Welcome back to Rapture…
For us, The Orange Box and Halo: The Master Chief Collection are the gold standards when it comes to providing value repackaging content. Now, 2kGames will try to join those lofty heights with its three-title next-gen upgrade, BioShock: The Collection, which contains remastered versions of BioShock (2007), BioShock 2 (2010) and BioShock Infinite (2013) along with all major DLC, including Minerva’s Den and Burial at Sea.
All three titles handle similarly, though it’s still easy to spot the evolution of first-person shooters along the way. Not surprisingly, BioShock feels a bit clunky compared to the others, due in large to forcing you to have either a plasmid or a weapon equipped at any given time, forcing you to switch between them repeatedly — the latter games allow you to have one of each at the ready at all times.
Some functionality moves around between the games, including the jump and the consumption of first-aid kits, and some goes away (like switching ammo types) so it may take a few minutes to reacquaint yourself when you go directly from playing one to another. The ability to remap the controls to your liking would’ve been nice, but the game only allows inverting axes. Still, there’s nothing here that should actively hamper your enjoyment.
As with any remastered package worth its salt, the older the title the more attention it has received when it comes to upgraded visuals, so the original BioShock is the big winner on that front. It doesn’t look as polished as new, next-gen releases, but the underwater city of Rapture remains one of the best examples of world building in gaming history. Although Columbia, the setting of Infinite, isn’t nearly as awe inspiring, it’s still really well done.
If you’ve played these games before, the signature sounds of lumbering Big Daddies or the somehow creepy welcome of the Circus of Values vending machines are pure nostalgic bliss. Voice acting across the games remains beyond reproach, deserving a place at the table with other top-tier story-driven franchises like Uncharted and Mass Effect. The soundtracks are excellent, too.
Given that the newest title in this collection is three years old, there’s no real point in rehashing the games’ respective plots — though if you’d like to know what we thought when they were released, we covered both BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite when they launched (BioShock was before our time). Suffice to say, the original is one of the most revered games in history, and the sequels managed to keep the series at a very high standard.
We were surprised at how much came flooding back to us as soon as we fired each one of them up, which is a testament to both the gameplay and the strength of the narrative. BioShock 2 lags a little bit behind due to being so similar to the original, but its gameplay is superior thanks to a couple smart changes. On that front, it’s worth noting that the ill-fated (though quite enjoyable) multiplayer from the sequel is not included.
In terms of new content, the only significant addition is “Imagining BioShock,” a series of multiple clips unlocked by locating a series of 10 golden film reels within the original game. Assuming you have any interest in seeing how the game went from conception to launch, it’s well worth tracking down. The whole thing is well done and insightful.
Of course we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the price, which checks in at US$59.99, and is the same as a new retail game. Despite the quality of the games themselves, some may view it as a barrier to entry since you can likely scoop up the 360/PS3 versions for less than half. Of course, that wouldn’t account for all the DLC, but gamers will have to decide how much upgraded performance is worth or whether they’re willing to wait for a price drop.
For us, returning to these worlds was a blast, and if you consider yourself a big fan of the series it’s a natural way to replay these classics dressed up for modern consoles — even if it would’ve been nice to see more additional content for the latter two games. If you’ve never played, BioShock: The Collection is the best way to experience one of the great franchises in gaming.
BioShock: The Collection contains three tremendous games and a couple of strong DLCs, and based purely on that there’s a ton to like here. More original content would’ve been nice, but at least what’s there should appeal to series veterans.