Developer: Irrational Games
Publisher: 2K Games
North American Release Date: March 26, 2013
European Release Date: March 26, 2013
Trophies: | 1 | 1 | 15 | 34 |
The third installment in this critically acclaimed first person shooter franchise takes us to Columbia, a city in the clouds. You play as Booker DeWitt, told to find a strange girl and wipe away your debt. Can this sprawling, dystopic world with dark secrets match up to the previous two games?
Bioshock has always maintained a unique, albeit clunky and awkward style of gameplay. I don’t mean the gameplay itself per-say, but the shooting mechanics. They were clunky, unresponsive, and downright piss-poor. That’s not the case in Bioshock Infinite. The guns are an absolute blast to use (no pun intended) from the powerful shotgun to the accurate carbine to the RPG with incredible splash damage. Ploughing through the streets of Columbia, blowing off heads and shooting off limbs has never been more enjoyable.
Of course, half the joy comes from vigors. If you’ve played any previous Bioshock games you’ll know what plasmids are, and in Columbia, plasmids are vigors. If you don’t know what they are, I shall explain.
They allow you to use unique and powerful abilities to screw up, harm, confuse, possess, and piss off enemies. You can use a certain vigor to possess a machine and cause it to attack your foes. You can use the Murder of Crows vigor to send a blast of ravens at all enemies in your radius. You can fire a bolt of electricity that channels from one enemy to the other. Combined with multiple vigors and your weapons, you can a create a mini version of World War III in the streets of Columbia. They’re immensely enjoyable to use, and even more enjoyable to deal out punishments with.
That's not blood, it's tomato sauce! Yeah, it's blood. Ouch.
In BioShock 2 you had a bloody big drill to use. In Infinite you have some sort of cross between a hook and a cleaver. It’s good for two things; the first of which is slicing the heads of those who are too stupid to come close to you. The second is used for sky-lines. These massive metal railway-like poles suspended in the air can be used to travel on at incredible speeds, firing as you go and gaining access to new areas that were previously out of reach. Even better, you can perform aerial assassinations and surprise your enemies. The sensational joy of speeding along these skylines at break neck speeds never gets old. It’s unparalleled joy that was never experienced in any previous games.
You’ll also go up against a variety of challenging enemies, the most iconic of which is named Patriot and looks suspiciously similar to George Washington. Between cries of ‘may the lord guide thee’ and ‘’tis but a scratch’ and ‘the lamb our saviour’ he’ll focus his crank gun on you until your health drops to zero. He’s a challenge, but a welcome one. Just be glad that religious freaks in real life aren’t equipped with crank guns. Most of them, anyway.
As with the previous instalments, you’ll purchase upgrades, health and ammo from various vending machines. Unlike Bioshock 2, the vendor doesn’t simply shut down after you upgrade a single weapon, so your progress is only limited by the coin in your pocket. In order to get filthy rich you’ll need to explore the rich vastness of Columbia. Exploring a secret room and finding dozens of goodies will etch a grin on your face as you listen to the your latest audio log.
A new addition to this game is gear. There’s four pieces; the hat, torso, pants and shoes. You’ll find them scattered around Columbia, and they provide incredible help to you on your journey. Wearing certain pants give you a 40% chance of having your weapons auto-reload. Maybe a top-hat you found in a deserted garden gives you extra health when you gain a kill. These game-changing clothes allow you to make your own custom strategy and the way you play the game. It allows you to feel as if you’re in ‘control’. You have a choice. This alludes back to your game changing decisions and pathways that you experience, showing you that Bioshock Infinite is not just a great game where it feels it’s convenient to be. Rather, it builds its entire game around a certain set of rules and never falters from the path, no matter how tempting or ‘easy’ it may appear to be.
That is a sign of a dedicated, firm, and quality game.
The premise of the game alone shows you that you’re going to be in for one hell of a ride. The year is 1912, and Columbia is a floating city in the clouds. You are Booker DeWitt, a mercenary who is in deep shit. Specifically, he’s in debt to certain people who aren’t so forgiving about forgetting to cough up what they’re owed. His last chance to rid himself of the burden is to rescue Elizabeth, a mysterious girl held captive in a tower that is protected by an angry, mechanical bird, and deliver her safety to New York. It may sound deceiving simple, but in reality there is nothing ‘simple’ about this game and the twisting tale that it tells.
From the game’s opening lines (Woman: “Do you fear God?” Man: “No, I fear you.”) you know that this is going to be a game layered with religious, political, moral, and philosophical overtones. That’s nothing different from traditional Bioshock lore, but the way it is hammered into your skull time and time again shows just how different Columbia is from Rapture. Rapture was mainly about “no government, no god, just people”, and all that propaganda. In Columbia, signs and billboards advertising the theocratic government and system along with referring to numerous Bible texts, quotes and tales highlights just how deeply religious (and crazy) this place is.
Infinite is filled with religious and political propaganda that may inspire annoyance or anger in some people.
Don’t worry; it just gets better from here.
Shortly after you arrive in Columbia and stumble upon a carnival show the mystifying initials “A.D” appear on your right hand. In the lore of Bioshock and Columbian culture this is equivalent to 666 or having a pentagram stencilled on your chest. You are seized by authorities and about to be taken away and killed as a ‘devil’ and ‘false prophet’ when you escape, slaughtering the police even though you have no idea why they’re after you and what this ‘false prophet’ represents. Numerous flashbacks, subtle hints, audio logs and cameo appearances by a strange duo all do their part in leaving you itching to see what happens next and figure out the entire plot.
As before, the moral choices and different pathways are given to you, although they are not as painstakingly clear as they were in the previous games. They will, however, affect the way people see you and alter elements in the game. If you decide to blast everyone in the ice-cream parlour to hell with a shotgun and steal their cash, the police will more than likely come running. Just maybe.
A fair warning here, the game will possibly offend you and likely inspire outrage and anger if you're a devout, religious person or celebrate American idealism. Bioshock Infinite is not afraid to ask questions that revolve around the taboo and fragile subjects such as racism, religion, god, political, reality and moral perception. It’s the sort of game that thrusts the questions out there and leaves us to make up our own mind concerning the various topics at hand. I have to say, though, that the game does this in a truly spectacular way. This is a tale of turmoil and strife, of lust and greed; of sin and redemption.
Many things will make sense once you complete the game.
On top of the invigorating and heady themes that the game handles, as you get closer to the end you are left with more questions than answers, and the questions that you already were posed at the start of the tale evolve and twist beyond recognition as things start to seem as if they are contradicting each other. You turn off the game with these various questions still in your mind, the gears spinning in your brain as you fall asleep. You’ll be so desperate to know the end that you’ll almost wish the game was shorter so you could uncover the dark and evil mysteries at the heart of this dystopic and broken city. Alas, you’ll have to endure the many hours that only leave you more and more bewildered. But that’s a good thing, as it makes the ending pack one fucking hell of a punch. But I’ll talk about that later.
One of the best things about this game is that it doesn’t ever treat you like an idiot; it doesn’t hold your hand down the merry lane and pointing at what you have to do and how to reach your goal. Sure, there’s a waypoint, but the way you get there and what you do in the meantime is up to you. For example, I decided to plod around and visit the Ladies bathroom (creepy, yes I know), and Elizabeth makes some sort of subtle joke at me being a pervert. Then I visit the Men’s, and then she exclaims, ‘I hope you aren’t expecting me to follow you in there.’ It’s these little, subtle touches that I appreciate. They aren’t apparent at first, and reward those who seek them out.
Even better, the side missions aren’t slapped in your face, either. For instance, Elizabeth might remark about a bookstore, or suggest that we explore the boardwalk for a little bit before moving on. In the store I discover multiple weapons, cash registers, and more. I also discover an audio log. Listening to the audio log I figure out that someone has a listen hold in another shop, and Elizabeth urges me to discover it. I do so, and when I open up the secret hatch I find a codex book (which will assist me with another side mission) and more audio logs. In these audio logs there are references to the past games, lore, and other titbits that are useful in forming the enigmatic puzzle that the land of Columbia is.
Now, onto the ending:
It’s not good. It’s not great. It’s not even fantastic.
It’s fucking incredible. There is no other way to describe it. I was expecting a plot twist, but the ending to Bioshock Infinite just blew me out of the water. I can with all seriousness say that Infinite’s ending will be the standard for all games to come. Each time an amazing game ends with a fantastic conclusion, it must be compared with Infinite, and even then will likely fall short in a dramatic way.
You probably think I’m exaggerating or even feigning enthusiasm just for the sake of it, but you could not be more wrong. The twists, the absolute jaw-dropping moments, the dialogue and the slow realization as you piece the ending together will stay in your mind until the day you die. It’s impossible to explain why without spoiling it, and believe me, this is one game that you definitely don’t want to be spoiled. It’s an ending you need to see for yourself, and as the gears spin in your head long after you’ve finished it you will come to countless theories and alternative conclusions, and will then be discussed and dissected for years to come.
The ending is completely and utterly unprecedented on every possible scale, and will find its place in your mind and hearts until the very last breath leaves your body.
From lush green gardens aripe with blood-red roses and grand bronze statues, to the sweeping steam punk landscape of cranking gears and pulsing machinery, Bioshock Infinite never lets you forget where you are. In contrast to Bioshock 2, where almost every neighbour and locale appeared to be the same, each section of Infinite is uniquely crafted and never lets you forget where you are. The incredible blue sky and the golden yellow sands make each area distinct and provide their own special flavour.
Technically the visuals are stunning, and light years ahead of Bioshock 2. However, I did experience a few instances of screen-tearing, jagged edges and extended loading screens in the middle of a level. These minor faults do little to irritate, but they are noticeable. Whilst the graphics of Infinite are fantastic; they aren’t ground breaking or ‘next-gen’.
The audio is where it really hits home, though. The dynamic and sweeping soundtrack binds you in its spell and makes you sway to its dance of beauty. The intense effects don’t meet up to those in Bioshock 2’s, but the overall soundtrack far surpasses anything in the last two games. Voice acting is solid and are voiced with great gusto, be it political and religious propaganda booming from the speakers, or the audio logs that you will be sure to find in the game. It’s very easy to forget this is a game and not actual, genuine recordings done by people in real-life situations. Oh yeah, it’s that good.
A lot easier than Bioshock 2’s and way easier than Bioshock 1’s, the trophies are challenging, but not frustrating. I achieved around 70% of trophies without even trying to earn them. Frankly, the only things that could piss you off is completing 1999 mode without using a vending machine, and finding the seemingly endless collectibles. Nothing that will have you ripping your hair out, though.
Bioshock Infinite is not a mere game; it is a work of art. It’s a game that will cause your jaw to drop and turn your nights into sleepless toss-abouts as you go over the ending repetitively, spinning around in your brain like a marble in a whirlpool. The dark and devious tale will hit you at full impact, and as you think it over and come to another realisation you will be more shocked than before. You’ll then want to replay the game, looking through a shaded lens that you’ll never be able to un-see again. An incredible, ground-breaking and sublime masterpiece, Bioshock Infinite is nothing less than one of the best games of all time, and will be held as the standard for all games for years and years to come. It will be recalled by gamers with teary eyes, hearts filled with nostalgia and incredible memories that will linger in your mind for decades. You say I’m exaggerating aren’t you? Play the game for yourself and see if what I say is true.
Infinite is a game that only comes once in a lifetime. There may never be a another game like it, and if there is, it must be measured to Infinite’s standard as the final judgement. Infinite is not one of the best games of this year, nor it is one of the best this generation. It is one of the best games of all time.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is a fact.
Flows like smooth silk and tastes like rich wine.
The standard that all future games shall be measured upon.
Brilliant, with a few minor flaws.