After an enormous amount of anticipation Bioshock Infinite launched last week right around the globe on the PlayStation3, Xbox360 & PC. After receiving rave reviews from major media websites Bioshock Infinite is so far this years highest rated game with a meta-critic score of 96/100. Though I must admit before Bioshock Infinite came out I’d never played or even payed much attention to the Bioshock franchise. Loading up Infinite for the first time I wasn’t to sure what to expect – hell, I didn’t even know weather I had to have played the previous games to understand this story completely. After completing the game on PC in about 10 hours, I’m more than happy to say that future games from the Bioshock series won’t go unplayed or unnoticed with me again.
Lets begin with the two things that I believe make this game so great – the setting & the characters. Infinite breaks away from the underwater setting of the first two games and launches you into the floating city of Columbia. This paradise is unlike any other city I’ve seen in video games before, for the city is alive and bustling. Residents converse happily in the cities streets and children play freely with one another, but do be warned the city isn’t as joyful as it seems. Columbia suffers from quite a few political problems, you’ll almost instantly notice propaganda posters all around the city promoting the games main antagonist as well as his racist views & ultra-nationalist beliefs. Although words cannot express how gorgeous this city looks with it’s amazing architecture and it’s rich, vibrant colours.
The characters you’ll meet in Infinite are just as satisfying. You play as Booker DeWitt a former war veteran but in Bioshock Infinite a man on a mission, from early on in the game he’s told to retrieve a certain person of interest – he doesn’t know why all he knows is that if he gets her to the people who want her then he might be able to get on with the rest of his life. Retrieving this girl isn’t made any easier as Dewitt is targeted as an anti-Christ by the mark on his hand. The mark symbolizes the false prophet, the enemy of the cities religious and political leader – father Comstock. As his mission Dewitt must seek out the girl we come to know as Elizabeth, who, hands down has to be the best companion character I’ve ever played alongside with in a video game. Elizabeth is not someone you have to worry about getting hurt in combat, if anything she takes more care of you than you do of her. She’ll quite often pass you extra ammo & health during combat or find you extra coins while savaging. Elizabeth drives the game’s story and delievers a strong emotional impact, mainly through the little things that Irrational Games have added, like the short meaningful conversations you share as Elizabeth picks locks or rides the elevator with you. Although I did notice that from time to time Elizabeth would be teleported around in and out of sight back to Booker to fit the way the game is being played.
Combat in Infinite is great fun and at some points can be quite challenging, the best thing about the combat system is the room to experiment with the variety of weapons and powers. There are so many weapons to choose from and most become available to you only after a few hours into the game, my only complaint is that you can only hold two at a time. Vigors are the new name for powers in Infinite and there pretty dam awesome to use. Vigors range from possessing enemy soldiers to fight for you to absorbing enemy fire then unleashing it back onto them and even unleashing swarms of vicious crows upon your enemies. All of the game’s vigors and weapons can be upgraded through vending machines found all throughout Columbia. You can upgrade your weapons bullet damage, reduce its recoil and increase the strength of your vigors. These upgrades do come at a price however, so always be on the lookout for those silver eagles. The ability to use your hook and cling onto skylines and perform air attacks on enemies is awesome! This is something we don’t see to often in games but Bioshock Infinte makes it work. The skylines are great as they are easy to master, fun and quite often you’ll find enemies jumping on them to.
As you progress through the game you’ll come to learn that your young companion has the ability to open tears (essentially portals to different locations). This power comes into play during combat by giving you the option of spawning in various things like health packs, piles for cover and even armed turrets . Using these tears allows for a variety of different gameplay options when approaching a situation, you could sit back and watch a turret do your dirty work or run out guns blazing spawning in some cover when things start to heat up. Bioshock Infinite is filled with a wonderful cast of villains, but I do believe a bit more variety in enemy soldiers was needed, fighting the same enemies was lacklustre and grew a bit boring.
The games soundtrack is amazing, and the in-game sounds and music really make it feel like you’re in 1912 America. The characters voice acting is wonderfully done and allows for better expressions of emotion and making the characters themselves feel much more realistic. If you haven’t yet bought the game I strongly recommend buying it on PC – assuming you have a good enough rig to handle its system requirements. Bioshock Infinite on consoles seems to struggle a little with their ageing hardware. The graphics and textures don’t look as sharp and you’ll often encounter some stuttering frame rates. In my opinion the game is best played on PC, crank up those graphic settings in the games menu and you’ll be amazed.
The extraordinary city of Columbia & the fascinating characters it has to offer – weather friend or foe have got to be two of the greatest and most memorable things I’ve ever experienced in a video game. Although the campaign will provide enough incentive to go back & try completing it on harder difficulties, the story at some points did have me a little lost and confused. Bioshock Infinite isn’t the sort of game you see every so often and its quite a rare find as it will require your undivided attention, your heart and of course your combat skills. With all that said we’ll be giving Bioshock Infnite a 9.5/10.
For more on Bioshock Infinite and many other games stay tuned.
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