I recently played through Minerva’s Den, the DLC for Bioshock 2, and while I was on twitter complaining about feeling literally betrayed by everyone who has ever talked that game up to me, Jack de Quidt said this about the differences between the first and second games in the series:
I had to work up a proper answer, so I wrote about it over at Sagacity. I’m copy and pasting it here for posterity, mostly because I think it gives a good framework for something that I might want to write about the games in the future:
“The reason that I’m not down with that is that B2 is all about showing off how Rapture itself is a byproduct of the power relations that exist inside of it. The brutal singularity of the first game, and the cramped spaces that really drove that kind of subjectivity home, are utterly replaced by a different aesthetic in the second game. This new aesthetic is of openness, freedom, the ability to do whatever you want in a wide field of options. The new Little Sister ADAM missions are a big part of this, but so is the change of arsenal in the game–you actually have defensive options, can make tactical choices that don’t involve “go forward, go back” exclusively, etc.
So when you say that B1 matched the “space/city/tone” better than B2, my response is that you’re not taking into account that B2 is trying to radically rearticulate what Rapture IS as a space. More than that, it is trying to assert that the Rapture of B1, which asserts itself as the “true” or “authentic” or “canonical” Rapture, is really just an interpretation of the city that was driven home by the forces in power and how they bore down on the player.
That’s a lot of words. I really just mean that your feeling isn’t a unique one (and I think it was one felt by a huge part of the audience on the release of B2), but I really think that the game demands that we’re open to new ways of thinking about the city as something other than “the dark crampzone from Andrew Ryan’s libertarian hellmind.”