BioShock Remastered Review [Partially Replayed]

A Game Everyone Should Play At least Once

General Info

Release Date(s):
Original Release Date: August 21, 2007
The Collection: September 13, 2016
Rating: M 17+
Developer: 2K Boston & 2K Australia
Publisher: 2K Games
Platform I Played On: PS4 & PC
Platform(s) Available On:
Original: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
BioShock: The Collection: PC, PlayStation4, Xbox One, Switch
Genre(s): FPS, Horror(?)
Difficultly I Played On: Normal
Version I Played: BioShock: The Collection, BioShock Remastered

Synopsis

Taken from Official Site

BioShock: The Collection – 2K

Explore the undersea city of Rapture, a haven for society’s greatest minds that has devolved into a dystopian nightmare wrought by one man’s hubris. Amidst the waterlogged ruins, a new ecosystem has emerged, where deranged Splicers hunt down the Little Sisters who would be helpless without their hulking Big Daddy guardians. Your only hopes for survival are quick thinking, reclaimed weaponry, and superhuman powers granted by DNA-altering Plasmids. To defeat Rapture’s mutated monsters, you must become one.

Why You Should Play: The Short Version

>> An experience you won’t forget!

>> Really intriguing premise and plot

>> Unique world, Rapture looks so cool!

>> Great Soundtrack

Pros

  • A game anyone needs to experience
  • Does not feel outdated
  • Memorable and impactful game
  • Philosophical undertones, makes you think
  • Amazing world and ambience
  • Great soundtrack
  • Interesting levels
  • 1940s/50s art deco inspired
  • Makes you want to discover more of the story and in game world

Cons

  • Few save slots on PS4 version, shared with BioShock 2
  • Controller > Keyboard

Recalled First Impressions

I played this game fully on my PS4 a few years ago for the first time. Before BioShock I previously had not played many First-Person Shooter games because I am simply not the greatest at them. FPS has always felt clunky to me. I preferred third-person games simply because it’s easier to control your character (I honestly still find this true to this day).

One day I decided I was probably missing out on some good games by limiting myself to only third person and should probably explore some of the well-known First-Person games. At this time there happened to be a sale on the PlayStation store and when I saw you could get all three BioShock games at a very reasonable price (one still can during sale periods) I decided to give it a go.

I went into the game fairly blind and I gotta say the opening sequence intrigued me and I became more ecstatic when the licensed soundtrack began. I LOVE the Ink Spots and was thrilled to hear them in a game I was not expecting to hear them in. I remember the lighthouse entry scene and thinking to myself, “I think this is going to be a cool game”, boy was I right! I can say the overall ambience and bombastic nature of the beginning of the game sets the tone for the remainder of one’s first experience

Story and Overall Execution

Beware there may be minor spoilers below depending on one’s qualification of a spoiler. Read at your own risk. In my opinion, this review should not spoil any new player’s experience with the game~

Disclaimer: This is my HOBBY blog with my own opinions, please take that into consideration~

The game starts off with us on a plane and then it proceeds to crash into the ocean. Amongst the wreckage there is one lighthouse. Upon entering the lighthouse, it takes us into the underwater city of Rapture. Immediately you can tell that something isn’t quite right in this underwater city because we receive a call from a distressed individual stating as such. From there we get sucked into doing various tasks and navigating various areas of Rapture all in the guise of escaping.

In the beginning of the game, we are immediately given a brief history of the founding of Rapture. We are introduced to a key man in BioShock’s story and Rapture’s founder, Andrew Ryan, and his philosophy and reasons behind the creation of Rapture. It is presented to us in a retro movie which I loved! From the get-go we were given the notion that Rapture was created to be a utopia in which the individual is what truly matters and that society at large stifles creativity and limits human potential.

During my first time playing this game there was a lot to soak in. Immediately I wanted to know what in the world happened to this place to get in such a dilapidated state. The art deco 1940s/50s vibes was enough to make me fall in love with the city, despite it being well-past its glory years. In tandem with the main plot, throughout the game we get insight into the fall of Rapture via audio recordings scattered throughout the game.

Each level had some loose theme that falls in line with Andrew Ryan’s philosophy and its evident shortcomings. There are roughly 14 levels in total varying in scope and story. Some are levels contain their own mini boss and story while others simply focus on the main story.

I can honestly say that the story and game are trippy but in good way. I didn’t really know what to expect and simply let the game guide me. BioShock is one of those games where the execution of the plot and lore simply makes the in-game universe work. It is definitely a dystopian society with its own rules and morals and you have the privilege of being guided through the story. This was a game in which I binge played because I was curious about everything, the game simply captivated me and my curiosities.

I think the first BioShock is the best game to go in blind. There are numerous components to the game that are unique and being exposed to them in the game firsthand really is the only way to play the game. For example, what’s the deal with the guy in the old-fashioned diving suit? I won’t tell you because it’s simply best experienced when you first meet these guys in the game.

This game did not feel dated in its plot or premise. I actually did not know the original BioShock was made in 2007 until I had completed it. I was shocked because my first experience felt so new, especially compared to other games made in that time period (including some that have been remastered).

The game itself poses philosophical questions and viewpoints that are in many ways timeless. The game is unapologetic in that it simply poses questions and characters without guiding the character one way or another. If you want to play as a heartless person, you can. If you want to play as a compassionate person, you can. The game gives you the tools and dystopian backdrop, morality is up to the player.

The Characters

Audio Diaries // Morally Grey // Rapture being Rapture

There are various characters mentioned throughout the game. Most you do not get to see up close, in fact some you only see in their representative photos. There are numerous interesting characters in Rapture, most of them being somewhat cooky ngl. I mean this was a utopian world gone wrong, there simply has to be a few interesting yet questionable characters out there.

I think the game does a really good job of showing the characters’ opinions of the progression of the downfall of Rapture through the audio diaries scattered throughout the game. While we never meet all of them in person, you still are able to grasp the overall situation that occurred and how the various characters felt about it.

Every character had an interesting philosophy and outlook of life. The game presents these ideas in an unapologetic manner. Some characters are simply just crazy and there’s no remedy, you simply navigate around the characters views (or duke it out if they are a boss battle). Overall, I thought the cast of characters was interesting and the audio diaries were an interesting method of projecting all the characters’ opinions and motives.

Our Protagonist: Jack

Silent Protagonist // Vessel for Player // Is Connected to Story

In this game we are a silent protagonist and really are being told what to do throughout the entirety of the game. We do get a glimpse at what Jack’s history and backstory is but there is nothing that sets him apart in the current story. The only time we get insight into the “current day Jack” is the opening scene and whether or not you choose to save or harvest the little sisters. In some ways I think he simply a vessel for the player to explore Rapture, which honestly in this game I don’t mind that kind of protagonist in this setting. Rapture itself is the true star of this game!

I think being voiceless doesn’t help build a connection to Jack whatsoever. I mean I really don’t play BioShock for Jack. I play it to go through the levels, enjoys the sights of Rapture, the game’s ambience, or think about Raptures collapse. While the story does involve Jack’s past, I personally forgot much of that story… All in all, Jack isn’t exactly a dynamic protagonist and he really doesn’t need to be. The game is fine as it is.

Gameplay

Most Sluggish of Three // FPS & Plasmids // Save File Issue

Options: Keyboard & Controller

I briefly tried a keyboard when playing this on my PC. I didn’t like it one bit and switched to a controller. While on the PS4 I never had any problems with the controller or general game mechanics. Everything was smooth sailing~

Out of the three BioShock games this one feels the most dated control wise. I mean it is the oldest of the three, so it makes sense… In comparison to the other BioShock games this one feels the most sluggish. Me, a self-proclaimed noob to first-person shooter mechanics, at the time of my first playthrough, didn’t have too much trouble adjusting to the gameplay. I definitely wasn’t great at the gameplay, but I managed to enjoy the game and not feel totally hapless. Upon replaying (and more FPS games under my belt) the gameplay still is quite reasonable and fun.

It is a first-person game so we have our core mechanics in that you are supposed to shoot things and enemies. We have a few weapon options from firearms to blunt instruments. An additional weapon of sorts unique to BioShock is the use of Plasmids. Plasmids are a genetically modifying power in which you inject yourself with your preferred power. Plasmids range from elemental to a few other random powers. You can only have a finite number of plasmids so choose wisely!

Alongside plasmids, there is another genetic enhancement called tonics. Tonics basically give you better attributes and skills. For one example, you might choose to have a tonic that enhances your hacking capabilities. There are considerably more slots to enable tonics so there are a considerable variety of options to enhance whichever stats benefit one’s playing style.

In Bioshock there is one mini game when one hacks various machinery in the game. The hacking minigame is a grid in which there are a series of pipes (straight and elbows) and you have to connect point A to B. It progressively gets harder with the addition of pipes that either make life difficult or instantly make you fail. I didn’t mind the mini game but sometimes it was quite stressful and somewhat time consuming. Despite the stress, I appreciate that they had some kind of minigame mechanic, gives some variety to the overall gameplay.

One frustration that I experienced that I believe is specific to the BioShock: Collection is that you have a severely limited amount of save files shared between both BioShock and BioShock 2. When I started BioShock 2 it said I didn’t have any more save files which I found very confusing since I hadn’t even started the game. Turns out that I had used up all the save files on Bioshock (which wasn’t even that many because I was doing a blind playthrough. I have not tested this on the PC version yet, but it seemed a bit ridiculous to have so little save files, especially since the remaster released in 2016. Perhaps this save issue is limited to the BioShock: Collection on consoles such as my PS4.

Graphics, Artistic/Aesthetic Style, & Ambiance

Unique & Unexpected // Memorable Tone // Music & Décor

This game is one of those games that your jaw drops at how excellent the tone is set. From the visuals, aesthetics, even the music gives this game such a strong unique presence. Everything is complimentary and in my opinion is one of my most memorable games to date. This game is not just a game it’s a full on experience! It’s a true gem of all the games out there!

I have only played the remastered version but have seen comparison shots from the original. Honestly it looks like in general the game maintained the integrity from the original and the bulk of the remastered version are graphical upgrades and a few added details. There is more clarity in the remastered version and really heightens the amazing visuals and ambience the game contains. Since they are fairly similar, I can say that the foundations of BioShock are quite stellar. Comparing the game to other games made in 2007 this game simply has longevity. This game simply has good bones and structure that allowed the remastered version to maintain so much from the original.

As I have said earlier, I love the soundtrack to BioShock. With the 1940s/50s songs as a backdrop it gives a nostalgic yet juxtaposes the current state of Rapture. It also helped that I probably knew about half the songs/artists, and it was exciting to hear 1940s jazz in modern video game. I liked that they didn’t go the typical disjointed stereotypical dystopian horror music. The music choices give the game and edge that most other games don’t have.

The random NPCs that appear are really quite creepy. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking at ngl. The fact that they retain some of the clothing but then upon closer look they are all rather mutilated is rather off-putting to say the least. I would argue that the current people of Rapture are simply one with Rapture in terms of looks and essentially chaotic beings.

Despite Rapture being dilapidated I LOVED the scenery and design of the city. Usually, dystopian settings are set in a modern or futuristic backdrop. I am a fan of art deco and art nouveau, so the design of Rapture was instantly appreciated and unexpected. The fact that they made a rather maze-like game feel like a city was really cool. Honestly just play the game, it’s the best way to experience the full effect of Rapture and the whole ambience!

Would I Recommend?

BioShock Remastered was a game that opened my eyes to a whole new gaming experience I was not expecting. Immediately the game drags you into down the rabbit hole of simple intrigue from beginning until the end. This game I binged during my first playthrough and I have no regrets, in fact I would argue it’s a great way to experience this game.

Since my first playthrough I have not fully replayed but I gone back into my (minimal) save files and played a bit of the game on the PC version. Each time I boot up the game I remember how memorable and unique of game BioShock is.

From beginning to end the game keeps you on your toes, both enemy and story wise. As you progress in the game each level is a different backdrop and you learn more of Rapture’s past and decline. Some levels were really unique and memorable such as the medical area and the greenhouse area. I recall in my first playthrough I was perpetually excited to see which dilapidated portion of the city we were going to see next!

Even though I played the remastered version the game did not feel like a game made in 2007. I have looked at comparison shots of both original and remastered and there have been considerable graphic updates bringing a clearer and vibrant visual experience to the game. The game itself never felt dated plot wise. Maybe it’s the unapologetic nature of the game in that it is not afraid to pose morally grey situations and characters while never forcing specific ideals upon the player. The player can interpret the situations for oneself instead of the game pushing a “happier outcome”. Perhaps the general philosophy about mankind BioShock poses and presents makes this game one of those timeless stories.

I wouldn’t recommend this game is you are not a fan of First Person Shooters. I managed to adapt to the style reasonably well but for some it may not be an ideal FPS because you are fairly confined in terms of scope and explorative capabilities. Also, fighting off the various enemies can be a pain in the butt if you don’t have the FPS instinct or reactive reflexes. I would also say if you are a person that wants everything to end up good or morally correct this game would not be for you. There are numerous morally grey characters and the world of Rapture is quite bleak. Don’t play the game if you cannot handle a game that is unapologetic in morally grey themes and characters, maybe, stay away from it. The game is good as it is~

I would recommend this game for most people who enjoy playing video games because it’s a fun game and experience. I agree with many others in that this is a game that is in the “must play” category. From the story, world, and general execution of the game it is not a regrettable experience whatsoever. For a dystopian game I was really surprised and hooked from the moment I started BioShock. I think most people will also become hooked from the get-go. All I can say is get ready to dive into Rapture!~