Bioshock Infinite has faced more than its fair share of delays, story changes, and lofty promises since it was announced a couple years back that industry titan Ken Levine and the crew at Irrational Games would be developing the series once again. After the semi-bland outing that was Bioshock 2 (a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth), a breath of fresh air was definitely needed, and now that we’ve had a chance to explore the fantastic floating city of Columbia, we’re glad to announce that just about every single fear we may have had has been laid to rest. Rejoice, nerds, for one of the greatest games of this or any generation has indeed been gifted upon the gamers of the world.
The year is 1912, and you are Booker DeWitt, a former American solider turned Pinkerton agent turned private eye. You owe a lot of money to some very bad people, so when you are hired to free the young Elizabeth from the mysterious city of Columbia in exchange for a clean slate, the opportunity to get your life back on track is simply too enticing to pass up. But the world is often more complicated than it seems, and what is supposed to be a simple rescue mission sets into motion a series of events that will cause DeWitt to question his own morality, his place in the grand scheme of everything, and his very existence.
It was entirely possible that years of excitement and expectation could have buried Bioshock Infinite. It seemed that every new tidbit of information was promising bigger and better things, and each delay was cause for more worry. Was Irrational stalling? Had they bitten off more than they could chew? These are valid questions, but within the first 10 minutes of gameplay, we are treated to a rich and creative universe so ambitiously gigantic yet so masterfully executed that it’s almost hard to believe they pulled it off at all.
Our first vision of Columbia is every bit as exciting as our first glimpse of Rapture, if not more so. It is a bright and cheerful world bustling with life, and you’ll probably spend a good amount of time freaking at how amazing everything looks. Wandering around the plazas and thoroughfares of Columbia provides a sense that people really do live out their lives here, a welcome change from the non-stop insane denizens of Rapture.
And yet, despite the seemingly happy facade of the city, there is a sense that something evil lurks underneath. Perhaps it’s the unabashed religious zealotry or the sheer adoration heaped upon the city’s founder, Comstock, from Columbia’s citizens. Whatever the reason, something is not quite right.
Bioshock Infinite, like other games in the series, uses mood and tension to drive its story forward, and as you adapt to these new surroundings, it builds on these tenets perfectly by tackling the concept of racism and patriotism wrapped in the guise of religion. Really, Irrational has presented a thinly veiled critique of blind faith, and it’s almost as if nobody can fathom that Comstock would be an evil man because he claims to love God and has constructed an actual, physical heaven of sorts.
When things get going, they really get going. In fact, before you know it you’ll be swapping out guns and firing off Vigors as Comstock puts an entire army between you and your ticket to a new life. It’s harrowing and difficult at first, especially on the higher difficulties, but once Elizabeth joins you, Bioshock Infinite truly shines. The AI programming is flawless and finds Elizabeth easily keeping up and providing ammo, health, and salts (these power your Vigors similarly to Bioshock’s Eve) as well as serving as a means to access hidden areas with her lock-picking skills.
The slow bond that builds between DeWitt and Elizabeth is excellent. As she has been locked away in a tower her entire life, it only makes sense that she would have trust issues. [Editor’s note: I’m confused; she was locked in a tower her entire life, yet she has lock-picking skills.] As such, it’s quite believable that she would cower and run upon witnessing her first murder. Yes, DeWitt doesn’t have much of a choice in terms of killing, but the way it affects the young woman makes actual, believable sense.
The new Skyline and Skyhook mechanics are a blast. The hook becomes an excellent means of roller coaster-esque traversal along a system of rails set up to ship cargo around the city. In these sections, DeWitt can shoot enemies while careening along the rails or dismount/strike foes with ferocious power. Irrational was good enough to provide a means of acceleration, deceleration or reversal mid-travel, and achievement/trophy hounds will find plenty of reasons to experiment. The hook becomes your melee weapon and is worth checking out for the grisly finisher move animations alone.
Continue reading the Bioshock Infinite review after the jump…
- Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
- Published by:
- 2K Games
- Developed by:
- Irrational Games
- Year Released:
- March 26, 2013
- Also Available On:
- PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
- First-Person Shooter
- Official URL:
- Bioshock Infinite