Bioshock has long been respected as a modern masterpiece, with innovative and unique characters, set pieces and stories to tell. Of course, it’s all down to personal opinion, but you can’t deny the effects the games have had. Bioshock: The Collection finally puts all of these memorable games in one place. Their fantastic DLC’s are also shown off. Not only that, but it also delivers them with visual upgrades, bringing out the best in the art deco style. However, it still feels like more could have been done to make this collection shine. While the first Bioshock is a lovely gift to veteran fans, Bioshock 2 and Infinite received much less love. It’s not a deal breaker, but it does fringe on disappointment.
However, we start off strong with the original Bioshock. It’s hard not to appreciate how complex the game is for its time. The introduction to the game as your plane crashes, and you first enter Rapture, is still poignant. Rapture, a city built to be a creative utopia, where those who could excel, would. But one that never came to fruition. All that remains is Big Daddy’s, Splicers and harrowing enigmas scattered across a barren urban landscape. New textures and lighting are very clear here, which was a pleasant sight to behold. Travelling through the crumbling dystopia was all the better because of it. It was still so haunting and mysterious, and you could feel the love put into its design.
On top of this, the improved framerate is a big step up and makes combat feel much more fluid. However, this doesn’t mean the combat has really improved. I still find some of the fights frustrating, and often detract from my interest in the narrative, which is much higher on the priority list. It’s a shame it’s only a remaster, because improvements to the combat would have drastically improved my experience.
But what is perhaps the main new addition to the first game, is the inclusion of collectible developer commentaries. This series of film reels found in the game pieces together a small video series. The series, named “Imagining Bioshock”, was a beautiful homage to the first game, and gave great insight into development. Remastered games don’t often go as far as to add new content, so this was a surprise for me to find. It also convinced me to go scouring around Rapture once more to find every last reel. However, this is as far the as new content goes. Aside from updated graphics and framerate, the game is very much the same, with an intriguing underwater narrative that remains a staple of the first-person shooter genre.
Although, the quality of the collection seems to decline with each title. Bioshock 2 received much less of a visual upgrade for obvious reasons. But the issue here is that nothing was added on top of the original experience to make up for that. When I first started up the campaign, I once again went looking for the next set of film reels. But they weren’t there. I was hoping the love and attention given to the first game in this collection carried over, but it didn’t feel like it did. While it was still nice to play through Bioshock 2, with the introduction of dual-wielding and more satisfying combat, it wasn’t nearly as engaging as the remastered original. But this is only a criticism if you’re a seasoned player. New players to the series will still really enjoy Bioshock 2, and all the upgrades it gave to the original. The narrative itself wasn’t as inspired, nor did the level design feel anything above average. But it’s still a fun game, and still leagues ahead of its competition at the time.
The final game on the list, Bioshock Infinite, takes players to a very different landscape. Far, far away from Rapture. The floating sky city of Columbia is still as beautiful as it was upon release, and the combat is the most intuitive that the series has seen. I was vividly reminded of the sweeping vistas of Columbia, the fast-paced ziplining sections and the heart that the story kept throughout. All this despite a narrative wrought with dark themes and even darker villains. Bioshock Infinite received the smallest upgrade, since it’s the most recent game. It feels like a re-release of the original PC version, thanks to the improved framerate, but that’s all there is. Just like Bioshock 2, there isn’t anything new here, and it’s yet another disappointment in that regard. It wouldn’t be much of a criticism initially, but the way in which they remastered the first Bioshock proves that there were ways to add new content. That there were ways to win over veteran players besides the updates to visuals. But again, new players will find nothing awry here.
Overall, your enjoyment of this collection will come down to a few things. Are you a new player? I highly recommend it. All three games are fantastic, and adding all the DLC on for free is a wonderful addition. The remastered graphics in the first Bioshock help it keep up with the times, and bring out the best in the art deco style of Rapture. But are you a returning player? Someone who’s sunk dozens of hours into the Bioshock series? Aside from the allure of having all the games in one place, there really isn’t much new content. Bioshock is exactly how a remaster should be, with the engaging video series. It’s also great to see the differences to how it looked in 2007 and how it does now. But Bioshock 2 and Bioshock Infinite play out the same, and it’s a shame at the end of the day.