- Game: Bioshock Infinite
- Release Date: March 26, 2013
- Publisher: 2K Games
- Developer: Irrational Games
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Bioshock Infinite takes place in the year 1912 in a floating city in the sky called Columbia. Players control the game’s main protagonist Booker DeWitt, a former American Pinkerton agent who is sent to Columbia in search of a young girl named Elizabeth. His mission is to take her from her captivity in Columbia and bring her back to New York in order to wipe away his “debt”, which is a part of his secretive past. Booker runs into some trouble when he arrives in Columbia as he is considered the “False Prophet to the people of Columbia and therefore is an opposer of their leader, Father Zachary Hale Comstock – The Prophet. The native Colombians, or Founders, are also battling the rebel Vox Populi, those who represent the common people, and Booker finds himself right in the middle of it all. While facing the unfathomable forces of the Founders and the Vox Populi, Booker must also protect Elizabeth, who can really take care of herself, and get both of them away from Columbia. It wont be easy but Booker and Elizabeth must work together to break free of Columbia.
Infinite explores many themes that have up until this point been previously untouched in video games due to their serious and questionable nature. These themes include extreme racism, Nazism, jingoism, and xenophobia. Comstock believes that purity of Columbia’s people is extremely important and that immigrants are less than human, only good for labor. Those of African decent as well as anyone who is an immigrant to Columbia is treated much like a slave and forced to work in labor camps, while the Founders build statues to honor people such as John Wilkes Booth. The people of Columbia worship three of America’s founding fathers: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. They believe that they are following the path set to them by those figures, the path of nationalism and American exceptionalism. The game also pushes players to make moral decisions throughout the game, some of these are serious and related directly to these previously mentioned themes. For instance, very early in the game the players is faces with the choice of hurting an interracial couple or the man persecuting them. These moral decisions can be as simple as taking or sparing the life of an enemy to something more daunting such as choosing to perform a hate crime or not. These moral decisions paired with the games themes really bring the player into the setting and time period, making them choose to do right or wrong from their own standpoint.
Bioshock Infinite is a first person shooter and is played as such. Players are given a variety of weapons to choose from such as machine guns, rifles, shotguns, pistols, and specialty weapons like grenade launchers and non-realistic weapons specific to the game. The most interesting weapon that the players is equipped with are the Vigors. Vigors grant extraordinary powers to the player, such as shooting a bolt of electricity or ball of fire from Booker’s hand. There are eight total Vigors in Infinite, each with their own unique qualities and each using salts, the resource used to recharge the Vigors. Vigors are useful in combat and can be easily paired with the primary weapon to create deadly combinations. The game also has a system for passive abilities through the use of gear. Gear is clothing items such as hats and pants found throughout the game that give the player special passive abilities. These abilities may include finding more money when looting enemies or something more aggressive like lighting enemies on fire when landing on the ground. Some of the gear may be paired with Vigors, causing them to be more deadly. While weapons and Vigors are key in combat, players will also have the ability to melee enemies who are close by with deadly force. Players may also use the melee option to execute enemies who are close to death, these executions are gruesome and gory.
The melee weapon is called the Sky Hook and it is also used to traverse the city. Columbia is not one single block of city, shops and buildings all float separately as part of one whole city, so to get from one location to another players must hook onto metal zip-lines and slide from place to place. The Sky Hook is very useful in combat as mentioned above, but is also the key element to traversing the city of Columbia. Booker and Elizabeth are both equipped with a Sky Hook throughout the game. Alongside the player’s health bar in-game is a shield bar. This shield is used to deflect a bit of damage taken to Booker, but when it is broken down the player will take direct damage. There is also a salt bar that will show players how much slat they have, it is separated into sections of how much salt the equipped Vigor will use. Once the salt bar is depleted, Vigors cannot be used until more is found. There are special upgrades to be found in the environment called infusions and when found they will give the player a choice between health, shield, and salts to upgrade permanently. Players can purchase health, salts, and upgrades to weapons and Vigors from vending machines found throughout the game. Each is purchased with money found through the game by looting enemies and objects in the environment.
Elizabeth tags along with Booker through most of the game, but she is far from the typical damsel in distress awaiting her escort. Elizabeth is generally unable to get into the thick of combat with Booker, but she doesn’t idly stand by either. She will scavenge the surrounding area and throw Booker supplies when needed, such as a health kit, salts, or more ammo. She will instantly take cover in combat, she does not need to be guided, and she even throws Booker money when not in combat making her the perfect in-game companion. Elizabeth will eventually get used to the killing and will even have insight on gruesome situations as well, though it does startle her at first. She can also pick locks in the environment, allowing for access into previously unexplored areas. Eventually Elizabeth uses her special powers to help Booker, she can tear rifts into the environment which may add cover, health kits, weapons, and turrets to the area making combat much less deadly for the player.
Infinite is visually stunning, offering up some intensely beautiful graphics, even on the console version of the game. Faces and body movements are very realistic, showing emotion with the tilt of the eyebrows or shift of weight flawlessly. Textures take a little bit of time to load up in certain areas, but it’s hardly noticeable and may only be a problem with the console versions of the game. The game’s environments are amazing, a city on the sky is something out of a dream but Irrational Games made it appear is if it was reality. Everything down to the hummingbird fluttering about the gardens is expertly done. The city itself is so intriguing since it’s all in separate sections and each section moves independently There are docking schedules in front of businesses as each shop may separate from the docking area and float elsewhere. It’s really a mind-boggling yet absolutely brilliant concept. The voice acting is also very well done, characters are made believable with emotions and fluctuation The two main characters spend a lot of time bonding and talking to one another while walking around and the way they interact through voice acting and an amazing script is just fantastic. Players will find collectible items such as Voxophones in the game, which are audio recordings from other characters in the game. These offer a great deal of insight into the surrounding characters and ideals of Columbia, as well as expand the story through the players understanding of the what is going on. There are also side mission involved in the game, which will give players new items as well as new insight to the city and it’s people. Infinite’s soundtrack is also stunning, filled with various period songs as well as original songs which place the player expertly into the surrounding situations and areas.
- Story/Plot: 10/10
- Gameplay: 9.5/10
- Visuals/Presentation: 10/10
- Length: 13-18 Hours
- Replayability: High
- Entertainment Value: High
A Comparison to Past Bioshock Games:
Bioshock Infinite is not related to the past Bioshock games though story, though gameplay and themes are somewhat similar. Things like Vigors and Gear take the place of Plasmids and Tonics, though the shooting aspects are mainly the same. Much like in Bioshock 2, players can dual wield a Vigor and a gun and use both together. Themes such the dystopian society and all-powerful leader are similar, Comstock in many ways is like Andrew Ryan. There are also plenty of similar enemies, though splicers, or anything like splicers, make no appearance. The Songbird is somewhat like the past Big Daddies in the way that it tries to protect Elizabeth, but in general the whole Big Daddy/Little Sister portion of past games is gone. Voxophones replace audio tapes as well, they have the exact same concept though. Overall, this game shouldn’t be played like a prequel or a sequel, but more as a standalone game. Though fans of past Bioshock games should fit right in to the nuances of Infinite with no difficulties.