My eyes lit up a little bit when I saw that Bioshock had hit the App store for the iOS. It was almost an impulse buy as I thought, “Hey, it would be cool to take along a classic game and play it on iOS.” That thought lasted until I saw the price of $14.99. I dipped over to Amazon and saw the console version marked at the same price and even when I looked at Game Stop’s site it’s just one dollar more and of course cheaper if you get it pre-owned.
It didn’t take but a second to shy away from the ‘Purchase’ button as I realized how little sense it would be to purchase a seven year old game for the iOS when if I really wanted to play it again (and I really haven’t thought much about it to be honest) it would be better for the full blown experience.
We know this isn’t the first time games that had the PC or console first experience come to tablet and get priced almost as much as it would their bigger cousins. It’s great that some companies would like to make console favorites mobile, but for what they are charging, they are gouging customers for a not so great experience.
I am going to mention a few areas of Bioshock that should make buyers consider twice before getting on iOS or any other mobile platform.
If the price point isn’t enough to deter you, Bioshock’s graphics, while capable on any high end mobile device, still isn’t up to snuff to the original console release. AppSpy did a demo that showed just that which showed how the lighting effects as well as other visual cues doesn’t translate so well to mobile platforms. One of the best parts of the game was the visual design which made it creepy and fantastic to play especially in a dark (or in my case dimly lit) room. This is a game I never considered needing to play while on the train or outdoors.
While I am sure that 2K and Irrational probably kept much of the tracks intact for mobile devices, along with the graphics and playing on a console was the sound ambiance. I can’t speak for everyone’s set up but when I played it back in 2007, I had a 5.1 surround sound system and every little bump, every little clang, or the sounds of a Big Daddy scared me and my wife. But ask yourself to translate that over to having that same sound come out of tinny speakers or through your earbuds? Part of the fun of having it come through your surround system was the depth perception as sometimes you had no idea if what you heard was real or in the game so this is another deterrent from playing this without the full experience.
With it being a mobile game of course it’s touch controlled. The big question for many of us that have played is exactly how in a game where at times you need to make precision movements or use twitch shooting skills interchangeably, will a touchscreen work? Sure, some may say you could buy a tablet controller and use that but that is extra money you are paying, you could buy both games one disk for that amount and have change.
Bioshock isn’t the first game that has been at this price point for sale. But this is one of the first games I remember seeing at this price point that in my opinion, is not built to be played for this platform. Civilization Revolution was one and X-com: Enemy Unknown is another. Both range close to the 10 dollar zone and just like Bioshock, they are both missing features of their console siblings. However, those games were better suited for mobile platforms as they didn’t require as much intense movement of Bioshock.
As much as some of us wouldn’t mind the nostalgia of Bioshock, it would be wise to consider what the original console version gave you as a total experience for the same price. You had a graphically stunning game with a sound track that completely immersed you into the story of the underwater city of Rapture, not to mention it controlled very well. Ask yourself, how badly do you need to play this on the go and do you get the same immersive experience that you would get from playing it at home for the same price? My answer would be to save my money for something else.