The Bioshock games are some of the most beloved and critically acclaimed games of last generation. The original Bioshock was a landmark for gaming in terms of storytelling and world building. Now, almost a decade after its release in 2007, it has returned with both of its sequels in a package entitled Bioshock: The Collection.
In addition to including all three original games in The Collection, you’ll also get all of the DLC for each title. So if you’ve never played through Bioshock 2’s Minerva’s Den add-on or Infinite’s Burial at Sea, then now is the perfect time. The only notable absence in this bundle is that of Bioshock 2’s multiplayer, but, let’s be honest, no one really cared for that anyway. There’s so much content included in this one package that it will keep you busy for weeks. It’s a fantastic pack that both new and old fans will enjoy.
The biggest draw to this new collection, other than amassing all of the games and its DLC in one location, would be the updated graphics that it offers. For the most part, Blind Squirrel, the studio who worked on porting these games to current generation hardware, did a great job. Specifically, the original Bioshock looks much improved and its updated visuals are much more noticeable than that of Bioshock 2 or Infinite. This is mostly due in part to the fact that Bioshock is now close to 10 years old which means its graphics were the most dated out of the three titles in this collection. Blind Squirrel put in a lot of work to make sure that Rapture would look fresh and they did a fantastic job.
One of the only things that hasn’t aged well visually in these games are the character animations, specifically that of Bioshock 1 and 2. While the graphics do look up to date, the animations of the splicers and even some of the Big Daddy’s are starting to to show their age. It wasn’t anything that bothered me greatly, but it was noticeable.
My biggest concern coming into The Collection was wondering whether or not the game’s themselves would hold up. I’m incredibly happy to report that in 2016, the Bioshock series is just as fun and compelling as it ever has been. The story, writing, and worlds found in these games are still just as incredible as they were years ago. Rapture specifically still stands out as one of the most unique locations in video games and it was an absolute joy to return to its eerie corridors.
The only thing that felt somewhat aged were the shooting mechanics, which have been a constant complaint with some gamers for years. Personally, I have never found them to be as egregious as others have but I will admit that they could’ve used some tuning up in The Collection. Then again, the Bioshock games have never been about precision shooting to me in the way that something like Call of Duty is. I’ve always always been able to look past the gunplay’s minor flaws because everything else is so expertly crafted.
While the game’s themselves still hold up incredibly well, I did run into a few scattered issues with The Collection. In my time with the original Bioshock, the frame rate began dropping incredibly low in a few areas and the only way I could fix it was to reload previous saves. Even then, sometimes it still didn’t fix the issues I was having and I would then need to completely leave the area of the game I was in and load a new environment to fix the problem completely.
Another annoyance I found was that for some odd reason, Bioshock 1 and 2 only allow you to create a certain number of save files before telling you that you have run out of save data application storage. Of course, this just couldn’t be true considering I had close to 100 GB’s of space left on my hard drive. Essentially, if I created too many save files – which I was doing quite often since I was playing through both games on the hardest difficulty without Vita-Chambers – then the game would tell me that I had run out of space to create anymore saves. To make this issue even more irritating was that for some reason Bioshock 1 and 2 are connected in save data. So for example, if you’ve used up your allotted save data all on Bioshock 1 then by the time you boot up Bioshock 2 you will be completely unable to save without first deleting some or all of your save files from Bioshock 1. It was a strange issue to have and one that is hard to explain but it was obnoxious nonetheless. Hopefully there’s a patch to fix it soon.
One of the coolest – and sadly only – new additions that comes with The Collection is a developer commentary series that is tied to the original Bioshock. This video commentary features creative director Ken Levine and lead animator Shawn Robertson as they sit down with Geoff Keighley to discuss the process behind creating the original Bioshock. You unlock these videos by finding Golden Film Reel collectibles throughout the world of Rapture. The video series is divided into 10 parts so there are 10 different Golden Film Reels you can discover while playing through the original game. As a longtime Bioshock fan, I greatly enjoyed this commentary and found it highly interesting to learn about the game’s design procedure.
Unfortunately, Bioshock 2 and Infinite didn’t receive this same director commentary treatment. While I can understand why Bioshock 2 wouldn’t have received a commentary given the fact that Levine and Robertson didn’t work on the game, I was puzzled as to why Infinite was left out. I would have greatly appreciated the same in depth conversation about how they created Columbia and what that process was like. Even if these subsequent games didn’t receive a similar video commentary series, something new could have been included to at least freshen them up. As it stands, nothing at all was added to Bioshock 2 or Infinite besides the updated graphics, and I found that to be incredibly disappointing.
If you’ve never played any of the Bioshock games before, then The Collection is perfect for you. All three games hold up incredibly well and still feel just as exciting today as they did years ago. If you have played through the series before though and you’re looking for something new in The Collection, then don’t expect much. Other than that, $60 is a small price to pay for being able to play through some of the best games from last generation for either the first time or the fifth.