I recently spent a few hours with BioShock Remastered, having previously played all three games in the collection. Upon its 2007 release, BioShock felt like a revolution, or at least the start of one. The complexity of its decision-making approach was basic to say the least; the game only branched into two endings. Nine years after its initial release, BioShock is now available in a remastered, high-definition edition.
It’s difficult not to feel, as a PC gamer, like this whole “Remaster” kick the gaming industry has latched onto is anything but a shameless cash-grab. The occasional exception starts to build up some goodwill, and then along comes a BioShock Remastered to kick the whole sandcastle down again. Let me explain.
I had high hopes for BioShock Remastered, given the state of the original 2007 port – terrible mouse acceleration, paltry graphics options, and the fact it’s almost a decade old. I hoped 2K could fix its more egregious issues and bring it up to par with BioShock Infinite, if not graphically then at least on the backend.
Both BioShock and BioShock 2 are unambiguously upgraded: textures are finer, images higher-resolution, effects like water and fire more convincing. But as someone who played the first game around its release, this remaster doesn’t exactly feel better. Instead, the updated version preserves the rosy mental image of BioShock I have from years ago, while video of the actual game looks blocky and flat by the standards of 2016.
Revisiting a piece of art in any medium raises questions about the line between restoring something and changing it, but the issue is particularly unavoidable in video games, where updates aren’t a matter of reprocessing existing footage, but outright creating new material. 2K have removed and replaced a few elements from the game however it doesn’t seem quite worthy of the “remastered” title. Perhaps “graphical update” would have been more suitable.
To illustrate just how little seems to have changed between BioShock and BioShock Remastered, we’ve borrowed a few comparison screenshots from The Inquirer for you. For reference, all shots were taken at 1080p with all optional effects rammed to the top.
“This isn’t game engine rendered, so is a far starker difference between versions. Maybe Remastered itself could have looked this good?”
“You’ve got a wider field of view, and there’s a bit more fire. Be still, our beating hearts.”
“Alright! A whole extra school of fish on the approach to Rapture. Isn’t modern technology wonderful?”
[Salt aside though, we really did like Rapture’s new more-populated look.]
2k have established five top priorities to look into first with the remaster.
“Since the launch of BioShock and BioShock 2 Remastered, some players have been reporting stability issues, while others have asked for additional feature support,” wrote a rep for the publisher. “We hear you and we’re happy to report we’re addressing this feedback soon.”
-General mouse fixes, including better mouse smoothing, sensitivity and acceleration options in BioShock.
-Additional speaker mode options in audio settings in BioShock.
-Improved FoV slider options in BioShock, BioShock 2 and Minerva’s Den.
-Support for 21:9 display ratios for BioShock, BioShock 2 and Minerva’s Den.
-General stability improvement to reduce instances of game crashes.
While stability is on the bottom of that list, we certainly hope it’s at the top of the actual priorities. Fortunately, in BioShock’s case, the remaster is free if you already own the game and that, in our opinion, is the way it’s meant to be.
Bioshock was a beautiful and creative game in 2007, and it’s a beautiful and creative game in 2016 that deserves 9.5/10 — just one that’s a now a little less blurry.