Friday, March 22, 2013

Minerva's Den (DLC) - There's Something in the Sea

Following the release of BioShock 2, two bits of Single Player DLC were released, known as The Protector Trials and Minerva's Den. While I did not purchase the former, I was interested in and purchased the latter, as it was to be a stand-alone campaign taking place in a new part of Rapture with a new protagonist. When it came out three years ago, I eagerly dropped $10 on it to see if it would live up to my expectations. This was another of my early DeviantArt reviews, in which I reflected positively. Now that I've played it again recently, I now feel that not only is this single piece of DLC better than the main game, it is able to elevate itself to be comparable with the original BioShock.

The story opens in 1968 and follows Subject Sigma, a Big Daddy on his way to the titular Minerva's Den. On his way over, the tunnel is detonated and he falls unconscious. Some time later, he wakes up and hears a man named Charles Milton Porter speak to him. Porter knows what Sigma is trying to do and decides to help him regain control of a supercomputer called The Thinker, which has control over the automated systems of Rapture. To do this though, he must eliminate a man named Reed Wahl, the computer's co-creator and current controller who really wants Sigma dead.

Your best view of Subject Sigma.

While the campaign is only around four to five hours, it uses this time to tell a well-crafted story that doesn't need to try to tie in to the events of the core game. Subject Sigma turns out to be an interesting character, thanks in part to how he interacts with Wahl, Porter and Brigid Tenenbaum. While Sigma doesn't speak, what goes on as he makes his way to The Thinker is very engaging and manages to create the right amount of suspense as it builds up toward a rather shocking twist. Its climax is brilliantly executed and the ending was actually written well enough to make me cry.

On the side of gameplay, it remains largely unchanged from BioShock 2, with some exceptions. There is a new weapon, the Ion Laser, which uses one of three different types of ammunition to create a focused laser that fires upon the enemy. New enemy types are introduced, such as the Fiery Brute Splicer, Wintery Houdini Splicer and the Lancer Big Daddy, who's weapon of choice is the Ion Laser. In the same vein, there are also new types of security bots that can electrocute, shoot rockets or fire the Ion Laser. It is also possible to find a number of Plasmids and Gene Tonics, including the new Gravity Well Plasmid, which creates a vortex that sucks objects into its pull; it can be upgraded to be used as a proximity mine or even secrete acid on those unfortunate enough to come in contact with it. Finally, in lieu of Power to the People stations to upgrade weapons, upgraded forms of the weapons are now found lying around, which actually helps make things more expedient and acquiring all upgrades possible.

Both the Gravity Well and Ion laser in hand.

The aforementioned additions made to combat actually help mix things up and prevent enemy encounters from getting stale. Thanks to the new weapon and Plasmid at my disposal, I also felt more powerful and they felt fun to use, though I thought the Ion Laser drained a little quickly. On a final note, the graphics aren't much different from BioShock 2, but the voice acting continues to be really well done. It is thanks to the talent for the new characters that the story ended up being as emotional as it was.

A Lancer Big Daddy ready to blind Sigma.

Minerva's Den is what DLC should be. It offers a brand new campaign that has a pretty good length for the amount of money it costs and introduces new concepts to the combat to help it feel fresh, thus allowing the player to actually feel like a Big Daddy throughout its entirety. The real highlight however is the story, which felt more focused and better written than the game required to play it. If you loved the story of BioShock but weren't sure how to feel about the yarn spun for BioShock 2, then Minerva's Den will put your mind at ease. It is an excellent offering that BioShock fans should not miss out on.

Now that I've concluded my buildup to the soon-to-be-released BioShock Infinite, I'm ready to never visit Rapture ever again. I had some fun and experienced some incredible stories, but after a while it's clear that the franchise definitely needs to go someplace new. Hopefully I'll be able to get that by leaving the underwater city of Rapture for the open skies of the cloud city known as Columbia.

No comments:

Post a Comment