Hands-On: BioShock: The Collection

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I had a chance to sit down last week for a few hours and play a bit of all three games included in BioShock: The Collection. With roughly twenty-five million copies sold worldwide to date, bringing this franchise to the current generation was pretty much a no-brainer.

Blind Squirrel Games is responsible for the port along with 2K Games and while you may not know them by name, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve played some of the stuff they’ve had a hand in. To varying degrees, they helped work on Borderlands 2, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Sunset Overdrive, BioShock Infinite, Evolve, and Disney Infinity 3.0.

Their mandate here was to bring all three games in the collection up to 1080p 60fps, and from what I saw, they’ve done a pretty good job.

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This isn’t just a simple upscaling. Seeing the new games and the originals side by side is like night and day. They’ve also added a brand new Director’s Commentary recorded specifically for this collection. There are ten episodes, each running eight to ten minutes long, and they’ll be hidden as Golden Film Reels within the first game.

Each contains a video with Geoff Keighley interviewing Ken Levine, the Creative Director for BioShock and BioShock Infinite, and Shawn Robertson, the Animation Lead for BioShock and Animation Director for BioShock Infinite. The discussions are spoiler filled so it’s best to collect and watch them after finishing the games if you haven’t already done so with the originals.

All the original single player DLC is included in this collection. While the multiplayer content didn’t make the cut, the Columbia’s Finest pack which was a pre-order bonus for BioShock Infinite as well as the Upgrade Pack from the Premium and Songbird Editions of the game are also included here.

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The original BioShock was released in 2007 and its exclusivity (at the time) to the Xbox 360 is one of the reasons I originally bought one. It was easily one of the best looking games from that year but looking back now, there’s so much banding and aliasing going on.

Watching the intro to the game back and forth with the update is a revelation. Those minor issues are gone and there’s just so much more detail on screen. Playing the game was even better. It’s quite a treat to see Rapture in all its 1080p glory and the 60fps gameplay is silky smooth. I played from the intro right through the Medical Pavilion and enjoyed every last second of it without a hint of slowdown or issues of any kind.

For BioShock 2 we started at Ryan Amusements and I played that for a good amount of time to get a feel for the differences. This is the one game in the collection that I never finished. Whether it was because Irrational Games didn’t make it and I was being a bit of a snob or something else came along to grab my attention and I never went back, I can’t say. Either way, it looks and plays great and I’m excited for the chance to actually complete it this time around.

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I was even more interested in BioShock Infinite because it was easily one of my favorite games on the PS3 and I played it the night before this preview so I could compare it to the updated version.

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If you played the PS3 or 360 version you may remember a slight haze throughout the game, as if someone slapped some vaseline on the lens. That’s gone now and the entire city of Columbia is crystal clear with so much more detail in every little thing that it made me very excited to play it all over again.

It’s amazing what a difference cleaner graphics, more detail, and a better framerate can make. From what I saw of all three games, Blind Squirrel has done a great job of bringing them over to the current generation. September can’t get here quick enough.

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BioShock: The Collection will be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on September 13 in North America and September 16 internationally and is priced at $59.99. The physical versions contain two discs. One will have BioShock and BioShock 2 on it while the other contains BioShock Infinite. The download version will show up as two items as well with the first two games together and Infinite on its own.

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