"Those are however small prices to pay for a game that may not advance some great BioShock canon, but still stands as a great way to round off your view of Rapture - a world that always felt like a designed dystopia more than a failed city suddenly converted into a much more plausible place." — From a fine new BioShock 2 retrospective at Eurogamer in which Richard Cobbett takes a fresh look at the (criminally underrated, IMO) 2010 game.
Bioshock 2 is something I've come to realize, the more I return to play it, one of the best games I have ever played.
If you want games-as-art, stop pointing at the Mass Effects, the Red Dead Redemptions, the Half-Lives, and even, yes, the Levine Bioshocks as works of art. Sure, they are, but they're low art.
Bioshock 2 actually mattered, and Cobbett does a better job explaining why than I feel I ever could.
Many people argue that Bioshock 2 wasn't needed. I disagree. If all that matters to you is that Rapture was new, I think you might be missing the point. Bioshock tries to make two points: first, that objectivism is bad, mmk? and second, that gamers aren't really free in games—that freedom is an illusion. Bioshock 2—and you really must play it, exploring the story bits as best you can—does an utterly fantastic job of explaining why both points of view patently false. They're two sides of the same coin—Bioshock offers one point of view and Bioshock 2 offers the counterpoint.