BioShock: The Collection review – With Renewed Vigour

If you’ve never played any of the BioShock games, the collection is something you should definitely consider. It features the whole trilogy; BioShock 1, 2, and Infinite, and every bit of accompanying DLC; Minerva’s Den and Burial at Sea, in one neat, remastered package that brings it all up to today’s standard of gaming in both the visual and audio department. Hell, even if you have enjoyed the franchise from the very beginning, BioShock as a whole is so dense with content to mull over that every facet of it can, and should be revisited multiple times.

Having only played each main game through once myself, I welcomed an excuse to dive into BioShock 1 and 2’s dank, underwater Rapture, and fly to Infinite’s sky-high Colombia again. The fact that I missed all the DLC the first time around too gave me even more incentive to go back.

All this time later, how does it all hold up? Seeing as Infinite only came out a few short years ago, it’s a little harder to really appreciate all its discerning differences (of which there are few, truth be told). With regards to BioShock 1 and 2 though, well, let’s just say that Rapture has never looked better, and the topics it tackles are no less pertinent today.

BioShock 1

It’s hard to believe that BioShock 1 came out almost ten years ago. The introduction – the descent into Rapture, is quite nearly as chilling today as it was back in 2007. The city shoots up from the floor of the ocean with a neon glow, and despite its cold surroundings, it looks warm and welcoming. As we soon gather though, not everything is peachy in this sunken paradise.

Under Andrew Ryan’s objectivist vision, the city and its dwellers, free from government interference, free to explore and experiment and do as they please, have descended into complete anarchy. You might realise this just by roaming through the claustrophobic hallways, but it’s the audio logs and people you encounter that truly flesh out the history and story of Rapture, which is easily the star of the show here.

In that regard, I really did appreciate the visual improvements applied to BioShock 1 in this collection. I remember roaming Rapture in wonderment nearly a decade ago, amazed that so much detail could be packed into a game. Thanks to the upgraded textures, a higher resolution, and a buttery smooth frame rate, every corner of the 40s/50s aesthetic is just as enthralling to explore today as it was back then. I never saw any slowdown in performance apart from the odd, minor FPS drop here and there during combat intensive segments.

Speaking of which, while BioShock’s most important traits are undoubtedly its story, setting, and characters (for me anyway), its gameplay is not to be forgotten. Making use of old-school weapons along with a fistful of abilities (the likes of fires, ice, lightning, and a lot more thanks to a variety of plasmids) is as fun as I remembered it being.

Though compared to the others, BioShock 1 is mechanically archaic. Playing it back then made it hard to notice, but after playing 2 and Infinite, the inability to dual wield really does stand out, and it was sorely missed on my replay. The hacking mechanic deserves a dishonourable mention too. To be quite frank, it’s absolute garbage, to the point where I stopped bothering with it wherever I could. Cheaper prices from vending machines? Nah, I’d rather pay full price. A security camera to send security bots after my enemies? Maybe… actually, I think I’d rather just shoot everybody myself, rather than having to assemble a pipe in the minigame for the umpteenth time.

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