Bioshock Infinite

A Review

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Is the next Bioshock game

It seems like whenever the release of a new Shock game comes around, the industry is dumped on its head and the bar of quality for similar titles is skyrocketed. System Shock 2 proved to the world that videogames could be the most frightening and tense medium of all, while Bioshock relaxed on the scares a little bit; it refined its gameplay and exceeded above its predecessor in terms of narrative and vision. Expectations for Infinite are sky high (mind the pun), and now that it is finally here, many people are wondering if it is bloody awesome or not. While it won't shock you (sorry) like the others, what we have before us is an extremely fine experience that has the curse of living up to what many people consider to be impossible.

Head in the clouds

Bioshock Infinite is an incredible tale of American exceptionalism, racism, conspiracy and cultism. All seen through the eyes of Booker Dewitt, a man who eats burgers out of bins and finds rocket launchers in women's bathrooms. Tasked to "find the girl and wipe away the debt" by two mysterious figures, Booker finds himself in the lost airborne city of Columbia with the mission of rescuing a young woman named Elizabeth and bringing her back to New York in order to pay off his mysterious debt. What follows is absolutely one of gaming's best stories that is unfortunately hampered at times by poor execution, but still manages to be fantastic overall. Unlike Rapture before it, Columbia is not in a complete state of chaos and mayhem. It is, however, deep in civil war in some sections of the city. Comparisons between Columbia and Rapture are inevitable; both feature a charismatic and interesting figure at the origin of its creation, volatile political-social issues, supernatural elements and strong ideals for the foundations of their creation. However, this is not a bad thing whatsoever, as both dystopias capture the imagination for different reasons.

Columbia is actually a cult that worships the Almighty Ken Lavine

Booker catch!

Possibly the biggest and most noticeable addition to the series is the almost constant presence of the non-player character Elizabeth. Character wise, Elizabeth steals the show, managing to express her emotions and doubts about the situations at hand while not coming across like a whiny little brat that requires constant attention. This is because of two things: Elizabeth's excellent voice acting and her importance to the combat of the game. Bioshock Infinite easily could have been one giant escort mission, with enemies constantly snatching Elizabeth to divert the player’s attention (I'm looking at you Resident Evil 4!). Thankfully, Booker does not have to take care of Elizabeth during combat at all; in fact she often seeks out med kits, ammo and money which she can toss to the player during combat if they are low on the particular item. This sounds good on paper, and on the normal difficulty it certainly is. On the hardest difficulty much of the challenge is taken away because of Elizabeth's constant aid to the player.

Y'all got a purdy voice

Would you kindly not suck at gunplay?

Here’s a shock (I'm not trying I swear): Infinite is the first in the series to have surprisingly enjoyable gunplay and action sequences. Utilizing iron sighs and a regenerating shield in an attempt to update its combat, Infinite pulls of this bold and modern move startlingly well. On hard (something which I highly recommend you play on for maximum enjoyment), Booker can only take so many bullets before he is forced to retreat. Instead of this becoming an excuse to spend the whole game in cover, it forces you to use the Salts (think plasmids or PSI powers) available to the player in cleaning up the nutters of Columbia. Sadly one of the biggest complaints that existed in the original Bioshock and its sequel makes an unwelcome return. Similar to the chambers that revived Jack in Rapture, Elizabeth will revive Booker whenever he is killed(taking away some money of course). This leaves some of the fights against the larger enemies in the game feeling like a monotonous drag as you return from the dead over and over again while warring down their health to the eventual point of death. It feels cheap and unrewarding to fight these larger enemies, such as the mech patriots or the appropriately dubbed "handymen".

Airborne Architecture

Bursting with vivid colour and constantly dynamic filtering and lighting, Bioshock Infinite is a simply gorgeous looking game. Colours pop and saturate the screen in a way that many games (and ENB mods) attempt to emulate but fail drastically. However as per usual in the Shock series, the character models are mostly not up to scratch with the rest of the industry, suffering from the same bizarre problems as Dishonored, with strangely disproportioned features (Elizabeth’s head, the GIANT hands of NPC’s).

However, Infinite’s gun models are more pleasurable to look at; the subtle details in the paint of the guns and the way they behave is something that could make a 3D modeler cry. But what truly stands out in Bioshock Infinite’s visual design is its architecture and style. The consistent style of the clothes, posters, items, houses and furniture are obviously a complete labor of love from 2k’s artists that engross the player in the world of Columbia. Several times throughout my play through of the game, I simply stopped and hopped around the environment, taking in the spectacular scenery and artistic direction.

LETS GO SUNNING

(Plot)Holes in the fabric of space and time

Make absolutely no mistake: Bioshock Infinite has a good story with mostly great writing. However it at times drastically falls short of its predecessors, leaving us expecting better of the sometimes confusing plot. Bioshock 1 and System Shock 2 told a tale through direct communication with the player, and an additional side story through audio and text logs. Infinite relies too heavily on its audio logs to tell the history of Columbia and the events leading up to its creation. Columbia is not a completely hostile nightmare like the Von Braun or Rapture, with many NPC’s simply walking around living out their day. Despite this opportunity to learn the game’s lore through the people of Columbia themselves, Infinite relies on short motion pictures and audio logs, many of which are not in clear view. This would be fine if the back stories of Columbia were not essential to understanding the main plot, but unfortunately they pretty much are. While I attempted to snag every audio log in my first play through, like a failed Pokémon trainer, I didn’t “catch em all”. This caused much confusion in key points of the game, and undermined the emotional impact of some scenes because I didn’t know who the hell these people were. Additionally, interaction between Booker and Elizabeth feels completely rushed. 2K has obviously made a conscious effort to make the player feel for Elizabeth, and thankfully this works for the most part. But in some sections it feels like the chemistry between Booker and Elizabeth is completely lacking, and dialogue seems awkward and forced. Bioshock Infinite does not have a bad plot or back story by any means; in fact it stands above anything else released this year. But it does have its shortcomings that will probably annoy you more if you’ve been a fan of the past Shock games and their excellent methods of storytelling.

Play that old timey tune boy!

Not surprisingly, Infinite definitely has its musical moments (such as Booker and Elizabeth performing a guitar duet in a downtown slum of Columbia). There are some strange appearances of a few songs from popular culture which also serve as key plot points. While Infinite's musical score serves well, it doesn't quite live up to the visual side of things or be able to stand on its own. The battle theme is tense and catchy, but also can get quite repetitive, making you wish you were listening to the howling strings of Rapture. Sound design and voice acting, however, are excellent. All the performances here do their job well and live up to the early 19th century American exceptionalism atmosphere.

It's a beautiful place when you forget about the magical racists and cult members

Infinitely better or worse?

While it seems unfair to compare the games, reviewing Bioshock Infinite and constantly comparing it to its predecessors is something that just feels necessary. I completely acknowledge Infinite as its own piece of work, separate from the rest of the series. However, Infinite is a game that doesn’t really stray away from the series formula that much, and therefore it's comparison is completely natural. I’m not saying that Infinite’s flaws are glaring because the previous games didn’t have them; I’m making a comparison because in the areas where Infinite sometimes fails, its predecessors exceed with flying colours.

Conclusion

Does Bioshock Infinite live up the massive hype? Yes. Does it shatter the bar set by its predecessors? Yes and no. Make no mistake, Bioshock Infinite is an absolutely terrific game, and its gameplay and visual design are by far the best that the series has ever seen. But at times its story seems like something that could have been amazing but is held back by poor execution and confusing twists. For what it sets out to do, Bioshock Infinite succeeds 80 percent of the time. And for what it was trying to achieve, it is an amazing accomplishment. Bioshock Infinite is a game that absolutely deserves your attention if you have even the slightest interest in it.

Don't miss it.

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Score

Graphics
8.5
Sound
8
Gameplay
8
Story
7.5
Overall
8

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • STUNNING visual design
  • Enjoyable gameplay
  • Elizabeth is a great character
  • Interesting and deep story
  • Well constructed and lively feeling world
  • Good length
Cons
  • Flawed execution and storytelling
  • Annoying revive system
  • Too easy even on the hardest difficulty

Reviewer

LazyMuffinMan avatar
Member Joined 5y
198 points Ranked 18065th

LazyMuffinMan
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Date Added
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Date Modified
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