BioShock: The Collection (Switch) Review
It’s hard to believe it has actually been 13 years since the release of the original BioShock. The incredible first-person shooter series has been available on other platforms for some time, but 2K has finally brought the remastered collection to the Nintendo Switch, letting you take Rapture and Columbia with you on the go. There is no denying that BioShock was groundbreaking for its time with an eerie, Lovecraftian-esque atmosphere, fantastic setting, superb writing, and interesting combat. That is, however, over a decade ago, and the real question now is whether or not these games have aged well from their time in the depths or have sadly crashed out of the sky.
For those of you who don’t know, BioShock begins with your character in a plane crash out over the ocean. Luckily there is a lighthouse nearby which contains an elevator to an underwater civilization meant to be a paradise The city has quickly fallen into ruin after discovering a mutagenic material called Adam which the denizens of Rapture have become obsessed with. Foregoing any spoilers, this leads into BioShock 2 in which you’ll play as one of the series iconic enemies, the Big Daddy. The second entry has a ramped-up difficulty and new powers, but continues your journey through Rapture. Finally, BioShock Infinite takes an entirely new approach as you play Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton with a gambling debt sent into the flying city of Columbia to kidnap a girl and bring her back. As with all things BioShock, nothing is truly what it seems.
A Beautiful Blend of Action and Horror
If you happened to be a gamer in the late 2000s you will understand when I say that BioShock still has the weighted movement of shooters from that era. Games like Killzone and Resistance: Fall of Man also had their protagonist feel particularly heavy in their jumping and general movement, a feature BioShock is no stranger too. This same feeling appears in its Switch incarnation but this is in no way detrimental to the experience, merely an observation that feels like an unintentional nod to the games age. This can be felt in both the first and second BioShock games, although its more understandable in the second one as you take control over Delta, a Big Daddy.
From a purely graphical standpoint, the game runs beautifully and looks just as haunting and stunning as you remember. The eccentric characters and fantastic RPG-lite mechanics are all here and makes it a game hard to put down. Of course, the big question that always comes to mind is the quality of gameplay when porting anything to the Switch. It isn’t impossible to play the games in handheld mode, but BioShock is meant to be played with a proper controller in hand and this is yet another first-person shooter that the Joy-Cons simply can’t keep up with. The low profile of the joysticks make for awful precision shooting and given the dark nature of Rapture, playing in handheld requires maximum brightness and the right positioning to see things clearly.
Playing The first two games docked, however, is a completely different experience with a Pro-Controller. BioShock made its debut on the Xbox 360 and the Switch Pro-Controller just happens to be modeled similarly. It felt natural to sit back and lose myself in those haunted, leaky halls to the point I forgot it was even on Switch. BioShock and its sequel are absolutely fantastic, engaging experiences in docked mode and if this is your primary method of play with a Pro-Controller at hand, this is absolutely the best way to enjoy the series.
I’ve only touched on BioShock and BioShock 2 up to this point because the final entry in the series, BioShock Infinite, needs its own attention. Having launched in 2013, BioShock Infinite is an entirely other animal. The mechanics involving Elizabeth as she gathers useful supplies for you, the narrative between her and Booker, and the overwhelmingly uncomfortable look at racism in American historical culture set the stage for a unique shooter which is both completely different from its predecessors and yet quite fitting as the final entry in the series. The floating city of Columbia is much more vibrant – a brilliant change of visual tone to compliment the narrative – and in handheld mode is still quite lovely to behold. It does still suffer a bit from the short joysticks but it doesn’t quite feel as cumbersome as the other games.
As the final entry in the trilogy, BioShock Infinite is a beautiful example of how the series has grown when compared to the first game which launched six years prior. Despite taking its own direction, these three games together tell one of the best and most compelling stories from a gaming trilogy in quite some time, with each game contributing its own piece to the puzzle of such a great narrative. Whether you have played the games before or this is your first opportunity to jump into Rapture and Columbia, these games still stand the test of time in gameplay and narrative.
BioShock: The Collection is made up of three brilliant pieces that can stand on their own, but are worth so much more as a whole story. Each game pulls you in and won’t let you stop, as something new is always around the corner. It’s linear narrative and gorgeous set pieces keep the story rolling forward in a way that many modern games can’t quite seem to recapture. This trilogy is best played while docked and with a Pro-Controller due to the unfortunately short joysticks of the Joy-Cons, however, they aren’t entirely unplayable in handheld mode. After all these years, BioShock: The Collection has easily stood the test of time, and bringing it to the Switch seven years after the launch of BioShock Infinite gives new gamers a chance to experience an iconic and groundbreaking series that will remind people to be polite and always preface a request with the simple phrase “Would you kindly?”
**Nintendo Switch code provided by the publisher**
- Superb Writing
- Snappy Combat
- Can’t Stop Playing
- Joy-Cons Inadequate
- Poor Lighting In Handheld Mode