BioShock: The Collection
Good evening! It's been a while since I've written a game review. I want to take the time to discuss and analysis BioShock: The Collection. Initially, the BioShock games were released on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 systems. The complete series was remastered in 2016 for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. This was very exciting news for me because I didn't own the previous generation of game systems. I heard a lot of great things about BioShock and this was my chance to experience the games first hand. The disc includes BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock: Infinite. It also includes the original downloadable content. Sixty dollars for three games and the DLC. What a deal! I'll explain the best and worst elements of each game below. This is going to be a lengthy review because I'm going to talk about all three games. If you feel fatigued, just come back later. You can read my blog any time.
What on earth is BioShock? It's a dystopian first person game that takes place in an underwater city called Rapture. The player is a mysterious character named Jack who crash lands in front of a lighthouse. He enters the lighthouse and accidentally takes an elevator ride to Rapture. Unfortunately, Jack's interesting journey becomes a nightmare when he realizes the entire city has fallen into chaos with deformed enemies called Splicers and their experiments; Big Daddies. The player needs to escape while uncovering the strange reason why everything went wrong.
I totally understand why this game is so popular. It's very original compared to the majority of modern games. The story, gameplay, and enemies are unique. BioShock has an intricate and complex plot that would be great for a movie. It's not a typical video game plot that simply moves a character from one place to another while he or she kills enemies. The story takes a lot of influences from Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. In short, Objectivism says people should pursue their own desires without regret and view this ideal as the only moral way to live. That means it's a virtue to live as a selfish and callous person. BioShock takes this philosophy and shows what would happen if an entire civilization lived this way. The citizens tore each other apart and that's probably not far fetched from reality. Apparently, the citizens of Rapture became addicted to mutagens known plasmids and gene tonics. These mutagens give the characters cool abilities like telekinesis, the power to freeze objects or living beings, the ability to throw fire, and more. Plasmids are addictive like drugs, causing a combination insanity and genetic mutation if it's used excessively. It brings a whole new meaning to drug abuse. As the player moves along, he or she will find clues about Rapture's history and residents. The story has some red herrings and unexpected twists. Parts of the story are disturbing and heartbreaking, but it gives a powerful message. It's a satisfying story for an unconventional game.
The gameplay is a lot of fun without giving the player too many headaches. I can tell the game makers tried to be somewhat realistic with certain elements. For example, it doesn't take a lot of hits to kill many of the characters. Firearms and blunt weapons can dish out a lot of damage because the enemies were just ordinary people at one point. Tougher enemies like the Big Daddies require more effort to kill. BioShock has a decent amount of variety because the player can use multiple weapons and other methods to handle enemies. The gameplay gives the player the option of hacking droids. This gives the player a temporary ally who can eliminate Splicers or Big Daddies. The player can also hack vending machines to obtain plasmids, health packs, ammunition, etc. Luckily, there is quite a bit of money scattered throughout the environment. That's the easiest way to get treats from the vending machines. The plasmids are a lot of fun to use against those pesky enemies. There's something disturbingly entertaining about freezing Splicers into a block of ice or incinerating them with fire. Plasmids also have important functions to help the player reach new locations. Don't worry because the plasmids won't turn you into a bloodthirsty mutant. Unusual beings called Little Sisters accompany the Big Daddies and are the harbingers of Adam. It's very important to gather Adam throughout the game because it's how the player uses the plasmids. The game allows two options with Little Sisters. Curing them and obtaining a certain amount of Adam or killing them and taking a much larger quantity. Honestly, it's more ethical to help the Little Sisters instead of killing them, but the choice is entirely yours and it affects the game's outcome. BioShock is accessible to different kinds of players. There's a difficult mode for advanced gamers and an easier option for beginners. Overall, anyone can have fun playing BioShock.
This game has really interesting enemies. The Splicers are the red shirts we see in other games except they're mentally unstable. They can be equipped with any type of weapon, including firearms, blunt weapons, explosives, and plasmids. I find the Splicers a bit amusing because they ramble a lot of nonsense. Occasionally, one of them will run if they believe the player seems frightening enough. It's also pretty common for the Splicers to turn each other into collateral damage. They can also travel in mobs, which is frustrating. I'm fascinated with the Big Daddies. They're ferocious when confronted, but generally docile if the player avoids them. Big Daddies are really large mutants who's bodies are grafted inside iron diving suits. They can have drills or rivet guns for their primary weapons. Big Daddies are tremendously strong and they can charge quickly at the player. I feel kind of bad for the Big Daddies because they appear to be the unfortunate victims of experimentation. There are some key enemies who play important roles in the story and I don't want to give away spoilers. However, they help the player learn more about the overarching mystery and I appreciate it.
I also want to give praise to Rapture's overall design. It's actually a beautiful environment with a lot of dieselpunk elements. Rapture has a fancy art deco design and each area is unique. It's a throwback to the 1930s and 1940s. Dieselpunk fans should be really happy with BioShock because it incorporates the basic aesthetics of the genre. Too bad the city is lying in shambles. All of the underwater scenes are beautiful too. It's definitely not cutting edge graphics on today's standards, but I still think Rapture deserves a nod.
BioShock doesn't seem to have many glaringly obvious problems. Sometimes the gameplay becomes repetitive later in the story. The player must return to several locations and it feels like redundant trekking. Also, enemies continually respawn. Every time I returned to a previous location, Splicers were waiting for me. It became kind of annoying. In fact, more enemies appear if the player stays too long in most locations. The player also needs to rotate the different plasmids around frequently. That means the player needs to find vending machines in various locations to swap out each plasmid. Eventually, the player can add extra slots to keep more types of plasmids, but it takes a while to reach that point. I spent a lot of time backtracking to find the right plasmids. If you're looking for amazing boss fights, BioShock doesn't have them. Most of the boss characters are just Splicers who have specific identities. The only true boss fight is at the end. Watch out for security cameras. Tripping them will unleash a couple security bots and it's pretty irritating. Supposedly, BioShock is a survival horror game. Personally, I didn't find it scary at all. There might be a few jump scenes and that's about it. But the lack of scares doesn't ruin the game. It's still very enjoyable and well made. Overall, my complaints are relatively minor.
BioShock 2 takes place a handful of years later in Rapture once more. The protagonist is a Big Daddy known as Subject Delta and he guards a Little Sister named Eleanor Lamb. Her mother, Sofia, orders an assassination attempt on Subject Delta. Ultimately, he survives and battles through Rapture to find his Little Sister. Sofia Lamb is the leader of a cult called The Family and they have taken control of the underwater city. Along the way, The Family and hoards of Splicers try to foil Subject Delta's journey.
I was somewhat disappointed with BioShock 2 because the first game was amazing. There are a few things I liked about it. First of all, I got to play as a Big Daddy! It was so much fun! The player gets to power up Subject Delta's drill and plough through bunches of enemies. This game also has some new Big Daddies for combat. A new type of Big Daddy has missiles instead of a drill or rivet gun. It's quite a bit easier to fight the Big Daddies in this game because the characters are more equally matched. The player still uses the plasmids and that part is cool too. It's also fun to explore new areas of Rapture. BioShock 2 isn't a simple retread of the first installment. The puzzles are a little easier in this game too. I found the hacking system kind of frustrating in the first game, but it's somewhat different in BioShock 2 and that part can be helpful for the player's progress. I'm still impressed with the visuals. Rapture is a gorgeous, although tragic city, and it remains that way in BioShock 2.
Beyond that, I don't have a lot of positive things to say. Aside from more Big Daddies, the other enemies were already in the previous game. That means the villains are less interesting and the novelty is done. The weapons and plasmids are mostly the same too. There might have been a few new plasmids, but I don't remember anything special. The gameplay is considerably harder. Even the easy mode is challenging. The player is swarmed by more enemies and some of them are really tough. There's a new enemy called Big Sisters and they're an older version of the Little Sisters. The Big Sisters wear diving suits like the Big Daddies and use a syringe as their primary weapon. They also seem to have telekinetic abilities. Personally, I found these enemies incredibly annoying. They're difficult to kill and shriek continually through the battle scenes.
I wasn't impressed with the plot and primary villains either. The story in the first BioShock game was thought provoking and surprising. BioShock 2's story is less interesting, slow, and doesn't have any big revelations at the end. The Family just seems like a generic cult, except most of them are also scientists. Let's move onto the next game.
BioShock: Infinite is a big improvement from BioShock 2. However, it doesn't take place in Rapture. Booker Dewitt is a PI who's searching for a young woman named Elizabeth Comstock. He travels to a huge flying city called Columbia and discovers similar dystopian chaos that occurred in Rapture. Together, Booker and Elizabeth have to escape from her tyrannical father, Zachary Comstock, and his aerial version of the Big Daddy known as Songbird. Along the way, Booker puts together pieces that reveal important parts of his past. He blocked out major parts of his identity and there was a reason for it.
The gameplay is really in fun in BioShock: Infinite. It's similar to the previous games, except there's a much bigger emphasis on firearms. I tried out different guns and upgraded my favorite ones throughout the game. The player has a Sky Hook that can help Booker travel on metal rails through the environment. It's a method of taking the player from one location to the next. The Sky Hook is really fun and it also doubles as an effective blunt weapon. We don't have the plasmids in this game. Instead, the player uses drinking salts that basically have the same effects as the plasmids. I guess it's like drinking potions instead of using genetic mutation. There's a big variety of enemies and we finally got rid of the Splicers. I enjoyed the Splicers in the previous BioShock games, but it was time to fight something else. Infinite also includes a co-op play between Booker and Elizabeth. The player uses Booker while Elizabeth gives him money and ammunition periodically. She's a really helpful character and I didn't have to waste my time protecting her against enemies. Songbird is an entertaining enemy. He chases Booker and Elizabeth all over Columbia and it's a fun experience. Elizabeth creates oddities called Tears. In short, Tears are portals that can move the characters through space and time. Sometimes I traveled into other dimensions, the past, other locations within Columbia, and more. It's a completely new element to the BioShock series. The pace feels a little faster and energetic in this game, which I appreciate.
Some of the characters have interesting development. I find Booker Dewitt and Elizabeth Comstock more substantial than BioShock's earlier protagonists. They have unusual backstories, several quirks, and a good partnership. I've seen characters in movies with considerably less development and personality. They even have some influences from noir tropes. Songbird might be a monster and henchman, but he's an interesting character too. He has a symbiotic relationship with Elizabeth for some reason. I wonder if part of him was human at one point.
Once again, I want to praise the graphics. Columbia is a very detailed and elaborate steampunk airship. This game takes place several decades before the other BioShock stories, so it has a distinct steampunk feel instead of dieselpunk. Columbia is an industrial metropolis with quite a few Victorian and Southern gothic elements. The aerial design is a nice contrast to Rapture's underwater graphics. It holds up quite well, even though the game was released several years ago.
Infinite has a great plot. It takes some influences from the American Revolution, noir mysteries, time travel fantasies, and classic steampunk. Believe it or not, this story has a brief connection to the original BioShock games. I won't give away the details, but players of the original games will understand. It becomes a little bit confusing for a while, but the puzzle pieces eventually fit together. There's a really big twist at the end and I think it should be satisfying for most gamers. Even though it's very different than the other BioShock games, this one still fits in the franchise's image very well. Infinite could also be a successful film adaptation. I just think film makers should take a chance and stay close to the source material.
I don't have a lot of criticism for the third BioShock game. It has a ton of satire and some people might find the subject matter offensive. You need a tough skin to play this game, even though it isn't particularly gruesome or scary. Some players might find the plot weird or confusing. Naturally, some people will miss Rapture, the plasmids, the Big Daddies, the Splicers, and some of the philosophical elements. It still has a strong political and social commentary, but the story heads in a totally different direction than the earlier games. I still believe Infinite is a genuine BioShock game, although some gamers will disagree with me. It depends on the player's individual views and gaming experience. I also feel like the game wasn't quite challenging enough. Expert gamers might be a little disappointed unless they choose the most difficult setting.
That's my commentary about the entire BioShock trilogy. I'm not sure if this collection is still available at popular retailers like Target or Walmart, but you can definitely find it on Amazon. The BioShock games are not appropriate for younger gamers because the subject matter is so dark and mature. If you're curious, try it out! These games are very unique and influential to many current franchises. I'm heading to WonderCon this weekend and it should be an awesome experience. You can check out my WonderCon photo gallery in the near future. Keep watching and I'll see you next week.
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