BioShock: The Collection Review

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From the moment you hear the melody of Bobby Darin’s “Somewhere Beyond The Sea” as Jack Wynand takes his first steps into Rapture to the acapella cover of Beach Boys classic “God Only Knows” above the clouds of Columbia in BioShock Infinite: The Complete Edition, you realise, from those very moments on, that you’re not in Kansas anymore. BioShock: The Collection is a series where the anachronism influx of time and technology collide together in a cocktail bizarre enough to confuse the laws of logic. Yet it still manages to maintain a believable, immersive yet incredibly dangerous world at the same time.

Now, I’m not going to bang on about Big Daddys, Little Sisters or spoil the mysteries behind them. At this point, everybody must know who they are, what they do and their importance to the first two BioShock games. If you have managed to go this long knowing very little about the BioShock series, then take my advice and just dive in blind. You shouldn’t need to hear from yet another game critic hyping on about one of the most influential series of the last generation. After all, each game’s reputation generally speaks for themselves. 

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All you do need to know is that BioShock Remastered took the first-person shooter genre and submerged it into the depths of the watery unknown. Set in 1960 but boasting a 1930’s decorative style, the original BioShock influence of 19th-century science fiction horror with visual depictions from the likes of HG Wells, Mary Shelly and Jules Verne establishes the atmosphere perfectly for a dystopian industrial revolution gone mad on genetic enhancing toxins. You get to bear witness to the mysteries of the underwater metropolis of Rapture unfolding as you desperately fight for survival in a claustrophobic city where every single bullet counts.

The sequel – BioShock 2 Remastered – follows 10 years after the events of the first. However this time, you no longer play the lead role from the original adventure. Instead, you get to stand in the boots of Subject Delta, a Big Daddy prototype and something that you quickly learned to fear in the original game. Some could argue that the setting of the sequel can come across as a little too familiar, somewhat taking away from the mysteries that surrounded your experience in BioShock Remastered. However, the plot, world-building and new direction are intriguing enough to capture your interest for the journey that you are taken on.

BioShock Infinite: The Complete Edition takes the smart choice of drifting away from familiar waters to soar high above the horizon. From the moment you hear what sounds like the horns of the apocalypse above the dark and cloudy skies parallels that similar fresh feeling of descending into the depths of Rapture for the first time. The story is set almost 50 years prior to the events of BioShock Remastered, and the threat that is to become a by-product of chemistry and engineering flips back to an equally dangerous political and evangelical twist. It’s much more gung ho and fast-paced than its predecessors, often taking the term rollercoaster ride quite literally. 

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Sat next to the more modern triple-A games on other consoles, BioShock: The Collection can appear to be slightly showing its age. However, on Nintendo Switch they happen to look to be among the console’s finest. This is by no means a criticism of the hybrid system’s processing power as these games are still often striking to the eye. It’s more the case of truly appreciating their style and understanding the fact that they can be played so practically well on a smaller screen. The intimacy of headphones and playing in Handheld mode improves the immersion alone, the loading times are often excellent and the bright architectural design in BioShock Infinite: The Complete Edition shows that porting the best from the last console generation needs to be maintained as a common habit. 

With that said, each of the three games undoubtedly look better on a TV screen. The blacks are much deeper compared to Handheld mode and the ability to push past the restrictions of Nintendo Switch’s 720p screen resolution make the overall visual experience even sharper and more vibrant. There are a few slight cases of pixelation which are more noticeable in the opening minutes of BioShock Remastered. But in all fairness, it never really became too apparent thereafter and not nearly as much of an issue as the blurring that can be found with modern Unreal Engine 4 ports.

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Each game in BioShock: The Collection can be purchased individually. However, those who are planning on opting to bag a physical cartridge to save on storage will be disappointed to know that 31GB will still be required on your microSD card – so no The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition-sized treatment to be found here. Furthermore, don’t go in expecting everything to be packaged together neatly all under one roof. The three games are listed separately on the system interface regardless of how you decide to purchase it, but this does mean that you can freely choose which you would like to have installed.

What you do get though, are remastered versions of the first two games and all the downloadable content that was ever released for the trilogy. While BioShock: The Collection can often be found on sale for less than a tenner on other platforms, the option for portable play and content included more than warrants the price of the Nintendo Switch version. It’s worth noting that these are straight conversions of the 2017 compilation, meaning that there’s no online multiplayer in BioShock 2 Remastered and, more disappointing to me at least, no gyroscopic support for motion aiming whatsoever. 

One of the most celebrated series of the early HD console generation is certainly something that the Nintendo Switch has been craving for. It may not be the most convenient collection to hit the portable home console, but that doesn’t really take away from the fact that BioShock: The Collection is a solid port. Whether you are adding it for the novelty of compiling together a digital library on the go, the practicality of finding gaming time within a busy lifestyle or even to simply experience a past title released for the very first time on a Nintendo system, BioShock: The Collection is most definitely a worthwhile addition to the Nintendo Switch library.

Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by 2K

Total Score
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