BioShock needs very little introduction. If you have been playing video games for the past decade or so, you would have heard about it far too many times by now and most probably played it back when it released on the PC and consoles in 2007.
The full game has now been ported over to iOS and is available on both, the iPhone and the iPad. There has been a reasonable amount of hype surrounding the iOS version, considering how popular the PC and console versions were, so let’s see how good the port is.
For those who don’t know, BioShock is a first person shooter that takes place in the underworld dystopian (formerly a utopia) city of Rapture. Due to events that take place before the game begins, the city is now in ruins and overrun by genetically altered humans known as Splicers, which will be your primary enemy. There are also other, bigger enemies you will occasionally face called Big Daddies, who follow around and protect little girls named Little Sisters. Calling them enemies may not be entirely correct, as whether or not they attack you depends totally upon whether you go after them first. You are responsible for your actions in the game, and depending upon how you choose to play, you could get either of the two endings.
The combat system is far more advanced than your run of the mill shooter, which may not seem like much now but was a big deal back in 2007. You have two weapon types in this game, one of which is called plasmids. Plasmids give you special abilities, such as releasing electricity or fire through your hand. The secondary weapon can be a gun or a wrench. The game encourages using both as a combo, for example, stunning enemies with electricity or fire before bludgeoning or shooting them. You can use just one of them to finish off the enemy but it’s faster if you use them together and you end up using less of each attack type.
The plasmids use up your mana called Eve, which can be recharged by collecting Eve syringes. As you play, you collect additional types of plasmids and more guns. You can have all of them with you but only one can be assigned to the shortcut buttons that lets you quickly toggle between them. Other than the Eve, you also collect different kinds of tonics, that enhance your abilities, such as making you stronger and more resistant to attacks. You can have any one tonic enabled at a time.
You can refill your health by picking up the health kits. There are also consumables scattered around the world, such as chocolate bars, chips, liquor, and cigarettes. Chocolates, chips, etc. will give you some health when you eat them. Liquor will give you some health but will reduce your Eve a bit. If you drink too much you can even get dizzy for a while. Smoking reduces your health, but gives you some Eve.
Other than finding stuff lying around, you can also raid corpses to gain some Eve, ammo, food, or money from their pockets. The game has plenty of spaces to explore to find additional loot if you are not in a hurry to finish it.
You can also hack into the defense drones in the game. The hacking is done as a mini-game, where you rearrange pieces of a pipe to get the liquid to flow from one end to the other, and if you fail you lose health due to the electric shock and it could also trigger an alarm to alert enemies. If you succeed you can use the drones to aid you in hunting down enemies.
The combination of the weapons, story, and characters meant that BioShock was very unique when it came out all those years ago and still manages to be interesting. The gameplay has a bit more depth than your usual run and gun shooters. The dual weapon style means you can mix and match different plasmids and guns but there isn’t a whole lot of ammo or Eve lying around so you have to be careful and not go guns blazing. Lastly, some actions have consequences, so you need to decide how you are going to go about playing the game. These are moral decisions, and if you don’t care about that kinda stuff, you’d know what to do.
Although not a horror game as such, BioShock is definitely creepy as hell, and most of the time you are playing with trepidation. The eerie sounds from the Splicers and the Big Daddies don’t help either. Nor do the jump scares.
The controls in the iOS version are respectable. They could have been screwed royally, considering the multiple weapons at disposal, but the developers have managed to keep things fairly easy and accessible. Also, BioShock doesn’t really require precise shooting so the fact that you’re playing on a touchscreen is less of an issue here.
Graphics and Sound
The original BioShock still looks good on PC, which is a testament to how good the game was back when it released. Considering it’s a fairly old game, one would have expected the iOS version to be decent as well. Unfortunately, I’d rather go blind than look at it again.
I don’t remember the last time I saw a game that looked so bad. First of all, I don’t know what resolution it is rendering at. The menus text seems to be in Retina resolution but all the in-game assets are probably rendering at iPhone 3G resolution. The textures are pretty much non-existent. The aliasing is so bad you’d cut your eyes on the edges. The lighting is worse. The mobile version completely lacks the atmosphere of the PC/console version, which considerably reduces the immersion into the game’s world. I understand some reduction in quality while going from PC/consoles to mobile, but this is simply unacceptable.
The sound is fine, thankfully. Everything, from the voice acting, to the sound effects and the eerie music, is still great and have survived the transition to the smaller screen.
BioShock on iOS is for those who played the game back when it came out on PC and consoles, loved it, and want to play it again on mobile. If you didn’t like it back then, you aren’t going to like it now. If you haven’t played it yet, you’d rather get it on the PC or consoles, because it plays better there. Even if you have played it before, I would advise against getting it on iOS. They have really screwed the graphics on this and unless you want the memories of one of your favorite games ruined, you should stay away from it. Which is sad because otherwise it’s a good game.
Pros: Good story, varied combat system
Cons: Nerfed graphics
Download: App Store