By James Hawkins in Reviews
Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 8:30 am
|Back to Rapture we go.|
And it'll be our farewell to the city, too. We've seen Rapture's lengthy demise, as it succumbed to the narcissism of its culture, and Minerva's Den ushers us out with the last of the survivors. It is a tasteful and solemn Bon Voyage, not only for the characters within, but for those of us that wanted to see it through.
Minerva's Den focuses on the relationship between Charles Milton Porter and Reed Wahl, two old business partners with a soured relationship, and their darling supercomputer, The Thinker. Subject Sigma, upon awakening, is guided by Porter through the rooms of the Den to confront Wahl and The Thinker, thereby granting closure to Porter's troubled and mysterious storyline.
Remarkably, the downloadable content is able to deliver an original BioShock experience in around five hours. The typical multi-threaded plot formula has been stripped down to intimate only the lives of those directly affected by the events; leaving behind what could, if the scale was larger, be fascinating full-length story. Minerva's Den is a novella, and it manages to convey a tale that is every bit as impactful as BioShock 2, just much simpler and quieter.
Rapture, once again, separates itself from other video game locales by having enough character to tell a significant portion of the story by itself. Unlike the previous BioShock iterations, though, this one isn't filled with decaying shops and gardens -- it is almost entirely massive mainframes and steam-spouting pipes. It is Rapture's nervous system, and thusly the technological portion of it has been embellished. The halls are dotted with security bots and laser-wielding Big Daddies, the splicers haven't spilled into the guarded walls; more, they dribbled in and worked their way past the defenses. The dynamic is much the same as before, though the fights contain a disproportionate amount of robotic enemies. This chamber is hallowed ground for The Thinker and Reed, and Sigma's trespass is constantly being dealt with.
When all is said and done, Minerva's Den rounds out the Rapturian arc beautifully. It mixes a gentle story with the improved gameplay mechanics of BioShock 2, allowing us a feeling of somber satisfaction as we close the book on the great city. For $10, that is something you won't find elsewhere.