Developer: Irrational Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: PC, PS3, Reiviewed on Xbox 360
Release Date: March 26, 2013
A beautiful city in the clouds full of happy citizens that take pride in their home. As you enter the city you come upon a fair that is full of laughter and amazement. You can almost smell the cotton candy in the air. But all isn’t as it seems in the floating city with such a glamorous facade. Violence, racism, and a twisted religious credence pollute the city of Columbia. And it’s up to you to find one girl in the middle of it all.
Bioshock Infinite is all about making you second guess what you see and even what you hear. You play as Booker Dewitt, an ex-Pinkerton agent that owes a great deal of debt to the wrong people. In order to clear this debt, he must travel to the floating city of Columbia. In the city of Columbia you must find one very special girl, Elizabeth. From the outset, the game’s tone is tense and foreboding. It has been a long time since I have found myself in such eager expectation starting a single player experience.
In the Bioshock universe, the setting plays a very important role in your experience. Like the city of Rapture, Columbia is certainly a place to lose yourself. Buildings float and dock with one another at specific times, clouds looks like giant cotton balls you can reach out and touch. Open shops ooze with character as classic tunes play in the background. Very few worlds in gaming truly immerse the player like Infinite. As the player progresses through the story, the action picks up and the seemingly peaceful city of Columbia is turned upside down by revolt and anarchy. There are many key characters that come into play with their own agendas, including the “Prophet” and founder of Columbia, Zachary Comstock. How events unfold for each character is interesting to say the very least. Going too deep into details would take away from the overall experience for the player. Rest assured though it is a ride worth taking.
Combat consists of gun play and Infinite’s form of magic, vigors. Vigors consist of very entertaining abilities ranging from possessing an enemy to fight for you, or shooting fireballs from your hands, to summoning a swarm of attack crows to finish enemies off. Vigors are upgradeable to have wider attack range, longer lasting effects, or increased power all together (damage). Guns can upgrade in power, range, and added effects. But most players will probably find the vigors to be most effective entering battle. My favorite course of action consisted of casting possession, and using the game’s most powerful handgun, The Paddywhacker Hand Cannon, to finish enemies off in quick succession.
Outside of combat players can explore the world searching drawers, cabinetry, bodies, for ammo and Silver Eagles, Columbia’s currency. You will come across upgrades in health, defense, and Salts, which is the substance that serves as the “mana” for your vigors. Elizabeth, the girl Booker is trying to deliver, serves as a great partner in a fire fight. She not only offers meaningful dialog but she also delivers combat options to change the flow of battle. Elizabeth has the power to open “tears” in the world of Columbia. The mysterious dimensional tears, when opened, can allow Booker to have access to weapons, health, salts, even turrets among other things. Battle can be fun and engaging but it starts to wear thin after several hours have passed. More on that later.
Something I love is a good story. Infinite delivers but not in the way I prefer. I like cut scenes, cinematics, and conversations between characters that really flesh out what the heck is going on in a game. If you are familiar with the Bioshock series, then you know the bulk of the story is told through recording devices spread out across the world called audiologs. I take issue with this because if you fail to find all of the recordings, then you don’t get the whole story. It is great to encourage exploration but don’t force me to do so in order for me to truly understand certain plot points. This game’s plot can get deep, really deep. I felt kind of cheated having to look at wiki’s to fill in the gaps.
Something else that didn’t sit well with me was the amount of combat compared to story driven scenes. Combat is gruesome and visceral and happens way too often. The order of gameplay usually followed the pattern of: enter a new area, fight several enemies, scrounge for money and loot, repeat the pattern. For such an intriguing game the combat oftentimes felt out-of-place. Almost as if I were fighting just for the sake of fighting. This game, in my opinion, seemed better suited to the dialog driven RPG genre.
The result of all of this runnin’ and gunnin’ leads to several main characters not getting the development they deserve. Daisy Fitzroy, for example, is a leader of the Vox Populi, a rebel faction in Columbia. It would have been great to really get to know Daisy and see what truly is her motivation. To the point of really empathizing with her. Instead we are just given a character that follows the quid pro quo formula to meet Booker’s goals. A lot more could have gone into the development of the story details however, the player will still see the overall picture.
Bioshock Infinite will definitely be a Game of the Year contender for many. It is rich with atmosphere, depth, and discovery. Despite its few flaws, it still manages to be a treat each time the player jumps into the world. I would have loved to play Bioshock Infinite as an RPG with necessary combat scenarios. But alas, this is a combat driven first-person shooter with a great story on the side. Bioshock Infinite is one of this generations graphical showcases containing a deep plot that will have you thinking about it for a long time after you put the controller down.