Before we leave Rapture to explore the political turmoil of Columbia in BioShock Infinite
, there are still some unexplored areas of BioShock 2
to discover. The security system in Rapture is a presence that is definitely palpable, but an aspect of the story that was never developed until the upcoming BioShock 2 add-on, Minerva’s Den
. My guide to the DLC is writer/lead designer, Steve Gaynor. As he explains, the Central Computing Mainframe - whose home is the Den - is an integral part of Rapture. Described as a computer that can think for itself, the affectionately named “Thinker” is what keeps security in tact and is the source of the many security cameras and turrets we’ve seen dispersed throughout the underwater city.
Steve describes that the clear emphasis on computers in Rapture birthed the idea of a DLC of this nature. Being set in the late 40s and early 50s, Rapture took place at the dawn of the computing age: during the era of Alan Turing and a prevalence of artificial intelligence. Embarking on a journey through the eyes of Sigma, another prototype of the original Big Daddies in the Alpha series, you traverse not just the most dangerous part of Rapture, but also come to discover the controversy that partially led to the city’s downfall.
The events in question occur in the middle of the sequel’s timeline. Tenenbaum has just parted ways with Delta in BioShock 2, but Minerva’s Den will reveal her story thereafter, which begins with her awakening you - as Sigma - from hibernation to investigate the events that transpired in the Den and hopefully resolve the conflict. As you approach the Den, you receive a distress call from Charles Milton Porter - the inventor of the early super computer that is responsible for all the automated technology in Rapture. Your main quest, therefore, is to search the depths of Minerva’s Den for Porter as well as for answers to how the Den was disconnected from the rest of the city.
In this new part of Rapture, we meet familiar faces with unfamiliar and more dangerous qualities. Splicers use plasmids specifically geared to take advantage of elemental forces, but come in all forms such as the big Brute or the tricky Houdini splicers. There are three new types of advanced security bots you will encounter and, depending on your play style, you can use them to your advantage with hacking abilities/tools.
My demonstration starts partially into the first level of Minerva’s Den while you are still exploring the ongoing conflict. One of the first enemies we encounter is a splicer controlling a rocket bot. On killing the splicer, her bot deactivates and becomes vulnerable to security hacking. The next few enemies are taken out with the new Gravity Well plasmid, which creates a vortex that effectively twirls your enemies around it. Since we’ve recently picked up the Ion Laser that concentrates a beam of light into a laser that cuts into your enemies, we use this ability in conjunction with the vortex to finish them off. While tinkering with this new ability and weapon, Porter urges Sigma to locate Adam, explaining that if there is any place in Rapture where Adam was needed, it is Minerva’s Den. Fortunately, we come upon a Little Sister guarded by a new Big Daddy introduced in this DLC.
This new Big Daddy - the Lancer - is the most technically advanced Big Daddy ever produced in Rapture. He’s as fast as he is menacing. He is also more heavily protected, complete with fancy looking armor and an equipped Ion Laser similar to the one that we are running around town with. After planting a few mini turrets as traps, the Big Daddy soon proves too tough for the typical ammunition. The Lancer throws an Ion flash our way (which produces similar effects as a flash bang), and we switch to the thermal ammunition we picked up earlier to set the big guy on fire. This is the Lancer’s kryptonite, apparently, because his health drops quickly and we soon win the battle. Next up, I take over the controller to start the add-on from the very beginning and explore Minerva’s Den to my curiosity’s content. Sigma starts off with the basics: a drill gun and Telekinesis (a plasmid I never particularly enjoyed). Soon after, however, I pick up the ability to control the AI surrounding Minerva’s Den. This comes quite in handy, as many of the security bots are being mind-controlled by splicers throughout the level. By sending their bots against them, I can sit back and watch them shred each other to bits, to the surprise and discomfort of my enemies.
Over the course of my travels in Minerva’s Den, I slowly unravel the controversy between Porter and his ex-business partner, Reed Wahl. The two parted ways after a disagreement on how the technology of Rapture should be used. We now find the Den shut down and overrun by splicers. After resetting the power relay to restore power to the Den, Porter sends you to his office all while explaining that Reed’s greed got the better of him. Messages from Reed accuse Porter to have been misusing the technology, wanting to turn Thinker into a person rather than take full advantage of its capabilities. According to Reed, Thinker can foretell the future through predictive equations and algorithms to which we are all, apparently, subject to evaluation under. Porter brushes these theories off, saying that splicing drove Reed, like many others in Rapture, mad.
While listening to both scientists’ tales, I pick up a spear gun that can be used for sniping. I’ve begun to favor my Security Command plasmid, however, so I decide to set the next shock bot on its user to distract the splicer while I proceed to laser blast through her electrified body.
Porter informs me that I need to gain entry into Thinker’s core access to print a hard copy of the machine code and transport it outside of Rapture. Upon getting wind of this, Reed sets a Brute splicer on me while Porter deploys the office defenses. After a tussle between myself and said Brute, I leave successful and on my way to rescue the programming of the machine out of the decaying city.
This is where my demonstration ends, but I’ve gotten a taste of the kind of conflict set in Minerva’s Den, as well as the new enemies and weapons/plasmids that will be available to us playing as the new protagonist. Although the gameplay (items, enemies, and abilities included) are not necessarily drastically unique, there’s definitely a history here to be uncovered. Considering the precedent that BioShock has set, this should prove to entail a long line of secrets that the franchise has always had a knack for intriguing me with. You can look for this new story-based DLC for the PC, 360 and PS3 this coming Fall.
We'd like to thank the 2K and Access PR team for organizing the demonstration, and the developers at 2K for guiding us through it.