BioShock as a franchise takes inspiration from those that came before – System Shock, Thief and Deus Ex are just some of the key franchises that contribute in some way, shape or form to BioShock. While BioShock games are nowhere near as involved or complex at a systems level as its predecessors, it’s an almost perfect case study on how to streamline something without dumbing it down. At first appearance a shooter, in actuality, the game is a veritable sandbox. There’s a set of systems in place and it’s up to players to learn and exploit these systems to create their approach. You can shoot someone, you can hack a turret to take them down instead, you can get them to call a security bot against you and then turn that against them too. You can use powers to freeze, burn, throw, distract. You can do whatever you want.
BioShock: The Collection brings together all three of the BioShock games together into a single package. Each has their respective expansions included – BioShock has all the extras that were added into the belated Playstation 3 version. BioShock 2 has the Protector Trials challenge mode and critically acclaimed Minerva’s Den single player expansion. BioShock: Infinite brings with it the Clash in the Clouds arena battle mode and the very essential Burial At Sea epilogue chapters. That’s a lot of content and more importantly, a lot of quality content and because of this BioShock: The Collection represents an absolutely fantastic value proposition for players.But a collection is only as strong as the games within it, and some of these games are bordering on becoming a decade old. The original BioShock was released in 2007 and is possibly what many fans would consider to be the greatest in the franchise. It’s a tenser, psychologically overwhelming affair that takes players to the dark depths of Rapture, a city underneath the sea. BioShock to this day remains the more horror orientated of the three games with an emphasis on dark and foreboding set pieces than all out battles. While there are some things that are starting to date, they’re largely only cosmetic things like fonts and user interfaces. As a whole, the game still stands up today and is an excellent entry point into the mind-bending BioShock universe.
BioShock 2 shook things up a bit. Designed and developed by a different team, it puts you in the role of one of the most powerful enemies from the first game – the Big Daddy. At the time, BioShock 2 wasn’t really a sequel people were gunning for and is probably the most underrated in the franchise. It’s a retread of the city of Rapture, but it’s a story from an entirely new perspective – a warmer, more character driven story. The fact that you’re playing as a Big Daddy offers some interesting gameplay mechanics – though ultimately nothing that is revolutionary, instead iterative. In fact, BioShock 2 paints another picture of Rapture and the BioShock formula, but not one that you’ll even know you wanted until you’ve experienced. It’s a solid experience and its expansion, Minerva’s Den, is one of the strongest points of the entire series.