BioShock: The Collection – Is the return to Rapture worth it?
It has been a good many, many years since I last played the first two BioShock games, and to be honest I only really played them so I could play BioShock Infinite. Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t especially anything wrong with the first two games, I simply never got around to buying them. But then I started to learn about the recently released BioShock Infinite and decided that it was time to pull my finger out and buy them all.
I was pleasantly surprised with BioShock. I found it to be a genuinely enjoyable game, and aesthetically beautiful, and sincerely enjoyed my time down in Rapture. However, I must admit, by the time I reached the sequel, I was getting a little impatient to play BioShock Infinite, so I found myself blasting through the game as fast as I could, and I never really took the time to appreciate the game, but now that the remastered editions are available, I look forward to giving the game another try. And then I finally reached BioShock Infinite. My word, what a visually and audibly stunning masterpiece this game is, truly. Not only that, but the characters are endearing, and the story is captivating. I defy anyone to play this game and feel disappointed.
Anyway, why we are here today? Well, earlier this month, BioShock: The Collection was released, made up of the tilogy of BioShock games (obviously) which have now been given the old make-over treatment, something which is quite evident as soon as you reach BioShock’s main menu. From the outset, you can tell that this game, which was visually outstanding already, has been kicked up a notch. You most definitely get the sense of the labour of love that has been poured into remastering these games for the modern era. I can answer the question posed by the title of this article right here: Yes, yes it is worth it.
When compared with many of the recent ‘HD remakes’ of certain games (not naming names, but looking in distinct directions), the BioShock remastering is, for all intents and purposes, a very successful endeavour. Though is it a complete success? By all means, no. There are, in reality, a number of issues that I feel lower the overall quality of the game. Firstly, in this particular remaster, gushing water appears to look worse than it did in the original game. Splashing water just sticks out like a sore thumb against the other watery assets, and if you check out the various comparison videos that are available online, I have no doubt that you would agree. Normally this wouldn’t be too much of an issue, but considering this is a game where water is an integral element for the surroundings, you would imagine they’d have water as an artistic priority. The overall wet look for the walls, metal, floors, etc… also seems to have been toned down, something which I believe was a terrible choice, I mean, again, this story takes place entirely under water, the whole city should be incredibly moist. There is also the fact that I somewhat miss the bloom effect that was present in the original game. I think that it added quite a lovely quality to the aesthetic of Rapture, and now things look a little too crisp in my opinion; to add to that, some parts of Rapture actually look cleaner than they did in the original version of the game, and this is something which I feel was a mistake in regards to the remaster because now the ruins of this city no longer look as dingy, as grimy as they once did. I cannot hope enough that the bloom effect will be reintroduced in a later patch. While this isn’t a terrible remaster, it does contain more than enough issues that must be fixed in order for this collection to be a near-perfect remastering of the originals. As an aside, I have heard a number of people mention that they have experienced bugs while playing the game, but I must say that I am yet to experience a single bug or glitch.
Moving on though, while I can most certainly say that this remastered collection as a whole requires more than a little bit of polish, I just found it so immensely enjoyable to be reliving my experience in Rapture. Yes, even though I only played the first BioShock once, I still remember the visuals, the story, the characters fondly, and now I know the entire story I can go back and appreciate all of the little details I would’ve surly missed during my first, and only, playthrough. It is also wonderful that new players to the franchise get the chance to delve into the ruins of this once great city for the very first time. There is not a doubt in my mind that many of them will love it as much as we do here at The Nerd Recites.
Despite the issues presented in the game, BioShock still manages to look rather stunning, and I don’t think many of the issues will be all that noticeable unless you are actively looking out for them, or are viewing a side-by-side comparison of the two versions; but on the whole I firmly believe that BioShock: The Collection was a worthwhile project for the developers. The Splicers look as fucked up as ever. The Splicers have always been so intriguing; They are the last remaining denizens of this majestic underwater city, now utterly deformed beyond recognition and addicted to ADAM. They are as vile and disgusting as they were before, but thanks to a few model tweaks here and there and a few texture upgrades, these poor mutated souls are as unsettling as possible. Of course, the Big Daddies are back and just as menacing as you remember. Bugger me, the few times that I’ve seen these Bouncers, my arse has nearly fallen out! They’re so incredibly intimidating, I’m filled with awe whenever one appears on screen. I’m not looking forward to encountering the Big Sisters in BioShock 2; they’re such a pain in the arse, and as equally unnerving as Mr. Bubbles, if not more so.
So far I must say that BioShock’s remastering is quite the success in my opinion, despite the flaws present. You don’t have to forgive the flaws at all, but simply remember that no game, particularly remastered editions of older games, are perfect. There’s always some give and take; so while there have been many graphical improvements, there are the occasional number of cock-ups (including issues with the audio, oddly enough). But why dwell on the negatives when there is so much more to be pleased with?
Naturally, as I have mentioned, I am yet to return to BioShock 2, so I must refrain from commenting on this specific edition for the time being. However, one can imagine that the game and setting retains both the improvements and shortfalls of the BioShock remaster. So quickly moving on from this, let’s discuss the game that cemented my love for this universe – BioShock Infinite. A game that takes place, not far beneath the surface of the sea, but rather far above the clouds; In the heavens above.
So, to start off, there is one thing I must note in regards to this remastered collection: BioShock Infinite has not actually received an any real graphical updates. This is due to the fact that this third instalment in the franchise is considered to be up to (now)current-gen standards. I can’t really argue with that, because let’s face it, this game remains one of the most beautiful games ever released and is without a doubt one of the most striking that I have ever played. While looking through my Steam screenshot folder for any caps to use for this article, It became immediately obvious to me just how much I seem to have loved the visuals in this game. I currently have a staggering 893 screenshots for BioShock Infinite (including the various DLC), though many of those are from mashing the screencapture key to try and get the best shot possible.
There are a few changes to some of the effects in BioShock: Infinite, such as a reduced bloom effect, but at least it is still present in this game, unlike in BioShock. It is a shame that there is no new content for BioShock Infinite. As this game was included in the collection, and such additional work went into the previous games, it would have been an absolute treat to be given a reason to play through this story once more in the form of… something, anything that adds even more depth to this world. Hell, a few more scenes with the Lutece twins would have been outstanding (they are two of my favourite side-characters in any game I have ever played). For someone such as myself that has replayed BioShock Infinite a countless number of times, it would’ve been nice to see something new, but hey, it’s just the way it is. Not that the lack of new content would ever diminish my love of the game, not in the slightest. I will continue revisiting Columbia: The city in the sky whenever the mood takes me. I must say to be fair, that I have heard talk of a directors commentary feature that has been included for all three games, but as I am yet to play past the first game, I cannot verify this claim, but if it is true, I am definitely going to enjoy listening to them (provided I can find them all).
I know for a fact that once I have completed a full playthrough of both BioShock and BioShock 2 I shall return once more to Columbia even without any additional gameplay content to enjoy. I will be there to see the story unfold, to be connected with the first game, to interact with truly memorable characters like Elizabeth, the Luteces, Daisy Fitzroy, Slater, and not forgetting that magnificent Song Bird. It feels odd to love these games so much, yet to have only played the first two once, but that just goes to show how unique these games really are. I cannot congratulate Ken Levine and his team at Irrational Games, and of course those at the various 2K studios for their unmitigated success with the BioShock franchise.
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So, as a collective, what would I give as my final verdict on this remastering of the BioShock series? Easy. Simply put, it was a gift to be able to return to Rapture, to see new life breathed into the city under the ocean, and despite the shortcomings, I genuinely believe old fans will get a real kick out of revisiting the city where it all began, to play all three games (and DLC) back to back. To see the three game story tied together nicely. The issues mentioned in this article will hopefully be fixed, and if so, in a timely manner too, because once they are, this collection will be next to perfection for any BioShock fan out there.
And now, that’s it from myself. Would you kindly leave a comment down below telling me what you thought of BioShock: The Collection? What did you like about it? Was there anything you felt let own about? What would you have liked to have seen included / changed in the games? Need a visual comparison for yourselves? If so, be sure to check out the comparison trailer for the collection right here:
BioShock: The Collection is out now for the PC, PS4, and XBox One.
Image Credits: Irrational Games, 2K Games