“Nobody was s’posed to reside down here long term – but when you’re broke in this town, you’re not exactly swimmin’ in alternatives.”
As the fourth level in BioShock 2 Pauper’s Drop is at once the start of the core of the game and the end of its tutorial; from here onward everything is up to the player or the whims of the characters who inhabit each part of Rapture.
At this point players have been introduced to the three characters at the heart of this new tale of Rapture, and experienced a reintroduction to the city and the ideals upon which it was constructed. With those introductions out of the way it is now time for the story of Subject Delta’s journey of reunion to begin in earnest.
Pauper’s Drop is a turning point for BioShock as a series, there is little within this level, structural, mechanical or aesthetic, that would feel out of place in the first BioShock. However the signs are there that this is the start of something new. This is a part of Rapture that served no utility; neither industrial space nor commercial centre, Pauper’s Drop exists for no other reason than the fact it should exist. In any city there will always be a place for those who don’t belong yet have nowhere else to go, and in this respect Rapture is no different from anywhere else.
This is a theme throughout BioShock 2, Subject Delta’s journey to be reunited with Eleanor leads through parts of Rapture that exist simply because they must, there is little glamour here but what exists bares the unmistakable tang of the real. Where BioShock was concerned with highlighting the artistic, industrial and scientific heart of Rapture, BioShock 2 is an exploration of its logical territory the spaces that exists simply because they couldn’t not exists in such a city. BioShock 2 is the story of Rapture from the inside out, in BioShock you were a visitor, this time you are a resident allbeit an unwelcome one.
From the very first moments of entering Pauper’s Drop you are recognised, but more than that you are expected. Though you cannot remember it you have been here before and your actions then still colour the opinions of those whom you meet. You cannot escape your history, though you can act to redefine it, change what it meant if not what it was. That is another core theme of BioShock 2: we are defined by our actions and in turn those actions define those to whom we have a responsibility, our children.
Occuring at the point where the player’s toolset can be increased dramatically through the expenditure of Adam, the encounters within The Drop have been designed to provide opportunities to experiment with different tactics while providing subtle hints on how best to make use of the tools currently available.
Pauper’s Drop introduces some key changes in level design from the original BioShock such as a greater complexity of environments, both visually and spatially, along with the increased use of vertical spaces and multiple layers. Though featuring both spatial complexity and verticality Pauper’s Drop has no overarching spatial theme and so serves as a good introduction to the types of spaces that will appear later. Siren Alley has a greater focus on verticality and movement between levels, while Dionysus Park features sprawling spatial complexity and subtle differentiation of an otherwise visually similar environment.
Humantiy still exists within Rapture and in few places is that more obvious than Pauper’s Drop. BioShock was an outsiders examination of the ideologically foundation of Rapture through an exploration of it’s three pillars: Art, Industry and Science. BioShock 2 is a look at the human side of Rapture, at it’s people, through the eyes of one of their own. Pauper’s Drop marks the start of that insider’s journey. From the moment you first encounter Grace Holloway you are complicit in her fate and by extension the fate of all Rapture. Pauper’s Drop is the tipping point, before you were merely a freak anomaly within the Rapture Family, something to be either absorbed or expelled. Now you are worse than simply a rogue element, you have free will, you are an individual and your actions will have consequences far beyond the confines of The Drop.
- Pauper’s Drop is the work of Level Designers Steve Gaynor and Monte Martinez along with Level Architect Alex Munn.
- BioShock 2 is the work of 2K Marin, 2K Australia, Digital Extremes and Arkane Studios. It is published by 2K Games a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive.
- Additional material on BioShock and BioShock 2 was obtained from the BioShock Wiki.