Bioshock Infinite has finally been released, but is it the masterpiece we were led to believe in, or have the constant delays ruined what could have been a Game of the Year contender?
Well I must admit, I had a lot of faith on Irrational Games and I knew they would bring us a good if not great title, but after 2 delays I was becoming a little skeptical about the game’s quality! Fortunately for all of us, this game is just plain beautiful! From the art style to the solid gameplay, through good characters and an impressive soundtrack, this game is truly a wonder to behold.
But first, let us put this game into perspective. Bioshock Infinite is a sequel to Bioshock 2 (released in 2010) but it only makes a few references to the first or second games, so you don’t have to have played them in order to enjoy this game in its entirety! Unlike the first two games, where the action was set in an underwater metropolis (Rapture), this time you’ll get to experience the city of Columbia, set above the clouds, full of scenic vistas and grand statues.
But do not be fooled by the clean look of the city or the respectful and civilized way people seem to interact with each other… This city is filled to the brim with racism, religious fanaticism and class separation. If you’re wealthy you get to be one of the luckiest sheep on the flock, but if you’re poor, you’ll live in another part of the city, where you have to work all day just to have enough money to survive and you’re treated not like people but as tools, whose job is to work as hard as you can so that you’re able to spend your hard earned money buying products, sometimes even from the same company you’re working for, living your life just like an hamster on an hamster wheel. The city is led by father Comstock, a man who calls himself a prophet allegedly leading he’s people the right way, while in truth he’s nothing but a dictator who rules with an iron fist. It’s made pretty clear that anyone who stands in his way doesn’t do it for long…
The story revolves around you’re character, Booker DeWitt, who goes to the floating city with a mission, to rescue Elizabeth (a young woman that has been imprisoned there for twelve years) and deliver her to New York. Of course things never go as planed and the pair find themselves on the run from the Prophet and his troops, having to join up with the resistance in a desperate attempt to escape the false paradise of Columbia. The story mostly revolves around Elizabeth, who has the ability to open tears (like in cloth tears and not crying tears) who are basically portals that seem to be able to transport her around the entire world to a destination of her choosing. Finding out the story behind her powers and her imprisonment, along with your own connection to the city is a true joy and the game will keep you guessing right until the end.
As for gameplay, this game is pretty similar to both previous titles, maybe even a little too similar… You have your Plasmids and Tonics, which are called Vigors and Salts respectively and you use them in combination with firearms to (easily) eliminate your foes. This system works perfectly but we’ve seen it all before… At least now you don’t have to equip your Vigors before using them, you just choose the one you want to use from a radial menu and use a button to “shoot” it and the game returns you immediately to your equipped weapon, saving you the trouble of going back and forth between them and your weapons! To be fair the game does bring a few, but welcome, new additions such as the sky-lines and Elizabeth’s tears.
Sky-lines are rails that run through the city and connect platforms to each other, which are pretty useful in the bigger battles, allowing you to jump from one place to another using a Sky-Hook(a spinning blade) to gain a strategic advantage or even board enemy crafts; and it is pretty neat to jump on a rail, shoot someone while gliding down just before leaping to his friend greeting him with a blade to the face! Ohhh the small pleasures in life…
The other addition are the tears, your female companion can open these in scripted parts of the scenery, allowing you to “summon” a piece of cover, a crane to help jump around the battlefield or even different turrets to help you. Elizabeth is never a burden in the game and enemies never target her, allowing you to focus on the fight itself and not worry about protecting her. She even throws you ammunition and salts now and then, always making her an advantage and never a liability for you.
Add in the respawn system from the first two games, where there is almost no penalty for dying, except you loose a few credits, and this is an easy game to go through! I suggest you play it on hard for starters and then go trough it again on the special and definitely not beginner friendly 1999 mode. In this new mode the game gets a lot tougher, you have less ammo available and limited lives! No more infinite respawn for you good sir! These along with other small tweaks make this mode ideal for a second playthrough.
The soundtrack makes some of the most impactful situations feel emotionally stronger and grants you a felling of awe or pressure and intensity when it needs to. It fits the city and ambiance of Columbia like a glove whilst maintaining that eerie, sometimes ominous feel of the original Bioshock.
There is also a plan for future DLC which will provide you hours of additional gameplay, introduce you to new characters, abilities, weapons and stories. A good way of keeping you holding on to that copy!
Bioshock Infinite is a work of much dedication and love, with extreme attention to even the slightest details. It brings us a world, and most importantly a story full of memorable characters, twists and turns that will stick with you far long after you put your controller down! That accompanied with top notch voice acting that makes people in this world feel real and alive along with and a great soundtrack that hits all the right notes make this title a game of the year contender, hands down!
The only thing keeping this title from a perfect 10/10 is the somewhat repetitive gameplay with a complete lack of puzzles, which would have been great to space out the shooting gallery sections, and the overall lack of innovation (despite it’s exemplary execution we’ve all seen this before).
But even with these small quirks, Infinite is an absolutely stunning videogame produced with the highest industry standards that delivers you a thought provoking, emotional story with a satisfactory ending that will leave you pondering.
I urge you to go out and buy this game and experience it for yourselves, perhaps even give that 1999 mode a try, if you dare…