Everyone remembers their first visit to Rapture. The experience of stepping into the bathysphere and descending into the depths of a desolate underwater city has been engraved into the minds of every modern gamer. It is one of the defining moments of its time, and remains so nearly ten years later.
Bioshock: The Collection houses all three Bioshock games; Bioshock, Bioshock 2 and Bioshock Infinite. The graphics have been upgraded to 1080p with a framerate of sixty frames-per-second. Each game’s downloadable content is included and accessible from the outset. There’s a lot of content to enjoy here, with each game lasting upwards of 15 hours, and that’s excluding any of the additional content.
Going in release chronology, Bioshock is the first port of call. It feels as fresh as it did back in 2007, and despite some harsh backlash from some fans in recent years, the game remains tense and interesting.
The city of Rapture is the true star in Bioshock: a bleak environment built with a ridiculous attention to detail, the art deco interiors are a marvel to explore. Discovering audio diaries littered throughout the city expands on the history of Rapture – its inception by founder and antagonist Andrew Ryan, and its eventual downfall – brought to life with some truly wonderful voice acting.
Bioshock’s problems come from it simply being a product of its time. Gameplay mechanics are quite frankly medieval in comparison to modern day games; pressing triangle to jump, or R3 to aim would feel completely alien to younger generations. This extends to the plasmid mechanics – plasmids are the elemental super powers you gain throughout your journey in Rapture. Players can swap between weapons in the right hand, and plasmids in the left. This can be a bit fiddly during more heated combat, cycling through the options until you settle on the relevant plasmid/weapon combination. Moreover, the water-pump hacking mini games are far too frequent and break up the gameplay at most inopportune times.
These problems can be distracting for newcomers, but are ultimately negligible when compared to the otherwise immersive journey through Rapture. From scouring boxes for money to taking on the dreaded Big Daddy, Bioshock is a truly original experience.
Bioshock 2 serves to continue the storyline set out in Bioshock. Only this time, you control one of the very first Big Baddies; Subject Delta. Awoken after many years, you find Rapture in disarray, controlled by the warped psychologist Sophia Lamb.
Lamb is Bioshock 2’s equivalent to Andrew Ryan, goading Subject Delta as you progress through the story. Though unlike Ryan, who’s presence was immediately understood in context of the plot, Lamb’s inclusion feels a bit forced, with no mention of her in the previous game whatsoever.
Gameplay in Bioshock 2 is much improved over its predecessor. Guns and plasmids can now be used in tandem with each other, allowing you to swap to the most relevant combination on the fly. Utilising the power of a Big Daddy, you also wield a monstrous drill weapon, allowing you to charge into enemies and really rip them a new one. The hacking mini games have also been revamped, making the process much more user friendly, without sacrificing difficulty.
The third game (and final, so far) in the series, Bioshock Infinite, turns the series on its head, quite literally. Rather than going down into an underwater city, the protagonist, Booker Dewitt, is catapulted into the sky, landing on the floating city of Columbia.
Run by evangelical Father Comstock, Columbia is a religious eden which swiftly takes a turn for the worst when Dewitt, known by the citizens as the False Shepherd, wrecks havoc on his mission so save an imprisoned woman called Elizabeth.
What follows is a journey best left to the player to discover. The plot twists in Infinite are wonderful, though occasionally weighed down by overwhelming religious themes.
Much of the gameplay from the previous games remains in Infinite. Plasmids are replaced by Vigors, though they work in much the same way. Combat is faster, relying on quick reflexes and the ability to make good use of a brand new piece of tech called the Skyhook. The Skyhook allows Dewitt to throw himself onto rails suspended in the air, allowing the player to race around the levels, jumping from platform to platform in order to gain the advantage over the enemy. This feels great at first, though sometimes the gameplay can get a little bit too frantic to be completely enjoyable.
Whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned veteran, Bioshock The Collection is an irresistible treat for fans of narrative driven games. All entries to the series are already a marvel to behold thanks to some stellar art direction, but they have now been beefed up and look better than ever. Bugs can occasionally occur, with framerates dropping from time to time, but are never frequent enough to dampen the experience. There has never been a better time to visit Rapture and Columbia.