BIOSHOCK REMASTERED //REVIEW

“A maritime masterpiece”

I started playing the Nintendo Switch release of the Bioshock Remaster this weekend; and had a blast with it! The experience, however, did not last long. From opening to end credits, I must have spent around twenty or so hours completing the game on Easy (I know, I’m a wuss). In all fairness, I am itching to complete all three games in the collection released on Nintendo Switch on 29 May 2020; so my play-through of the first game was undeniably rushed.

PERFORMANCE

While the original was released in 2007 (thirteen years ago) for PC, the graphical fidelity was revolutionary for the time. I remember my brother’s machine wrenching in agony upon booting the game. The textures, lighting and atmosphere were mind-blowing then, and I am happy to report that little has changed since then.

Big Daddies are bold and beautiful…Except for their odour, apparently. Source: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/bioshock-remastered-switch/

Developer Virtuous have outdone themselves to attain the level of performance they have on the Switch. I experienced near-flawless gameplay in docked and handheld mode, which often left me audibly impressed on more than one occasion. “Look at those particle effects!”, “Damn, that looks pretty”, and “I can’t believe this is running on a portable device” were all statements made during my run.

refrain from listening to naysayers who decry the resolution of BIOSHOCK REMASTERED FOR SWITCH. TAKE IN the visuals for yourself and decide whether or not a pixelated edge here or there really matters in the broader scheme of things.

As someone who rarely cares about graphical fidelity in games, I appreciated the visuals here. Every shadow, drop of water and light refraction adds to the foreboding atmosphere of Rapture—the underwater empire which acts as the setting for Bioshock Remastered. Furthermore, there is enough visual variety here to keep one engaged and searching for loot. I was worried upon entry that all I would see would be glass tubes and worn out urban environments. I was wrong, fortunately.

The only visual issue I came across during my journey was draw distance. Immersion was hampered by this at times (looking at buildings in the distance), but I wouldn’t call it gamebreaking.

SMOOTH JAZZ

The soundtrack of the game is top-tier. TOP TIER. Vocal jazz and smooth saxophone will always have a place in my heart, since my older brother got into it after playing the original Fallout games. My dad is also a fan of Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra; so I am clearly biased here.

Songs from the 40s, 50s and 60s fill the air with rapturous abandon (did I just pun?). The contrast between the visuals and audio make an immediate impact. Glee felt in the songs of past Rapture counter the dark and desolate ambience of the present-day. It is an eclectic and impactful blend. Ultimately, this is a video game of peaks and valleys, where moments of quiet can erupt into booms, sirens and gunfire in the blink of an eye.

Gunshots do feel hollow, at times. Limiting the impact of downing a crazed splicer after it cackles and charges at you. The constant bashing into walls by sentry drones can also make indelible psychological impressions to your brain. So be weary.

SKIET. SKOP. DONNER.

I am quite unfamiliar with narrative first person shooters—a sin, I know! My familiarity with roleplaying games far outweighs my experience with shorter, story-focused endeavours. I’ve never really given much thought to the whole run, jump, shoot formula of shooters, either.

My first experience with a shooter was the incredible Unreal Tournament (1999). Gameplay was fast and exciting. Death match and capture the flag modes kept me captivated for weeks! I would constantly hound my brother for a chance to play on his PC, and I am thankful he gave me the opportunity. As I grew older, however, I felt more staying power in JRPGs and fighting games.

Bioshock conforms to many of the stereotypes associated with first person shooters. Walk from point A to point B. Shoot ‘X’ bad guys. Pick up items ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’ from these locations. It seems tedious at times, but manageable in short bursts. Luckily, I never felt my eyes glaze over as they did in other games such as Crysis or Dishonered.

Familiar feelings of progression I cherish in my favourite RPGs are present here, as you can upgrade your guns and abilities at various stages in the game. Albeit shallow, I enjoyed the momentary depth provided by these instances and the accompanying feelings of progression and micromanagement I love in other titles.

Bioshock Remastered is chock-full of ideological pageantry. From evolutionary theory to religion, it has [almost] everything. Source: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/bioshock-remastered-switch/

Avoiding story spoilers, twists and turns abound here. My interest was piqued more than once and I recommend experiencing the narrative for yourself. Characters have adequate depth and personal values will be tested through avenues of choice and consequences. Having played the beginning portion of Bioshock when I was younger, I fondly recall how absorbing certain story beats are. Needless to say, the adventure is gripping.

MOANS & GROANS

One frustrating aspect of the game is the constant switching between left and right hands. The former is designated to your plasmid powers (i.e. Incinerate) and the latter to a primary weapon (i.e. shotgun). Alternating slowly between what boils down to ‘magic’ and ‘physical’ damage by frantically pressing either shoulder button became infuriating during gunfights. This gripe, however, seems all but fixed in Bioshock 2 Remastered; as the following iteration allows the player to use both hands, simultaneously [much winning].

All aspects of the original game are present and accounted for here: fascinating level design, exciting gunplay, a deep and though-provoking narrative, as well as painful moral dilemmas. To me, this experience is one I will remember for the rest of my life, and I look forward to playing and reviewing it’s successor soon.

Prognosis: Sink or swim, Bioshock Remastered is an experience worthy of your time. Go on, Rapture is waiting.

BIOSHOCK REMASTERED

LIKES:

  • Dripping with atmosphere
  • Fun selection of plasmid abilities
  • Wide-ranging gunplay and loads of ammo variety
  • Excellent storytelling
  • Good performance on the Switch
  • Challenging AI and bosses
  • Music. The music rules.

DISLIKES:

  • Clunky hand switching
  • Speedy enemies that dodge nearly everything
  • Lack of enemy variety
  • Holding down “A” to hear an audio snippet

R329.00* individually or R849.00* in Bioshock: The Collection