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BioShock 2: Minerva's Den DLC review

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BioShock Infinite may represent the future (and explore the past) of the beloved shooter franchise, but the BioShock 2 adventure isn't complete until you've experienced Minerva's Den, a fascinating new campaign add-on that explores previously unseen areas of Rapture, adds fresh abilities and enemies, and offers an achingly emotional side story.

Minerva's Den adds three new campaign chapters to the BioShock 2 experience, but this isn't a quick jaunt in and out of Rapture -- we sunk at least four hours into the chapters, which surprised us, considering the meager $10 entry fee. Housed within Minerva's Den is the Thinker, the intelligent computer system that controls the delicate, underwater metropolis of Rapture, and much of the campaign centers on the fate of its creator, Charles Milton Porter.

Luckily, the add-on does more than simply reuse all existing assets from the game disc. As Subject Sigma, another recently awakened Big Daddy, you'll wield the new Gravity Well plasmid, which sucks up and tosses around enemies (and opens several key doors), as well as the new Ion Laser weapon, which burns through or ignites whoever you aim it at. You'll also face the new Lancer Big Daddy, who can temporarily blind you with his own Ion Laser, as well as Splicers armed with their own plasmids. Otherwise, Minerva's Den plays like another chunk of the existing BioShock 2 experience, with intense Big Daddy/Sister battles, grim environments, and frequent taut and terrifying moments. No complaints there!

But what really makes Minerva's Den a must-play extension of the BioShock 2 universe is its narrative -- an affecting portrayal of the man who built Rapture's technological backbone. It's a more personal tale than anything we've seen from BioShock, with Porter painted as a man who suffered the loss of his wife at a young age, dealt with racial bias and stereotypes, and was put in peril due to a scheming associate and the suspicions of Andrew Ryan. While you may see the big twist coming near the end, what follows is a heartbreaking and pitch-perfect epilogue that explores Porter's demons, and considers the power of artificial intelligence and how far we're willing to go to seek comfort following tragedy.

It's heady, absorbing stuff, and arguably a more interesting tale than BioShock 2 presented on the disc. Assuming you haven't sold off your copy or sworn off the game entirely, Minerva's Den is an exciting and truly interesting voyage back under the sea, and easily worth the investment. It's a shame that this is the last planned DLC for the game, though -- we'd happily plunk down $10 every few months to keep exploring new facets of the BioShock universe before Infinite drops in 2012.

Sep 8, 2010

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10 comments

  • philipshaw - September 9, 2010 12:46 p.m.

    I traded in my copy of Bioshock 2 after beating the campaign because the multiplayer held no interest for me. Seeing this I wish I still had my copy of Bioshock
  • abbottfrizzell - September 9, 2010 2:24 a.m.

    so i bought it and love it. but it seems to have some little glitches here and there. If i go to melee someone it doesn't seem like I am, along with trap rivets I can't pick up and just seems to have some loss audio. I still love it though just curious if anyone has the same thing going on. my reCaptcha: practicability pareirr
  • sleepy92ismypsn - September 9, 2010 12:13 a.m.

    Good thing I have $10 on my account. Now I just have to wait for Action Game Exchange to recieve my 160GB PS3. My 40GB got the Yellow Light of Death. re captcha: (Chapter coxceir) lol cock seeyer.
  • FrozenImplosion - September 8, 2010 8:52 p.m.

    Honestly, some of the best DLC I have ever gotten for any game. I completely agree with the review. The epilogue that was mentioned was truly emotionally charged, especially the part where you're walking through SPOILER kind of Porter's office with the piano music in the background.
  • DrRock - September 8, 2010 7:57 p.m.

    I unfortunately only have 680 MS points right now or I would definitely be picking this up right now. Good to see that the DLC is actually worth getting. Maybe I'll try and get some MS points soon and get this. Thanks for the review
  • oufour - September 8, 2010 7:18 p.m.

    this reminds me an awful lot of the secret armory of general knoxx DLC, where both DLCs captured the heart and magic of the originals, but added some new toys you never want to leave behind. i still want that crimson vehicle in the main campaign. oh yeah, you should buy this. it has a lazer gun. that's more then enough reason to get.
  • EDfromRED - September 8, 2010 6:55 p.m.

    I totally agree with this glowing review. The whole experience is enthralling, taunt, tense, and reinvigorates the wonder, mystery and dread of Rapture. Minervas Den makes me hope that Underwater Bioshock tales are yet to come. Rapture is too fertile and fantastic a setting to abandon.
  • mcoll_17 - September 8, 2010 6:19 p.m.

    Wow. Just by reading the review, I'm really going to get this just to see how the story turns out. Just waiting to get some money (and wait for the PC version DLC).
  • Killshot - September 8, 2010 6:15 p.m.

    Man wish i could keep the gun for the rest of the campaign, so gonna buy
  • Balaska - September 8, 2010 6:08 p.m.

    I felt the magic of the original in this new DLC, it is truly superb

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