Bioshock: The Collection (Switch) – Review
Follow Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: 2K, Irrational Games, Blind Squirrel Games, Digital Extremes
Publisher: 2K Games
Platform: Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: Switch

Bioshock: The Collection (Switch) – Review

Site Score
8.5
Good: Three modern classics that hold up very well
Bad: No option for gyro aiming
User Score
5.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 5.5/10 (2 votes cast)

With the release of Bioshock: The Collection on the Switch, 2K’s story-based FPS series arrives on a Nintendo console for the first time ever. It’s been four years since the remastered versions of these modern classics saw the light of day and the Switch versions are identical to the previous releases, with the notable exception that they are now playable as handheld games too. Is portability reason enough to revisit Rapture on the Switch or are you better off digging up your PS4 copy?

Story

Bioshock and Bioshock 2 see the player venture into Rapture, a former underwater utopia that collapsed after its inhabitants started taking advantage of ADAM, a substance derived from sea slugs, that allows its users to develop new abilities. Meanwhile, Bioshock Infinite cranks up the storytelling to a whole new level as it follows the exploits of Booker Dewitt in the sky-bound city-state of Columbia. Of the three, Infinite offers the most character development and definitely feels more cinematic, although its story is unconnected to the events of the other two games. 

We’re not going to delve into the storyline too far, as part of the experience is discovering the story. Rest assured, there is far more to these games than meets the eye, with underlying themes such as racial tensions and the consequences of genetic modification. As you find more and more pieces of backstory and put the puzzle together, you’ll discover just how deep the lore is. Masterful storytelling and world building are what turned the Bioshock games from just another series of shooters into an iconic video game franchise, and part of this is thanks to just how the games are structured around peeling back more and more story layers. Bioshock actually rewards players that take the time to explore and replay through the game, as some early elements won’t click into place until a second playthrough. Hidden collectibles, such as Voxophones and Kinetoscopes, expand the world even further. 

Graphics

All three Bioshock games were remastered back in 2016, for the PS4, Xbox One and PC rerelease. It’s these 2016 remasters that have now been ported to the Switch. No further graphical enhancements have been made as far as we’re aware. We’ve complained occasionally about the Switch screen size when it comes to handling bigger games but in the case of the first two games in the series, having a smaller screen actually turns out to be an advantage. The smaller screen helps to hide the fact that Rapture has less detail to offer than Columbia. Additionally, playing on a relatively tiny screen emphasizes the claustrophobic feel of Rapture’s underwater tunnels. Bioshock Infinite’s skybound environments on the other hand feel more at home on the big screen, so we recommend docking your Switch when tackling the third game. 

Sound

Accompanying your adventures in Rapture and Columbia is a mixture of original music and period-specific licensed pieces. The licensed tracks are often delivered through in-game audio devices such as a phonograph, adding a sense of authenticity. All three games’ original soundtracks were carefully crafted to fit the right mood and atmosphere, and they get progressively better as you play through each entry in the series. Bioshock Infinite’s soundtrack especially stands out, and it should come as no surprise that it won several awards back in 2013. Just like the music, the voice acting is top-notch. The cast does an excellent job of conveying their characters’ emotions in all three games, although Bioshock Infinite takes the cake here again, although that could be attributed to the game having a considerably bigger budget, allowing the hiring of industry veterans like Troy Baker. 

Gameplay

Beneath the immersive lore and fantastic storytelling lies a well-crafted first-person shooter experience. Bioshock and Bioshock 2 see players take on Splicers in the decaying underwater city of Rapture. Apart from guns, you’ll be able to genetically enhance your character through the use of Plasmids, which grant powers and abilities, such as being able to zap enemies with electric shocks. These Plasmids are purchased with ADAM and require a resource known as EVE to power up. Taking on the ubiquitous Big Daddies will allow you to either adopt or harvest the Little Sisters they protect. Adopting them allows them to gather ADAM, allowing better rewards in the long run, whereas harvesting them will instantly give you a supply of ADAM. 

Bioshock Infinite is cut from the same DNA when it comes to gameplay, though it feels like a fundamentally different experience, both through the setting and lore. Plasmids have been replaced with Vigors, which are functionally similar, requiring Salts to power up instead of EVE. The claustrophobic environments of Rapture have made way for the steampunk city-state Columbia. The open-air environments of Columbia are far more expansive, and the game makes use of this extra space in a number of inventive ways. The Little Sister mechanics, meanwhile, are abandoned in favor of NPC companion Elizabeth, who is able to fend for herself instead of requiring protection. 

When the Bioshock first hit PC and consoles back in 2007 -yes, it’s been that long- it received universal acclaim for its unique blend of fantastic first-person shooter gameplay and immersive storytelling. At the time, it was a video game behemoth, and if you had told anyone that they’d be able to play that very same game on a handheld someday, they would’ve given you a strange look before getting back to slaying Splicers. Fast forward two sequels and 13 years, and the Bioshock collection is available on the Switch.

Chances are that you’ve already played Bioshock at some point in the last decade. After all, this is a four-year-old port of a remaster of a thirteen-year-old game. The question isn’t whether these are good games -we know they are- but how well they hold up after all this time, and if they translate well to the Switch. We’re happy to say that if you’ve been thinking of returning to Rapture, then the Switch port would be a good way of doing so, even though it is on the expensive side. The first two games do feel a bit barebones compared to Bioshock Infinite, which makes sense given their age, but all three games deliver a performance that’s smooth as butter. If there’s one thing we’d like to see different -and we’re really nitpicking here- is that we’d like to have seen gyro aiming incorporated, as aiming with the twin sticks feels a bit sluggish. The main draw for the Switch port is arguably that you’re able to play the games in handheld mode -if you want to play them exclusively on TV we instead recommend picking up the PlayStation or Xbox versions, if only because they can be picked up for about half the price. 

The games are relatively short, with a playthrough of each taking roughly 12 hours. However, each game offers multiple endings and a variety of lore-expanding collectibles, adding to the replayability. If you’d rather tackle them one at a time, or if you’re just interested in playing through a title you missed, you’ll be able to pick them up as separate downloads from the eshop. Be aware that they’ll eat up a hefty chunk of your memory card if you go digital on these, as the entire trilogy is approximately 45 GB in size. 

Conclusion

If you’re one of the few people that never gave the Bioshock games a try, you’re missing out on a fantastic set of games. Given that they are available on so many platforms now, there’s no real excuse not to give these a try. Whether that should be on the Switch is a different story altogether. While it’s certainly appealing to be able to play Bioshock on your daily commute, we do feel it’s hard to justify the price point for this port. We recommend getting them at about half the price on PS4 or Xbox One or waiting for a sale. 

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Rating: 5.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
Bioshock: The Collection (Switch) - Review, 5.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Sebastiaan Raats
Sebastiaan Raats


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