The original Bioshock game is one of the most beloved of this generation. While it’s sequel didn’t quite live up to the hype, Bioshock Infinite, a prequel set in a semi-alternate universe, absolutely fulfills the expectations set by Bioshock, and Irrational Games has delivered one of the best first-person shooters to come out in the last ten years.
You play as Booker Dewitt, a fully voiced, personalized, and opinionated character who has a dark past that has finally caught up to him. His only hope now is to travel to a city known as Columbia, which just so happens to be in the sky, and rescue/kidnap a young girl and bring her back to New York alive and unharmed.
Booker Dewitt is a brilliant character. An ex-Pinkerton agent, his past is mysterious but obviously shady; he fought at the Battle of Wounded Knee, and now is a man who knows no other life besides the one that he’s got. And seeing his character evolve and change throughout Infinite’s 15-20 hour campaign is one of the best character arcs I’ve ever seen in a video-game.
If you know anything about this game, then you know that this is not only Booker’s game. It is as much his game as it is Elizabeth’s, the young, eighteen-year old girl he has been sent to take from Columbia. And her character is even better than Booker’s.
Unlike Booker, Elizabeth does not have a dark past. She’s completely innocent and naive of the world. At just over eighteen, the only world she really knows is her home in a giant tower where she has been kept for her entire life; where she’s been studied her whole life because of her ability to open tears into different timelines and dimensions.
Due to the amazing voice acting from Troy Baker and Courtnee Draper, Booker and Elizabeth are given such life that it makes their relationship one of the more believable and empathetic seen in the gaming industry.
Thanks to Elizabeth’s special power, you have the option to customize each and every action sequence in whatever reason you want. Do you want to bring up a wall for cover? Do it. Would you rather bring a robotic sentry to watch your back? Go right ahead.
One of the things I really appreciate about this game is that it allows the player to play in whichever way they prefer. Due to the eight different powers you can use, called vigors, you can choose to wield a machine gun in one hand, and unleash a horde of ravens upon your enemies. Or, if you prefer, use the Undertow vigor to drag an enemy to you and use the sky hook to perform a grisly execution.
However, even though the more fantastical elements of the combat are a joy to use, the actual gunplay doesn’t do much to stand out from the average first-person shooter. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all great fun and I never once felt it bogged down the gameplay, but it’s the same basic formula that we’ve all grown accustomed too.
Another interesting addition to the combat is the sky hook, a device that lets Booker ride rails all around Columbia for both transportation and combat. And while it works like a dream, is an absolute rush to play around with, it’s not as helpful in combat as you think it should be. It’s incredibly hard to aim while grinding, and should be used more as an escape route than a different combat approach.
While the middle of the game does feel pretty padded, with lots of objectives forcing you to backtrack or redo something you’ve already done, the game doesn’t feel too long or to short. I just wish some of the more dramatic story twists were more evenly spread out, rather than grouped in the beginning and end.
Another slightly odd aspect of the game is how underdeveloped Songbird is. Once again, if you’ve seen any of the gameplay for this game, then you know he’s been hyped up to have this twisted relationship with Elizabeth as her violent protector. However, he isn’t used all that much, and while his appearances are immensely intense, you never get to directly confront him, and his bond with Elizabeth is never thoroughly explained.
Since there’s so much going on story-wise though, it’s not enough to drag down the experience significantly, but still somewhat disappointing. With that said, when the obvious plot twists come around, you will be amazed. And the ending, well, you’ll have to see it to believe it.
Bioshock Infinite took a lot of risks with the way it portrayed the floating city of Columbia. Dealing with themes such as religion, politics, violence, peace, and war, Infinite holds nothing back, and if you pay attention, this game will seriously fascinate you and get you thinking about some pretty deep topics.
The world of Columbia is a wonderful place to explore. There are branching paths galore, and it absolutely allows the player to explore and experience the game however they want too. Exhausted after an especially intense gunfight, feel free to take a breather and explore every corner and search for the numerous trinkets and collectibles littered around the world.
Bioshock Infinite is a magnificent game. That’s the simple truth of it. From the gorgeous, absolutely ingenious opening, to the shocking, emotional finale, it will envelop your every thought and wholly engross you in the brilliant story that’s unfolding. The few shortcoming aside this is a game that’s more than worthy of anyone’s time and money.
Story: 10/10 – One of the best stories I’ve ever experience in a video game, Bioshock Infinite will envelop your every thought, and thanks to the two brilliant lead characters, you will want to come back to Columbia the minute you leave.
Gameplay: 8.5/10 – Typical first-person fare that differentiates itself only through the use of the more magical vigors and Elizabeth’s special abilities. Very fun and exciting, but not groundbreaking in the least.
Presentation: 10/10 – The world of Columbia and way it’s presented are amazing, and thanks to easy to understand loot and upgrade systems, you’ll never get lost in anything.
Graphics: 9/10 – From the awe inspiring environments to the masterful use of sound and lighting, Columbia is a delight to explore. However, the facial animations could’ve used some polishing and there’s some occasionally minor frame-rate issues.
Replay Value: 9.5/10 – The story alone, in all its layered brilliance, is worth numerous replays, and with several difficulty levels, including the old-school inspired 1999 mode, there’s more than enough reason to revisit Columbia.