Bioshock: The Collection review

On the whole, video games are not known for their storylines or settings. Modern games tend to focus on action and interesting settings, and deep storylines tend to distract from that by diverting the player's attention. But when a game gets both right you get something very special and memorable, and Bioshock has always been one of those games.

Bioshock: The Collection is a high definition remake of the three Bioshock games (Bioshock, Bioshock 2 and Bioshock: Infinite) plus all their downloadable content (DLC) packs for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Bioshock was originally released in 2007 for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and sets the player as Jack, the survivor of an aeroplane crash who stumbles upon the entry to the city of Rapture. Built deep underwater by the eccentric industrialist, Andrew Ryan, Rapture was a city designed to free it's inhabitants from the constraints of government and religion and allow them to freely follow industrial and scientific pursuits. However, upon reaching the city, you soon find out that all is not as it seems; Rapture has fallen and you find yourself being pulled into a world of intrigue and betrayal. It's a wonderful, deep and captivating story but, matching the story is the fantastic setting. Dark, brooding and yet strangely beautiful, Rapture feels alive and there is something strangely compelling about discovering what happened to bring the brave dream of one man to and end. Overall, Bioshock is a rare and special game but how well has it aged and how well has it's graphical make-over been handled?

The underwater city of RaptureThere is no denying that the controls for Bioshock seem rather antiqued on consoles. With Left Trigger aiming and Right Trigger being used to fire having become the default controller layout, Bioshocks use of one trigger for weapons and the other for special powers seems rather clumsy in comparison with modern games. Luckily, modern gamers will be much more comfortable with the appearance of the game. Bioshock has had a substantial graphical upgrade, with water and lightning effects being the most obvious improvements, but there are problems too with physics problems leading to items occasionally floating or appearing to be lighter than they should be by flying wildly when hit. It's a minor annoyance, and hopefully something that will be patched in due course, and doesn't detract from what is an amazing game.

Bioshock 2 sees the player return to Rapture as one of Rapture's construction workers and guardians, a Big Daddy, who was lost his daughter. Although the game features a number of improvements, such as the ability to go outside into open water, improved controls and new enemies, the game suffered from a change in the creative team from the first game and the story seems less substantial as a result. However, included with the game is Minerva's Den, a piece of DLC who's story shows the same poignant brilliance of the first game. Graphically, the game shows less improvement than Bioshock but also shows less issues as well. Also missing is the multiplayer game which, although not well received at the time, was a reasonable team-based game.

Attacking an enemy with a fire attackReleased three years after Bioshock 2, Bioshock: Infinite follows the story of Booker Dewitt, a private detective and former soldier, who is tasked with finding and recovering a girl to "wipe away" his "debt". After journeying to a remote lighthouse, Dewitt discovers that it's an access location to the floating city of Columbia, a city dominated by a man named Comstock who is revered as his followers as "The Prophet". Again, the game comes with a number of enhancements to the controls and weapons, but it's largely Bioshock without Rapture, something that players missed so much two of the three pieces of DLC see Dewitt travelling to the underwater city shortly before it's fall. Of the three games, Infinite has the weakest story line but the best graphics with the bright, airy Columbia being beautifully rendered meaning that it needed the lest graphical upgrade on console and wasn't needed at all on PC. However, the high quality graphics put a significant strain on the console versions and on even moderately powerful PCs resulting in poor frame rates and screen tearing.

The Flying City of ColumbiaIt's hard what to make of Bioshock: The Collection. On one hand players who enjoyed the games on the previous generation of hardware will welcome the chance to enjoy them in high definition on their current equipment but new players may find the controls off-putting and the graphical problems spoil what should be an excellent opportunity to enjoy some classic games from the previous generation of gaming hardware. However, what stands out is the quality of the story telling in the games (which is, sadly, a rarity these days) and if is more important to you that graphical fidelity then you won't be disappointed with Bioshock: The Collection.

Nick Bown is Screenjabber's Technical Director and occasionally finds the time to write as part of the Games team. Hailing from a time when computer games came on tape and consoles had wood effect cases, Nick has been gaming for a while and regularly enjoys PC and console titles. As a hardware nerd, he can often be found tinkering with the innards of gaming rigs and servers or explaining the difference between L2 cache and system RAM to those keen to take their gaming hardware to the next level!

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