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They have your Little Sister. You have a drill. Get to it.

"For every choice, there is an echo, with each act we change the world. One man chose a city free of law and god, but others chose corruption, and so the city fell. If the world was reborn in your image, would it be paradise or perdition?"
Sofia Lamb

Eight years after the events of BioShock, the leaderless Rapture has fallen under the control of Dr. Sofia Lamb, a collectivist foil to Andrew Ryan. You are "Subject Delta", a Super Prototype Big Daddy who finds itself forcibly separated from Eleanor, the Little Sister to whom you were bonded. Waking up in a Vita-Chamber, you embark on a journey through the undead corpse of Rapture to reunite with Eleanor and save her from the fate Sofia Lamb has planned for her.

BioShock 2 was released in February 2010 by 2K Marin (instead of Irrational Games), accompanied by another viral marketing campaign. It includes a multiplayer section, where players take control of Splicers during the Civil War and compete in games like Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. Winning these games rewards the player with ADAM which is used to buy new weapons and plasmids. Players also got an apartment, where they can change the appearance of their Splicer.


In August 2010, 2K released two DLCs for BioShock 2: The Protector Trials and Minerva's Den. In The Protector Trials Tenenbaum activates another Alpha Series Big Daddy and asks him to save several Little Sisters from Sofia Lamb. Minerva's Den follows another prototype Big Daddy "Subject Sigma", who is tasked with obtaining a copy of Rapture's computer mainframe, called The Thinker, by one of its creators Charles Milton Porter. The latter is an actual story, while the former was a series of challenges with limitations, like using only certain weapons or plasmids. On September of 2016, this game alongside the first BioShock, BioShock Infinite, and their respective downloadable contents were given remastered re-releases with BioShock: The Collection for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows, featuring updated 1080p 60 FPS presentation on all platforms, however the remastered version of BioShock 2 does not have its multiplayer components.


Tropes present:

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  • Action Girl: Eleanor Lamb will eventually join you as a Big Sister, though it just means putting on a suit, not a permanent process like making Big Daddies is. She is awesome.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The Little Sisters' designs are much cuter and less creepy than in the previous game (having a more natural head-shape and smaller, less bulbous eyes). Can be easily justified with the excuse that you're playing as a Big Daddy this time, and they're genetically programmed to as protective of the Sisters as possible, so seeing them as cuter than they really are makes sense.
  • Adult Fear:
    • The introduction scene. Super effective against anyone immersing themselves in the perspective. Double that for male parents.
    • When you set the Little Sister in your care down to gather ADAM from a corpse, you usually can concentrate fully on the hordes of crazy lunatics charging at you since there is only very little chance that she will take any real damage. But when she screams for help, you will stop whatever you are doing and instantly charge back to smash a giant drill through someone's brain.
    • Imagine you were given the task of taking care of a group of small children while they're on a trip to an amusement park for a sleepover, to give their parents a reprieve while they celebrate the New Year. Now imagine that suddenly you hear mass fighting and explosions that are happening throughout the city, so much so that you and your children are accidentally locked in the amusement park with dwindling food and water for longer and longer periods of time - long enough that you are faced with the very real prospect of watching those children die of starvation while you suffer the same fate. This is what befell Nina Carnegie, and you find her audio diaries in Ryan Amusements, which tell you that she starved herself to death so the kids she was looking after would have more food.
    • The mere existence of Ryan Amusements. It's pretty grim to be anyone of any age down in Rapture, just short of being Andrew Ryan himself, but the "entertainment" there invokes the shadow of real-world attempts to indoctrinate children with adult political ideologies — or to foster fear and mistrust of the outside world to quash any will to escape. Even if they were cruelly duped, many of the adults in Rapture chose to come there; the children of Rapture made no such choice. (The Journey to the Surface ride plays on adult fears itself in-game, as well as scaring children; the threats posed by the "Parasite" include a nightmarish version of the draft where young children are torn from their parents and sent off to war.) A audio log of Ryan himself has him remember talking to a young boy on opening day. The child was so terrified of the surface world that he promised Ryan to never ever even think of leaving Rapture.
  • All There in the Manual: Didn't follow the ARG "Something In The Sea?" Then you have no real concept of a) who Mark Meltzer is, b) why you should care, or c) why he was awesome enough for fans to demand he appear.
  • Ammo-Using Melee Weapon: Big Daddies need Drill Fuel to spin the drill, but it can used to just plain hit things, any time.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Ryan Amusements. Already a nightmarish propaganda tool, by the time you visit it, it's just another urban battlefield strewn with lurking Splicers and automated gun turrets.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: After Delta is knocked out and restrained, Eleanor sends in a Little Sister for Delta to take control of. While controlling the Little Sister, the player gets a first-person view of what they've been seeing all this time.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Like the first game, you can find various recordings from the denizens of Rapture and what they did or think of their current situation.
  • Apocalypse Not:
    • Sets in due to the use of Re Vision via Sofia Lamb's character. Remember how in the first game, Rapture often seemed just that close to being swallowed up by the ocean as the city fell to pieces around you? Well, this game is set eight years later, and not only is Rapture still intact (relatively speaking), but Lamb has also given it something close to a functioning society again.
    • An audio log explicitly lampshades that the Big Daddies automatically make basic structural repairs to the city, which were just enough for it to limp along half-wrecked but at least keep the ocean from totally flooding it. Early in the game, you get to see a Big Daddy riveting up a leaking window seam, from the outside.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Subject Omega, AKA Augustus Sinclair. He has no control over his body due to mind control plasmids and barely has control over his speech. His final request of you is to kill him, and offers suggestions on how to about it.
  • Armored Villains, Unarmored Heroes: Inverted with Delta against splicers, and averted with Delta against Big Daddies and Big Sisters.
  • Art Evolution: Has much more improved models from the first game even having more individual models for the main characters. This would continue on into Infinite.
  • Art Shift: In the original, the Splicers' character models are a little messed up but still seem human. The sequel takes place about a decade after the original, so the Splicers have been mutating even further for years, and many are half-feral by this point. As a result their character models are much more exaggerated, with giant tumors bulging out of their clothes, and even hooves and talons on some of them. Meanwhile, the Little Sisters were changed from their Creepy Child models to ones that reflect Subject Delta's paternal instincts better- there's even a difference in their reactions to being saved: The Little Sisters in the first game near-tearfully thank you, but the ones in the second act as if nothing much happened.
  • Astral Projection: The Scout plasmid allows you to project yourself as a semi-corporeal (you can't pick anything up, but you can't pass through walls or doors) spirit for a decent distance. As a spirit, you can hack machines without risking attack (especially useful on cameras and turrets), though failing will shunt you back into your body. With Scout 2, you can even use other plasmids (though not weapons) as a spirit.
  • Assimilation Plot: Sofia Lamb's ultimate goal. Lamb aims to create a "Utopian" by forcefully injecting the combined memories and intelligence of everyone in Rapture - via the ADAM they used - into her daughter Eleanor, then conditioning her to act only "for the greater good". Lamb hopes to eventually turn all of humanity into Utopians, an entire race of geniuses acting only for the greater good but lacking any individuality or even sentience.
  • Awesome by Analysis: The function of the research camera. By recording splicers while fighting them, Delta gains bonuses against them, or even gets a version of their abilities.
  • Badass Boast: Pretty much everything Eleanor says once she is a Big Sister.
  • Badass Normal: Mark Meltzer. This man not only tracked down Rapture unaided, he Papa Bear'd his way through splicer hell without any plasmids and wielding nothing more than a pistol. The only reason he gets captured at the end is because he was distracted BY HIS DAUGHTER.
  • Bad Boss:
    • Evelyn Klein, the Personnel Manager of Rapture Central Computing, was an absolute terror to work for; based on removed Audio Logs, among other transgressions, she chewed out her employees for cross-department romances, not providing a new pair of alligator heels within the hour she requested them (her previous assistant having been fired for this), and upholstering her office chair in the wrong shade of lavender.
    • Sofia Lamb is a horrible person, who despite claiming to care for everyone in equal measure, has no qualms about killing scores of her followers if it serves her purpose. For example despite Siren Alley being filled with her followers, she floods it to prove "She isn't a tyrant vying for control of a dead man's dream." Even at the end, she was perfectly willing to abandon Rapture and its inhabitants to their fate if it meant escaping. In her exact words, she does care for everyone equally, as she cares for no one.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Fans wanted to see Mark Meltzer's story come to a definite conclusion, so 2k Games put Mark Meltzer in the game as a Big Daddy you have to kill. Turns out, Mark wanted to be with his daughter under any conditions. This discovery put many of the followers of BioShock 2's ARG [into bad moods. For the record, you don't have to kill him. There are several other Big Daddies around. Although if you don't, he will most likely die when Fontaine Futuristics and Persephone fall to the bottom of the trench after Sofia Lamb destroyed the anchors that held buildings in place. And even then, it might be seen as Cruel Mercy, considering that you most likely saved/harvested his daughter, the only reason he even became a Big Daddy in the first place.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the ending you get for saving some sisters but harvesting others, you stop Eleanor from Jumping Off the Slippery Slope by denying her the chance to absorb your Adam and your consciousness. In her closing monologue, she realizes that she has become a monster because of what she's done (killing and absorbing multiple Little Sisters for power), but with your example and sacrifice, she realizes that she might be able to be redeemed too someday. But for now, she is a sad girl without her father that she loved.
    • A smaller example for Mark Meltzer, assuming you're rescuing the Little Sisters: he gets turned into a Big Daddy and ultimately dies at your hand, but Cindy is safe.
  • Blown Across the Room:
    • Solid Slug ammo for the shotgun has this effect on Splicers.
    • Rocket Spears are a less-traditional example, causing hit Splicers to rocket around while igniting anybody nearby before exploding.
  • Bookends: The game ends outside the lighthouse where the first game begins. More specifically, the game starts with Delta looking at his reflection with Eleanor by his side. In the best ending, the game finishes with Eleanor looking at her reflection with several Little Sisters beside her.
  • Body Horror: You thought the splicers where bad enough in the first game? They are far worse looking years later with more mutations added to their bodies, and that is only the start of the physical horrors now roaming Rapture...
  • Boom, Headshot!: Just like the first game, certain weapons do bonus headshot damage. The Headhunter tonic increases headshot damage with all weapons.
  • Boring, but Practical: Though it's been nerfed significantly, Electro Bolt followed by melee will stunlock most things until you kill them, provided you can keep up on the EVE costs and stay fairly close. Tougher enemies like the Brutes and Big Daddies/Sisters recover fast enough to cause some damage, but not quite enough that it isn't worth the investment.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Several. There's a tougher Brute Splicer, a tougher Leadhead Splicer, a tougher Spider Splicer, and a tougher Alpha Big Daddy. All except the Spider Splicer also have a security drone and several mooks for backup. The Spider Splicer trades the drone for a Brute.
  • But Thou Must!: At one point early in the game, you have to stop the train you're riding due to an iceberg that formed over the doorway to a tunnel you have to pass through.
    • You'd Expect: for Subject Delta to whip out his giant skull-splitting drill to remove the ice manually and be done with it.
    • Instead: he trudges through an entire amusement park's worth of murderous mutant junkie psychos just for the incineration plasmid.
  • But Your Wings Are Beautiful: This letter from a kid named Billy Parson who has a crush on one of the Little Sisters. He thinks her glowing eyes are pretty.
  • Call-Back: the advertisement for Doc Hollcroft's Cure-All quotes one of the public announcement messages from the first game almost verbatim.
  • The Cameo: Technically Dr. Tenenbaum, who briefly reprises her role from the first game as the player's guide before handing off to Sinclair and disappearing from the narrative. Eleanor also takes over Tenenbaum's Bioshock 1 function as the player's Morality Chain.
  • Can't Live Without You:
    • The Alpha Model Big Daddies (including the Player Character) will either go in a coma or die if they're too far away from their Little Sisters.
    • They later clarify that most of the Alpha Series died or fell into a coma immediately; some however do survive the initial separation, but were driven insane, filled with such homicidal rage and despair that they're barely useful to their creators as footsoldiers. Presumably they were killed when not of further use.
  • Captain Obvious: Lampshaded when Stanley recruits your help to bury evidence of his own actions.
    Sinclair: I'd say he's hiding something but he sorta took the fun out of that one.
  • Capture the Flag: The sequel's multiplayer mode, "Capture the Sister".
  • Chain Lightning: The first upgrade for the Electro Bolt plasmid, which requires charging the bolt. The second upgrade makes every shot a chain shot.
  • Circling Birdies: Referenced in the Little Sisters' combat dialog when they say you are giving an enemy "stars and birdies"
  • Commander Contrarian: Sofia will castigate you for any choice you make. Harvest the Little Sisters and kill the three important characters the game puts in front of you? She calls you a murderer. Save the girls and spare the NPCs? Her opinion of you isn't affected even a bit - she still hates you.
  • Companion Cube: There is a gene tonic that automatically assigns names to hacked security bots and allows you to use EVE to repair them...which can potentially endear them to some players. Due in part to the game mechanics, it's actually possible to misplace a bot, only for the bot to rejoin the player at another point in the level, leading to a sense of relief.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Eleanor Lamb is watching everything you do through your empathic link with her, even when you choose the evil path. And she wants to be just like Daddy.
  • Country Matters: The Brute Splicer has a potty mouth at times.
  • Crapsaccharine World: How the Little Sisters are conditioned to see Rapture, as an elegant, luxurious manor with pure white light shining through the windows, beautiful people in fine clothing socializing calmly, and Angels reposing on the ground awaiting your kisses. Especially jarring because of occasional lapses in which reality intrudes as you collect the items required for Eleanor's escape, and quite effective at reminding you after hours of getting used to it that you're still slogging through an undersea nightmare.
  • Crazy-Prepared: When you're getting ready to harvest Adam or fight a Big Sister, you can set up a lot of booby traps beforehand for the bad guys to fall into. Some areas are very defensible, allowing you to set up choke points and line the entrances with mines and rivet traps. And if the harvesting is in an area with hacked security bots/turrets/cameras, they will help you fight as well. It's also possible to get a Big Daddy to fight for you by exploiting Let's You and Him Fight.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The Drill Master Tonic limits you to the drill, hack dart gun, and camera. As mini-turret ammo for that gun isn't exactly plentiful, you're pretty much stuck with melee. In exchange, you get a huge cut in your plasmid costs, letting you spam them with reckless abandon. Certain plasmids and tonics can help cover your weaknesses, but in short it renders you a lot more vulnerable to ranged attacks.
  • Crisis Point Hospital: Persephone's infirmary. Up until now, most healthcare facilities like the Medical Pavilion have been effectively abandoned except for the Splicers using them as playgrounds. Here, in the depths of Rapture's secret correctional facility, the huge infirmary wing is technically still active and comparatively functional... but priority care has been given to the huge numbers of Little Sisters in the pediatric ward, as they produce the ADAM needed to keep the Rapture Family under control. Everywhere else, patients are left to wallow in the filthy, poorly-lit wreckage of wards A and B, either suffering silently or already dead. The only doctor on duty is a crazed Houdini Splicer, who refuses to acknowledge that any of his patients are deceased.
  • Cruel Mercy:
    • The neutral/bad ending, when Eleanor spares her mother. If you harvest the Little Sisters, yet spare the lives of the "guilty" who have been tormenting you, Eleanor says that this trope is exactly the reason why she chooses to spare Sofia Lamb's life; she'll grow old knowing that her own daughter rejected her.
    • Can be considered Stanley's fate. He's stuck in Splicer-infested territory with the only way out leaving without him, and he certainly can't take refuge in the booth anymore.
  • Cult: Lamb's "Family," complete absolute fealty to their leader, messianic figure, and suicidal "ascension" ceremonies.
  • Cute Bruiser: Eleanor Lamb, after you free her and she dons a Big Sister getup.
  • Cutscene Boss: Sofia Lamb
  • Cutting Back to Reality: In the climax Subject Delta briefly finds himself controlling a Little Sister, and learns that their mental conditioning deliberately warps their perceptions of reality: they see Persephone as a golden palace where angels sleep peacefully in clouds of butterflies, beautiful men and women in masks study artworks, and a princess's dress, tiara and gloves wait to be collected. However, when the Little Sister is gathering ADAM or being attacked, the illusion breaks down with a flash of light, allowing her to briefly see the world for what it is: a dark, dilapidated prison complex littered with rotting corpses and cultist Splicers.
  • Cycle of Hurting: While your enemy can't actually do this, you can by using the drill. A revved up drill will stunlock most enemies it's being used on, letting you cause damage for as long as you have fuel for the drill.
  • Daddy's Girl: Eleanor to Subject Delta, much to Sofia's irritation.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Eleanor in the bad ending.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • The buttons for Harvesting and Curing Little Sisters were swapped from the first game to the second game. This can lead to moments of frustration as well as loading all the way back to your last autosave if you're unlucky when you accidentally harvested (killed) a Little Sister you were meaning to cure. Or if you cured instead of harvesting...
    • In the PC version, many of the default key bindings are different, partly to provide a way to cycle through both weapons and plasmids without the aid of a second mouse wheel. Especially infuriating was a severe bug (eventually fixed, but never acknowledged) that made the hacking minigame not work if certain keys were rebound, making the game effectively unplayable with custom key bindings and forcing everyone to use the defaults anyway.
    • Also in the PC version, the order of the weapons is different from BioShock 2 starting with the hack tool (since the hack tool is the third weapon available, the machine gun is accessed from the 4 key rather than the 3 key, and so on). This can be remedied by changing the key binds accordingly. Annoyingly, the weapons use yet another set of numbers in Minerva's Den, with only the drill remaining on the same number.
  • Darker and Edgier: It may seem impossible, but it's more so than the first game, at least in some respects. One of the big examples is the difference in dealing with Little Sisters. In the first BioShock, harvesting the Sisters was murder of a child (a mutated and twisted child, but still) so, you know, awful. In this game, the Sisters see you as their father/hero/protector. So when you harvest them, it's not some cruel stranger. It's the one they're supposed to be closest to in the entire world. And this happens after the game forces you to kill another Big Daddy - leading to a few moments of palpable grief being expressed by the Little Sister until you adopt her. So, awful on top of terrible. The Little Sisters are justifiably afraid of Delta and his methods.
    "I'll be extra quiet! I won't make you upset!"
    • Defeating the Big Sisters becomes less enjoyable when you realize you're killing a grown-up Little Sister who was not rescued in the previous game.
  • Death by Despair: Played with. The bond between Big Daddies and Little Sisters causes a Big Daddy's body to shut down if he's separated from his Little Sister for too long. Interactions between Delta and the Little Sisters (primarily Eleanor) and audio logs from Gil Alexander imply that this feels to the Bid Daddy like dying of a broken heart.
  • Deflector Shield: The level 3 upgrade for the drill, which activates when you spin it.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • If Delta spares Grace's life before he's finished up with the Little Sisters, Grace will sing on the intercom as Delta's gathering ADAM from a corpse if he hasn't already reached the maximum capacity.
    • It is possible for the player to move on to Plaza Hedone without killing Daniel Wales if the player remembers the code to the door from a previous playthrough, as it is always the same and can be entered without listening to the audio diary from Daniel's corpse. If the player does this, the radio transmissions which play during the blackout that follows will change; Father Wales will denounce you of his own accord, instead of Sofia Lamb telling Father Wales that Daniel is dead (because he isn't).
  • Distaff Counterpart: The Big Sisters are basically a female version of Big Daddies.
  • Door to Before: Ryan Amusements has a series of maintenance corridors with a few of these, including one at the very end with a master control to unlock all the service doors. Siren Alley has a malfunctioning door to the water pumping station, forcing you to trek a short distance around. It unlocks on your way out.
  • Driven to Madness: Delta is the last Alpha Series Big Daddy left in Rapture whose Little Sister is still alive. Most of the other Alpha Series died of grief after their Little Sisters died, but perhaps a quarter of them went psychotic instead. They become Elite Mooks in the later portions of the game.
  • Dual Boss: There's a Climax Boss fight against two Big Sisters at the same time at the beginning of the penultimate level.
  • Dual Wielding: Subject Delta can wield a Drill/BFG with one hand and shoot plasmids with the other. Justified on account of his enormous size and strength.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Grace and Stanley both have an Audio Diary at Ryan's Amusements, and Gilbert Alexander has one at the Atlantic Express.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: If you want the pacifistic ending, you'll have to be merciful throughout the game and spare not only the little sisters, but also at least one person out of Grace, Stanley, and Gil.
  • Easter Egg:
  • Electrified Bathtub: If you shoot electricity into water, it will kill weaker mobs instantly, and stronger ones will suffer a lot of health damage (though probably require you to shoot into it again to kill them). This can be a very convenient way to kill multiple foes, especially if they've jumped into the water because you set them on fire.
  • Electronic Speech Impediment: Alex the Great's "secretary".
  • Elemental Powers: Of the standard fire, ice, lightning variety, same as in the last game, along with one wind-based plasmid. Genes can influence your resistances to said elements and also cause you to emit them when struck. And if you enjoy using the drill, you can become a full-on ice guy with the Freezing Drill gene.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower:
  • Empathic Environment: In the Multiple Endings, the weather ranges from a violent storm (the worst ending) to a peaceful and warm sunset (the best ending).
  • The End of the Beginning: All the endings have this to some degree, but the tone varies on your moral actions.
  • Enemy Scan: The Research Camera now records video instead of pictures. You get points for using different attacks, so throwing everything you have at a target earns more points. Once the film has run out or you reach the next level, the camera cuts off and that subject can no longer be recorded (assuming it lived).
  • Environmental Symbolism: The vista of the ending varies depending on your moral choices during the game. The best ending shows a lighthouse under a stunning sunrise, a more ambiguous ending has a tiny glimmer of sunlight surrounded by a darkening sky, while if you were a real bastard it's a bloody hurricane up there.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Eleanor loves her father no matter how violent and ruthless she becomes at the end of the game.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Inverted. Augustus Sinclair is much like Frank Fontaine, but actually has a conscience.
    • The same applies to Gilbert Alexander to Yi Suchong; they're both in charge of the Big Daddy program, but Alexander is remorseful of his actions while Suchong never had such guilt.
    • Grace Holloway and Stanley Poole can be considered moral contrasts to each other, due to the revelations shown over the course of their levels. Holloway is presented as a hostile collaborator to Sofia Lamb, but reading her audio diaries reveals she only wanted what's best for Eleanor. Meanwhile, Poole is presented as a somewhat friendly and trustworthy ally, but when dealing with the Big Daddies and Little Sisters, he sounds ruthless and Eleanor reveals the truth about Poole's cowardly and monstrous nature.
  • The Evils of Free Will: The basis of Sofia Lamb's philosophy: that free will and self-awareness are the root of evil, and that only by "killing the self" can one achieve peace. This leads her to create a cult.
  • Exact Words: The Unstable Teleport Plasmid. It's exactly as the name states; it's a plasmid, it's unstable, and it teleports.
    • Sofia Lamb often states that she values everyone equally. Given the number of followers she throws away—particularly in a suicide mission to sink Inner Persephone from inside—that amount seems to be, "not at all."
  • Fantastic Underclass: This game reveals that construction workers in Rapture ended up being forced into this social niche once the city was fully built: because there was no call to expand the city except under very special circumstances, there was no call for their skills, and since Rapture's ultra-capitalist utopia offered them no financial support, they were left impoverished, homeless and disaffected. Most settled in Pauper's Drop, a shantytown set up under one of Rapture's subway junctions - where they quickly ended up being preyed upon by con artists like Frank Fontaine and Augustus Sinclair or recruited into the Rapture Family by Sofia Lamb.
  • Finishing Stomp: The opening cutscene has a starting and finishing stomp. Delta's Dynamic Entry when he hears Eleanor in danger is to leap from a balcony and crush an unlucky Splicer under his giant boot.
  • Firing One-Handed: How Delta uses all his weapons. You can, however, hold weapons with both hands to zoom in and fire more accurately. This, of course, prevents you from using plasmids.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: A Big Sister can be seen swimming outside just before Delta obtains "Incinerate!", and is fought just after. In general, once Delta rescued/harvested a Little Sister, chances are 50/50 that you will hear a horrible shriek, informing you that you have only so much time left before you will fight a very angry Big Sister.
  • Flawed Prototype: The Alpha Series can only be bonded to a particular Little Sister, and initially had a penchant for wandering away from them. This resulted in the formation of a permanent bond, so that if that Little Sister is lost, the Alpha unit either is rendered comatose, becomes morose, or flips out.
    • Subject Delta is an even more flawed prototype, in that he retains free will that other Big Daddies lack.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: The Brute gets downright flirtatious with Delta under the influence of the Hypnotize plasmid.
    "Feel so -whatcha call it- comfortable witcha."
    "Nice to have a proper mate at last."
    "Cor, we're da biggest pair on da block."
    "Mates, right? Mates. Yeah."
    "Do anything for ya. I mean that."
  • Foil: Sofia Lamb, who believes in original sin, the impotence of human reason, as well as altruism, is the direct opposite of an Objectivist like Andrew Ryan. Some of the audio diaries contain snippets of debates between them, an interesting look at two diametrically-opposed forces colliding on stage.
  • Foreshadowing: The plot of Dionysus Park deals with memories being transferred to Little Sisters via their reuptake of ADAM. This sets the scene for the ending, where Eleanor absorbs Delta's memories to use as a guide in her life above the surface. Subverted in some bad endings, where he won't let her.
  • Friend to All Living Things: In Dionysus Park, Delta, despite the wide varieties of Plasmids and Weapons, cannot deal any damage to the fish that flop around the levels.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: The Little Sisters are pretty much invulnerable to every attack and are safe from area-of-effect explosions, so feel free to use explosive plasmids or weapons on anyone dumb enough to get too close to them. Averted if you decide to harvest them, for obvious reasons.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: No matter how high is your splicers' body count and how brutally you killed them, the ending is only determined by whether you spared or not three specific NPCs and by whether you harvested or not the Little Sisters.
    • Notably, this applies even to passive splicers who don't attack you, like the shell-shocked ones in the therapy building.
  • Gatling Good: Delta doesn't settle for a Tommy Gun; he goes for the minigun and carries it one-handed. Meet your new best friend. Splicers, however, do use the Tommy.
  • Genetic Memory: This property of ADAM, the reason behind the ghosts in the first game, plays a bigger role here. In one level, you're tasked with getting rid of the local Little Sisters so Sofia Lamb doesn't get their ADAM and discover potentially damaging information. Sofia Lamb's ultimate goal relies on this property of ADAM to turn a human into a Utopian, a being that would think only of the collective good without any sense of self.
  • Giant Mook/Heavily Armored Mook: The 3 different classes of Big Daddy, as well as the Alpha Series. The Alpha Series in particular behave much more like a typical FPS "Heavy" enemy class in comparison to regular Big Daddies. There's also the Brute Splicers, who are very much Smash Mooks.
  • Give My Regards in the Next World:
    Danny Wilkins: Tell your sister I said "Hi!"
  • Glass Cannon: Subject Delta, relative to other Big Daddies. Delta possesses a wide array of weapons and plasmids that later model Big Daddies lack, but is an order of magnitude less durable. This is born out in gameplay; when Delta faces other, hostile Alpha Series, they can be dispatched by a spear through the faceplate, while regular Big Daddies take three or four.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Persephone prison is located over a deep ocean trench. In case of a severe breakout, the entire prison is rigged so that it can be dropped into the trench to prevent escape.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Alpha Series Big Daddies. The scientists tried to create a bond where the Big Daddies viewed the Little Sisters as their own daughters. It worked — they just didn't factor in the implications of what happens when a father is forced to watch his own daughter get killed in front of him. The Daddies would break down and sob in front of the Sisters' crawlspace entrances, and become only suitable as berserk soldiers. That's why the Big Daddies we see in the game are more of Punch Clock Bodyguards, so that if the Little Sister dies they only lose one asset instead of two.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Delta, though this is somewhat dependent on the player. He won't kill innocent (or even not quite innocent) people unless they truly cross the line, but if he feels he needs to harvest Little Sisters in order to get the power needed to save his daughter, so be it. The player doesn't have to, of course, but unlike the first game, you'll get significantly more ADAM from harvesting every Little Sister than you would from rescuing them. This makes harvesting them to buy upgrades very tempting, especially in the early game which has quite a few upgrades to choose from which are not cheap. Further, Delta can choose to actually kill the "not quite innocent" characters he comes across, who are more flawed gray-and-gray morality than actually "evil" people.
  • Good Is Not Soft: If you save all of the Little Sisters, but kill all of the named NPCs, Eleanor will drown a struggling Sofia at the end, saying that your actions have taught her that there is a line between good an evil, and those that cross it must pay.
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: In an Evil vs. Evil example, Lamb's followers write anti-Andrew Ryan (the Big Bad of the previous game) graffiti all over the place (including in UV ink on the posters which came with the collecter's edition of the game). Despite being his ideological opposite, Lamb isn't any better (indeed, in some ways she's worse given Ryan couldn't kill his own son even though he was a Laser Guided Tyke Bomb sent to kill him, while Lamb was willing to use her daughter as a test subject).
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Like the first game, dead Splicers can be used as weapons against the living. If you get Telekinesis 3, though, even the living can be tossed. It still doesn't work on the bigger ones, though.
  • Guide Dang It!: The achievement "9-Irony"; it doesn't help that it's also secret.
  • Hacking Minigame: In this game, it involves stopping a needle in the green or blue zones (for a bonus effect) on a meter. Red zones trigger an alarm, and white zones shock you. Certain tonics can increase the zone size or slow the needle, but it's a lot more forgiving than the pipe minigame used before. There are also hack darts that let you hack things from a distance and auto-hack darts which let you bypass particularly difficult ones (at the cost of not getting the blue bonuses).
  • Harpoon Gun: The Spear Gun.
  • Heal It with Water: the Fountain of Youth gene tonic slowly regenerates health and EVE when in contact with water.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • If you spare Grace Holloway, she starts helping you behind Sofia's back.
    • Mooks hit by the level 2 Hypnotize spell will become your ally, rather than simply attacking both you and enemies. The level three version will turn the bigger ones to your side, such as the Big Daddies. It can be quite satisfying to watch them turn on their former buddies and deliver a Curb-Stomp Battle to them.
    • If you harvest any Little Sisters (but not all of them), you have a chance in the ending to stop Eleanor from irreparably falling into evil by not allowing her to absorb your consciousness. If you do so, she realizes that maybe she can turn around from the horrible things she's done as well (namely murdering an entire dorm full of Little Sisters for ADAM).
  • Heel Realization: Again, Grace Holloway, if you choose to spare her.
    Grace Holloway: You had me under a gun, and you just walk away? No monster alive turns the other cheek. Ha, no monster does that. (horrified) ...A ''thinking man'' does that.
  • Hellhole Prison: Persephone, where many of the inmates were used as test subjects or committed suicide in desperation and sadness after being locked in a tiny prison cell, constantly isolated minus feeding times, with very little to eat. Their crime was speaking out against Ryan, who constantly promotes freedom and minimal government interference in his speeches.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The Big Sister signals their presence with a high-pitched scream.
  • Hero of Another Story: Mark Meltzer. An early audio log recounts that Rapture needs more little sisters, but has no unaltered children remaining, forcing splicers to abduct children from the surface. Delta will find audio logs from Meltzer throughout Rapture, documenting his attempts to find his daughter, Cindy, who was abducted this way. Doubles with All There in the Manual, as Mark was the main character of the There's Something in the Sea Alternate Reality Game used to promote the game. You'll briefly fight Mark and Cindy in Fontaine Futuristics, where Mark has been made into a Big Daddy.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The first Big Sister fight is impossible to win, though she'll retreat after you're critically low on health.
  • The Horseshoe Effect: Andrew Ryan is an extreme Objectivist whose ultimate goal is to promote Enlightened Self-Interest, while Sofia Lamb is an extreme Collectivist who wants to suppress individualism for The Needs of the Many. Both are oppressive, hypocritical despots who lead Rapture down similar paths to ruination.
  • Human Sacrifice: This is what Sofia has in mind for her daughter.
  • Hypocrite:
    • The architect hired to build Ryan Amusements had a lot of ideas that he thought would delight children, but Ryan vetoed them all in favor of making the amusement park one big propaganda-fest preaching about the general awesomeness of Rapture and the terrible evils of the surface world. One of those evils? Authorities denying artists the chance to realize their own visions, demanding instead that their work promote the authorities' political agenda...
    • Sofia Lamb is absurdly possessive for someone who preaches both collectivism and altruism and goes to fanatical lengths to stop Delta. For example, she leaves the surface because people were twisting HER collectivist ideas. The most notable point is when smothers Eleanor to sever the pair-bond, and kill Delta. Keep in mind there was a strong chance this would have killed Eleanor as well. However, she didn't care as she couldn't stand the notion of anyone else having influence over Eleanor; and would rather her to die, than have Eleanor be independent. She's a worse parent than Andrew Ryan.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The speargun allows you to do this to your enemies, and it is both quite satisfying and efficient, since you can retrieve the spears and reuse them. If that's not enough, you can have the instrument of impalement gleefully propel your victim around the room, then explode - Rocket spears are your ammunition of choice.
  • Inappropriate Hunger: If you Incinerate a Splicer while carrying a Little Sister, she asks for marshmallowsnote .
  • Individualism vs. Collectivism: The game delves into this trope by introducing Dr. Sofia Lamb, the new Big Bad and foil to her ideological rival from the first game, Andrew Ryan. In this case, the conflict is one of Evil vs. Evil, and neither side gets any sympathetic treatment.
    • Andrew Ryan is an industrialist who founded the underwater city of Rapture as an objectivist Utopia, where citizens can become self-made men and women free from regulations, inhibitions, religion, and fetters, and where cutthroat capitalism reigns supreme. For all his preaching about individual freedom and the "Great Chain", Ryan ultimately becomes a megalomaniac and tyrant who tries to silence his critics and grip his city with an iron fist once said ideology is used against him, culminating in the Civil War that left Rapture in the state the player finds it in. Ironically, his biggest competitor at the time — Frank Fontaine — is the very embodiment of Ryan's objectivist beliefs, being an unfettered self-made man who does everything for his own benefit at the expense of the city.
    • Meanwhile, Sofia Lamb is a psychologist and an obssessive believer of absolute collectivism, to the point of denouncing individuality and sentience as a curse and obstacle to serving the common good. Posing a threat to Andrew Ryan's ideology and authority upon her arrival to Rapture, she was thrown into prison along with the rest of Ryan's enemies, where she was able to gather supporters and eventually found her own cult — the Rapture Family — centered around her collectivist outlook. Unlike Ryan, Lamb believes in what she preaches, but her ideas of altruism and serving the common good only manifest as a callous disregard for human life, viewing her followers as tools to be evetually sacrificed — even her own daughter — if it suits her goals.
  • Intentional Mess Making: In the Audio Log "Destructive Learning", a teenage Eleanor Lamb, who was reprogrammed to no longer think like a Little Sister, records the following monologue, after she was locked up by her mother, Sofia:
    Eleanor: Hello, mother. As you've always said, I shouldn't be allowed to wander the city in my condition, but without going outside, it's harder to hear much about the world — so I'm learning at home! This, I think, is a ... porcelain tea service, in the style of Louis the 15th, isn't that right? (crash) Now that's a fascinating sound! (tapping on glass) And this is called a "stained glass window," hand-crafted by your adoring flock ... they've gone to a lot of trouble to capture your likeness, haven't they? (glass shatters)
  • Ironic Echo: Not the best example, but the speech Eleanor makes for each ending are very similar. Just an inflection difference in two cases.
    • More to the point, in both the best and the worst endings Eleanor does exactly the same thing to Subject Delta, but for vastly different reasons. In the good ending, it is being done to save his life, by transferring his consciousness from his doomed body into a shared gestalt consisting of Eleanor and himself. In the bad ending, it's to suck in all his experiences of wreaking havoc, so she can commit it on the surface.
    • Also the Ryan Amusements. All government activities that are mocked in the main ride (indoctrination, suppression of rights, market control (Fontaine rose to power thanks to smuggling), youth indoctrination, etc.) are actually endorsed by Ryan.
  • Jerk Jock: Danny Wilkins in the multiplayer mode. Also to an extent with Pigskin, the young football player Splicer, who is the most sympathetic enemy model since he doesn't want to kill you, but his boss will kill him if he doesn't.
  • Karma Houdini: If the player spared at least one of the named characters and didn't harvest any little sisters, Eleanor spares Sofia Lamb's life, believing from what Delta has taught her through his actions that anyone can be redeemed and that mercy is more important than vengeance.
    • Averted in Eleanor's eyes if you kill at least one Little Sister but then spare all of the named characters. Eleanor will save Sofia's life, seeing through your actions that there is no point in kicking a foe who is already down. And as she notes, Sofia will have to live the rest of her life with the knowledge that her plan failed and her daughter turned against her.
    • Also Stanley Poole who, despite being a mass-murderer can be spared by Delta. Of course, he's still stuck in an underwater city infested with homicidal mutants, and his odds of survival aren't good to say the least.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Sofia Lamb (possibly) ends up drowning inside the escape pod she was trying to blow up in her attempt to stop Delta and Eleanor. Also Subject Delta, in the bad ending.
    • Alternatively, to Karma Houdini above, if you save all the Little Sisters but kill all three NPCs, you get the Justice Ending, where Eleanor gives Sofia Lamb a well-deserved death for all the evil she has done to not only you and her but also to other innocent lives. Probably a much more preferred ending to any player who believes in good and loathes Sofia a lot.
  • King Mook: The game has a handful of boss fights against named characters ( the Wales Brothers, Subject Omega, and Reed Wahl from the Minerva's Den DLC), who are all basically tougher versions of regular enemy classes, with a lot more health as well as drone and Splicer support.
  • Let's You and Him Fight:
    • This game replaces the "Hypnotize Big Daddy" plasmid with just "Hypnotize". First, you can make a splicer hostile to other splicers, then you can "befriend" it, then you can befriend other Big Daddies and brute splicers.
    • Big Daddies will attack anything that hurts them. You can take one down quickly by getting one to stand in between you and a Big Sisters.
  • Limited Loadout: Subjects Delta and Sigma still maintain a Hyperspace Arsenal of upgradable weapons, and the system of plasmid and tonic slots returns from the first game. Tonics, however, have been reworked slightly; the class-based restrictions from the first game have been removed, allowing the player to equip whatever they want as long as they have space. There are also not enough Power to the People machines to upgrade your entire Hyperspace Arsenal. If you find them all, the equivalent of one whole weapon and a third of another will still be locked.
  • Lite Crème: There are various posters for "Beef•e" potted meat, proudly advertising "The taste you remember!" Judging from a audio diary cut from the first game, it isn't real beef.
  • MacGuffin Super Person: The game is centered around the quest of the player, a Big Daddy formerly bonded to a Little Sister, to find that Little Sister - who happens to be Big Bad Sofia Lamb's daughter and the messiah of the religion she founded. Subverted near the end, when she becomes a Big Sister and helps you fight your way out of the city, and is incredibly powerful.
  • Matricide: Depending on the player's actions, Eleanor will either save or drown her mother.
  • Meaningful Name: The Pollyanna (the Trope Namer for the trope of the same name) was written by Eleanor Porter. Coincidence? This combined with Charles Milton Porter of Minerva's Den.
  • Meet the New Boss: Lamb and Ryan may have had diametrically opposed ideologies, but they both take it to such extremes that both of them effectively become the same person in methods. Ryan doesn't care about his underlings individually because "look out for number one" is his motto, and Lamb takes the "collective good" so far that, to her, one person's life is meaningless.
  • Messianic Archetype: Eleanor Lamb is raised to be the perfect creature who is Too Good for This Sinful Earth and so she can be a Human Sacrifice in order to assimilate humanity and deliver us from our flawed human condition - especially The Evils of Free Will.
  • Mind Screw: The unstable teleport plasmid journey.
  • Mole in Charge: Sofia Lamb put Stanley Poole in control of Dionysus Park, her sanctum. He was Andrew Ryan's spy all along.
  • Mood Whiplash: In-universe, this is the way Ryan's anti-establishment exhibits play out. The exhibit demonstrates an average facet of life, then the whole thing goes red and a giant hand starts messing up the place to demonstrate government meddling.
  • Money for Nothing: Much like the first game, you'll find yourself with a perpetually full wallet by the second or third level, depending on difficulty. As you equip tonics that reduce store prices and make you spend less EVE, not to mention upgrades to your health, EVE, damage and damage resistance, soon enough you simply won't need to buy as many medkits and EVE hypos to offset the amount of cash that is dropped by the splicer armies being sent at you.
  • More Dakka:
    • Compared to its predecessor, BioShock 2 definitely enjoys and employs this with both its weapons and plasmids, especially since you're using both at once.
    • There's the option of summoning two security bots, hypnotizing a Leadhead Splicer or Alpha Series, and laying out mini turrets while firing away with your own Gatling Gun all at once to create a hailstorm of bullets (hacked turrets and security bots summoned by hacked security cameras also possible), playing this trope rather straight and proving rather effective.
  • Multiple Endings: Four; one Golden Ending, two neutral endings and one Bad Ending, determined by how Delta treated the Little Sisters and the three killable NPC characters;
    • Golden Ending: Don't harvest any of the Little Sisters and spare the majority of the NPCs. Eleanor saves her mother in an act of forgiveness and lovingly absorbs Delta's ADAM, keeping him as her conscience and guide as she hopefully sets out to find her place in the world.
    • Neutral Endings: Harvest no more than one sister and kill at least one of the NPCs. Eleanor either reluctantly kills her mother as justice for her many crimes or spares her so she will have to live with the knowledge that all her plans have failed and her own daughter rejects her. Delta either chooses to be absorbed by Eleanor in a selfish act of survival or denies her to prevent his violence and cruelty from corrupting her further. Eleanor herself is cautious and uncertain about her future.
    • Bad Ending: Harvest multiple Sisters and kill all the NPCs. Eleanor kills Sofia in an innocence-shedding act of indulgant revenge before going on to forcibly harvest Delta's ADAM to preserve his survival skills and cruelty. She then turns her eyes to the horizon, to a world that is her plaything now that nothing can stop her...
  • Mundane Utility: The first Audio Diary explains that you can jump-start a dead generator using Electrobolt (the plasmid that lets you shoot lightning), an audio advertisement in Ryan's Amusements suggests using Incinerate (the plasmid that lets you shoot fire) as a replacement for a lighter... when smoking cigarettes. Minerva's Den has a Plasmid, Gravity Well, that lets you create a small Black Hole. What does Porter tell you to use it for? Unlocking doors.
  • My Beloved Smother: Probably the mildest example of Sofia Lamb's style of parenting would be keeping her daughter all but a prisoner in her home to keep her from the "dog-eaters" outside. Sofia also literally smothers Eleanor near the end.
  • Nerf: Quite a few of the weapons and plasmids were rebalanced/depowered in the transition from the first game, probably for multiplayer purposes or on account of the new dual-wielding gameplay.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Parodied; the game’s end credits proudly proclaim that “53,596 zombies were killed in the making of this game.”
  • No Points for Neutrality: Averted. Not only does the game have a separate ending for neutral, but it even accounts for different hues of neutral. If you harvest little sisters but spare Grace, Poole, and Alex, you get a different ending than if you did the other way around.
  • Obvious Beta:
    • The PC version lacks the controller support of its predecessor, suffers from texture pop-in, and eats up 100% of the player's CPU even when idle, as well as various minor bugs (for example, for a long time it was impossible to rebind certain keys without breaking the hacking minigame). Most patches have focused on multiplayer, and one of them introduced a new bug that made Little Sisters unable to speak unless the Protector's Trials is downloaded and installed. On a lighter note, players who found the talking vending machines annoying in the first game will be glad to be rid of that.
    • Thankfully most of the above was ironed out in late 2013 when the PC version was switched over from Games for Windows Live to Steam. Controllers are now officially supported, texture pop-in is typically only present when loading a level or save file for the first time and then there is no more afterward, and many keys are rebindable. Unfortunately, though, the game's Direct X 10 mode is still very buggy, as the game is prone to crash randomly when played in that mode. Switching the game over to DirectX 9 (via a launch command) typically fixes this issue for most (and all that's lost are slightly better-looking water and smoke effects). And the vending machines still don't talk.
    • All of this, including the vending machine voices, was fixed in the 2016 Remaster.
  • Obviously Evil: Subverted with Sinclair. He may not be trying to rule Rapture like Ryan, Fontaine or Lamb, but every Audio Diary by him or about him seems to scream that he's a con-man and a Jerkass, as they mention things like him conning a man who makes EVE hypos, being amused by the fact that the poor people in Siren Alley all used to be respectable upper-class citizens, or using one of the worst neighborhoods in Rapture as affordable housing. The second Diary Tenenbaum made literally says that he's an ally, but he can't be trusted.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Many of the named NPCs Delta encounters knew him before he was made into a Big Daddy. Despite this, they only refer him to as "Delta." Stanley is the lone exception, referring to Delta by a different nickname, "Johnny Topside.''
  • Papa Wolf: Big Daddies act like this towards the Little Sisters, attacking anyone attempting to harm them. You will likely act in this way too when said Little Sisters are harvesting Adam on your behalf. The first scream for help they let out when an enemy gets too close will probably cause you to drop whatever you're doing to shove some bullets, fire, or electricity into that bad guy's face.
  • Permanently Missable Content: The Scrounger Tonic can only be obtained by fully researching Thuggish Splicers. The problem is that Thuggish Splicers disappear from the game after Pauper's Drop (the same level where you get the Research Camera), so you have to get all the research done in that level. While there are more than enough Thuggish Splicers to do this, it's awkward to keep swapping back and forth, especially mid-battle where the distraction can cost you.
  • Pinned to the Wall: Enemies fatally hit with a spear close to a wall will be impaled on it.
  • Pink Elephants: If you read through the help messages for the various food and drink, moonshine has the excellent endorsement of "Oh God, I'm seeing things!", courtesy of some nameless bar patron.
  • Playing with Fire: The Incinerate ability. The upgraded rivet gun also shoots heated rivets which can set foes on fire.
  • The Pollyanna: When Eleanor Lamb inserts your mind into a Little Sister temporarily so she can help save your life, you get to see how Little Sisters see Rapture: as a bright and colorful paradise.
  • Post-Treatment Lollipop: A possible line of Dr. Grossman-type splicer Enemy Chatter when attacking an adopted Little Sister:
    "Yes yes, a lolly after the procedure! You wretched urchin..."
  • Power Copying: Similar to the original game, Delta has access to a research camera. At the highest tier of research on enemies, it often grants him tonics which emulate the primary powers of splicers he has researched. Like invisibility for recording Houdini Splicers, or using your drill to steal enemy health via researching Big Sisters, etc.
  • Pretty Butterflies: The Rapture Family's main symbol is butterflies, specifically the Blue Morpho Butterfly. It represents rebirth into the Rapture Family or "Imago".
  • Pretty in Mink: Several of the posters for plasmids goes for the Up Marketing route, one showing an affluent couple with the wife wearing a silver fox cape and petting its fur with her High-Class Gloves.
  • Propaganda Piece: In-Universe, Andrew Ryan's theme park, which is essentially an expanded version of the first game's intro movie talking in more detail about the "parasites" he left the surface to get away from.
  • Protection Mission: ADAM gathers, where the player must protect a Little Sister from waves of Splicers while she gathers ADAM from a corpse. The Splicers cannot actually harm the Little Sisters, only stop the gathering until you deal with them. In-Universe, there's also the very short fight when arriving at the Railway station for the first time: Sinclair will ask you to free the area so he can enter the vehicle, never to be seen again until the end.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: A few splicers who you walk in on seem to be casually minding their own business and chatting with each other.
  • Put on a Bus: Tenenbaum. Almost literally, since she hops on an underwater train and disappears from the plot. Minerva's Den shows that she left to help get the Thinker, a computer capable of curing the Splicers, out of Minerva's Den.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: The game opens with Sofia Lamb forcing you to shoot yourself in the head by way of a Hypnotize Plasmid. Unfortunately for her, it doesn't take.
  • Psycho Prototype: The Alpha-series Big Daddies. Nearly all except Subject Delta went bonkers after losing their bonded Little Sister, making them quite effective as soldiers but not suited for anything else.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: An example with literal imagery to go with it. In the neutral ending (which involves saving and harvesting some Little sisters) You and Eleanor have escaped, but Lamb's final trap quite literally blows up in your face, leaving you dying as you and Eleanor reach the surface. To stop Eleanor from jumping completely into villainy, you stop her from absorbing your essence, causing you to die. Eleanor in the closing narration says that she has become a monster after harvesting her fair share of Little Sisters for power, but she wonders if even she can be redeemed. However, for now, she is just a sad girl who lost her father. The final shot is of a lighthouse surrounded by stormy clouds, but with a single ray of light shining through.
  • Retcon: The second game is naturally built on this, as it delves further into the history of Rapture. (Primarily via revision.) Particularly obvious examples include the introductions of Sofia Lamb and the Alpha series.
  • Redemption Equals Death: If Subject Delta was evil, but displayed compassion toward others later on, he can choose to knock away Eleanor's syringe when she attempts to absorb him just before his death, causing Eleanor to realize that her "father" would rather die than have her follow down the same path he did.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Turns out, Sofia Lamb was out of the picture by the time Atlas was picking up steam, but still a forefront in the "Maybe Ryan's not right" train of thought. Could be handwaved by Ryan's propensity to Un-person any undesirables.
    • Posters of "Rapture's Best and Brightest, 1958," can be found around Rapture in the second game. They include Suchong, Cohen, Fontaine, and Ryan (major characters from the first game), and also newcomers Lamb and Alexander.
  • Respawning Enemies: While the majority of the things you kill in an area will stay dead, there will always be a few splicers that come back to life if you leave an area. Big Daddies count, too, but they aren't immediately hostile and are a necessary gameplay mechanic. On the plus side, this allows you to max out research on the garden variety slicers and the Big Daddies early on, which can provide a decent advantage later.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The bare-bones pitch the game gives you is as follows: "You are a Big Daddy. Sofia Lamb took your Little Sister. They are on the other side of this underwater city, and there are hordes of splicers and machinery in the middle. Kill everything that gets in your way."
  • Robot Buddy: The Security Command plasmid has this effect at level 2; you can summon up to two security drones (somehow from thin air)-which have names.
  • Sacrificial Lion:
    • For those who want to see Sofia Lamb dead in the ending, but refuse to harvest any Little Sisters, Grace Holloway is this. Usually, one would spare her life as she's the only one out of three people (the others being Stanley and Gil) that is actually innocent, and actually helps the player if she's spared, but doing so will prevent Eleanor from killing Sofia.
    • Augustus Sinclair and Mark Meltzer are inevitable examples.
  • Sawed-Off Shotgun: Played straight with the damage upgrade to the shotgun.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: The purpose of the "Journey to the Surface" ride in Ryan Amusements is to convince Rapture's youth that all that waits for them up there are authority figures ready to reach down and steal their stuff, quash their ambitions, or drag them off to war. Ryan's a bit iffy about the creepy animatronics, but...
    Ryan: I spoke to a young man exiting the park after the grand opening, asking him what, if anything, he had learned here. He said his chores didn't seem so bad anymore - as long as mother wouldn't send him to the surface.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: One of the abilities you can purchase allows you to send swarms of bees at your enemies. While the bees do gradually whittle away their health, it's mostly for crowd control and to prevent them from moving around too much so you can get some decent shots on them.
  • Sequel Escalation: An interesting case - the story is equally good, with a villain based on opposite ideals to Ryan, but the combat is Up to Eleven by comparison.
  • Sequel Logo in Ruins: Much like the city of Rapture itself, the game's logo is more corroded and barnacle-encrusted compared to the first game's.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog:
    • For the game as a whole it's subverted. It appears as though you've lost, when Sofia Lamb smothers Eleanor, as you will go into a coma when her heart stops. Naturally, you both survive long enough to escape.
    • Mark Meltzer's tale, provided that you harvest the Little Sister his daughter Cindy has become.
  • Shout-Out: Gil Alexander's ADAM-induced insanity was inspired by Stephen King's "The End of the Whole Mess", where accumulation of an aggression decreasing substance results in dementia and death.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Jack's status by the second game. As a nod to the multiple endings, Splicers argue over the specifics of his adventure in Rapture, while one sect views him as a Messianic figure who freed them from the tyranny of Andrew Ryan, and who will return someday.
  • Sigil Spam: Lamb and her followers put butterflies everywhere.
  • Silent Protagonist: Delta's vocalizations are limited to grunts and groans. This meshes with the process of becoming a Big Daddy that was laid out in the first game.
  • Sinister Suffocation: In order to break the links bounding her daughter Eleanor to Delta, she's smothered by her mother Sofia Lamb until Delta's heart stops beating.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The multiple endings run the gamut very nicely, with the best ending on the idealism side and getting further down the scale as you go. Eleanor's monologues that accompany each ending especially.
  • Spirit Advisor: Subject Delta to Eleanor in the good ending. And the rest, except the one when he refuses to advise her.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In the trailers, where you see Delta killing Splicers while 50's ballroom music is playing. Occasionally happens in-game too.
    • Grace Holloway will give you one if you spare her and afterward collect ADAM with a Little Sister. While her area has either the standard music or a dark jazzy rendition, she will now show her support by not rallying people against you, but by singing you a tune.
  • Suicide Mission: Sofia Lamb sends dozens of splicers to kill you over the course of the game. This is played straightest in Inner Persephone, where her followers endeavor to engage the prison's Fail-Safe—using pre-placed demolition charges to drop the entire structure into the trench on the ocean floor miles below. This can only be done from inside Persephone, meaning that the splicers sent after you are facing death whether they succeed or fail.
  • Take Your Time:
    • Sinclair can last forever inside the train car even as it runs out of oxygen.
    • The charges that will drop Inner Persephone into the trench detonate based on completion of the level, not elapsed time, giving the impression of Lamb courteously waiting until you've decided that you're quite finished with an area of Inner Persephone before detonating the next set of charges. Eleanor will become increasingly concerned over them, but they're not an actual threat to the player.
    • After Lamb temporarily stops Eleanor's heart to make Delta shut down, you can dally as long as you like in the final section of the game without Delta slowly dying influencing the gameplay in any way.
  • There Are No Therapists: Subverted; Ryan originally invited Sofia Lamb, a clinical psychiatrist, to help people deal with living so far from sunlight, but it didn't go well. It didn't help that the therapist was just as crazy as her patients.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: If you set up an ambush area, such as a narrow hallway, and load it up with rivet traps and proximity mines, whatever goes through there probably isn't going to make it far, whether it's a trash mob, or even a Big Daddy if you set enough explosives up.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: After Delta is captured, a Little Sister is controlled, showing how Rapture is perceived after extensive mental conditioning: Inner Persephone is a fancy draped environment, the Splicers are ellegantly dressed people, corpses filled with ADAM are pretty people with a Chalk Outline of wings and halos (they refer to them as "angels", after all), and the pieces of the Big Sister armor are a dress, a tiara and gloves. Though on occasion Glamour Failure kicks in and flashes of the real world appear to the player.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: After Lamb realizes that Delta is free from his mental conditioning:
    Lamb: I had thought you some golem of Sinclair, brought here to hold Rapture's arms as he rifles through her pockets. But no... you are aware of your plight. Who, I wonder, would be so cruel? To force a mirror on a man with no face...
  • Too Awesome to Use: The Drill's sustained fire mode (i.e., when used as an actual drill) can be this. Even upgraded to reduce fuel consumption, the entire fuel supply can be spent in about ten seconds. In return, a full tank is capable of killing literally any Splicer, the boss Splicers included, without them being able to retaliate at all. This, of course, assumes you can afford to sit still while drilling into your victim until they die.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • For most of the second game, Eleanor is trapped and only able to help you via proxies. However, that all changes once she gets her hands on a Big Sister armor.
    • Pretty much everyone in Rapture is far more badass than in the first game, enemies included. The creators themselves said that Jack wouldn't have survived Rapture this time around, which isn't hard to believe after you start getting accosted by shotgun and Tommy-packing Leadheads who also pitch grenades occasionally.
  • Trap Master: Almost all of the weapons have one sort of ammo that serves as that - Trap Rivets, Proximity Mines, Trap Spears, Mini Turret - and then there are two Plasmids, Cyclone Trap (hurls enemies upwards - and upgraded versions can be enhanced with other plasmids for elemental damage) and Decoy (attracts enemy fire). As listed on Crazy-Prepared, they're downright enforced on fighting bigger enemies and protecting Little Sisters gathering ADAM - specially in The Protector Trials, where limited weapons and plasmids are provided outside of the bonus missions.
  • Unbroken First-Person Perspective: The game never breaks from Subject Delta's perspective, although his consciousness is placed into another person's, twice.
  • Uncanny Valley: In-Universe. Ryan thinks this of an animatronic version of himself built for Ryan's Amusements.
  • Understatement: In an audio diary, Ryan admits that "I... visited Eve's Garden today... it ended poorly." Translation: "I just murdered my mistress."
  • The Unfought: Despite everything that Sofia Lamb does during the course of the sequel, you never fight her. Her fate is ultimately decided by Eleanor, following your example on dealing with defenseless enemies.
  • Universal Ammunition: Features the world's first .50 BMG Thompson, so that it could share ammo with the Big Daddy's huge gatling gun. Presumably, realizing that they were fighting a tougher foe than usual, the Splicers made sure they had bullets big enough to cut through his armor.
  • Unseen Prototype:
    • The name Subject Delta implies that there were three before you, and they... well, we don't talk about them.
    • However, an audio diary from Gil Alexander cites Delta as the first successful Alpha Series, so you can probably guess what happened to the first three on your own.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment:
    • Justified with the splicer's weapons, as their pistols and Machine guns are too small for Subject Delta to use.
    • The Rosie Big Daddies can throw proximity mines while the Rumblers shoot rockets, both of which cannot be used by the player until they obtain the Grenade Launcher.
  • Updated Re-release: Along with the first BioShock, BioShock 2 received a remastered version as part of BioShock: The Collection for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC with updated visual fidelity and 60 FPS gameplay over the previous console releases and includes the Minerva's Den DLC. However, it does not have the multiplayer components from the original version.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: Whenever the player characters Subject Delta or Subject Sigma battle with production model Big Daddies.
  • Vengeful Vending Machine: Present in the multiplayer mode, you can hack vending machines to drop bombs whenever an enemy uses them. You can avoid them by freezing and then hacking the machine or simply hacking it after the bomb explodes.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You are given this option several times throughout the game. How you act towards the Little Sisters will determine what kind of ending you will get, in addition to how you deal with a few more questionable characters, so if you want to be a good guy, you have to be merciful and helpful rather than simply thinking of yourself all the time, specifically not harvesting the Little Sisters, and sparing the lives of Grace, Stanley, and Gil. How Eleanor will turn out will depend entirely on how you acted.
    • In the endgame, having Eleanor, now a Big Sister, fight by your side feels really good, but you still have to fight the urge to protect her, even though she's virtually indestructible at this point.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: In addition to several opportunities to murder helpless targets, the plasmids in this game allow you to torture enemies in even more ways than in the first game. The Cyclone Trap can now be charged with other plasmids (once upgraded), the Level 3 elemental plasmids can fire continuous beams (watch those splicers flail under a stream of flame), Insect Swarm can turn dead enemies into hives which release more insects which keep doing it, etc. Meanwhile, you have guns that fire burning phosphorus, rocket-propelled spears, white-hot rivets... The possibilities are practically endless.
  • Violence Is the Only Option:
    • Typically anyone that attacks you is safe to put down. And you will have to attack the Big Daddies protecting the Little Sisters since you need them to harvest Adam for you.
    • In some select cases, you can avert this trope. Generally, if they don't attack you, you can let them live, though some players may want to kill them due to the minions sent to attack them. The choice is up to you, and your decision will determine the ending you get, along with what you do with the Little Sisters.
  • Vorpal Pillow: Sofia exploits Eleanor's link with Subject Delta by suffocating her with a pillow, which incapacitates him.
  • Was Once a Man: This is true of pretty much everything you kill (and yourself, for that matter), but there's a particularly poignant example with a Big Daddy at Fontaine Futuristics. When you kill him to get to his Little Sister, there's a diary on the corpse. It's Mark Meltzer, and you just grabbed his daughter Cindy.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Neutral ending of 2 turns Delta into this - he did what he had to to save Eleanor, including sacrificing himself so she wouldn't follow his example.
    • Gil Alexander's audio logs paint a picture of an intelligent, well-meaning scientist. When you finally meet Gil in the bowels of Fontaine Futuristics, you would be forgiven for skepticism that he had ever been human.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Tenenbaum disappears early in the game without a word. Minerva's Den explains where she went, though there was/is a bit of a gap between her disappearance and the DLC. Also, no explanation is given to what happens to the NPCs Delta spares.
    • When fans spoke up about the possibility of not knowing Mark Meltzer's fate after the events of "Something In The Sea," 2K added him to BioShock 2.
  • What the Hell, Player?: The game manages to not only make you feel like a terrible person for harvesting Little Sisters in the short term with them trying to and failing to stop you, but reminds you of your dickery by having future Little Sisters, who are genetically altered to unconditionally love Big Daddies, to be nervous and scared around you, clearly wondering if they are next on the chopping block. This will remain until you save some more sisters to make the rest trust you again.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Gil Alexander. When given the choice, the player can either kill the creature Gil has become (thus going along with his final wish, according to his audio diaries), or simply let the creature live. As it turns out, letting the creature live is considered the "good" choice, though you can get away with murdering him on a good playthrough assuming you save or spare everyone else.
  • You Are Too Late: You miss the chance to save Mark Meltzer by mere seconds.
  • You Bastard!: Under normal circumstances, Little Sisters are always happy to see you. That is unless you have recently lethally harvested a Sister for Adam. After doing so, subsequent Sisters you meet will be rather scared of you and only constantly be on edge around you. You feel like a monster yet?
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: You can invoke this by harvesting Little Sisters after you've had them harvest their quota of ADAM from corpses for you.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: The three moral choices in the game (aside from rescuing/harvesting Little Sisters) all involve deciding the fate of a boss character who is incapable of harming you or even running. You just decide whether or not they're worth killing. The other bosses are either a Boss in Mook Clothing or a Cutscene Boss.

    Minerva's Den
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Surprisingly subverted with The Thinker, although a major plot point is it gaining self-consciousness and free will. This also results in it gaining emotions such as loyalty, and passion. Thus resulting in one of the few positive examples of this trope. It's very much played straight from Reed Wahl's perspective though.
  • Anachronism Stew: The game takes place in the late 1960s, but Porter uses modern-day colloquial terms such as "Ops".
  • Applied Phlebotinum: ADAM has been a generic answer for any human mutation the games needed. Here, it somehow makes a supercomputer. That becomes sentient.
  • The Artifact: You still get ADAM by dealing with the Little Sisters, and still get care packages whenever you save enough of them. That said, whatever Subject Sigma does with the Little Sisters has no impact on the ending, and are really just there as a means of getting ADAM for getting genetic upgrades. It's still worthwhile to save them for the gene tonics that can only be obtained this way during this story.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Wahl is so convinced in the accuracy of his predictive algorithm that he allows you into his formerly locked office solely because the algorithm said you would get in. Little did he realize that the Thinker, and by extension the algorithm was actively working against him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: By BioShock standards, it's actually one of the happiest endings, complete with a Big Daddy and the hero living to see another day. But the last we see is Porter coming to terms with Pearl's death and the credits roll over a somber piano piece.
  • Bookends: The game ends with the viewpoint character getting into a bathysphere - just like at the beginning of the first game.
  • Charge Attack: Burst Cells require you to hold down the trigger until the lens array on the Ion Laser glows, and pumps a full 50 units into it. It can reduce the health of a Big Daddy by nearly a quarter, however.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Even worse than the base game, since you don't necessarily grab weapons in the same order, depending on where you go first, requiring even more key binding just to not use the wrong weapon!
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Jack McClendon clearly took the failed project to make robotic Little Sisters pretty hard. The corpse you find in the room clutching a bottle of whiskey implies he drank himself to death.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In one of the few positive endings of the series. While Porter has to shut down the Thinker, it's more than willing to allow him to. After which Porter manages to reach Tenambuam and together they escape Rapture (as by this point, neither Ryan nor Sofia are around to prevent them). They somehow manage to undo the Big Daddy modification and restore Porter to normal. Porter comes to terms with his wife's death, pays his last respects and moves on with his life.
  • Energy Weapon: The Ion Laser. A sustained-fire laser weapon with instant travel time. However, the beam is visible.
  • Faking the Dead: In a sense, The Thinker to Porter.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Rapture's Master Computer, the Rapture Operational Data Interpreter Network, nicknamed "The Thinker". If you notice what the acronym spells, the nickname starts making more sense...
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Given that Porter rejected Lamb's ideology, and the fact that Minerva's Den was cut off from Rapture, the Big Sisters shouldn't even be in Minerva's Den, but the game would be too easy if they weren't.
  • Have a Nice Death: Reed Wahl will taunt you over the radio if you die.
    Boom! Right on schedule.
    Hah! The Thinker told me you were a clumsy one.
    You're running behind The Thinker's calculations! Try and keep up!
  • Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: Or more accurately, Just Add ADAM.
  • Interface Spoiler: The wintery Houdini Splicers in Operations will hide among frozen corpses, indistinguishable until they attack...except for your crosshair, which will remain dull over a frozen corpse, but turn red over a splicer, even if they haven't revealed themselves yet.
  • In the Future, Humans Will Be One Race: An audio log reveals that people in Rapture have begun using plasmids to change their race, as Porter recalls a businessman suggesting he splice himself white to get ahead (Porter is deeply annoyed by the idea). May or may not explain why there are so few characters who aren't of Anglo or Russian descent.
  • Irony: Tenenbaum, who has dedicated her life to protecting the Little Sisters, can unknowingly rescue and cooperate with a mass murderer of them in the form of Sigma if he chose to harvest all of them in his journey.
  • Karma Houdini: Sigma/Porter if he's a harvester.
  • Only Evil Can Die: Not counting the various posthumous characters from the backstory in and out of Rapture, only the main villain Reed Wahl is killed while Subject Sigma (aka Charles Milton Porter) escapes Rapture alongside Tenenbaum with a copy of The Thinker on hand.
  • Playing Both Sides: The Thinker plans pretty much all the events of the game, manipulating the main character and the villain; however, it does this to save Porter.
  • Replacement Goldfish: It becomes clear that C. M. Porter attempted to make The Thinker simulate his dead wife. The last audio diary confirms he succeeded, but he was so creeped out by it (finally realizing that it wasn't and would never be her) that he quickly shut down the simulation.
  • Robotic Reveal: The Twist Ending reveals that the "Porter" who has been talking to Sigma is The Thinker emulating Porter's personality. The real Porter has had his memories wiped and made into Subject Sigma.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The Thinker predicts that if Sigma reaches the core, catastrophe will result, which occurs, but only due to Wahl's violent resistance to Sigma's actions. These actions were precipitated by the prediction. If instead they had invited Sigma in and let him take what was his (and was genetically locked and worthless to anyone else), he would have gotten his printout and his signal jammer and left in his bathysphere without costing anyone anything.
  • Sequence Breaking: It seems that players were supposed to leave the side paths along the hallway to Porter's office for the end of the first chapter when they've found the Gravity Well plasmid. (One of them requires it to proceed.) However, only players with total, blind allegiance to the quest arrow would do this, meaning that everyone else will find and equip the upgraded spear gun before they ever find the standard one.
  • Twist Ending: After you kill Wahl, is revealed that Sigma is Charles Milton Porter and the voice that was giving him directions is the Thinker imitating Porter's voice and personality.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Moreso than usual. Given the short length and single ending, there is little incentive for the player to not harvest the Little Sisters if they feel particularly vicious.
  • Virtual Sidekick: The man thought to be the Mission Control Charles Potter is revealed to be Rapture's Master Computer, trying to save its creator.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Burst Cells for the Ion Laser.
  • Wham Line:
    The Thinker: Mainframe reactivated. Confirming user's identity: genetic identity confirmed. Alpha series: Subject Sigma. Former identity: Charles Milton Porter.

Big Sister is always watching.

Video Example(s):


Dr Sofia Lamb

Psychiatrist, philanthropist and leader of the Rapture Family, Dr Sofia Lamb has emerged from a long period of imprisonment to seize control of Rapture following the events of Bioshock 2. With her collectivist cult now running the city, she now plots to eliminate the concept of individuality altogether, intending to use her daughter Eleanor as the centrepiece of this mad quest - bringing her into conflict with Eleanor's Big Daddy protector, Subject Delta.

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