Title: Bioshock: The Collection
Platform: PC/PS4 (reviewed)/Xbox One
Developer: Irrational Games, 2K Australia, 2K Marin
Publisher: 2K Games
Release date: Out now
tl;dr: Somewhere beyond the sea, there’s a place for you, me, and hordes of crazy drug addicts.
Price: PS4: £40/$60/€50
Xbox One: £40/$60/€50
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
There are some games that are truly brilliant. There are some games I don’t complain about. There are some games where the plot and the worldbuilding is so damn good, I don’t mind buying a remaster, because quite frankly, the creators deserve my money two times over.
Bioshock is one of these franchises, because let’s face it – any game that gets a lengthy, well written companion novel that fleshes out characters, fills in plotholes, and adds more backstory was always going to get five stars from me.
Bioshock is one of those rare franchises I feel we’re seeing less and less of with the new console generation. It’s unique, genuinely scary without relying far too heavily on gore, there’s enough lore to fill several books, and it’s clever; it’s filled to the brim with philosophy, symbolism, and is genuinely an example of a fantastic writer at the helm. Characters have about as much depth as Rapture does from the surface, and the world is a terrifying little universe that feels far too inhabited for comfort. It hits all the right buttons as a visual storytelling medium, and it’s a pleasure to play through a second time – this is coming from the wuss who managed a whole half an hour and nothing more in Silent Hill 2.
So when this announcement rocked up, packaging together three full games, three DLCS, multiplayer, director interviews, and a museum of lost content, all for forty quid, I was elated. I’d never played Burial at Sea, Bioshock 2, or Minerva’s Den, and here they all are together. No matter how much I gripe about remasters (Uncharted hardly looked as if anything had been done to it, and The Last of Us had been out for about a year before they redid it), you have to admit, this is great value for money, even if it had been £60.
So let’s talk visuals. Nothing’s been completely overhauled like Final Fantasy VIIR will be, but it’s a hell of a lot smoother and more… realistic? If that’s the right phrase to use. Metals shine properly, lights glow in the right hue, and the textures are a lot sharper. Faces look nicer, environments are less blurry, and it appears to be a lot higher poly this time around, which is fair considering we’re hailing from the long gone era of 2007. You can absolutely see the difference, and if I didn’t know any better, I’d say it was a current gen game to start with.
The textures and faces aren’t perfect, by any means, but the animated art style of the game is the thing I reckon has saved this game from ageing badly. The cartoonish effect allowed for slightly blurry parts and bright colours, and it meshes together in a wonderful tableau. There’s obviously been some serious work put into this remaster, and it shows. I’m tentatively not going to call it a cash grab.
However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t without issues. Whilst it has really quick install times for all three games, and the first two games run smooth as a kitten with butter on its feet, Infinite and Burial at Sea (Part 1 at least) seem to have some problems with the frame rate. Lots of stuttering, and not just in the bustling streets of Columbia prior to everything going to shit – the relatively deserted halls of Fontaine Futuristics seem to skitter and jolt when walking into new areas or opening doors. I don’t remember this being an issue on the PS3, which is somewhat worrying.
There’s also some weird glitch with the audio in the last part of Burial at Sea, in Fontaine Futuristics, where the ambient noise is so loud, you can barely hear the characters speaking. I thought it was supposed to ramp up the scare factor, but it was getting ridiculous. This seems like something that’s a pretty major bug and really shouldn’t have slipped through the net, especially with an upscale remaster.
But in all honesty? This one’s pretty damn good. It’s a pleasure to revisit the world Ken Levine and co created, and it’s cheap, to boot. Now, Mr Levine, if you’re reading, would you kindly give us that movie, and a few more books, while you’re at it?
- Three games, three DLCs, and multiplayer for £40.
- A pretty decent remaster, by remaster standards.
- Lots of extra director’s commentaries and cut content for you to look at.
- Lots of glitches, and more than the ones I encountered.
- Frame rate issues.
- Nothing else has been touched up aside from the graphics.
It’s a solid 18 rating all the way through, because nothing says family friendly like beating splicers to death with a sky hook.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game purchased for the purposes of this review.