In Play

What's new is old again: BioShock 2 and The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom

In Play

BioShock 2

2K Games
PS3, Xbox 360

The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom

2K Play
$10 (800 Microsoft points)
Xbox Live Arcade

Is this what's wrong with gaming today? Two new titles get released, one with all the sheen expected from a big-budget release, another downloadable offering with less realistic visuals but innovative gameplay. The former has been promoted within an inch of its life and the latter has the sound of crickets surrounding its release.

BioShock 2 is quite possibly the poster child for the unnecessary sequel. The original was a singular experience, earning well-deserved accolades for its story and stunning art design. And while the latest iteration of the game improves on the minor slipups of the previous version, it's hard to shake the feeling of déjà vu. It's the same art deco, Tomorrowland-gone-schizo world of Rapture, but this time without the gasps and whoa!s that awaited you around every corner on your first trip. I should say, the game plays and looks like a dream (or nightmare), and that's no mean feat. The atmosphere, action, and story are all worthy of acclaim and will not let down the hardcore player. However, the upgrades, additions, and changes from its predecessor resemble stellar downloadable content more than a unique – and $60 – experience. BioShock 2 is certainly not the first superfluous follow-up. The trend of increasingly impressive downloadable content makes that true of almost every sequel published today.

Meanwhile, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom – published by the same parent company – invites a wider swath of gamers with its complex puzzles and simple controls, yet manages to be cutting edge in its style of play. You take control of the titular pie-obsessed ne'er-do-well. The Edward Gorey-esque visuals and old-timey soundtrack give the game a lot of charm, but Winterbottom's time-bending abilities are what distinguishes this game from the competition. By clicking one button, you can record a section of the play, which will then loop while the original Winterbottom can use his stuck-in-time clone to help him reach otherwise unreachable pies. Things get increasingly difficult as more and more Winterbottoms are needed in the later levels, but you get basic (if somewhat rushed) instruction in how to use your time-warping abilities. Admittedly, Misadventures isn't the first game to use this trick. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time scratched the surface of the time-bending conceit, but P.B.'s developers, the Odd Gentlemen, have taken the kernel of an idea and made something unique to look at and play. And that's no mean feat, either.

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BioShock 2, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, BioShock, The Odd Gentlemen, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time

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