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BioShock 2, although a great game in its own right, came across as an unnecessary return to the fallen undersea ruins of Rapture.

Minerva’s Den, the game’s first – and possibly only – narrative driven single player DLC brings escorts you back to the familiar subaquatic dystopia. Is it worth returning to Rapture, for what could be the last time?

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Once again, you’re tasked with jumping in to the shoes of a Big Daddy. This time you’re Sigma, a newly re-awoken Alpha model . Aided by the disembodied voices of the stalwart Tennebaum and one very polite Charles Porter, it’s become your assignment to wrest control of “The Thinker,” the central super-computer that controls Rapture’s systems from the hands of it’s co-creator Reed Wahl, Porter’s maniacal former partner.

Gameplay is largely unchanged, so there’s no need to go through it again. Should you need a refresh, read our review of BioShock 2. There are 2 major new additions to your splicer-killing arsenal. The Gravity Well Plasmid spawns a mini black-hole that spin affected enemies in a vortex, draining their health. The second addition is the ION Laser which fires a steady focused beam of scorching light, and can be acquired from the game’s new laser-toting Big Daddy, the Lancer.They’re both fairly bland additions, with the gravity well opening up a handful of light puzzle opportunities and the impotent ION Laser getting use purely because of the copious quantities of ammo lying about.

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The order in which you’re given access to the familiar plasmids and weapons is subtly re-arranged, cleverly forcing you to use use techniques and strategies you likely otherwise wouldn’t. There’s a much greater emphasis on using Rapture’s environment and security systems to your benefit – evidenced by the abundance of turrets, security cameras and sentry bots – including an exciting new one that fires electro-bolt.

Of course, guarded little sisters return and as they’re your principal source of ADAM, the currency necessary to purchase upgrades, you’ll once again need to question which side of the divide your morals lie, by either rescuing or harvesting them. It’s this aspect of the game – protecting your charges as they gather ADAM – that originally fresh and exciting, now seems worn and tired, bordering on the tedious.

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It’s all made up for where it counts though. The narrative is, as is now expected, the highlight. Minerva’s Den condenses the entire BioShock experience in to a 5 hour ride that’s full of the great storytelling and twists the series know for. The shorter time affords the game much tighter pacing, and the more involved, intriguing and personal story make Minerva’s Den a better experience than its parent game.

For the 800 MSP/R75 cost, it’s incredibly difficult not to recommend Minerva’s Den. As DLC, it presents another opportunity to delve in to Rapture, giving you a shorter, but tighter experience that lives up to the original game more than the sequel.

If this is our last trip to Rapture before its submerged hallways flood for good, it’s one that 2K have taken us on with grace and style.

Scoring

Gameplay: 8.0

Certain carried gameplay elements are now quite tiresome, but the base gameplay is still excellent.

Presentation: 8.0

Unchanged.

Sound: 9.0

Ambient. Excellent voice acting

Value: 9.0

Five hours of gameplay for less than a hundred bucks makes this a better value proposition than many full retail games.

Overall: 8.5

Minerva’s Den is an excellent way to close the gates to Rapture, should this be our final visit.

[Reviewed on Xbox 360]

Last Updated: September 13, 2010

BioShock 2 : Minerva's Den DLC
Summary
8.5

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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