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BioShock: The Collection review | A welcome return to Rapture

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If you’ve never played the individual titles before, BioShock: The Collection is well worth playing to experience the three core BioShock games and their additional content. However, for those who are familiar with these titles, you’ll also find that these are three great remastered ports that bring some of the finest shooter action in gaming to Nintendo Switch. The controls aren’t flawless, and impact of certain scenes is lessened or lost on the Switch port, but they remain fantastic games.

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Same ship, just a different rudder

BioShock: The Collection tells a variety of unorthodox, memorable narratives. BioShock tells the ever-twisting tale of the sole survivor of a plane crash going deep beneath the surface of the ocean to a city called Rapture. Here, ideals and the standards of society are drastically different than on the surface, allowing for great leaps and bounds in the creative and scientific fields. However, the people of Rapture went too far, and it led to their downfall. BioShock‘s story features a famous twist and is a thrill to play out from beginning to end.

In BioShock 2, players take on another twisting story in Rapture, but this time from the perspective of one of the original Big Daddy figures, hulking adversaries from the original game. As Subject Delta, players must fight their way through the ruins of Rapture in order to find their Little Sister, a girl who has been experimented on, and save her from the nefarious characters who have risen to power around the sunken city’s various districts.

Finally, BioShock Infinite takes players to Columbia, a city in the sky. The people there believe themselves better than those on the world below, but just a few minutes into the intro you discover that this is definitely not the case. The game’s story has arguably the biggest twist of the series.

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Hard to steer

While every game is as brilliant as always, the Switch controls require some effort. The controls basically line up with what they are on other consoles, but the smaller button sizes on the Switch and the position of the D-pad compared to on other controllers makes it a little cumbersome and complicated. However, after an hour or so with BioShock: The Collection, you won’t notice the control issues as much, though I will say that they were a constant bother in BioShock Infinite. Perhaps a Pro Controller would negate this.

The inclusion of each game’s DLC is a massive boon to this collection. BioShock 2: Minerva’s Den and BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea are not only some of the best DLC you’ll ever play, but they are also the best in the BioShock franchise. The remaster treatment has been applied to these too, and they feel all the better for it. These add-ons always felt more like love letters to their respective games, but the remastered versions feel like passion projects that the developers wanted to make all along.

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Use your imagination

Unfortunately, BioShock: The Collection lacks some of the cinematic nuance that the original games had. Certain sections felt a bit flatter than I remembered. For example, when you first meet the Big Sister in BioShock 2, there’s a splendid scene in which she floods a room that you’re in. In the original version of the game, the camera settles on objects floating in the center of the screen in such a way that it still looks like a movie. However, on the Switch, the end of the scene looks to be missing some effects, meaning that you’re taken out of the moment far sooner than you would have been otherwise.

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Part of what made the BioShock series so powerful were these cinematic moments. They’re few and far between, but they’re the payoff that you play for. Part of me wants to recommend that someone just revisits the original versions of the games on their original consoles.

However, where the collection lets the games down in one area, it bolsters them in another. There’s no denying just how beautiful each game and its DLC looks on the Switch. From the shine on the revolver in BioShock, to the reflection on your drill or the shadows in BioShock 2 and the open environment in BioShock Infinite, everything looks incredible.

I’m also pleased to report that I didn’t experience any screen tearing or frame rate issues while playing in handheld mode. BioShock: The Collection holds up really well, and loading times aren’t any longer than they are on other consoles. With that said, they’ve always been long, and it would have been nice to see some further optimization with this latest port.

One thing that I think really lets BioShock: The Collection down is the lack of multiplayer in BioShock 2. The original game featured an exciting online multiplayer mode in which you could battle as Splicers around various areas in Rapture. The multiplayer mode can’t have been that popular, but it felt like a key part of BioShock 2. I can’t really consider the game complete without it.

Let yourself be enraptured

Having access to BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite and their associated DLC in BioShock: The Collection makes it well worth the asking price, especially with Switch portability factored in. They’re relatively old titles, but they’re packed full of entertaining content and remastered for an overall better experience.

There are three incredibly unique experiences to be had with this collection. Each one is a journey that you’ll remember in its own right for years after you’ve played it. They’ll have you constantly questioning the reality you’re in, both in the games and in real life. Don’t pass up the opportunity to play them.

Release Date: May 29, 2020
No. of Players: 1 player
Category: First-Person Shooter
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Irrational Games, Blind Squirrel Games, Virtuos
A review code was provided by the publisher.

Our review policy.

BioShock: The Collection

9

Pros
  • Fantastic visuals
  • Still immersive even on the Switch's screen
  • Three incredible stories that stand the test of time and are worth experiencing today
Cons
  • Loses cinematic nuance in key scenes
  • Controls start out feeling awkward and never get better in BioShock Infinite
  • No multiplayer in BioShock 2
Jamie Sharp
Started out playing Metroid 2 on the GameBoy at around 5 years-old, and now I write about games all day long. Can't play Switch and drive, I've tried. As time goes on the Switch is quickly becoming my favourite console of all time.

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