You can never go back. That’s what they say, right?
I’ve played a few remastered games, most recently the Nathan Drake collection. With these re-releases there’s three things to look at:
Basically, are these games as good as new ones released this year.
So let me say that right now, if you picked up the Bioshock collection today, with the new graphics update, you’d think they were modern games. This is especially true of Bioshock Infinite, but even the first game feels new.
Going back to Rapture was interesting. I had forgotten how scary the introductory scene was. The scenes are dark with haunting shadows and whispering voices. The new depth of detail in the HD images heighten the tension.
Sadly, the gameplay feels a bit too much like it’s running on rails. A big city like Rapture needs to be explored, but you never can. You’re always thwarted by locked doors, or collapsed structures. While this adds to the claustrophobic feeling it also dates the game.
Bioshock Infinite on the other hand feels like a game that could have been released today.
The graphics are up to par with a lot of recent first person shooters and even though the open areas are interspersed with “on rails” sections, it still feels like a large open world environment. Infinite isn’t afraid to show more of Columbia because a lot of it can be garnished with clouds. It feels big and light and airy, especially when zipping about on the skylines.
The story of Bioshock Infinite feels incredibly relevant today. Fighting against a despotic, racist madman who is trying to make America great again? Where have I heard that before?
All three games do have a few tropes, but they are excusable because they weren’t made yesterday, they were made years ago. Times were different. I don’t even remember if I had a flat screen TV when I first played Bioshock.
There’s also some nice extras that come with re-released games. Bioshock 1 has an in-game museum where you can peruse concept art and rendered models that never made the final game. It’s not quite as cool as the director’s commentary, which is also available as part of the play-through, but it is interesting to see what Bioshock could have been. I loved learning that the Little Sisters were originally gonna be slug-like creatures, but the developers thought they wouldn’t be endearing enough.
Bioshock 2 comes with the Minerva’s Den DLC, a standalone adventure that you play as a Big Daddy. The bright underwater scenes really showed off the new HD images. Bioshock Infinite comes with a few pieces of DLC (and it’s own disc) so Booker DeWitt is fully tooled up.
I hadn’t played Infinite before and was instantly taken by it. I loved how well the floating city idea was done and those moments when Booker could stop and look out over an amazing vista of buildings bobbing in the clouds.
It was also nice to see how the third instalment was thematically connected to the first two. I’m not sure if this is emphasised by playing them all back to back, but it does make it feel like more of a coherent set of ideas, than “what’s the opposite of a city underwater? A city in the sky?”
I love the continued use of theme park amusements to tell parts of the story, though I did wonder exactly how many of the residents of Rapture and Columbia would go to these or why.
The games are probably a bit too young to be considered retro or nostalgic, (Infinite is only three years old), but they do bring with them a lot of fond memories. If you’ve never played them before, the series feels fresh and new. As a set the games compliment each other and, while not a trilogy, the stories are intertwined – even if only by a common idea. This collection may become a must have for new console owners.