Bioshock: The Collection (PS4) Review

Would you kindly do yourself a favor and pick up Bioshock: The Collection? Ok, now that the in game reference is done with, it’s time to take a look at the remastering of the Bioshock series for consoles. While PC players are used to higher graphical resolution and having a full 60fps to work with, console players were left with a 1080p-ish 30fps experience that just doesn’t compare. Now those of you lucky enough to have these games on PC will be getting the remastered editions for free, but console players have to shell out full price all over again. Is it worth it?

Game Name: Bioshock: The Collection   
Platform(s):  PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One & PC
Publisher(s): 2k Games  
Developer(s): Blind Squirrel Games
Release Date: September 13, 2016 (North America) / September 15, 2016 (Australia)
Price: $59.99 (North America) / $99.95 (Australia)

Story

Bioshock: After surviving a plane crash in the middle of nowhere, Jack makes his way to the world of Rapture, a city under the sea that is built on the concept of everyone gets only what they earn. Jack must fight his way through Rapture’s mutated citizens that call themselves Splicers as he makes his way to confront the ruler of Rapture, a man by the name of Andrew Ryan. Along the way, Jack has to either save or harvest special Little Sisters for Rapture’s wonder drug: ADAM. Jack can either keep his humanity or lose it like a lot of the other citizens of Rapture… If only he would kindly…

Bioshock 2: Set before the events of the original Bioshock, Bioshock 2 sees you take control of an early prototype of Rapture’s Big Daddy called Delta as it searches for the Little Sister that is was boned to many years ago. Delta faces off against a psychotic Sofia Lamb who is using Delta’s Little Sister for some inhumane experiments.

Bioshock Infinite: “Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt”. This is the message that is given to Booker DeWitt as he makes his way to Columbia, a city in the clouds that has pulled away from the rest of the United States and is run by The Prophet “Father Comstock”. Upon rescuing the girl, a special child by the name of Elizabeth who can rip through space/time distortions, DeWitt tries to flee Columbia and the debt. However, there is more to this story than even DeWitt knows as there is always a man and a lighthouse…

The Dark yet colorful dampness of Bioshock

The Dark yet colorful dampness of Bioshock

Graphics

Now this is where Bioshock: The Collection truly shines. The graphics have been given a complete overhaul thanks to Blind Squirrel Games porting Bioshock: The Collection to PlayStation 4 & Xbox One using the Unreal 4 Engine. While this does not fix all the graphical issues with the game, it makes everything all shiny and textured to the point of some mods that are out there for Grand Theft Auto 4 & 5. Especially anything to do with water, and since Bioshock & Bioshock 2 are centered in Rapture, that’s a lot of water effects. Bioshock Infinite doesn’t get much of an upgrade, though. If anything the console version has been brought up to the graphical levels of the current PC version; which is fair enough since Bioshock Infinite is only 3 years old compared to Bioshock which is 9 years old and Bioshock 2 coming in at 6 years old.

If there is anything that can be called a perfect port, it’s Bioshock: The Collection. Every square inch of these three games from start to finish is on display. Moments from Bioshock and Bioshock 2 which made you go “wow” back in their respective days will make you go “holy shit” in amazement as they happen again in 1080p 60fps glory.

However, if there is anything to take points off for in this remastering it’s that the people in all three games appear a bit too out of place now. While all the background textures have been upgraded and given a spit-shine, the people you meet and kill appear like a bunch of shiny puppets more than real people. Plus there are still a few graphical issues with people rag dolling into walls and such, and there’s sometimes some graphical pop in if you’re moving too quickly. Otherwise Bioshock: The Collection is just like was said before, a perfect port.

Big Daddy Delta protects a random Little Sister in Bioshock 2

Big Daddy Delta protects a random Little Sister in Bioshock 2

Sound

There’s nothing that has been done to Bioshock: The Collection’s soundtrack or sound effects that really warrant a mention. Rapture is still a silent echoy mess of tunnels where Splicers play games with you as they search you out. Every creek of the pressure that Rapture is under bounces off the walls as you make your way through the damp halls. Bioshock Infinite rings out with all the modified songs that were in the original, which was surprising since licenses do tend to need to be renegotiated for this type of thing. Nothing sounds out of place in Bioshock: The Collection from what has been reviewed, but that could be due to the lack of a surround sound system.

Bioshock Infinite didn't need a face lift, it still looks beautiful

Bioshock Infinite didn’t need a facelift, it still looks beautiful

Gameplay

Gameplay in Bioshock: The Collection is pretty straight forward. It’s your normal FPS set up with one shooting button, one melee button, and all that other stuff. The only thing that sets Bioshock: The Collection apart is that you get to use special powers that are assigned to another shooting style button. You make your way through the narrow halls of Rapture or the lofty skylines of Columbia killing splicers and special Columbia Police as you do whatever you are in those areas to do. There aren’t many jumping puzzles, nor any puzzles at all thanks to navigation systems in Bioshock 2 & Bioshock Infinite doing a great job in getting you to your next objective. It’s a shame that Bioshock didn’t get anything more to help in that regard as it is pretty easy to get stuck wondering where to go next.

While it would have been a great opportunity to change the controls around to a more universal system for all three games, especially since there is such a drastic change with Bioshock Infinite’s controls that it is jarring when you first begin to play. But that being said, if Blind Squirrel Games did go into any of the Bioshock games and made any drastic changes to them, then Bioshock: The Collection wouldn’t be a true remastered experience and keeping the core of the games as they should be.

As this is a collection, Bioshock: The Collection comes with all the DLC additions that the original games did. So if you missed out on Bioshock 2’s Minerva’s Den DLC or the excellent Bioshock Infinite Burial at Sea 2 part DLC, this is your chance to give them a go. You also get the challenge rooms from all three games plus a special Bioshock Museum of cut content that you can walk around in and read about. The final thing that is included in Bioshock: The Collection is Director’s Commentary from series’ creator / director Ken Levine and lead artist Shawn Robertson. The only problem is that you have to unlock these by finding them in the game and they are hosted by Geoff Keighley.

The Bioshock Museum is a nice little interactive extra

The Bioshock Museum is a nice little interactive extra

Final Thoughts

Bioshock: The Collection is something that I personally would have bought even if it was something that needed a huge day one patch to get right. The Bioshock series is one of those game series that everyone needs to experience at least once; if not for the gameplay elements and the great use of imaginative locations, but the philosophical implications of all three games is the stuff of legend. Having these games on a two-disc set on Playstation 4 is something that I was more than happy to pay a full price for. Hell, for the full price tag, this is a steal. Three games, all the DLC, and it’s been upgraded using the Unreal 4 Engine… I cannot recommend Bioshock: The Collection enough for first-time players of the series or even people who might want to kill some time returning to the worlds of Rapture and Columbia via consoles. Otherwise, grab the free upgraded PC versions… And wait for a Steam sale to get all the DLC Season Passes.

  • Would you kindly return to Rapture?

Summary

A near perfect port of a great game series that is worth playing, and paying for, all over again. Bioshock: The Collection is one of those things that should always have a place on a gamer's shelf.

Pros

  • Great games that haven't aged at all
  • Graphical upgrades makes the effects look amazing
  • The Museum is worth a walk through, just to read about all the changes that have taken place.

Cons

  • Some issues with rag dolling characters & texture pop ins still remain
  • Characters are too shiny, looking like puppet more than people
  • Geoff Keighley hosting a series of behind the scenes videos... Ugh.
4.5

About The Author

Senior Editor / Reviewer

Outspoken but logical, Karl joined The Outerhaven as a Video Games Reviewer but has morphed into one of the minds behind the current incarnation of The Outerhaven. While always quick with a joke, Karl will not hesitate to put someone in their place or rip the truth from the fiction. Primarily spends time playing and reviewing video games while taking time to occasionally review the latest movie or piece of gaming technology.

  • Gary Marston

    Very good review. At the time, I thought departing Rapture in Infinite was a big risk – but Columbia turned out to be just as good. BioShock 2 is the only weak link in the series but other than that, some of the best titles of all time.