Bioshock Infinite Review
The greatest escort mission of all time.
Bioshock Infinite was one of my most anticipated games of 2012. Then it was one of my most anticipated games of 2013, but luckily it didn’t get any more elusive than that, and I was finally able to get my hands on it. My anticipation comes not from a blind love of the series, but from the fact that when Infinite was first introduced I wasn’t that interested. After loving my time in the dark confines of Rapture, a city in the sky wasn’t my idea of a proper follow-up. With each video I saw, and each time I heard Creative Director, Ken Levine, talk about Infinite, I got a little more excited. After playing Bioshock Infinite I can tell you that it doesn’t simply live up to the hype, it does so much more.
There is very little I can say about the specifics of Bioshock Infinite’s story that won’t spoil some part of it, so I won’t go into much detail. What the videos, and other promotional pieces, have led us to believe is that a man named Booker Dewitt was sent to Columbia, a city that floats in the sky above America, to rescue a girl named Elizabeth. This is all true, but there is so much more going on that I’ll leave you to discover it on your own.
What I can say about the story is that it is one of the most well told stories you’ll encounter in a video game; possibly one of the best regardless of medium. Rather than hitting you over the head with dramatic twists, Infinite’s story is slowly unwound by the fantastic cast of characters in a way that never feels cheap, and never feels too obvious. Both Booker and Elizabeth behave in ways that are remarkably true to the character that has been presented to the player, making them two of the most genuine and believable characters you’ll ever encounter.
The other star of the show, aside from our two main characters, is Columbia itself. Never has it taken me a shorter amount of time to become completely engrossed in a game world. The dark corridors of Rapture are long gone and in their place are bright, sunny, streets filled with people who are talking, laughing, dining, and otherwise going about their day. Machines whir away as the whole world sort of bobs up and down the way you might think something suspended in the air would. Columbia is alive with sound, and there is almost always music playing from somewhere. Whether it is the fully animated barbershop quartet performing on a floating airship, or the young lady singing a slow, gospel, version of ‘Fortunate Son’ amid the carnage of a rebellion, the atmosphere is never without some sound to perpetuate it.
Of course, you won’t be spending all of your time gawking like a tourist, you’ve got a job to do while you’re in Columbia. Or is it ‘on’ Columbia? In any case, you’ll be shooting your way through, most of the time, but you’ll have more than just an arsenal of guns to see you through these tough times. Calling Infinite a first person shooter doesn’t really do it justice. Sure, the view is from the first person, and it will feel much like any other shooter, there are a few reasons it provides a unique experience.
First, the city is criss-crossed with sky lines that you can use to latch onto with your hook and zip around the environment. You’ll be able to jump from line to line, and even target enemies on the ground to drop on top of. In some of the later battles, use of the skylines becomes crucial as you’ll be facing multiple enemies, with multiple different weapons, on multiple levels.
The second thing that makes combat different is Elizabeth herself. Shortly after meeting up with her, you’ll see the most encouraging words you may ever see flash up on your screen: “You don’t need to protect Elizabeth in battle, she can take care of herself.” Anyone who was worried about Bioshock Infinite being one long escort quest, can cast their fears aside right now.
Elizabeth doesn’t take up arms directly, but she will stay out of danger, stay out of your way, keep you stocked by tossing you ammo and health kits, and she will help you out by summoning set pieces, like turrets or cover, to the battlefield. She can also pick locks to find you alternate routes, and new loot when you aren’t fighting. In fact, I could go on all day about how cool I think Elizabeth is but many of the reasons would give away parts of the story so I’ll leave that for another day.
With plenty of secret areas, loot, and secondary story items to discover, Bioshock Infinite will keep you busy for quite a while which is a good thing considering Columbia is one place you will not want to leave.
There are no multiplayer modes in Bioshock Infinite.
Bioshock Infinite raises the bar in just about every category. The battles are crazier, and more fun, than other shooters, the world is one of my new favorites, and the storytelling trumps just about anything I can think of. Irrational Games have an instant classic on their hands with Bioshock Infinite, one you absolutely have to see for yourself.
Available On: Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC