Regardless of which Bioshock game from the trilogy is your favourite, the chances are that at least one of them you consider to be one of the best games of all-time. This alone is despite this generation being very crowded in terms of HD remasters, Bioshock: The Collection is a welcomed edition to almost any gamer’s collection. With all games being fantastic and benefiting a great deal from their new and improved 1080p/60fps visuals, whether you’re new or returning to this series, this collection is a must own. [Edit]: As of June 2020, an update has been released to upgrade each game in the collection for the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.
The chances are that you’re already familiar with each of the three games plot, but just in case you are new (and you’re in for one hell of a treat if you are), I’ll keep plot details very vague and as spoiler free as possible. In the first Bioshock game, the year is 1960 and you play a character simply known as Jack. At the beginning of the game, the plane you are aboard crashes into the Atlantic Ocean and seemingly by chance, you stumble across a Lighthouse. It is here that Jack finds himself submerged into the underwater utopia of Rapture and you meet Atlas, a man that is desperate to be reunited with his family. The only thing standing in your way of helping Jack and escaping Rapture, is its creator Andrew Ryan and its underwater house of horrors.
Given that the original Bioshock was so well-received, any game to follow would have an almost impossible task ahead with such big shoes to fill. This was hampered by the fact that the sequel was not to be developed by Irrational Games and one of the best writers in the industry with Kevin Levine, instead it was developed by 2K Marin. This in my humble opinion resulted in somewhat unfair criticism for the sequel, when in truth the game tried something new by having a very unique perspective on its lead playable character and an under-appreciated storyline which had its fair share of memorable moments. However, there are some that do consider the sequel to be the best game in the series and if you perhaps look at it objectively, you might find they have a point.
Finally, we have the third and final game; Bioshock: Infinite. With Kevin Levine and Irrational Games returning to the helm, Bioshock: Infinite, much like the sequel took a very different approach with the game. Instead of being set in an underwater utopia, we were to visit a city in the clouds, known as Columbia and the year would be 1912, before the events of the first two Bioshock games. In Bioshock: Infinite we play the character of Booker DeWitt and he has a simple objective (or so he believed), find and extract a girl and bring her back to land ‘unharmed’. However, while Columbia may not look as dark and grungy as Rapture, do not be fooled, as this city is populated by religious fanatics who blindly follow their Prophet, the creator of Columbia; “Father” Zachary Hale Comstock and they will follow his bidding, no matter the cost.
Essentially, taking into consideration a few gameplay tweaks here and there, each Bioshock game plays pretty much the same, which benefits the player with its continuity. Despite Bioshock: Infinite swapping the Jump and Melee commands around, each game plays near identical. The main powers in the series will come in the form of Plasmids (or Vigors as they’re known in Infinite); these will give you a vast array of powers from Electricity, Fire, Possession, Telekinesis and more. It’s quite literally a blast discovering all the powers available and the best way in which to utilise them, this mixed with Bioshock’s fairly well-worked melee/firearm combat system.
However, while much of the three games will have continuity in its gameplay and much of its themes, Bioshock: Infinite steps away from the more horror orientated experience of the first game, in favour of the out-in-the-open combat preference. Don’t get me wrong, Infinite does have its share of horror moments, just not quite perhaps to the extent of the atmosphere that the first two games generated. Yet, despite this, its political themes are very dark and stands on its own within this fantastic series.
Each of the games also comes with all previously released DLC. Unfortunately, the original game wasn’t blessed with extra story content, though its Trial-like mini-games are well worth checking out regardless. Bioshock 2 does also come with its own Trials DLC with the Protector Trials, in which you must protect the Little Sisters within set scenarios. However, with Minerva’s Den, you quite possibly have one of the best pieces of story-driven DLC from the last-gen era. Again, I won’t give too much away in terms of plot, but it is a worthy addition to the lure of Rapture and with around four hours of gameplay, I strongly encourage you to playthrough it once you are done with Bioshock 2’s campaign. Sadly (well depending on whether you were a fan of this mode), Bioshock 2 does not include its competitive multiplayer mode.
Bioshock: Infinite comes with three main pieces of DLC, for me personally, the story-driven DLC being among the best expansions that I’ve ever played. Firstly we have Clash in the Clouds, this however isn’t among the best pieces of DLC, but rather a wave-based survival mode that will see you fight off hordes of angry Columbia mobs. I reviewed Clash in the Clouds back in 2013; you can check out my thoughts on it and see some gameplay here.
The two pieces that did follow however, with Burial at Sea, is among the best pieces of DLC that I’ve ever played (despite its slow start in episode 1). Split into two episodes, this saw you play the role of an alternative character after the events of Bioshock: Infinite’s main campaign. Yet again I am deliberately keeping details vague, but if you wish, you can read my reviews of Burial at Sea Episode One and Episode Two. But please be aware of spoilers. Oh and I must say that the voice-acting and soundtrack of each game in this collection, is as sublime as ever.
In conclusion, as I’ve already made pretty obvious, depending on who you ask, each of these games within this collection are considered to be one of the best games of all-time. Which one you prefer, is of course subjective. The visual standouts in terms of textures are not all that obvious, especially as the last-gen versions of the games still hold up well visually, especially the more recent Bioshock: Infinite. But it’s quite clear to see the benefit of the smooth 1080/60fps.
With its visual improvements and all its bundled together DLC, this series of games is a must have for your gaming collection, regardless of which game you prefer and regardless of whether you are returning to the series or coming in with a fresh set of eyes. This is one of the finest gaming series to ever grace the industry, and you owe it to yourself to own this piece of gaming history. Now would you kindly go and buy Bioshock: The Collection at your earliest convenience.