BioShock Infinite

BioShock Infinite - Cover
9 Overall Score
Graphics: 9/10
Plot: 9/10
Gameplay: 9/10

Well-paced and visually thrilling, Bioshock Infinite doesn't hold back in trying to reel you into its high-stakes storyline.

Little things keep the game from complete perfection, such as a shortened weapon carrying capability and some muddling in the storytelling.

I’ve been waiting a long time to say some of the things that will be typed in the next thousand or so words – semi-cloaked spoilers and all. Not because it’s taken me some massive amount of time to trudge through Bioshock Infinite or anything like that, but for the amount of time this game has had a pre-order under my name at a local Gamestop, I oft thought the game might not see the light of day.

You know, with the world ending and everything.

But we’re now in the fourth month of 2013, and BioShock Infinite has had some time to enter into the hearts and minds of lovers and haters of the series alike. And while the setting and plot of Infinite is relatively new, the feel and mechanics of the game are quite familiar. It’s like a horse you’re getting to ride some forty years previously – no spoiler intended there. But aside from the vigors/plasmids, the mysticism surrounding the city of Columbia and the seemingly troubled story of our protagonist Booker DeWitt, Infinite is very much a familiar idea put into a different context. You can draw your own conclusions with as much as a consultation of the game’s plot – which we won’t delve into much here – but to say it is a copy would be a bit of a stretch. DeWitt’s demeanor, hazy past and ultimate motive of ‘Bring us the girl, wipe away the debt’ make for a pressing, engaging undertow with which to base this game in a tensive, exploratory plot. The fact that your character has a voice and personality further reflects upon the emotions played up in the game, but laying contextual clues and ever-evolving connections to the story’s endgame make this an ultimately satisfying struggle to overcome.

BioShock Infinite - Screenshot 1To be initially impressed with anything but the look of the tinkered world of Columbia would be a surprise, as the gorgeous city shines in all of its old-time, steampunk-tinged glory. The graphics and layout of Columbia make the game feel massive when you’re roaming the city – adding flavorful lighting and textural balances to even things out when you’re in the depths of its buildings. Another standout moment, and almost to a point of shock considering the franchise, would be the melee killing performed at the hands of your Skyhook – a near gruesome but oddly pleasing finisher against the waves of less powerful enemies you’re sure to mow through during the game.

But for much of the game’s surface and interior looks, Bioshock Infinite seemingly takes the ideas made common place in the original and makes them flow seamlessly into the cloud-lined city – whether you’re walking around town or going from airship to airship in the pursuit of combat. On the flip of that, the game also manages to be particularly grim when needed. The final sections of the game feature some quite dark moments both in the plot and in the actual place it set itself in – where honing in on a particular mood is crucial to match the feel and pull of the story. In all honesty though, it is just as engrossing to feel a little unsure of where you’re walking – either just on the edge of an airship or in the dingy parts of a stronghold.

Mechanically, this game is again a rework for the most part, though the changes are where Infinite shows a bit of glimmer or rust depending on the case. Giving us gear to customize our playing method can make certain situations much easier, especially considering the emphasis on Skyline battles and the reliance on sharper command of your vigors due to a ramped up combat system here. But to flip that, Infinite cuts us down to swapping between two weapons, making it feel like a Call of Duty choice as to knowing what gun will best suit your situation. The game makes it easy enough to swap your guns around based on the enemy at hand – sniper sections are sure to lead to a carbine or sniper rifle lying in the wings – but having to juggle them leads to some frustrating areas where you might run out of ammo and then be forced to resort to looking for another gun instead of just switching to another. It isn’t a deal-breaker at all, as I found myself relying on a small collection of guns to get through much of the game (Hand Cannon, Carbine, Sniper Rifle, Machine Gun). However, it would be nice not to have to even consider looking for a new gun when you run out of ammo.

BioShock Infinite - Screenshot 2Adding a sidekick of sorts in Elizabeth makes for another interesting mix both in the plot and gameplay. While helping you depend on the moment, either passing items or picking locks, her interjections can make for stark developments in the story and even a sharp juxtaposition to Booker’s often stone-cold emotions. Her addition to the overall scope of what unfolds in Columbia makes for an often action-packed or gripping continuation of the story – the thought that she shifts from one side of the equation to the other in terms of how you perceive your actions in the game is tough to handle at times. As you attempt to protect her and advance through the game, it’s difficult not to see her become uneasy with the fact that you’re a killer in her eyes. Add to that the development of her involvement with Zachary Comstock and the Luteces, and you can easy get very sucked into this plot even if you’re not feeling its splintered realities.

But as the game builds and resolves through action-packed combat, a thunderously-driven story and just enough thrills to keep you from getting too comfortable, BioShock Infinite shows itself to be more than just an addition to an already established franchise. While not particularly connected to its predecessors, the pieces it does take from those two games are polished and placed within this realm squarely enough to create something that is both satisfying and deeply engaging from start to finish. It is easy enough to consider BioShock Infinite a front-runner for 2013’s best games, but Infinite does enough at times to overshadow even the original installment. Simply put, this is a game you absolutely need to play.

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Author: Jason Gardner View all posts by

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