As you may know unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last six months, BioShock 2 was officially released today. While most gamers are riding a wave of excitement over the highly anticipated sequel, there has been some apprehension about whether or not it can recapture the magic of the first game. These worries were partially fueled by the fact that a different team, 2K Marin, took over development for the sequel. In a chat with several of 2K Marin’s developers on Friday, this subject was, of course, touched upon. Lead Designer Zak McClendon spoke about some of the challenges of following BioShock and building a development team.
Q: Seeing as how the original BioShock was so well received, what was the biggest challenge of making BioShock 2?
A: That would be the fact that the original was so well received. In all seriousness, we had to build a team more or less from scratch, there was a really small group of people who came out here from the Irrational studio, so building out the team, and sort of giving everyone a common knowledge of what it meant to be a BioShock and to build a BioShock was immensely challenging. And then just going up against the weight of all our own expectations, because everybody who joined this team was an immense fan of the first game. It was sort of odd and humble to be working on a sequel to it, and there was a lot of reverence to it, which can lead to a lot of second guessing and a lot of sort of trying to please everyone… sort of getting through that to a point where we were really striking off in a direction that felt like 2K Marin as a studio could own, and felt like it was not just following in the footsteps of what came before, and not just rebelling against it irresponsibly, was just a long and difficult process for us.
In all honesty, it’s hard not to be wary about a sequel to one of the best games of this generation, even if the same developers were working on it. The fact that Ken Levine and his team at 2K Boston and 2K Australia weren’t at the helm for the making of BioShock 2 did, at first, seem to be another strike against it. The developers at 2K Marin clearly know what they’re up against, and instead of merely trying cash in on the first game’s popularity, it appears that the team really worked hard to make BioShock 2 their own, which may explain the game’s delay from 2009 and 2010. It’s too early for me to give my own impressions of BioShock 2, but I do have pretty high hopes at this point. Stay tuned to Gamervision for our full video review of BioShock 2 in the coming days.