BioShock is a bit of a mixed bag.
On the one hand, you have the incredible world of Rapture, the sunken art-deco metropolis constructed as a testament to founder Andrew Ryan's lunacy. Teeming with tortured souls, this dilapidated dystopian world groans under the weight of the Atlantic Ocean, setting the scene for some of the scariest, most spine-chilling action ever seen in a first-person shooter.
On the other hand, you have to listen to the subtle criticism levelled at a game that never quite managed to match the story depth adequately to the phenomenal surroundings. One could also point out the lack of gameplay innovation and the chore-based mission structure, but we're not here to apply 20/20 hindsight to last year's blockbuster. The real question here is why 2K has deemed it necessary to release a done-and-dusted game back into the wild on a new platform?
Those hoping for any graphical advances over the Xbox 360 version will be out of luck - not only has 2K confirmed that there is very little difference between the console versions, we certainly couldn't spot anything that made the PS3 preview code any prettier than what has already come before. Both versions are stunning, but if state-of-the-art graphics are your thing then you've probably already played the PC version to death anyway.
Perhaps the answer then lies in the additional content we've been promised for the PS3 release? Well, not really. Sure, there's a new "challenge room" series of puzzles that are designed to get you thinking more about the interaction between weapons, plasmids and environmental objects (the lack of complexity of which was a criticism often levelled at BioShock on other platforms) but as these puzzles don't tie in with the original story in any measurable way they're not exactly going to be a selling point, fun as they may be.
Could the inclusion of a hardcore difficulty setting entitled "Survivor" provide enough of a reason for previous BioShock gamers to brave the watery depths once more? It seems unlikely. Despite the highly accurate maxim "every bullet counts" and the thrifty dispersement of any environmental aid that could possibly be considered beneficial, what we really want - what we've wanted since we clocked it last year - is a new story. New content that captures the man-made hell of Rapture and transports us back to the world of Ryan, Atlas, Big Daddies and Little Sisters. Something that we think twice about playing after dark, and most definitely something that provides us with the same deep moralistic choices, the same gratification and glorious celebration of mindless violence that captured our attention in 2007.
Of course, if you belong to the subset of the gaming public that owns a PS3 and has never played through BioShock, then all bets are off - you'll take to this like a fish to water.
Despite reservations about the complications surrounding PS3 game development (other developers manage to launch Unreal Engine 3.0 titles simultaneously across all platforms at release date - what happened here?) the reason for the belated PS3 attempt could simply be in marketing. 2K know they're sitting on a goldmine with BioShock's intellectual property, and as they've previously announced the development of BioShock 2, BioShock 3 and a yet-to-be-titled movie (BioShock, perhaps?) it makes sense to keep the title in the public consciousness by releasing new material every so often. With this in mind, we should probably expect a mobile version shortly.
Our experience with the preview code for BioShock PS3 has been nothing short of a chilling return to a nautical nightmare. It's a testament to the phenomenal talent of the 2K design team that picking up a game for the first time in twelve months on a completely different platform can illicit exactly the same feelings of sheer terror and dread as it did the first time.
From the visually breathtaking effects, realistic Havok physics and out-of-this-world sound effects, nothing has been lost in translation, and the additional content (which we'll cover in more depth with our review closer to release time) is the icing on the cake.
There's another reason why 2K has rightfully pushed this title out to a new market. BioShock is far too emotive to approach anything near the clinical nature required of a hard-core FPS title. It lacks multi-player, so it'll never be polluted online by hordes of headset-touting, foul-mouthed teenagers. There's no officially sanctioned map editor or development tools, so the modding community will never tinker under the hood to change the fundamentals. Much like Ryan's Rapture, the game itself is the living embodiment of 2K's vision, one that will forever conjure adrenalin-laced memories in anyone willing to immerse themselves in a world beneath the waves.
BioShock is video game art, and just like any other form of art, the more people who can experience it, the better. If you're a PS3 owner who has never crashed in the Atlantic, dived to an underwater city in a Bathysphere, killed genetically modified civilians and injected yourself with the stem-cells of a previously undocumented sea slug, you're in for a treat.
Just consider the additional content a reward for having to have to wait so long for it.