Imagine a version of Rapture that would require you to stop everything, put your controller down and press something on your headset to swap weapons or heal yourself; now you know the biggest problem of iOS’ BioShock. While it’s great to immerse yourself in a personal tablet version of the BioShock experience, the touch-screen control puts a hefty amount of frustration, though they do work underneath the difficulty.
By now, you likely know all about BioShock; it’s the game where Andrew Ryan, a man with a particular ideology and the money to implement it, created an underwater city where anyone could do what they wanted without religion or government, naming it Rapture. Then everything went wrong.
You take on the role of the unlucky Jack who winds up in Rapture following a crash in the ocean, leaving him near one of the entrances to the city. After that, you come across a horror-ridden society that has cannibalized itself through extensive genetic modification everywhere you turn. It’s all very exciting — but does it hold up on iOS? It’s about what you could expect: BioShock shrunk down with touch controls.
The controls just aren’t there when it comes to combat. Moving and aiming is actually decent with the sticks, but the screens simply cannot replicate the kind of precision that a controller or keyboard and mouse would provide. Therefore, it’s not quite as intuitive to fire your plasmid or gun than in the full version, but at least the icons to tap are large and noticeable. When you start the game facing a couple of weaker splicers and have a pistol or the Bolt plasmid, you might feel comfortable fending for yourself; unfortunately, when the encounters and your arsenal increase in complication, the platform has greater difficulty maintaining the action.
It would also have been nice to see the PlayStation 3 challenge rooms in the iOS version of BioShock, although there are several bonuses exclusive to this. For one, there is a graph system where you can review your stats and track them, viewing how often you use your plasmids and guns. If you have a lot of friends on your GameCenter list, you also have the option to compare yourself on the leaderboards. Finally, you also can look through the long art book for BioShock, which works much better on the tablet than much of the combat in-game does.
Whether or not you should pick up BioShock on iOS largely depends on what it is you want to achieve from it. If you just want to pass the time at the dentist, on public transportation or wherever, then it’s certainly worth picking up for quick gameplay bursts. If you have not yet played the game and can’t access a computer or a console to play the full game, then it also makes a fair tour of Rapture, as long as touch controls don’t bother you. Otherwise, it is more worth holding off to experience the full game on the big screen.