In the last generation of consoles, BioShock stood out as one of the premier franchises. The new intellectual property was established in 2007 with the release of BioShock on Xbox 360 and PlayStation and eventually went on to spawn two sequels and a host of spin-offs in other mediums. Each entry in the series received widespread critical acclaim and helped bring new life to the first-person shooter genre that has become somewhat stale thanks to the huge popularity of Battlefield and Call of Duty.
Little wonder then that 2K Games would look to BioShock when it came time to remaster some of their back catalogue of titles for a new generation of consoles. The franchise was simply ripe for an update, with the first release coming almost a decade ago and fans clamoring to be able to visit Rapture once again with upgraded visuals and performance.
The first thing to note with this remastered collection is that it not only includes BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock: Infinite but all of the downloadable content, a playable concept art museum gallery, and a director’s commentary from Ken Levine and Shawn Robertson called Imagining BioShock. Add that to the fact that each game comes with a resolution of full 1080p and a frame rate of 60fps, and it certainly looks like a worthy investment.
Although the first BioShock’s style and atmosphere has lost none of its luster in the last nine years, the visuals have become somewhat dated in that time. This remaster has done a striking job at remedying that situation. The descent into Rapture is just as chilling today as it was in 2007 and the addition of upgraded visuals has helped to give the environment a little more of an edge, making the game even more horror-like than its original form. Some of the gameplay mechanics also feel archaic, especially when compared to its sequels, but BioShock stands up remarkably well.
Meanwhile, BioShock 2 always had a lot to live up to as the sequel to a game that seemed to have almost no detractors. Apart from in respect to its story, it was an improvement in every respect over its predecessor but living up to the lofty heights meant that it was largely disregarded by fans and critics, despite being in no way a bad game. After all, much of the mystery from Rapture was no longer present after the first foray into the underwater city.
Like the previous remaster, BioShock has seen a significant upgrade in terms of performance and look. The better textures, a new lighting system, and improved models mean that BioShock 2 has never looked better, with the fresh overhaul adding plenty of detail and life to the world you explore. The only other main difference is that the multiplayer has been completely removed from this collection.
In terms of BioShock: Infinite, very little has changed. Considering that it is the most recent release and came out very late in the last generation’s life cycle, this isn’t too surprising. Other than a higher resolution and smoother frame rate there has not been any other changes. However, Colombia looks just as great now as it did three years ago and is still capable of putting many more recent releases to shame.
The gameplay throughout all three titles remains exactly the same as it was. This includes the wide range of ways to tackle enemies using weapons, gadgets and special powers known as plasmids. The variety in different attacks leaves open plenty of scope to try out different combination to see what works best. As you progress through the three games, more options are made available thanks to the ability to dual wield in BioShock 2 and the rail-like Sky-Line system in BioShock: Infinite that allows you to travel around much more quickly and with some style.
With the inclusion of all of the DLC for each game, BioShock: The Collection may well be an essential purchase for anyone with an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, never mind those who simply missed out first time around. It is without a doubt one of the best remasters that has been released over the past few years and represents amazing value for money.
This review is based on a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher for review purposes and is based on the Xbox One version. BioShock: The Collection is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.