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That BioShock teaser was an iOS port and it plays well (sort of)

7:00 AM on 08.04.2014 // Steven Hansen


That BioShock teaser from 2K? It's not a new BioShock game. It's the first one, but on Apple devices. Hence the apple in the tease. Clever. Who called it?

This is basically a full port of the PC version of BioShock, sans dynamic shadows and some fog. BioShock is a good game. Arguably a lot better than Infinite. It has cost less than whatever a "premium" mobile game will cost when the iOS port launches later this summer. That's a cue for, "it won't be $0.99, please don't be upset." 

Still, there's some novelty to playing the thing on your phone or iPad (I played on an iPad Air). And thanks to the same team that delivered a heck of an iOS port of XCOM, BioShock looks and runs well on the smaller screen. 

Now that Apple has gone ahead with some controller support, you can play BioShock with any compatible unit. I did so as I waded through the intro (and waded through freezing plane crash water), but I figured playing with the touch controls might prove a bit more informative. Not everyone has one of those pricey controllers.  

After getting through the lengthy establishing bits and exposition and finding a plumber's discarded wrench, I finally got to smash some Splicer faces. Virtual joysticks will appear wherever you rest either thumb. I still managed to drift too far off sometimes, but I only felt mildly hampered. I moved less smoothly than I might with a controller, but it worked well. It's an option, anyway, leaving you stuck between it and expensive controllers. 

The interface is pretty slick. On the right side, there's a big virtual button to use either your equipped weapon or plasmid (no dual wielding yet, remember). You can also switch between plasmids and weapons and search through trash cans for cigarettes and bodies for money. It all works well enough, retooled as it is.

The problem with the touch controls comes in combat. You might adapt and get better at them. You might already be better at them than I am. But I had some difficulty in my right thumb being needed to both a) line up the shooting reticle and b) tap the big old "shoot" button. That bit of time in between is troublesome.

If this were all puzzle solving, exploration, and Pipe Mania hacking, the touch controls would be a completely viable option for the iOS port. However, in the hour I played, I struggled shooting things accurately, which is a big deal for a shooter. I killed things good, thanks in part to some bullet magnetism that took shots over the shoulder and counted them a couple inches left or right, but the precise tactility of first-person shooting is lost here.

It just feels a little less good when the game rewards you for being in the vicinity. It's a necessary change, though, because otherwise you would line up shots and lose them in the split second you stopped aiming to tap "kill," assuming you didn't move the reticle in that motion. Good thing targets are generally running at you, too, because keeping up with lateral movement isn't easy. 

The port is novel (it's on my phone!), it's perfunctory, it's a reminder that BioShock was pretty cool, and with a controller you can basically match the original experience. The touch controls work about as well as they could, but can't overcome losing the precision in first-person shooting.

Steven Hansen, Features Editor
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Steven watches anime & sports, buys meat out of trucks, dates a Muppet, and is only good at cooking. He stands before you bereft of solace and well on the road to perdition. ('^ω^) more   |   staff directory

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