Original BioShock transitioning to iPhone and iPad later this summer

BioShock for iOS (teaser 002)

BioShock, a first-person shooter video game franchise originally released for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 platforms in August 2007, is about to leap onto the iPhone and iPad later this summer.

A spiritual successor to the System Shock series, the main concept behind BioShock borrows from authors like George Orwell and is based on the ideas of Objectivism, a philosophical system conceived and detailed by Russian-born American writer Ayn Rand…

The original game, at the time named 2K Boston, was developed by developer Irrational Games and published under the 2K Games label. The iOS port is being handled by 2K Games’ China studio, which ported XCOM: Enemy Unknown to iOS devices.

The iPhone and iPad edition, which will support ‘Made for iPhone’ game controllers and integrate with Game Center, is launching later this summer for the fourth-generation iPad 4 and later and the iPhone 5 and later. It won’t run at all on earlier devices. The download will include a digital art book.

Engadget reports that the graphics have been scaled down from the Xbox original. The publication’s hands-on time with work-in-progress code is a mixed bag of nostalgia-infused content and criticism of “subpar” visuals and “distinctly less immersive” experience on the smaller screen.

Ben Gilbert, reporting for Engadget:

Yes, BioShock doesn’t look as good on iOS. It’s the truth. In-game lighting and shadows are cut down pretty dramatically, as are art assets. The grandeur of Rapture is distinctly less grand, which sucks some of the life out of one of my personal favorites.

The iOS experience is a subpar representation. Simply put, between the lessened scale and the delivery medium, BioShock iOS is distinctly less immersive.

Truth be told, the toned-down graphics is more the result of Apple’s app size requirements for the App Store (two gigs max) than it is hardware limitation of the platform.

According to Polygon’s Brian Crecente, the game “feels very much like the original, especially when played on an iPad and with a controller”.

Jared Nelson of TouchArcade disagrees with Gilbert on the downsides of playing such a complex game on mobile devices:

One thing that struck me about playing Bioshock on a mobile device is that it’s a very intimate experience. Over the last decade, high end televisions and home theater systems have become common, making for incredible environments to play through immersive and atmospheric games.

And Bioshock is one of the most atmospheric of all time. However, there’s really something to be said for having your very own little screen running the game, right up in your face as close as you want it to be.

He posted this nice video preview of the game.

Set in 1960, BioShock follows the story of the main protagonist named Jack, who survived an airplane crash in the ocean near the bathysphere terminus which leads to the submerged Art Deco underwater city of Rapture.

Originally developed as an utopian city, Rapture started declining after the discovery of ADAM, a plasmid which grants superhuman powers. The compelling storyline provides a solid backdrop for BioShock’s main allure: fighting your way through the hordes of ADAM-obsessed enemies while unravelling the secrets of Rapture’s past.

Although you can blast your way through the game using only weapons, you won’t get too far with that because BioShock features elements of role-playing games.

BioShock for iOS (teaser 001)

Meaning, you’re required to use plasmids which give you unique powers, turn Rapture’s own defenses against the foes, employ varied stealth strategies and even engage in moral choices of saving or killing characters.

According to Engadget, 2K Games is planning on releasing BioShock for iOS as a premium game with a premium pricing in the $10 to $30 range and no In-App Purchases.

I enjoy playing modern classics ported to iOS and it goes without saying I’ll be giving BioShock a whirl when it launches on the App Store.