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Bioshock: The Collection Review

by William Schwartz

One of, if not the, most critically acclaimed series of last generation, Bioshock is more deserving of a re-released/remastered collection of games than most.  While we’ve seen countless remakes and remasters for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, 2K Games has taken their sweet time in developing upgraded versions of these modern classics.  Bioshock: The Collection is, as it sounds, a collection of remastered and upgraded versions of the original Bioshock, Bioshock 2, and Bioshock Infinite.  Taking advantage of the power of new-gen consoles, these Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC versions of the game are certainly the very best, and most complete way to experience the series.

Bioshock: The Collection on consoles includes remastered versions of all three games in 1080p resolution at 60fps.  It includes all the previously released single player downloadable content for the game, as well as some goodies for the Bioshock fans with developer commentary tucked away in the original game as hidden collectibles.

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A game that’s nearly a decade old, Irrational Games released the original Bioshock to critical acclaim back in 2007.  A modern day classic, the original Bioshock still holds up incredibly well.  While game mechanics and animations have come a long way in that time, the strengths of the original creation still shine through.   Arguably one of the very best openings for any video game in history, the developers lead the player on an aquatic adventure into the depths of ‘Rapture,’ a dystopian underwater setting.  Whether you’ve played Bioshock before, or not, it’s hard not to get sucked in.  Irrational’s world building and narrative are second to none in the original game, and Blind Squirrel’s touch-up on the graphical front make it all the more enticing.  Higher resolution and better textures, the original Bioshock has never looked better.  Sure, if you stack Bioshock up against modern games you might see the cracks showing, but only slightly.  In terms of gameplay, the mix and match system of plasmid powers and firearms is still fun to tinker with and feels broad in scope.  A lot of the ideas in Bioshock felt like they were ahead of their time in 2007 and that’s probably why they hold up so well to this day.

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Bioshock 2, on the other hand, doesn’t have quite as significant an upgrade from the original release.  Art design and improved lighting effects are evident strengths for the sequel, but just like critics said back in 2010, it doesn’t quite stack up to the original, revisiting many of the concepts from the first game that made it so entralling.  Playing through all three games you can certainly see where gameplay ideas were implemented to better the series.  The ability to dual-weild your plasmid powers and weapons was a welcome change, but many of the core concepts remained the same in terms of managing health, Eve, and ammunition.  Bioshock 2 was the only game in the series to feature a multiplayer component, but it’s lacking in Bioshock: The Collection.  Back in 2010, just about every game was getting some kind of tacked-on multiplayer experience and not even Bioshock could escape it.  Thankfully we do in Bioshock: The Collection.

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The third and final game in the series, Bioshock Infinite, released just a few years ago as one of the send-off titles for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  There’s an obvious bump in resolution, frame rate, and textures on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game found in Bioshock: The Collection.  Bioshock: Infinite took players from the deep sea setting of Rapture to the floating city of Columbia, expanding on many of the gameplay concepts from the original games. It feels more modern than its predecessors in terms of visual fidelity and gameplay.  These refinements are noticeable, especially when playing the trilogy back to back to back as you can in The Collection.  Infinite’s brilliant floating world stands in contrast to the dreary depths of the previous games, and even three years later it’s a marvel to look at. Bioshock Infinite obviously needed less work than the first two games, but its inclusion in the collection is a must.  Add to that the excellent two-part downloadable content of Burial at Sea and you round out what is an impressive package to say the least.

The Verdict

Bioshock: The Collection is one of the few remasters that I’ve played over the last couple of years that feels necessary.  With gameplay that stands the test of time and stories that remain intriguing to this day, the visual upgrades make it easy to return to these classic titles for fans of the series.  While there’s not much in terms of new content here, the addition of a developer commentary for the original game is fantastic, and we would’ve watched even more of it had it been available across all three games. Bioshock: The Collection is a must-own for fans of the series, and a must-play for those that have yet to do so.

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Bioshock: The Collection

  • Available On: Xbox One, PS4, PC
  • Published By: 2K Games
  • Developed By: Blind Squirrel
  • Genre: First person shooter
  • US Release Date: September 13th, 2016
  • Reviewed On: Xbox One
  • Quote: "While there's not much in terms of new content here, Bioshock: The Collection is a must-own for fans of the series, and a must-play for those that have yet to do so."
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