights and switches.

Despite Wahl's almost cartoonish accent, I tremendously enjoyed the tale, learning more about Rapture and uncovering further details on oligarchic figures such as Tenenbaum. I even appreciated the pleasantly understated ending that gave me a chance to wind down from the expansion's big boss battle and process the plot twist, rather than simply rolling credits when the big baddie fell.

BioShock 2: Minerva's DenWhat I didn't enjoy was the same thing that bothered me about BioShock 2 – the preponderance of ridiculous battles, especially as I protected little sisters harvesting Adam. As with BioShock 2, I found the first two such fights irritatingly difficult, and the rest distractingly easy once I had sufficient ammunition and plasmids to make the fights simple. For me, The BioShock world isn't a shooter. The world is presented in the genre of the shooter, but facing off against hordes of faceless splicers without individual character cheapens the wondrous world that the developers created. Minerva's Den does a better job of avoiding this cheap exploitation than BioShock 2 did – except for these harvesting battles. Fortunately, the game adds a fancy new laser gun that looks like a steampunk super-soaker, and a cool new plasmid called "Gravity Well" that collapses the world around a tiny and very dangerous gravitational anomaly.

If you've already invested in BioShock 2 (necessary to play the downloadable content), I'd highly recommend Minerva's Den. It's a step above the full game it supplements, and certainly worth the $10. Just gloss over the little-sister harvesting moments as much as you can.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on September 9, 2010 10:17 PM.

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