It’s been seven years since Irrational Games (formerly 2K Boston) unleashed the world of Bioshock upon gamers. An amazing tale set within the underwater city of Rapture, Bioshock was the perfect combination of exploration and FPS with excellent thematics and a story that offered some pretty awesome twists. Now, after a few previews, Bioshock [$9.99] for iOS is finally upon us, brining a new generation of gamers and a new platform to the world of Rapture. The transition hasn’t been perfect, but Bioshock is still great where it counts, and that’s what’s most important.

From the moment you step into that bathysphere that leads you down into Rapture, Bioshock offered a world quite unlike anything that had been experience. Gene-altering plasmids, combined with a dark political upheaval shattered the glory of the populist town. Bioshock follows a personal tale of rescue and discovery as your character uncovers what happened to Rapture, and how you fit into it all. It’s a great story, and if you haven’t experienced it in any fashion, you’re in for a treat. Even if you have, Bioshock is still a treat to replay, mainly due to the beautiful and unnerving backdrop that is Rapture.


For the most part, Bioshock plays like its PC and console brethren, but the transition to iOS brought a few fundamental changes. The biggest and most notable issue centers around the game’s visuals. While I understand that Bioshock is now over seven years old, I still found the overall graphics on my iPad Air to be sub-par and even disappointing. Character models, textures and effects appear to have been sacrificed in order to preserve a stable framerate. For the most part, the game does succeed at a stable 30FPS, but the cost in visual quality feels significant at times. Thankfully, elements key to overall presentation (such as lighting) appear to make the transition, but the overall visual quality is something that that players will notice.

Touch controls are another notable change to the game but are not an unusual transition to folks familiar with iOS. Virtual thumbsticks on both sides of the screen control movement and viewing, while set buttons cover the standard FPS controls (shooting, reloading, switching weapons, etc).  For folks coming from another console, the touch-based control scheme may seem like a huge negative, but honestly I found them good enough with adequate practice. When you add in some hot bars for quickly choosing weapons, contextual buttons and auto-aim (combined with the game’s respawn system) Bioshock is easily playable with its virtual controls. If for some reason you can’t (or won’t) adjust to a touchscreen, MFi compatibility makes it feel exactly like playing on a console. In fact, I’d argue this Bioshock is the perfect showcase for a controller.


Make no mistake, I don’t think Bioshock for iOS is the preferred way to experience Rapture. The visuals, long load times, and occasional frustrations with the controls are issues that players would never experience on the PC version. Still, I found myself getting sucked into Bioshock all the same, and that’s because all the important aspects survived unscathed. The awesome music, gripping tale, and exploratory FPS gameplay survive the test of time. That first time you take down a Big Daddy, the journey to discover Andrew Ryan and Atlas, learning what happen ed to Rapture — it’s all still there, it’s still awesome, and now, it’s mobile. Add in a controller, and there’s little to complain about outside the visuals. Bioshock for iOS isn’t perfect, and I can understand the hesitance from those that may have already played it before. But for newcomers, it’s still an experience that needs to be taken.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Goggles789

    I enjoyed reading the article, but it seemed a little too ho-hum. For a game of this caliber, I was expecting a more in-depth article but this one just skims the surface.

  • HungarianUrinalCakes

    I would just add that in order to offset the frustrations of the controls, you should simply down tune the difficulty settings. As much as I hate playing on an "easy" difficulty, it helps salvage the enjoyment of the gameplay and storyline.

  • JMarceLF

    If the game's controls are frustrating and the graphics disappoint for a 7 year old port, then why does it get a 4/5 stars. I think you guys are being too nice. 3.5/5 is what I'd say it deserves. All these reviews lately are too nice. Where's the thick skinned reviews? Too much sugar coating. I read this review and I'm not interested in playing it again. Especially since it seems the port is not that great.

    • waxthirteen

      Perhaps you've noticed the ENORMOUS "sponsored by Bioshock" ad on the main page?

    • Amenbrother

      Agreed maybe even give it a 3 out of 5.

    • Mess

      Because the rating system here is a 'how much you should at it' scale.

    • Mess

      Because the star ratings are a 'how much you should play it' rating here.

    • Eli Hodapp

      I was thinking it deserved something closer to a 3.74999999 repeating.

      • dancj

        3.7499999 recurring is the same thing as 3.75.

      • Moot9

        Not exactly, which is the entire point of him choosing a repeating number.

      • Tomate Diseño

        Yeah but how often does a calculator kick something like that out - now 3.66666666666 repeating is believable

      • Moot9

        I don't know. What does a calculator have to do with it?

        I think he was just making the point that ratings are arbitrary.

        That or maybe he's really into Angel Numbers.

      • dancj

        Yup - exactly.

        For some reason everyone accepts that 0.3 recurring = 1/3, but a lot of people have trouble accepting that 0.9 recurring = 1.

      • Eli Hodapp

        Well, you see, the reason that's wrong is,

    • jonas nielsen

      Go read the IGN review or better yet, watch them play it with commentary and you'll get a proper review

      While the game is a classic the controls detracts so much from the experience that if you have any other way of playing this - ps3/360 or pc, please play it on those platforms

      • Lazyninja7

        The reviewers at IGN can't play mobile FPS games for shit. With a bit of practice, I can aim and shoot as accurately as I do on my PC. On nearly any iOS FPS.

      • Themostunclean

        Yeah, they're horrible at it. Watching their preview gameplay was like watching my 3 year old niece try and play Mario Kart.

      • Sebastian Gomez


      • Edwin Ramirez

        The game is also 2 or 3 dollars cheaper on Steam.

    • anabolicMike

      I thought the graphics were pretty good. The fact that I'm playing a game like this on a device the size of a piece of paper is amazing. You want to drop the rating down because of the loss in graphics and the load times? Are you kidding me? You know what you fools are doing? Your comparing this game to the one that came out for Xbox 360! Forget that this game even came out on Xbox 360. Write the review or make a comment on this game based on the fact that it came out on iOS for 14.99 and it's the first time you've seen it. It would get 5/5 hands down! Some of us never bothered with consoles and want to hear a review based on the fact that a game came out for our tablets/phones. We don't want to hear some bitchy nerds crying because their iphone doesn't match an Xbox 360 and a 40" flat panel. I said it already once: Bunch of fools!

      • Anonomation

        But an xbox is way underpowered compared to modern mobile devices, that's like with the San Andreas hiatus. iPhone 4 isn't supported yet the ps2 only had 30 mb of ram. That's either lazy porting or simply something were missing.
        But you'd expect more from 2K considering the fact that it's bioshock.

      • dancj

        Yeah. I'd expect to lose some texture resolution to keep the file size down, but I can't believe that a modern iPad or iPhone isn't capable of running the game at full resolution with all of the environmental effects at a decent framerate.

      • anabolicMike

        We'll. it didn't come out on xbox, it came out for xbox 360. Modern mobile devices do not match the 360 for game playing. The 360 was geared directly for playing games, it doesn't have am OS running in the background that has to handle mundane tasks such as answering the phone or other such functions. Our mobile devices just aren't designed to run games like the 360 even if they have more Ram or Processor speed. It's kinda like saying that because my Honda minivan has 260hp it should be able to pull a much heavier load then my Ford Massey tractor because it only has 40hp. that would be a horrible wrong thing to assume because the tractor is geared and built specifically for pulling where a car does a great many things. To be honest that tractor could pull my house down with the car trying to pull it the other way. so that's why the 360 can run games better then mobile devices that look like they have better stats! Don't forget the size of the mobile device too eh? How much power do they give up to stay cool and save battery life? It's comparing apples to oranges. So having this 360 game in my pocket is amazing and the game should have got 5/5 and been treated like it was there on its own. Because on its own it's pretty freaking impressive!

      • Phoen1x1

        Brilliant replies..btw with the update the game looks and runs flawlessly on my iPhone 6 plus.

      • boydstr

        That the game didn't look the same as the Xbox360 version is understandable but the way the game was removed from the AppStore in a relatively short time was something that I didn't understand a game that made such a impact deserves better. I have no problem whatsoever to buy a new version for iPhone 6 and up with better graphics etc.

      • Thomas

        I could not have said it better myself.

    • XboxOne

      4/5 is just about right!

  • DemoEvolved

    Would you kindly add another star to this review?

    Everyone should play this game, even if only on ios

  • NOEN

    I'm still mad that this won't play on my iPod 4 or iPhone 3GS! Get with it 2K! 😉

    • Themostunclean

      I know! Some of the reviewers on the App Store need to learn to read descriptions before writing.

      • comiclegregblade

        You would not believe how many times I saw people jump right to buying a game and then complain that it doesn't work on a iPhone 4 or ipod 4 (also they think that if they have 3 gigs of free HDD space left they think no games are going to crash because they don't know what memory is aka RAM)

      • XboxOne


      • comiclegregblade

        Welp look at that a ipod 4g user didn't realize his device couldn't play IB3 and complained *sigh* I will never understand why people cannot read

    • PadreTomasito

      And what about my Casio calculator!

  • Rubius

    Bioshock on iOS is a damn good port, it runs well, and the controls are decent. I'd really like to see Capcom port Resident Evil 5 to iOS next. Either that, or I'd like to see Sega port Shenmue to iOS.

  • Ax23000

    It's kind of strange how little this review talks about the actual mechanics and experience of the game. This is no problem for those of us familiar with the game already, but surely a review should also address those who have never played it before as well.

    It comes off as a very rushed review, especially considering the relative to the platform premium price. Anyway, I appreciate the work you guys do here, so consider this constructive criticism not an angry attack.

    • Eli Hodapp

      It was actually an editorial decision to not focus on re-reviewing Bioshock the game (in regards to themes/mechanics/etc) as few games have been over-analyzed and universally loved to the extent of Bioshock in the last seven years. We figured people who are curious about Bioshock on iOS are just looking to hear how it runs on the platform and whether or not the port is solid. If you want to read about the themes of the game and all that, just google "Bioshock review" and you'll find enough dissection of that to keep you busy until sometime next year.

      • jonas nielsen

        In that case maybe the reviewer should have devoted a bit more of the review to explaining how you can't customize the controls or how incredibly awkward it is to heal because you can't strafe, shoot and heal at the same time. You either have to stop moving or stop shooting to heal.Those are things that are actually detriment to the gameplay

      • Eli Hodapp

        A chunk of the review is dedicated to how bad the touch controls are?

      • jonas nielsen

        So this

        >For folks coming from another console, the touch-based control scheme may seem like a huge negative, but honestly I found them good enough with adequate practice

        is a chunk? And it doesn't go into detail which one could argue is kinda important

        I realized a long time ago there's no way anyone could take Toucarcade reviews seriously - i guess going by this review you're ok with that

        Good thing then we have real gaming sites with professional journalists who knows how to make a good review

        Now i'm sure this post will be deleted soon, much like that from the guy who pointed the Bioshock ads plastered on TA out, but if anyone gets to read this before i urge you to go to any number of major review sites before buying what is at best a mediocre port

      • Andrew Fretz

        I kind of hope your post doesnt get deleted so people can see how much of the actual review you didnt read.

      • seantyas

        Actually u can, with a controller. Simple as that. The option is there.

      • Ax23000

        Fair enough. I guess my only counter point would be that as the first mobile, and iOS at that, version of the game you've almost certainly got a sizable chunk of people who haven't played it before. Still, I won't begrudge you guys deciding not to retread trodden ground. Just thought it was a curious decision on the surface.

  • andylangers

    I'm wondering if maybe Ios 8 will improve it with metal bring implemented

    • JJE McManus

      Metal will only go a small way to reduce PC systems to insignificant whiners.

    • Themostunclean

      From what I understand now, Metal has to be integrated into the game from the start. It won't do anything to improve existing games unless it's already been implemented.

  • Themostunclean

    When I first booted this game on my PS3 after hearing all the hype over this game I remember being somewhat underwhelmed by the technical fidelity of the graphics but I was soon blown away by the story, atmosphere and mechanics. I felt exactly the same way a few days ago.

  • paulkolin86

    I have never played Bioshock b4. This is my first time and i have to say this game is actually....sick...and so good at the same time. I don't care about visuals. I wanna play more xbox/ps ports in da future.

  • AlexsIpad

    I don't see why anyone is rating this down other than the graphics - which really aren't that bad. The game is amazing and gameplay works fine. Sure the graphics are not incredible but no worse than most other games on iOS so what were you all expecting?

  • Lazyninja7

    I know it's quite a ways off, but I'd love to see an Infamous port for ios. Maybe with the new hardware and software.

    • Themostunclean

      A Sony IP on iOS is about as likely as a Nintendo IP on iOS. Not for technical reasons but because it's a cornerstone of their games library and what sells systems. The first 2 or a new title are rumored to be coming to Vita though.

  • iAjent

    Lol lol lol lol. Hahahaha... I'm not even going to start...

  • Prhaber

    Would you kindly play the console / PC version....that's the way to experience Bioshock.

  • photoboy

    I agree with the review that the technical shortcomings don't reduce the impact or the immersiveness of the game. That said, I do wish they'd added a gamma control as really it's too dark to see in some places and also an option to invert the Y-axis.

    Other than that, I'm really enjoying it!

    • Themostunclean

      I never invert when using a touch screen. The input is direct enough that it doesn't bother me. I can see it being a big issue for people using MFi controllers though.

  • Tomate Diseño

    It seems that ported game reviews centre around "well the controls aren't bad". It's like The game is now an endurance test with Duke Nukem 3D as the baseline of how NOT to do touch based FPS controls. I've still no idea why attempts are made to shoehorn games made for controllers into a touch interface, it makes zero sense to me - of course I'm not seeing the sale figures, but what I'd really like to see is a percentage of people who had the patience to slog through the whole game this way.

    • Amenbrother

      Yea I kind of agree. There seems to be a lot of excuses just because it was a good game on other platforms.

    • dancj

      I can't speak for Bioshock, but there are other ported games that I've played right through on my iPad. Another World and Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light spring to mind.

      FPS games are harder, but honestly I find a touchscreen far preferable to a controller for FPS games.

  • Anonomation

    My upgrade is October 1st 🙂

  • Based Xatu

    If bioshock on consoles had floaty controls, what made people think they would be better on a touchscreen? I loved the game for its story and atmosphere, but OMG the controls were terrible.

  • HUKASFILM LTD. ✩ @ghookahs

    I agree, this game needs to be experienced, but not on a mobile platform.

    This port is a 2/5 at best.

    The original was about the atmosphere and immersion. Just look up some screenshots of the original and compare, you'll see how terrible this port actual is.

    The lighting in the original was amazing. The port uses terrible baked lighting. The screenshots featured in this review are sterile and don't evoke the true nature of these problems.

  • Morgan01

    It seems as though everyone is comparing Bioshock to the console version. While it is a port of the console version, I think it needs to be looked at in context of it being an IOS game. Compared to other IOS titles, I can't think of any with this type of emersion and content, especially when limited by Apple on file size. If you've never experienced Bioshock, you will be thouroughly impressed by the IOS version.

    • iAjent

      Sure. I kind of agree.

      Only kind of because I also believe that others who have experienced the game on other platforms know just how amazing this game is, and as such should be obliged to point out that there a far better ways to enjoy the game so as not to sully the experience.

      But if iOS is the only gaming platform you have access to, then sure, this is a fantastic game and should be played regardless.

      • Morgan01

        Played it on XBox, absolutely amazing. Obviously, console is the best way to go.

  • mkdms14

    Controls suck big time should be 1 and a half to 2 stars at most. Hell controls in the modern war games respond better these terrible ones.

  • Sebastian Gomez

    I knew about its existence, but I never played or even got to watch a trailer video of the PC/Console version, so this counts as a "new game" for me...

    Bought it, haven't downloaded it yet...

    I hope I'll like it...

  • Mr. Alexis Kent

    Control are only frustrating to those comparing it to consoles . This goes for graphics as well. If one is critiquing or judging based on this just as an iOS app it's amazing for a aaa title to be on a phone none the less .

  • Mr. Alexis Kent

    The review is suffice for a game that has been reviewed many times over. So stop complaining. It's the same game . For new player it will be amazing for fans not so much but fans tend to not think logically.

  • Baconpants

    Virtual right thumbstick, no 1 to 1 slide-aiming on the right side? That's disappointing. I enjoy shooters immensely on ios, I play a lot of them.left thumbstick is fine, but I find the ones with right thumbsticks instead of mouse-like slide-aiming completely unplayable.

  • maskedviper

    2k blew their f**king wad on this. Hey jumped the game ahead way too early so it will not run on an iPad mini or anything later. The iPad mini (my device) is perfectly capable of handling this game but it crashes every time. To conclude I spent 10$ on a game I can't even play. If you really want to play this or haven't played it on PC then I would recommend this for PC hands down.

  • Clarence Woon

    the whole trilogy - bioshock, bioshock 2 and infinity were sold on steam as a bundle for about 9 bucks a few days ago as a holiday sale. Please, please buy it there instead-its so much cheaper there and plays better than what I can see from the screenshots here.

  • Ana Yulieth Hunt

    I'm really upset. I can't get the app to work. Is there anything I can do. I paid five dallors and the game won't work!

  • jdc

    This game almost operates pretty well on ipad mini2. But, one problem is frame drop. When battle with big daddy, a lot of enemies, final boss frame dropped harsh.

  • Thomas

    Of course it's not going to be as good as the pc version! How good is it compared to other leading fps games on iOS and PS Vita!! This review is horrendous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Thomas

    Try remote play on the PS3 version from a PS Vita or playing it on a new MacBook if you want want a better experience.

BioShock Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4