Atlas Sighs: BioShock Remastered PC Is A Bit Of A Mess

Bioshock: The Collection [official site] is out today (and free to owners of the originals), which from a PC point of view is most exciting because it gives a big old spit’n’polish to the first two games in the series (Infinite is unaffected on PC, being relatively contemporaneous as it is). Unfortunately it seems that BioShock 1 Remastered particularly has not been as well-loved on PC as it perhaps should have been. It has only the barest-boned of graphical settings, it’s saddled with particularly nasty mouse-smoothing that can only be turned off via ini file hacking, and there are various minor screwy graphical boo-boos too. History is repeating itself: remember the FOV and DRM drama of 2007?

Details – and some fixes – below.

The major problem is simply the lack of any options beyond resolution, anti-aliasing, vysync and anisotropic filtering. Even the original release had a raft of settings for shadows and textures and whatnot. Industrious sorts can experiment with manually editing the Bioshock.ini file in C:\Users\[yourusername]\AppData\Roaming\BioShockHD\BioShock to pump options up or down, but it’s a fiddle, it’s opaque and there’s no guarantee that any of it will work well. It rather looks like we’ve just been pumped a relatively direct port of the PS4 and Xbone collection.

Furthermore, options for 5.1 surround are missing. You can fix that specifically by going to the file above, finding SpeakerMode=
and changing that line to SpeakerMode=SM_5_1. You then need to add SpeakerModeValue=5 as a new line underneath that. If you have an EAX sound card you can also find bEAXEnabled= and change it to bEAXEnabled=True.

Then there’s the mouse smoothing issue, which will affect more of us. I don’t always pick up on this stuff even when half the internet seems to be baying about it, but playing through BS1R I was acutely aware that my mouse felt like it was trying to skate through jelly. The fix there is, again in the BioShock.ini file mentioned above, to set ReduceMouseLag and DoubleBufferMouseLag both to =False. Save the file, then back out, open user.ini instead, and add MouseAccelThreshold=0 to the bottom of the file.

Speaking as a member of a niche, an additional problem I’ve had is that, if I alter any of BS’s scant graphical options, it knocks the game out of my ultrawide monitor’s native 3440×1440 and will then only allow me to set it as high as 1920×1200. Apparently the same is true for folk with 2560×1080 ultrawides. The solution is either to just accept the default settings’ lack of anti-aliasing and v-sync and anistropic filtering at a low 4x, or to whack those things as high as you want then return once more to the BioShock.ini file. Find the section marked [WinDrv.WindowsClient] then change FullscreenViewportX to your monitor’s width (so FullscreenViewportX=3440 in my case) and FullscreenViewportY to the height (FullscreenViewportY=1440 in my case).

I believe most of these will work on BioShock 2 Remastered too, though I’m yet to give that a spin myself.

Many people on the Steam forums are reporting startup crashes too, especially on Windows 10, but there seems to be no specific fix for that as yet. Would you kindly release a patch, 2K?

Even despite all these woes, I’m finding that the remastered game looks rather lovely. I’ll run a screenshot gallery a little later today to show you.

From this site

49 Comments

  1. gbrading says:

    I haven’t encountered any crashes and I didn’t notice the mouse smoothing issue myself, but I did notice a few graphical glitches. The statue in the Kashmir Restaurant seemed to want to display in ultra-low poly unless you got within 2 feet of it, and the shadow of the splicer with the pram outside the restaurant had some seaming, which made it look like her hand was disconnected from her body.

    I loaded up BioShock original and did some screenshot comparisons, and generally the remaster does improve the textures in numerous areas. Posters and adverts look better, as does luggage textures and some effects. There is a questionable change where the “wet stone” effect has been removed from the remaster, so it makes the lighthouse interior look dry rather than have every surface look wet.

    The graphical improvements aren’t that noticeable, but one thing that is noticeable is that physics are no longer locked to 30fps. I don’t know if other long standing bugs have been fixed though, like the missing sound effects on vending machines in BioShock 2.

  2. Plank says:

    Is it as bad as No Man’s Sky? That’s all we need to know.

  3. Zekiel says:

    For goodness sake…

    Does the Remastered Bioshock 1 have any gameplay improvements? After playing 2 and Infinite I can’t imagine going back to 1 and enjoying the clunky switch between weapons and plasmids thing you have to do. I was hoping that’d be ported into Bioshock 1…?

    • JakeOfRavenclaw says:

      Nope, the new textures are the only thing that’s changed. And yes, switching between weapons and plasmids again does take some getting used to. I’m been so conditioned to use right-click for ADS that I keep uselessly switching to my plasmid in the middle of fights.

      To be fair, adding Bioshock 2-style dual-wielding would have involved a lot of new animation work…I would definitely have been willing to pay for it, but I suppose they thought this was the most economically sensible route.

    • ElectricHellKnight says:

      I do know of one option that will make the weapon controlling work similarly to BioShock Infinite. In the control screen, instead of binding the left mouse button to “fire”, bind it to “switch to and fire weapon”. This way you can simply click to bring up the weapon, and click again to shoot. You can bind the right mouse button (or whatever key you choose) to “switch to and fire plasmids”. Not as good as the Infinite method, but definitely less clunky.

  4. sear says:

    The remaster is running on the same Unreal “2.5” engine that the game used when it was first released. The original release had the same mouse behavior.

    • Czrly says:

      Sigh. My only hope for this remaster was that they would fix the awful mouse problems from the original and it seems like that’s precisely what they have not done. Honestly, who tests these things?

    • brucethemoose says:

      So why take away all the graphics options? Wouldn’t that cost them money?

      • C0llic says:

        No, because all of those options would need to be implemented again depending on the changes they’ve made to rendering and textures. I’m not defending the lazy decision to remove graphical options though.

    • Premium User Badge

      selkcip says:

      The fact that it’s still on 2.5 makes it even sillier that someone’s review complained Infinite still looked better. No shit.

  5. Ubik2000 says:

    Sadly, I have an actual physical copy of BioShock 1, so no update for me. But I do have 2 on Steam, so I decided to try the remastered Minerva’s Den last night, since in the past it’s always crashed on me almost immediately. This time I got maybe 45 minutes in before it crashed. So…hurrah for progress?

    Honestly don’t notice any big graphical improvements, but maybe it just makes the game look like you remember it looking. Also, was the sound always this bad? Because the sound seems really bad. The only clue I have that machinegun bots are attacking is graphically – no weapon sound at all.

    • Modularized says:

      Did you try contacting 2K support via the link @ link to rockpapershotgun.com to get your free copy?

    • Zekiel says:

      Bioshock 2 (inc Minerva’s Den) has always had a sound problem that it can’t render lots of different sounds at once (or something like that), and it doesn’t prioritise which ones to drop very well (i.e. at all)

      I seem to dimly recall there was a solution to Bioshock 2 crashes but I’m afraid I can’t recall it… not very helpful sorry. It might have been running in borderless windowed mode? Whatever it was, it was something that I could cope with implementing in spite of my lack of technical skill. I recommend a quick search on the steam forum.

    • DrazharLn says:

      You need to tell Bioshock to use less channels on your soundcard. I had the same problem.

      See this ini tweak guide for more information, but you probably just need to change MaxChannels=128 to MaxChannels=16 in \Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Bioshock\Bioshock.ini

      Well, Roaming\BioshockHD\ for the new one.

    • Dave3d says:

      Have you tried using the key in steam?
      I have a physical copy also, but I was able to activate it in steam.
      They allow certain games to be activated, using certain patterms of keys:
      (Well, looks like Steam got rid of thier page of keys that will activeater, but I found an older page that lists them here:
      link to docs.google.com
      Or, you can actually try activating it in steam:
      link to support.steampowered.com

    • TheLetterM says:

      I will say, I was able to reach out to 2K support and get a Steam key by shooting them a pic of my physical DVD and key, so maybe that’ll work for you as well. They were very courteous during the whole process, and I would say it took less than 48 hours from start to finish.

  6. Bull0 says:

    I do not understand why people want loads of graphics settings for such an old game. It isnt like you’re going to have to juggle them loads to get decent performance. Shame it isn’t a bit more polished, I suppose.

    • Asurmen says:

      Because some people might not like certain effects? I can’t stand depth of field or motion blur. Some might want to push their systems further than the default, some might want to tone it down because they prefer higher fps.

      • LionsPhil says:

        The “dirty lens” effect that’s been in vogue recently can also die in a fire.

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          Some dirt, scratches and fingerprints on your corneas are to be expected when you constantly try to rub the motion blur out of them.

      • Bull0 says:

        I don’t think performance tweaking is really a valid concern with this but I agree about toggling off motion blur and DOF. Does this actually have those things though, legitimate question

        • Asurmen says:

          It’s always a concern. Not everyone is running cutting edge hardware.

          • DragonOfTime says:

            But in this particular case, if your machine isn’t up to snuff, couldn’t you just go back and play the non-HD version? It’s not like that’s been taken away.

    • carewolf says:

      Because the PC defaults in BioShock 1 are pure garbage. You need to adjust a whole bunch of things to make it playable on PC. When most of those aren’t even available, it is kind of worth pointing out.

    • Christian Dannie Storgaard says:

      Because, as the article (and the one before it) says, the default settings and options don’t allow for all screen resolutions, AA options or mouse settings, all of which are rather important for a good game-play experience.

  7. lowenz says:

    “You then need to add SpeakerModeValue=5” -> NOOOOOOOOO, not this! it kills the audio.

    • lowenz says:

      Nevermind, it works but if you use the stereo headphones with a 5.1 setup in the Windows Mixer UNCHECK the speakers not present.

      • that_guy_strife says:

        Why would you use the 5.1 setting for stereo headphones ?

  8. w0bbl3r says:

    Crashing for me, seems to be random, annoying is bloomin’ ‘eck.

  9. Zenicetus says:

    So, what’s the situation with FOV? Can it be set wider than default?

    That’s probably the main hurdle I’d have to cross in trying a replay. I’ve developed an intolerance for tunnel vision in FPS games. I did enjoy the environment design, even with the gameplay and story warts.

  10. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    By far the biggest disappointment for me is that none of my precious steam achievements have carried over.

  11. nimbulan says:

    No significant issues here. I’m not even feeling any mouse smoothing, and I consider myself extremely sensitive to such things. The FOV is too low, however, so I’m bumping it up when I play today with the old key bind trick.

  12. shadowboof90 says:

    When i click on play through Steam for Bioshock 1 remastered it loads for about two seconds then shuts down.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    Yeah this is buggy as heck. Mouse – unusable fast. Go into options to change – suddently prompts are for XBox controller though no-one is plugged in, so I have to alt-tab out and kill the process. First blocking bug, 20 seconds into the game. Same care for the PC version as when it first launched, it seems.

    • that_guy_strife says:

      Unusable fast ? For once, a game where 6/10 is decently fast … I don’t play much anymore, except for StarCraft 2 (where the sensitivity is fairly rapid at max) and Siege (where even max sensitivity is a pitifully slow drag)but I was pleasantly surprised with Bioshock Remaster. Reading this article, I thought the game would be unplayable, but when I set sensitivity at max, the cursor was zipping around, I had to lower it to 6 ! (which happens very rarely for me)

      I noticed the controller setting was on by default, it’s the very first thing I turned off, and I didn’t have the button prompts, so maybe try that ?

  14. liquidsoap89 says:

    Fixing the mouse movement was literally all I cared about in a Bioshock Re-release, and they apparently didn’t even manage to do that.

    • liquidsoap89 says:

      On a different note though… I know we don’t get a remastered version of BInfinite with this, but do owners of that game by any chance get the DLC if we didn’t buy it the first time around?

  15. NarcoSleepy says:

    I think you can just create a stub article that just says:

    [Insert name of game] for PC Is A Bit Of A Mess

    Because I think every major game released seems to get this headline here.

    • Premium User Badge

      keefybabe says:

      Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on recently, in the past year, the number of chimped ports seems to have risen exponentially.

      Tssss… Get your finger out AAA games industry.

    • fish99 says:

      I know right? How hard is it to offer up a linear mouse and a decent FOV, but so many AAA games fail on PC.

  16. Caiman says:

    Yet more evidence for avoiding big-name publisher games on release (or re-release) and waiting at least 3 months for the community to fix it.

  17. fish99 says:

    I gave it a quick try, feels like the exact same game. Same low FOV, same mouse acceleration, same mouse bug if you put sensitivity on 1, same loading screen every time you quick save. After the bathysphere ride and a few new jellyfish I didn’t see much evidence of visual improvements. The dry lighthouse was a disappointment too.

  18. Christian Dannie Storgaard says:

    The remaster seems to be more trouble than it’s worth. Is there any way to just mod the new textures onto the old game?

  19. that_guy_strife says:

    Has the game already been patched maybe ? I played an hour – mouse sensitivity is great (finally, a game where max sensitivity is REALLY fast), the game didn’t crash, and I was able to skip the intros after the options tweaking.

    I added the lines for the 5.1, but didn’t find any concerning the mouse ?

  20. chabuhi says:

    Not loving it so far. I miss the effects like the water pouring over you and blurring your vision. Now it’s just 2D animated textures that jarringly tear in half if you walk through the looking sideways. Also, the “What’s this?” feature keeps causing a CTD for me. I’m another one who feels that the mouse sensitivity cannot get LOW enough. Right now, I have to adjust it on the mouse to get it slow enough that I don’t feel like I’m in a centrifuge every time I turn.

  21. Vermintide says:

    1) Spent all day messing around with windows update trying to find whatever arbitrary missing KB I needed to install to get it working.

    2) It works, but the first few minutes are spent wrestling with Windows to try and get the game in-focus and full screen.

    3) The fire in the opening plane crash is totally invisible.

    4) That mouse smoothing. I couldn’t be bothered by this point so I just quit.

    Needless to say, the ineptitude of this port was hardly a… Shock.