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Bioshock: The Collection Review

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★★★★★

Remasters of previously released games run the gamut, from quick and dirty cash-grabs that prey on players' nostalgia to legitimate attempts to polish and improve experiences for fresh audiences and existing fans. Thankfully, BioShock:The Collection lands firmly in the latter camp, doing far more to reinvigorate the nearly decade-old franchise than simply recycle it.

Including 2007's critically acclaimed, highly atmospheric first-person shooter BioShock, 2010's BioShock 2, and city-in-the-clouds spiritual sequel BioShock: Infinite — as well as all the series' single-player DLC — this bundle's as beefy as the franchise's iconic Big Daddy characters. Aside from the obvious value, though, the collection also pretties up each entry with a new coat of 1080p paint, improved frame-rates, and refined art assets.

"The real draw here isn't so much the polished presentation as the addition of a director's commentary."

The various tweaks and upgrades combine to make the original game, which memorably dropped players in undersea-utopia-gone-wrong Rapture, noticeably easier on the eyes. The visual bump isn't as dramatic in the more recent instalments, especially 2013's Infinite, but the latter two entries still sport a superior sheen over their last-gen console counterparts.

The real draw here isn't so much the polished presentation, though, as much as the addition of a brand new director's commentary for the first game. Unlocked by finding film reels throughout the world, it offers an engaging peek — courtesy of interviews conducted with creative director Ken Levine and animation lead Shawn Robertson — at how BioShock was conceived and crafted. On top of featuring two hours of insightful reflections on the game responsible for making Big Daddies and Little Sisters recurring characters in our nightmares, the commentary's collection hook provides a convenient excuse to re-explore every nook and cranny of the soggy city.

The other two titles unfortunately don't receive the same behind-the-scenes treatment, but the inclusion of their story-driven expansions is a huge boon for anyone who missed these bonus chapters the first time around. Overlooked and underrated, Minerva's Den and the two Burial at Sea episodes — for BioShock 2 and Infinite, respectively — beautifully complement their core experiences with characters, gameplay, and storytelling that are every bit as good as those found in the campaigns they were meant to support.

Whether beneath the sea or above the clouds, the series' brilliant blend of fully-realised worlds, compelling characters, twisty plots, and imaginative weapons still delivers in spades. And while this comprehensive collection is a far more appealing proposition for those who've never injected themselves with a Plasmid, it's also a fan-pleasing package recovering Adam addicts should consider relapsing for.

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