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BioShock: The Collection
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that BioShock: The Collection is an anthology of three previously released first-person shooter games. Players engaging in violent, visceral combat using guns and magical powers. Blood often pours from enemy bodies as they scream in pain. Players are forced to think about weighty philosophical concepts such as rational self-interest and American exceptionalism during disturbing dramatic moments with uncomfortable scenes, including depictions of racial discrimination. Parents should also note that these games contain strong language and racial slurs, and the player's character can use alcohol and tobacco to regain health and energy.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
BIOSHOCK: THE COLLECTION brings together a trio of fantastical sci-fi adventures released over the last decade and praised for their narrative vision. In BioShock and BioShock 2, players visit an underwater city called Rapture circa 1960. It's a utopia gone awry. Founded on the notion that people should be allowed to achieve based on their intellect and ability without government to get in their way, the citizens soon ignored common morality and gave into their basest desires, eventually turning upon and killing each other. Players explore the ruins of this experiment, fighting off the remaining crazed survivors while learning the city's darkest secrets. BioShock Infinite takes place half a century earlier in a city called Columbia that floats in the sky. This city was founded on the idea that America plays a special and superior role among nations and that certain racist and oppressive beliefs held by some of its citizens in the early 20th century were beyond question. But it, too, is in the process of failing at the game's, outset thanks to a rebellious uprising of which the player's character, Booker DeWitt, becomes a part. Beyond their stories, all three games revolve around traditional but frenetic first-person action that see their heroes gradually gaining access to more powerful weapons and mastering fantastical powers such as the ability to move objects with their minds and shoot flames from their fists.
Is it any good?
Mature players can't do much better than getting these three critically acclaimed and remastered games for the price of one. All three titles in BioShock: The Collection provide players with rich, fascinating, and immersive worlds that benefit from genius art direction, ensuring players will remember the cities of Rapture and Columbia long after the credits role. More than that, they’ll remember the characters and stories within them. These games tackle some substantial themes in their quest to critique the concept of utopia and several of the last century’s more controversial ideas and ideologies. Some scenes -- including one in which an interracial couple is about to be stoned -- are deliberately hard to watch, especially given the game’s interactive nature and first-person perspective. But it’s all meant to evoke an emotional and cerebral response within the player of a sort not typically associated with big-budget action games. And all three games succeed in this endeavor more often than not.
The only really disappointing thing about the collection is that not much has been added to the games beyond some graphical sprucing up. Each one has been remastered in 1080p and runs at a smooth 60 frames per second. There’s no question they look better than they ever did on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. And all the downloadable packs have been included (though the multiplayer component from the second game has been removed). Beyond that, the only additional content is a director's commentary from creator Ken Levine. Otherwise, there's not much to lure anyone who's already experienced these great games. That said, those unacquainted with BioShock -- including older teens who were too young to play them when they first came out -- are in for a treat. There’s no better way to experience these modern classics.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media such as BioShock: The Collection. These games provide players with some control over whom they kill and do not kill, including a group of genetically modified girls called Little Sisters who can be "harvested" or saved. What did you choose? Why?
Talk about some of the philosophical concepts in these games. What is American exceptionalism? What is rational self-interest? Why might an eccentric billionaire build utopian cities based on the tenets of these belief systems?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: 2K Games
- Release date: September 13, 2016
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.