You likely don’t need me to tell you that you should play BioShock. You probably figured that out in 2007, when it first came out. That isn’t why I spent a few hours with BioShock: The Collection.
What you probably do want to know is that Rapture looks as stunning and eerie as you remember it. The water spouting in and pooling on the floor, the debris strewn about the once glittering halls, and the terrifying shadows of prowling splicers have the same impact as they did nine years ago.
But if you put the two games side-by-side (and I encourage you to watch the video below for just that purpose), you will see just how our memories play tricks on us. BioShock was an early Xbox 360 title. While the gameplay holds up, the visuals are showing their age.
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It’s here that the remastered version, which will be sold as part of BioShock: The Collection, seems set to succeed. Not only have the textures and effects been significantly improved, but the game runs smoothly at 60 frames per second.
I played through all of BioShock’s medical pavilion, fought my first Big Daddy, put a stop to Dr. Steinman’s terrible medical experiments, and hacked. Oh, did I hack. The Pipe Dream-style mini-game hasn’t changed one bit.
Scattered throughout the original entry’s remaster are 10 video reels. These are how you’ll unlock the director’s commentary, which features Geoff Keighley interviewing creative director Ken Levine and Animation Lead Shawn Robertson. Robertson served as the animation director on BioShock: Infinite, also.
Sadly, the commentary isn’t available atop the gameplay. It would have been interesting to play with Levine and Robertson in your ear, talking about the different sights and sounds of Rapture. This is still a great bonus, as the tale of Andrew Ryan’s undersea paradise-gone-wrong is a fascinating one.
Both BioShock 2 and BioShock: Infinite look better, also. Neither are as strikingly improved as the original, but do benefit from the added polish. Both Rapture-based games will get the same improvements on PC, but Infinite already looks just as good on that platform.
I dipped into BioShock Infinite, replaying the entire first segment of the game. Since I played it originally on the Xbox 360, the improvements were noticeable, but not nearly as profound as the original BioShock’s upgrades.
In a generation that has been filled with remasters and ports, some good and some woefully disappointing, you might be tired of rebuying the same games for newer systems. Because these games are only being sold as a bundle and not a la carte, it might be a tough sell at $60.
Remasters are always a “your mileage may vary” situation. If you’ve never played the BioShock games, this is going to be easy to recommend. If you’re considering revisiting these games, but are leery of poor quality ports, I can largely say you’re safe. There was a single issue I ran into with texture pop-in and one audio bug, but we were playing pre-release code that could very well be touched up before launch.
BioShock: The Collection will be out on September 13 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.