The lines are blurring between AAA console and mobile game development. It's not happening in great volume just yet, nor are all major publishers converting their elaborate controller-based games into touch experiences. Activision's upcoming Skylanders: Trap Team for iOS and consoles alike is one huge example, but 2K Games has been already leading that charge with great success.
Last year's XCOM: Enemy Unknown made an almost seamless transition from an amazing $60 tactical strategy game into a lightly scaled-back $20 touch iteration, and now 2K is dipping into its back catalog for today's newly-launched iOS port of BioShock. First released in 2007 on consoles and PC, it set the bar for narrative-led, single-player shooting action, and remains one of the most amazing games ever played from the first-person perspective.
Now it's available on iPhone and iPad, and while there are necessary alterations to accommodate the hardware, it remains an essential play — and now opened up to a large new audience that may have missed this classic the first time around.
A true classic
Unlike the stock military and sci-fi shooters that usually dominate the genre, BioShock stands out in large part due to its incredible setting: Rapture, an underwater utopia-gone-wrong filled with gene-spliced, super-powered mutants. It's set in the year 1960, and you play as Jack, a man who survives an oceanic plane crash only to find access to the city via a lighthouse — and quickly becomes tangled up in a battle for power between opposing forces in this secret, stunning locale.
Every last aspect of the game feels wonderfully unique and completely slaved-over, whether it's the gorgeous art deco design, the rich audio logs that fill out the back story of this one-of-a-kind scenario, or the moral decisions thrust upon you as the gripping narrative plays out over the course of a dozen-plus-hour campaign.
Simply by virtue of being released, BioShock is now the best single-player shooter available for iOS — and it's not even a close call. Games like Modern Combat and N.O.V.A. provide serviceable solo missions, and Call of Duty: Strike Team has a solid campaign jaunt. However, nothing on the App Store proves quite as impactful and memorable as BioShock, with its blend of action, storytelling, horror, and exploration.
It's easy to make the comparison to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, since both are massive console experiences translated to mobile and tablets via 2K China. Both are worthy ports, but the slower, turn-based pace of XCOM is a perfect fit for on-the-go, touch-centric gaming. That's not necessarily the case with first-person shooters, which are typically "good enough" when played on touch screens.
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