I will be the first to admit that remastered games have become an incredibly boring way for publishers to cash in on previous successes. However, BioShock: The Collection is a bit different, especially once you consider that the original masterpiece that is BioShock launched almost 10 years ago. Even then, this collection has to be done correctly and provided enough content to justify the lofty $60 price tag. So how does it fare?
For those who aren’t familiar, the BioShock series consists of three first-person shooters (BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite) that feature solid shooting mechanics, RPG elements and engrossing story-telling wrapped into an eerie, out-of-this-world (or in the clouds/under the sea; Where’s Sebastian when you need him?) setting with a creepy atmosphere to boot. Basically, it’s a survival horror/RPG/FPS/ series, all-in-one. The first two games take place in Rapture, an under water utopia that crumbled under its own unbridled freedom, while the third one takes players to Colombia, a city in the sky that turns bright colors and sunny skies into one insane mind-trip. But you probably already knew that. If not, I’m jealous that you’ll get to experience all of this for the first time if you choose to fork over the cash to buy the collection.
So how about the graphics? As expected, the games look great, and run at 1080p and upwards of 60fps. This should be expected from remastered games by now, and well, Blind Squirrel Games (the team behind this project) did a great job of making everything run buttery smooth. Where it’s most noticeable is of course the original BioShock. If you remove your rosy nostalgia tinted glasses for a moment, you’ll realize that the first game is definitely showing its age. Out of the three, it boasts the most substantial upgrades. Animations were definitely smooth and textures overall looked great as well. There are even new assets that have been added–like the jellyfish that welcome you to Rapture for the first time. Thankfully, none of the additions distracted from the original design.
While BioShock 2 and Infinite also look great, their upgrades were the least necessary. That doesn’t mean the job done on them is mediocre; it just means they were a bit more modern and already looked pretty great, especially when it comes to Infinite. But again, they run at 1080p and close to 60fps which makes the third one look closer to what it looked like on PC when it launched in 2013 (I know, console gamers are so behind). If you never played these two games, then great, the graphical upgrades should be more than enough to get excited about the collection. As for veterans of the series, what should make them consider hopping back in, is the inclusion of DLC. I know I personally missed a couple of post-release pieces of content, like Minerva’s Den (Bio 2).
All that said, BioShock is the reason you should even consider grabbing this collection. Aside from the nice graphical upgrades, there’s also an all-new Director Commentary series, “Imagining BioShock,” that features Geoff Keighley as a host, and Ken Levine (the mind behind the series) and Shawn Robertson (animation lead) casually discussing the making of one of the greatest games ever made. It’s nearly two hours of fun facts, and it’s completely glorious. It covers how the idea for the underwater city came to fruition, why the intro cinematic was added to the game, and how the limitations of tech forced them to make some really good decisions. Overall it’s incredibly intriguing.
To top it all off, you actually have to work to unlock episodes of the series. The film reels are scattered throughout the original game, so you have to actively look for them to enjoy the full thing. Not only was I having a blast returning to the terrifying city of Rapture, but I now had an incentive to look through every nook and cranny. It’s so rewarding this way, and gives you another reason to play the game again. It’s a whole lot more fun this way than if it were available from the get-go on the main menu. I get it, the commentary will probably be up somewhere online by the time this is published, but where’s the fun in that?
If that’s not enough goodness for you, the Museum of Orphaned Concepts, which was exclusive to the BioShock: The Ultimate Rapture Edition on the PS3 and Xbox 360 is also included. This gives players a look at some of the concept art and designs that never made it into the first game. It’s definitely another must-see for fans of the series. Have you seen what the original baddies of the game were going to be before the team finally decided on going with the humanoid splicers? How about the original Big Daddy design? Yeah, all in the museum. Is it enough to warrant the purchase? Alone, most definitely not, but it adds even more value to the already sweet bundle.
Thankfully, the issues I ran into when playing the games weren’t all that serious. In the first BioShock, for instance, there were times when enemies would completely disappear once I took them down. The strangest bug I ran into, however, had all the bodies on the floor being pulled towards the right side of the screen, as if there was some sort of gravitational pull. I even witnessed a Big Daddy being pulled through a wall! It was strange, but didn’t last too long. Aside from that, I didn’t really run into any other huge bugs in any of the games.
My only real frustration with this collection is the fact that you can’t fast-forward, pause, or rewind the “Imagining BioShock” episodes. I know it’s minor, but it’s still annoying when you’re trying to enjoy the series, need to get up from the couch, or accidentally exit the video.
Finally, keep in mind that you do get the upgrades for free on PC if you had already owned the original versions of the games prior to the launch of this collection—and that includes the “Imagining BioShock” feature. It sucks that console gamers have to pay full price, but that’s just the way it goes, unfortunately.
As far as remasters go, BioShock: The Collection is great. Despite some minor glitches, the inclusion of all the downloadable content, gorgeous graphics, and the new Director’s Commentary make this a must own for any BioShock fan. And let’s not forget that the BioShock series is still one of the best collections of games ever made, and should be played by every gamer. If you have yet to play these stellar games, this is the best way to experience the set, even if the price is a bit steep at $60. If you’ve played it, but missed out on the DLC, this is also for you, my friend. Heck, it’s still worth replaying BioShock just to check out the graphical upgrades.
RATING: 4 OUT OF 5 HD BURRITOS
- BioShock looks and plays as fantastic as you’d hope.
- All DLC included from all three games.
- “Imagining BioShock” is a must watch for fans of the series. Hiding the film reels throughout the first game is a fun way of adding some extra satisfaction to exploring Rapture.
- BioShock 2 and Infinite also look and play great, even if the upgrades don’t seem as substantial. No reason to disparage the work done on these two games.
- All three games are still worth your time. If you haven’t played any of them, enjoy them the best possible way.
- Some minor bugs. Nothing game breaking at least.
- “Imagining BioShock” doesn’t allow you to pause while watching. Minor annoyance, but c’mon.
- Price point may be steep fro some, especially since some PC owners will get the upgrades for free.
This review was completed using an Xbox One copy of BioShock: The Collection provided by 2K. The game hit shelves on September 13, 2016 for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.