If the only thing stopping you from experiencing last-gen classic BioShock was the lack of a portable option, you’re about to have one less excuse. Publisher 2K announced today that BioShock is coming to iOS.
But in a hands-on session with an early build of the game, it seems to be a remarkably faithful port of the original. Obvious concessions had to be made to fit the game on less-powerful hardware, so there’s a noticeable dip in quality in the game’s textures, lighting and shadows, and sound compared to the original. Yet even with the downgrades, it’s still an impressive mobile accomplishment.
The touch-screen adaption of the controls, surprisingly, works well for navigating the game’s underwater world and switching between weapons and powers. But, at least after the short play session I spent with this build, it’s not quite fine-tuned enough for combat on the harder difficulties. Movement on the left side of the screen works fine — wherever you place your thumb, a virtual analgo stick appears, which ensures that you won’t unexpectedly stop moving just because your hand placement adjusted. But having both shooting and aiming tied to the right side of the screen requires you to trade-off between aiming and firing while you strafe arond enemies. It’s manageable with a single enemy on screen, but it feels a little frustrating when your juggling multiple foes.
But, almost as if they anticipated the complaints, 2K also showed off the game running with the MOGA Hero Power controller. The controller, which comes with the familiar arrangement of analog sticks, triggers, and buttons, immediately upgrades the experience to on par with the console experience, at least in terms of controls. However, playing with the controller highlighted the fact that jumping has been removed from the game; not an important omission, but still a noticeable change. Otherwise, the game is unchanged from previous iterations except that iOS Game Center rewards take the place of Trophies/Achievements and players will have access to a digital art book from a previous special edition of the console game.
While the version of the game I played was running on an iPad, the game will also be available on the iPhone. However, cloud saving for the game will not be available, so progress across the two iOS versions will remain separate. 2K also noted that BioShock will only run on the following: iPad Air, iPad Mini 2, iPad 4, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, and iPhone 5. Also, as is typical for ports, this version is not being built by original developer Irrational, which announced that it would be “winding down” earlier this year. Instead, development duties have fallen on 2K China.
A firm price and release date for the game has not yet been set, but 2K says that it will be a “premium-priced mobile game” that’s set to come out “later this summer.” Despite the overall accuracy of the port, the somewhat muffled sound design and inferior graphics make this hard to get too excited for, especially when the PC version of the game frequently goes on sale for $5, and a bundle with BioShock 2 and Infinite typically runs for around $10 during sale periods. But if PC isn’t an option, or you’re just looking for a nostalgic fix that pushes the current limits of what phones and tablets can do, BioShock as a game still holds up to the 9.0 review score GameSpot gave it seven years ago.