BioShock Infinite (PS3)
Developed by Irrational Games
Published by 2K Games
Released March 26, 2013
Review Written April 12, 2014
For years I had been closely eyeing this title since its 2010 reveal from Irrational Games. As a fan of the original BioShock and its sequel, I anticipated an amazing rollercoaster that would possibly trump the original BioShock. With Irrational Games and Ken Levine regaining the creative reigns for BioShock Infinite, will this title bring the same magic displayed in the city of Rapture or should the floating city of Columbia just drift into oblivion like a meandering balloon? In short, yes BioShock Infinite captures similar values from the original BioShock but in itself is an entirely different experience.
Although my timing for finally getting around to this game is fairly horrible in light of the recent news of Irrational Games being shutdown and dispersed, I’m glad I finally took the time to experience what I had been fawning over for years. BioShock Infinite is a great game in my opinion and in the twenty-three hours it took me to complete the campaign I enjoyed it to its entirety. Though the game can be completed in less than fifteen hours, I spent many moments gazing about the environments or searching for secrets strewn within the levels out of habit. As opposed to the dark beauty that was Rapture, the floating city of Columbia explodes with wonderfully bright colored hues. The floating city just looks so clean and vivid.
BioShock Infinite utilizes a range of bright color schemes throughout each of the levels, and similar to the original Bioshock the structured tonality matches the transpiring situations. To add to this, the talking NPC’s and soft musical tones make this floating isle feel realistic, like I’m watching an adventure film about a lively civilization in the sky. Though with beauty comes an underlying horror as I would find myself witnessing screen tearing during certain climactic parts of the game. At first it was distracting but it completely disappears from annoyance as its appearances were minimal.
Story-wise, in BioShock Infinite you take on the role of Booker DeWitt who has been tasked with finding a girl named Elizabeth to erase all of his gambling debts in the year 1912. Very much different from BioShock’s Jack, Booker actually has dialogue and interacts with the locals of Columbia. Not being a muted puppet controlled by the player, Booker has personality. Elizabeth also has a great personality and easily meshes with Booker creating an entertaining ride to the viewers.
BioShock Infinite dabbles in previously viewed ideals of choice but mixing it with American history, quantum physics, and ideals of destiny. More of a science fictional action-adventure than its horror focused predecessors, BioShock Infinite’s story resembles that of a Hollywood blockbuster. I found myself glued to my seat enjoying what developments were thrown at me and often anticipated what twists and turns were to come. Even though the ending left my head spinning and required me to replay the campaign a second time to grasp what was unfolded, I thoroughly enjoyed the story within BioShock Infinite.
The gameplay is what ties the story and the visuals all together, and the BioShock formula still hasn’t really changed since the previous games. I’m not complaining though as I enjoyed the numerous shootouts throughout the game and believe the style worked with how the story flowed. I’ve heard a few mention they didn’t feel that the firefights didn’t fit within the game, but I believe it fit perfectly with Columbia’s very own Civil War brewing. These firefights were made more interesting when a robotic replica of an American Founding Father walks towards you with a gatling gun. There’s nothing like that surprise factor that leaves you open for attack as you try to configure what the hell is actually going on, and I’m talking about you robotic Abe Lincoln.
As the gameplay formula hasn’t changed, the controls are still as smooth as the previous BioShocks. The only differing mechanics are the skylines and having Elizabeth tagging along. The skylines act as a fancy transition between locales while mixing in strategic combat. I often found myself riding the lines to investigate possible secret areas or to get a quick jump on unsuspecting enemies. The other change was having a sidekick along for the long journey. I actually feared a little that the game would end up being one long escort mission with Elizabeth constantly getting in the way or getting killed. This isn’t the case as Elizabeth can’t be injured by enemies and will actually hide during firefights. She even plays the role of helper throughout each area by throwing items your way that she’s found. Set in the same way that Ellie was mechanically just Joel’s shadow in The Last of Us, Elizabeth is there for the fight but doesn’t interfere with the flow of it.
Although the game is damn near perfect in my book I still longed for one feature that was available in the first BioShock, hacking minigames. For some strange reason I loved the hacking minigames in the previous installments, and in BioShock Infinite they are missing. All of the locks are either opened via a keycode or through Elizabeth’s amazing lock picking skills that could quite possibly put Jill “The Master of Lock Picking” Valentine to shame. Although it was missing from the game, it is quite possible Irrational Games deemed it unnecessary or something that would ruin the current flow of the adventure.
In conclusion, even though Bioshock Infinite strays away from the former’s horror focused design, the science fictional action is a welcome sight. The cast of characters all play a prominent role and will be easily remembered in days past. Easily noted, the Lutice twins and their banter similar to that of a 1940’s comedic duo will always come to mind when looking back at what could be the final BioShock game. So in turn, if you enjoyed the previous BioShock games or enjoy FPS games that have an interesting story to follow, then BioShock Infinite is definitely a game you should buy. So wipe away the debt, bring them the girl…
Review Written by John of The Time Heist