BioShock: The Collection Review
Within a seven year period, the BioShock franchise expanded into three games with additional story-driven DLCs. The franchise portrays numerous themes, but if there’s one thing that’s uniform throughout is the underlying backdrop of a dark, creepy, and corrupted approach to human society. Mix in a bit of the psychotic mess related to power, dominance, and control and you get the gist of what BioShock leaves you dealing with (and feeling). During the experience, you’ll form bonds with characters you meet and marvel at the mysterious and beautiful cities of Rapture and Columbia. Thankfully, everything you need to venture through them is all in one package and remastered for modern consoles.
Given that this package includes three full games, I’ll be covering each game in their own respective section and discussing their features, improvements, and any changes present. Let’s get started shall we?
The first BioShock game is where it all began back in 2007. Playing as Jack, your plane crashes into the ocean near a lighthouse that leads to the underwater city of Rapture. Once you arrive at Rapture, you learn about the city’s once utopian construction, its progressive corruption, and eventual dystopian setting. Guided by a mere radio, you’ll slowly unravel the mysteries behind Rapture and your personal role in it.
“The lighting, textures, shadowing, and overall clarity are noticeably improved.”
First thing you’ll notice in this collection is that the first BioShock game had the most work done to it. The lighting, textures, shadowing, and overall clarity are noticeably improved. In addition, the framerate is stable making the game run as smooth as butter. It’s like seeing Rapture with new eyes. However, character models standout from the environment due to their last-gen makeup and less attention to remaster. Regardless, the first BioShock game’s remaster job is definitely appreciated and fits well on modern consoles. It’s beautiful without a doubt.
Gameplay stayed the same with the dated clunky controls still present, but it adds to the difficulty and sort-of realism to the game. Let’s just say, juggling between a plasmid and a weapon has never felt so intense or terrifying. Nevertheless, dated gameplay with modern visuals somehow goes hand-in-hand here and does oh so well.
For the DLC, Museum of Orphaned Concepts as well as the Challenge Rooms is included. The highlight and new addition for the collection is the Director’s Commentary: Imagining BioShock segment. It’s not unlocked for you right from the get-go though; you’ll have to venture through Rapture to find the Golden Reels scattered around to unlock each episode. It’s a fun new addition for returning players and an interactive way to understand how BioShock came to be from Creative Director Ken Levine and Lead Animator Shawn Robertson.
In BioShock 2, you play as a Big Daddy 10 years after the events of the first BioShock game. Originally released in 2010, it allows players to experience Rapture from a different perspective – through the eyes of the beings you feared for as Jack in the first BioShock game. It’s an extremely neat approach for the second game in the franchise that allows you to understand the city of Rapture as a whole.
Unfortunately, you’ll see a remaster decline here as it’s not as well attended to as the first Bioshock game. Nonetheless, it’s still noticeably better than its original release. Just like the first game, the lighting, textures, and shadowing are improved making the game visually sharper and polished.
“Unfortunately, you’ll see a remaster decline here as it’s not as well attended to as the first Bioshock game.”
Gameplay stays the same from the original release, but isn’t as clunky as the first BioShock game. Now being able to dual-wield, using a plasmid or weapon is easier and ultimately more efficient. However, being a chunky Big Daddy versus nimble Jack is pretty different in terms of movement and actions. But that’s part of the whole “different perspective” approach to the franchise that either did wonders for some or the opposite for others.
In terms of content outside of the main game, it’s important to note that the multiplayer portion of the game, BioShock 2: Fall of Rapture, is not included in this remaster collection. While it was a fun little mode to play a couple of years ago, it’s understandable that it didn’t make it into the collection. The work and effort needed to be put into it may not be worth the time as other modern multiplayer games would be favoured over this one. DLC that is included are Minerva’s Den and Protector Trials that shines light on yet another aspect of Rapture as you take control of a different Big Daddy.
Lastly, we have 2013’s BioShock Infinite. Having Columbia, the completely new city to venture through, it’s nearly the complete opposite of Rapture. Being in the Sky instead of underwater as well as bright and colourful instead of dark and worn-down, it’s yet another side of the world of BioShock. Playing as Booker Dewitt, you’re left at a lighthouse (yes, the same one the Jack used to go to Rapture) and told by a man & woman to “bring us the girl and wipe away the debt”. From there, Booker is rocketed into the sky to the floating city of Columbia. While BioShock Infinite is the latest iteration in the BioShock franchise, story-wise the events actually occur before the first and second BioShock games in 1912 as opposed to after 1960. However, you’ll get the most out of the franchise by playing them through their order of release (trust me on this).
The remaster for Infinite mirrors the PC version of the game (which did not get a remaster for BioShock: The Collection on PC). Thus, the game on consoles is much like a PC port of the game. Regardless, in comparison to last gen, Infinite still looks much better. Improved textures make it look visually crisper, smoother, and collected. While I’ve encountered some framerate stutters, it doesn’t severely ruin the experience.
Given that Infinite is the most recent installment in the franchise, gameplay is much more modern and easier to get accustomed to. It’s taken the best of the last two games’ mechanics with dual-wielding and all, but also added the new Sky-Hook. Ultimately, the Sky-Hook allowed a new way to jump from place to place allowing players to traverse the skies through Freight Hooks and Sky-Lines. In addition, the Sky-Hook also granted players a new melee weapon to execute enemies with.
DLC included for the game are Clash in the Clouds, Columbia’s Finest Pack, and Burial at Sea episodes 1 & 2. The real treat here is the Burial at Sea segment that transports players to Rapture with Booker and Elizabeth. For players who have played BioShock and BioShock 2, Burial at Sea wraps the franchise in a fairly nice package and pays homage to its roots. It also may invoke players who haven’t played the first two BioShock games to do so due to the beautiful depiction of Rapture.
BioShock: The Collection does a superb job making the three BioShock games and their respective DLC shine and appreciated on modern consoles. It’s an exceptional all-in-one package for those who have been considering jumping into the franchise. While it’s unfortunate that there’s a noticeable decline in the remaster job after the first Bioshock game, it’s still greatly improved from their original releases. For returning fans, BioShock: The Collection only really offers the Director’s Commentary as new content, but if you’re in the mood to relive your moments in Rapture or Columbia, this is without a doubt the definitive versions of the games and best way to do so.
***A PS4 review code was provided by the publisher***
- Crisp, clear, and sharp visuals
- Smooth gameplay
- Convenient all-in-one package
- Remaster decline
- Minor framerate stutters
- Not much new content for returning fans