Patience is a virtue for gamers these days. While there are many of us out there willing to look past little qualms or forgive negligible mistakes in modern games, certain errors just blow past frustration and touch on being near unplayable. While the city of Rapture has been impressively re-rendered on mobile platforms, the control scheme and confusing button placements make this port of BioShock disappointingly passable.
It’s also interesting to note that the price tag is on the heftier side for an app store game. It may be one of the cheapest asking prices for one of the best games of this generation, but $14.99 is pretty high up there for most mobile gamers.
Even from early on, it’s apparent that this game was intended to be experienced with a tablet-sized screen for maximum utility and comfort for the player, but the graphics on an iPhone are not to be scoffed at. Most of BioShock’s memorable audio logs and voice-overs are still captured in all their haunting glory, and coming face to face with a Big Daddy is still as disturbing as it was the first time around. With a dark-lit room and headphones canceling out the real world, Rapture can still draw you in to its morbidly beautiful decadence.
But just as quickly are you drawn in, the control scheme will take you out. As a left-handed gamer, I was already at a disadvantage with the layout of a virtual analog stick on the left side and the aiming/firing reticule on the right. While this system is manageable in the game’s first act, the increasing number of enemies makes it a chore to try and keep up with such an arresting control scheme. It became such a problem for me that I ultimately dropped the difficulty to the easiest setting so I could continue relatively unhindered.
The Big Daddies are no exception either. Queuing up a plasmid on-the-fly or being able to dodge their charges is much like learning to ride a bike all over again. Repetition makes future encounters a bit easier, but it’s never something you get completely comfortable with. Even worse is the healing system, which is now a separate button that you need to press in order to activate. Since this means physically moving your hand off of the movement or the aiming controls, using medkits during a fight almost always means sacrificing a few seconds, which frequently led to my death anyways.
BioShock will always be one of my favorite shooters of all time, one that I return to time and again as the years go by. Unfortunately, this version will not be one that comes to mind when I’m looking to relive the horrors of Rapture.