Wednesday, September 8

The DLC Downlow: Bioshock 2 - Minerva's Den

Sequel to one of the greatest games of this generation, Bioshock 2 was an action-packed return to Rapture. While not as striking as the original, there were enough additions and improvements made to the gameplay to make up for the lack of narrative direction. After several multiplayer-focused add-ons, Minerva's Den is the second piece of single player downloadable content made available for game on the Playstation Network and Xbox Live. The expansion catalogues Subject Sigma's bid to escape Rapture with Charles Porter and his greatest achievement, the Thinker. Minerva's Den houses the Thinker, as well as much of the machinery which powers the automated, Art Deco dystopia of Rapture. With the help of Porter and franchise regular, Dr Bridgette Tenenbaum; Subject Sigma tackles splicers, Big Daddies and the mad mathematician, Reed Wahl.


The Good
New tools - There is a new plasmid and weapon available in Minerva's Den. The Gravity Well plasmid has applications in both combat and exploration, allowing you to throw a polyp which sucks enemies and items into the void it creates. The visual effect for the fully upgraded ability is impressive, and is especially useful when ADAM harvesting. The Ion Laser, while not as fun to experiment with, has the potential to dispatch some of the stronger opponents you encounter on your journey.

The final twist - The story of Subject Sigma ends in spectacular fashion, with the final jaw-dropping revelation made all the more memorable by a challening final encounter with Wahl and his minions. The journey may have dragged for a little while, but the last hour of this expansion was a real joy to play through.

If it ain't broke - All of the fantastic weapons from Bioshock 2 (including my favourites, the Rocket Spear and Trap Rivet) make their return in Minerva's Den. ADAM gathering still demands the same level of strategy, and the aggro splicers making a dash for your Little Sister still illicit the same urgent response. The strong, core gameplay elements of the initial retail release are all present in this add-on.

The Bad
Fetch boy - Minerva's Den is essentially a four hour long series of fetch quests. These quests are punctuated with the series staple of rescuing/harvesting Little Sisters, and hacking bots/vending machines. Power to the People stations are absent from this release, with players instead finding weapons (and upgrades) scattered throughout Minerva's Den. Apart from the fantastic final area, Minerva's Den drags its feet around Rapture.

Blair Witch - Apart from the final area, it is very hard to distinguish any of the hallways, basements and Art Deco design in Minerva's Den from any other part of Rapture. Bioshock veterans will find very little here that they have not seen before.

Various visual blemishes - The same issues with texture loading present in the initial release have not been remedied in Minerva's Den. While it is a minor gripe, every blurred character model and item do impact on the experience.

The Ugly
Rude Welcome - When you visit the first Gatherer's Garden in Minerva's Den you are taunted with the opportunity to earn more ADAM to expend in Minerva's Den, by playing through the previously released Protector Trials DLC. Nothing sucks you out of an immersive experience quite like advertising.

7/10 - If by the end of Bioshock 2 you began to tire of the dark corridors of Rapture, avoid Minerva's Den. It is more of the same. If you are not quite yet fatigued by Andrew Ryan's Art Deco dystopia, then this content is well worth the asking price. There is about 4 hours worth of playtime available in this expansion, and some of the revelations and set pieces should be experienced.


  1. Solid review, bro.

    Alpha Protocol is only getting better. Seriously I was hard pressed to get off of it last night.

    It is a very solid game, I think people are becoming over critical of certain aspects of gaming and reviews in general are making most games unapproachable but when you disregard these and try for yourself you may find a great hidden gem.

    And other game experiences like this?

  2. I didn't really get into Bioshock, so never picked up Bioshock 2. I am fully aware of the amazing story of Bioshock and its sequel (maybe not so much its sequel), but I just couldn't get myself into it for some reason. I don't know what it was.

    On a plus side of DLC, BC2: Vietnam is set to be revealed at the Tokyo game show, so that is pretty exciting! I think I may also be back on the band wagon of MoH. Not sure, but I think I might be picking it up again. I will probably pre-order the day or so before, just so I get the extra weapons and what not. I am still undecided!

  3. Yeah I agree Rubes. After reading a few reviews for Mafia II, I began to think picking it up may be a huge mistake. Despite the awkward controls, I've been sucked into the whole experience. I'm about halfway through it now, and Carls has banned me from playing it until she finishes her next assignment. She enjoys watching it that much. In order to get my sandbox fix, I'm playing through the DLC packs. They aren't as fleshed out or meaningful, but still fun.

    On the other side of the coin, I find that a lot of good (but not great) games are receiving highly favourable reviews. Halo 3: ODST has by far been the recipient of the most undeserved praise (it has a metarating of 83!); but there are others like Little Big Planet, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Fallout 3 which were treated too kindly by the press.

    Was Fallout 3 really that revolutionary? It was just Oblivion with guns. The moral choices that were so heavily touted were fairly black and white. Do you poison the water, or not poison the water? I wonder which of those options produces negative karma?

  4. Yeah, but Fallout 3 was awesome, because it was Oblivion with guns! Oblivion was such a rad game. Seriously, that game could take all your focus for a solid 150 hours without you getting bored.

    I agree with MW2 and LBP getting undeserved praised. MW2 especially, the game is so broken it isn't funny. I fired it up yesterday, played half a game and had to take it out, I was that frustrated with it.

  5. I'm excited about the impending Vietnam announcement as well, my friend. Also agreed that Oblivion could steal hundreds of hours of time. No complaints on that front either.

    I understand that LBP allowed for a lot of user-generated content (of high quality I might add), but the core gameplay failed to deliver. I just downloaded the beta for LBP2, so I'll let you know how it goes.

  6. I wish the net was fast enough to get in on betas.

    Stupid internet. I am very keen to get back on BCFC2 though.

    Ive decided if I like the general premise and ideas behind a game im gonna try it and no longer listen to reviews.

    The glithces mention that apparently cripple Alpha Protocol are no where near as bad as let on, I am seriously enjoying the game, tris I would say you would actually love it too.

  7. Yeah figured that was typo. BC2 is just a lot of fun. It was good rolling around some rush games with Tris last night, just generally having fun, because I finally finished the stupid medic kit, it has become immensely satisfying again!

  8. I cant stand the assault class, it is so bad to me.

    Love Medic Recon and Engineer!, mainly medic lol

  9. Engineer is so much fun! I love the gustav! Also, I love running around with a recon kit, the GOL, 4x scope, and c4! so many good times.

  10. I fell in love last night. SV98 is my new go to weapon. That bad boy is beast! Put 4x scope on, and you have a killing machine!