Bioshock Collection Review – The Big Daddy of First Person Shooters Returns


When Bioshock first released, it was quite the powerhouse game.

A mixture of smooth gameplay, well-paced story and impressive graphics pushed Irrational Games forward once again as a company that gamers should pay attention to. A few years later a sequel would be made by another studio within 2K, and Bioshock 2 turned out to be a prequel to the first game that tells the story of the original Big Daddy as he makes his way through a slightly less destroyed Rapture.

While the game didn’t receive the same level of praise upon its release, it was still a great game. The third and final game in the series would be the game that truly divided fans of the series, even to this day. Bioshock Infinite, the third and last game in the Bioshock trilogy, followed the story of Booker Dewitt who was sent to Sanctuary with a single purpose: “Collect the girl, wash away the debt.”

While Bioshock Infinite had many things that I would personally praise, the one thing that seemed to upset quite a few fans, including myself, was the ending. I felt that the ending to Bioshock Infinite was so stupid, so nonsensical, so desperate for that “that’s deep” feeling, that it threw most of the game’s overwhelming charm out the window.


There are very few games out there that I’ve played through from start to finish in one or maybe two sittings, but every Bioshock game has driven me to do just that. However, when I finished Bioshock and Bioshock 2, I wanted to go back through the games a second time to see if there was anything that I missed. In contrast, when I finished Bioshock Infinite, the only thing I could do was walk 5 miles down the road to the Gamestop I purchased it from two days prior and return it.

Now a few years have passed since that day, and when I saw that a Bioshock Collection was coming out for the PS4 and Xbox, as well as a free upgrade for PC, I jumped all over it. I wanted to go back and review these games for two reasons; not only to see if the first two Bioshock entries were as good as I remember them, but to see if Bioshock Infinite’s ending was as disappointing as I originally thought.

While the stories and characters may be different, the Bioshock series has this underlying theme of “the right guy in the wrong place.” Whether it’s Booker fighting his way across a civil war-torn Sanctuary or Jack as he makes his way through Rapture, the stories in the series always seem to hit the same beats. While that may not always be a problem, it does feel as though the writers, or even the director himself, may not be able to break the mold that they built for the series.


Bioshock’s world building is fantastic – especially for a relatively simple first person shooter. And the first game in the series spawned a fantastic twist in its first attempt. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t played the game, but if you haven’t, would you kindly play the first Bioshock as soon as you can? Bioshock 2 also felt like it hit many of the same beats, which left it feeling like the world’s depth and potential was being squandered by writers who were (and I say this with no malice and mean no offense) too close-minded.

It is in this regard that I really loved Bioshock Infinite. While the game did carry on some of the undertones that were in the first two Bioshock games, Irrational Games did a great job in creating an all-new universe that just so happened to exist seamlessly alongside the original.

Say what you want about the final product, but the developers tried to keep the initial appeal of Bioshock alive while working to create a game that wasn’t just a standard sequel. In that regard, they succeeded. Booker Dewitt was a good character, and I’ll be the first to admit that I loved every moment that I spent with Elizabeth in game. And while I still think that the ending wasn’t very good, it was at least better the second time around.


Bioshock and Bioshock 2’s stories were pretty self-contained, and while there may have been so-called “themes” in them, they were mostly a means to an end and helped in creating an interesting story about the impossible dream of utopia.

In comparison, Bioshock Infinite touched on this in addition to themes of regret, racism, social ire, mob mentality, and gray area morality – and it did this in a such a way that was in no way overwhelming. Though, yes, it was certainly more in your face at certain points than necessary.

As for my feelings about Infinite’s ending, I still don’t like it but I don’t hate it as much as I did before. I will still say that Bioshock 2’s ending was my favorite for the series, whereas Bioshock Infinite’s ending felt like the writers were trying too hard to make something “deep” and just didn’t quite get there. I don’t like to throw the word pretentious around too often, but it is on the list of words I would use to describe that ending.


While it was the world building that likely led to Bioshock’s staying power as a franchise, what ended up making it a short term success was it’s gameplay. The player would mix normal first person shooting mechanics with the use of special powers called “plasmids”.

In the first Bioshock, these abilities started out simple – things like the ability to shoot lightning or fire from your hands. As the series progressed, so too did the level of depth in the plasmids.

By the time that the player got to Infinite, you were shooting enemies with a revolver with one hand, while ordering a murder of crows to tear someone apart with the other.


The simple addition of plasmids to Bioshock was enough to make the series stand out as it’s own unique experience which could not be replicated. Bioshock’s combat is fast paced and fun, allowing the player to be caught up in hectic situations without ever letting it feel like you are being overwhelmed.

Much like the story and plasmids, the combat only got better as the series progressed. From Bioshock’s relatively simple combat to Bioshock Infinite with you constantly jumping from grappling hooks.

This series has always shined on the gameplay front. If you’re even a passing fan of first person shooters, then there is little doubt that you’ve already played through this game on your own.


Truly, each game has plenty of weapons and plasmids to choose from to keep any shooting fan happy.

The graphics of at least the first two Bioshock titles were probably where the series was at it’s weakest. And that’s not to say that it’s necessarily bad, the graphics were simply not anything impressive – or maybe they didn’t hold up over time as well as the other pieces of the series.

Adding to the minor issue is the murky, dark atmosphere of the games. While they add a lot on the atmosphere end, it leaves the graphics and textures feeling a bit murky and muddled – and maybe even used to cover up some shortcomings in the graphical fidelity.

Honestly, nothing about Bioshock’s graphics really were able to stand out to me as a player. The character models were decent, the effects got the job done, and the environments served their purpose.

Therefore, I can’t say this is exactly a negative on Irrational’s part. The series was never really about making a fantastic looking product as much as it was about making a game that had a lasting impact through it’s gameplay and environment.


In conclusion, I like the Bioshock series; it may not be my favorite franchise, but it was a game that I was able to hand to my 55-year-old dad and he picked up and played from start to finish.

The music was good, the stories were good, the gameplay was fantastic. Each step in the development of these games felt like it was a labor of love by a team who cared about the product they were working on.

Bioshock was the game that set the bar for first person shooters last generation, and this collection proved that even after several years of good first-person shooter titles, nothing can really compare to that original trip to Rapture.

The Bioshock Collection was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a retail copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

The Verdict: 8.5

The Good:

  • The ability to play through a trend-setting first person shooter again in HD for a decent price is always a plus.
  • The stories keep the player guessing as to how they will end, whether it’s with a bang or a whisper.
  • 60FPS and 1080p. Of course, it seems that only HD games have managed to tap into this potential so far.
  • All the DLC is included with the package as well.
  • Free upgrade for PC users who already own the games

The Bad:

  • Performance issues have been reported for the PC version by some users on Steam.
  • Bioshock Infinite’s ending is still bad.
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Tyler was a former Niche Gamer contributor.

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