This is one review I’ve been looking forward to doing, purely because I still think that the Bioshock series has provided some of the most exemplary and compelling storytelling in recent years. Naturally, the success of the series ensured that it would see an HD Remastering, possibly pulled into a collection of some sort, and wouldn’t you know it? Here we are with an HD remaster in the form of Bioshock: The Collection. Meet you under the sea for the rest of the review.
If you’ve not played any of the three games, you are in for an amazing treat. Bioshock first introduced us to the underwater city of Rapture, a place where people could live out their lives unfettered by governments, kingdoms, or religions, and where, theoretically, a man could be entitled to the “sweat from his brow”, as it so succinctly stated. Except that something somewhere goes drastically and dramatically wrong. The story starts in 1950 with a plane crash and a journey into the ocean via a mysterious lighthouse, where you are helped in your journey by a guy named Atlas. And then you get introduced to the most vividly otherworldly imagining containing Splicers and Big Daddies and all sorts of twisted perversions. It’s glorious.
The second game, Bioshock 2, put you in the suit of a Big Daddy, and was set ten years after the first game. It was a return to Rapture; less triumphant than we’d have liked, but more a trip back home after a holiday. A trip filled with violence and blood and gigantic drills and harpoons and more of the magical Eve that provided so much of Rapture’s crazy abilities.
And then it was all topped off with Bioshock Infinite, a trip into the cloud city of Columbia, where you, as ex-Pinkerton Agency detective Booker DeWitt, are tasked with the safe return and delivery of the enigmatic Elizabeth. It was set in an alternate-universe version of 1912, and instead of gene splicing and Eve hypos, we got vigors and salts. Bioshock Infinite, needless to say, won more awards than I can care to enumerate here.
Of the three games, Bioshock received the most attention from the remaster fairy. With a swoosh of her magical wand, she bestowed upon the game not just upgraded sound, models, and textures, but also a developer’s commentary reel that you could pick up throughout the game. However, as the good fairy giveth, good fairy also taketh away, and she took away some stuff from Bioshock 2, most notably the multiplayer (which was actually quite a lot of fun). In taking away from Bioshock 2, some new texturing was added, but clearly not to the extent that Bioshock was remodeled. And of the three games, Bioshock Infinite received the least care. In fact, the PS4 and XB1 versions simply received the hi-def PC version, so that takes care of that. It doesn’t make the game any less gorgeous for the little attention it got, but some extras would have been awesome–like developer’s commentary for the latter two games. On the other hand, all the single player DLC is included, which is a huge bonus for those of us who never got around to playing them.
Playing back through the Bioshock series brought on such a feeling of nostalgia for me. I really did enjoy my time with them the first go around, and coming back to it cemented a lot of my love for the series, plus brought to my attention nuances that I’d either forgotten or overlooked when I played it many years back. Of course, of the three, Bioshock 2 is the weakest game plotwise; then again, you’d also look tiny when placed next to two giants, no matter if you’re over seven feet tall. Bioshock Infinite was recent enough for me to remember how heartachingly beautiful Columbia was, despite the rot underneath. It’s a much more starkly bright contrast to the gloomy, depressing depths of Rapture when you play them side by side. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun to watch your foes get torn apart by crows, however.
Simply put, Bioshock: The Collection is a definite must if you’ve not experienced this amazing saga, and I’d say it’s even worthwhile for a return visit to Rapture and Columbia for those of you who HAVE experienced it. And the best part? For the price, you’re getting three brilliant games–one of which has been beautifully remastered–AND all their DLC for the price of a single game. If that’s not a damned good bargain, I don’t know what is.