BioShock 2 - Minerva's Den

Review

posted 9/10/2010 by Tina Amini
other articles by Tina Amini
Platforms: 360
Roughly two weeks ago, I was given a preview of the latest BioShock 2 DLC. The content of existing add-on was hitherto focused on the multiplayer component of the first-person shooter game, with storyline depth fairly sparse. Minerva’s Den provides just that missing flare as a downloadable content with a riveting storyline perspective that was remiss in the sequel.

Minerva’s Den exposes the conflict between two intelligent, scientific minds - Charles Milton Porter and Reed Wahl - who formed drastically differing intentions for their most prized invention: The Thinker. Thinker is an independent reasoning processor with it’s own ability to think (hence the name), and operates the technical systems of Rapture. As you traverse Minerva’s Den - home to the Central Computing Mainframe - an automated message informs you of the varying uses of Thinker as relevant to your location. Thinker operates the transportation systems, performs basic calculations for the residents of Rapture, protects and secures the citizens, and much more.


Thinker is a significant part of Rapture but, as the audio recordings strewn about the Den will reveal, Reed Wahl eventually began to develop his own direction for the machine. Wahl theorized that with Thinker’s algorithms and equations, the future is subject to its foretelling. Porter explains this as an example of Wahl’s blatant greed, derived from the symptom of madness that comes with excessive splicing. Wahl protests, accusing Porter of misusing the technology to represent a person rather than the predictive machine that it is.

The year now is 1968, and Tenenbaum has sent out another Alpha series Big Daddy to investigate the Den and help Porter transport the Thinker’s machine code outside of Rapture. You play as this Big Daddy - Subject Sigma - and are led by Porter through the splicer-populated Den.

Gameplay is fairly familiar, with the additions of a new weapon and plasmid, as well as a few new enemies to make a somewhat unfamiliar experience. Security bots are now much more prevalent and dangerous, making the Security Command plasmid even more useful. Three new advanced security bots are introduced: one that can shock its enemies, one with an Ion Laser, and, lastly, a rocket bot. Although I did not find the Gravity Well particularly useful for my style of combat (which almost always involves some form of direct damage), the new Ion Laser proved to be enjoyable while frying and blasting through enemies.



Along the way to your destination, you will encounter various obstacles generally put forth by an enraged Wahl. Whether the solution is to unlock a door, defrost corridors, or tackle your enemies, one thing is certain: Adam is a precious resource without which you would certainly meet your death. Having previously opted to harvest the Little Sisters containing said Adam, I decided that it was time to be generous and rescue them instead. This created a repetitive formula of gameplay in which I would hunt down a Big Daddy, adopt his Little Sister, use her to harvest Adam while fending off the attracted enemies, rescue her, and every so often be confronted by a Big Sister.

Fortunately the pattern never tired, because each new cycle would bring with it new gene tonics and plasmids to experiment with. While doing so, you learn more about the new characters introduced in Minerva’s Den, as well as their conflict and how it stemmed to the level of hostility you are now confronted with.

Porter is concerned with his deceased wife, Pearl, who he constantly uploads memories of to Thinker for keepsake. Wahl on the other hand, overcome by madness, scribbles equations (and threats alike) on the walls, attempting to procure some sort of profit from Thinker’s abilities. Thinker, Porter says, is too valuable to be kept locked up in the fallen Rapture with a mad scientist such as Wahl. It is of the utmost importance that Thinker sees the light of Day outside the watery walls of the city it is currently prisoner in. With this new incentive, Rapture yet again proves its appeal. With the same diversity of combat style that was to be found in BioShock 2, you explore the Den which has succumbed to what is the result of a disparity of two great minds to unravel a very personally meaningful end.
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