BioShock HD Remaster (PS4) — A review.

Despite being almost ten years old, no game has yet been able to overtake BioShock as my number one. I’ll be honest in saying that I’m not much of a gamer, so it may not be as quite a bold claim as if this was said by someone who tried to play at least every major release each year, but nonetheless the experience of playing BioShock is an experience I have yet to see matched in any medium, video games or otherwise and it’s only the more special now seeing it in this beautiful remaster.

Rapture, despite it’s stylised, almost cartoony visuals, is such a believably lived in world and it’s the reason that I can revisit the game time and time again and still have that same sense of wonder. It’s a game that appreciates the richness in the detail, that it’s in how small one can go that makes a world feel real, not how big you can go. While it’s a linear game, sure, the amount of stuff to experience in each and every level could allow you to go on tangents and get lost for hours, exploring every nook and cranny for just one more jigsaw piece to shed light on what happened in the walls of Rapture. This is true on absolutely every play through I’ve gone through, while the objectives and combat gets a little more tedious with each new level the exploration only becomes all the more tantisling. It’s quite ironic that so many so called “sandboxes” that come after feel half as populated despite being hundreds of in game miles larger.

It’s worth admitting that the first BioShock may be a little too combat heavy, it’s certainly a lot more combat heavy than you probably remember. Clear a room of Splicers but don’t bother breathing a sigh of relief, as if they themselves don’t repopulate almost immediately, the next room you go into will be brimming with more, if not both things happening together. That along with the constant security alerts and turrets. Ugh. Beyond that while the sense of power you get from the Plasmids is entertaining when you first get them, outside of the battles with the Big Daddies, even on higher difficulties you’ll be amazed by how quickly the horror of the Splicers wears off and they become little more than nuisances, in your way while you’re trying to enjoy the world around you. It is also not really a very good shooter regardless, I’m so glad that BioShock 2 & Infinite streamline the clunky juggling mess that is the combat featured in the original BioShock where your biggest challenge is keeping everything stocked up and loaded.

And yes, it’s also true that as the big twist dulls with each play (with this being somewhere around my seventh or eighth play which, once again, may not sound like much for your average gamer but I don’t think I’ve ever played any other single player narrative driven game maybe more than three times) the more the final few levels of BioShock seem to unravel as you’re harried through lots of really interesting locations, as “climaxes” are fired at you in quick succession with none of them really landing properly and as the game leaves so much open at the end.

But, bottom Line? Video Games may age hard and fast and while neither BioShock’s epic rug pull nor its FPS mechanics hold up to much scrutiny on repeat playthroughs, there is still nothing like a trip through Rapture. Especially now, with this glorious graphical overhaul.