BioShock, the original release in the series hatched by Ken Levine and his team at Irrational Games, is coming to the iOS App Store in August 2014, 2K confirms. First released in 2007, BioShock introduced players to the undersea city of Rapture, a failed utopia built by wealthy industrialist Andrew Ryan that collapsed at the dawn of the 1960s due to a mixture of destructive human nature and genetically enabled superpowers.
Like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, 2K is treating BioShock like a “premium” App Store release; not necessarily relevant, but both ports were developed by 2K China. The publisher isn’t talking price yet, but expect something comparable to XCOM‘s $20 launch price. The iOS port of BioShock uses virtual control sticks and buttons, but it’s also built to support MFi (Made For iPhone) game controllers.
We took a near-final version of the game for a spin, using both virtual controls and a gamepad from MOGA, and it is indeed the same BioShock. The most immediately noticeable difference is, unsurprisingly, the visuals. There’s less detail in the textures and features like shadows and all but the most basic particle effects are gone. Animations also seems to be chopped up a bit, as evidence by the snapshot-like movements of the rotating turrets we spotted during out demo.
Here’s a few screens from the port:
Touch controls are similar to what we’ve seen in other mobile first-person shooters, with thumb movements handling navigation on the left half of the screen and looking/aiming on the right half, while stylized virtual buttons stand in for commands like crouch, shoot, and weapon-swapping. It’s a setup that works well enough, with the right-hand aiming controls notably tuned with just the right amount of sensitivity. Really though, most will want to grab an MFi gamepad for this one.
The console-style MOGA controller we used for the purposes of the demo worked great. Once you get over the necessary visual stripdown, it feels like you’re playing a proper console game on your tablet screen (because you are!). Using a controller doesn’t turn “off” the screen controls either, so jumping between the two controls schemes is a perfectly viable option.
This becomes especially appealing when you realize just how well BioShock‘s hacking minigame works with touch controls. The minigame is untouched, with players tapping a series of tiles laid out on a large grid to reveal chunks of tubing that must be shifted around in order to guide the flow of an electrified liquid from its starting point to a fixed endpoint. It feels like it was always meant to be played on a touchscreen.
We’re told by 2K that supported devices list isn’t final, but the initial press release notes that BioShock will run on newer iOS devices only. The iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, iPad Air, iPad 4, and second-generation iPad Mini are all confirmed to support the game.
BioShock is supposed to launch before the end of summer 2014, so we should hear more soon on price and any additional supported platforms.