Bioshock Infinite (Overdue) Game Review
Oh boy, a review of another great game that I had been putting off on playing! So unless you’ve been living under a rock for over the past month or just not paying attention to the gaming media (same thing), you probably have heard that Bioshock Infinite is being highly praised by everyone and their mother.
Now I’m not one to buy so easily into hype. I’ve been disappointed by the hype before like with Fallout 3 and Skyrim (Sorry, I didn’t like those games). However, I have had more experience with the Bioshock series so I was never planning to completely rule this game out but good lord! This game! Yes, the hype was right. Not only is this game amazing, it far surpasses the previous games. I’m sure many of you have already played it by now and already know this or at least agree it’s a good game. So I’m just going to just give a quick rundown of my thoughts on the previous games before jumping into the Infinite review.
The first Bioshock game was actually one of the first games I played for the Xbox 360 and one of the first games for the system that I really enjoyed. I thought the setting, weapons, powers, and enemies were cool.I was impressed with the visuals and at the time considered it one of the bestlooking games I had ever played. The one thing that bugged me about it was the endings: they all sucked. They all felt hurried, extremely short and unsatisfying.
Maybe it’s just me but it feels like since the first Bioshock many great games have had short and unsatisfying endings (ME3 being the most notorious)
Bioshock 2 took me awhile to get around to playing. I had heard mixed things,it seemed to get delayed a lot and when it did finally come out I didn’t really hear much about it which usually isn’t a good sign. I managed to get it for $7at Gamestop so I got a pretty good deal on it. I found it had a better story and endings than the first game but the unchanged game engine was definitely showing its age. My interest in the series died down for awhile and while I liked it, I wasn’t as crazy about it as some of my friends. This is probably what made m ewait for Infinite, a game that had already been delayed multiple times, but after finally playing it would seem the wait was definitely worth it.
Set in 1912, Booker DeWitt, a washed up Pinkerton detective, is sent on mission to retrieve a mysterious girl so he can have all his debits erased. After rocket ride from on top of a lighthouse, he lands in a city in the sky known as Columbia. At first,it seems like a very nice place with steam punk like technology, seeminglypeaceful people, and a nice fair to attend. But something is off as this is a deeply religious city and has some very backwards beliefs. They follow the Prophet Comstock and his Confederate States style of beliefs. The girl Booker seeks is Elizabeth, a woman that has been looked up in a tower all her life and possesses powers that cause tears and openings in time. Getting to her is a fight but getting her out of this city and their fate will be an even bigger fight.
So there is a lot to talk about here. This game’s story is one of its strongest points and I love a game with a deep and immersive storyand Infinite delivers. The logical move of having a new setting that is in the sky as oppose to at the bottom of the ocean like the previous games was smart.It makes for an awesome setting especially if you’re a fan of steam punk.
This isn’t just another utopia fallen grace like Rapture was in the previous games, it’s very much in order until Booker is identified as the False Prophet by the authorities and then everyone is out to get him.
The story goes through all kinds of twists and turns from then on with commentary on American expectionalism and imperialism. This game has drawn some fire with themes of racism and extreme Baptist religion but I feel this is all fitting considering the time period it is set in and that Columbia is modeled after an Antebellum South like culture. In other words, if this seriously bothers you and you think this game is dumb because it’s not politically correct, then you should go read up on some history.
However, the real heart of the story is the characters;Booker and Elizabeth add a level of immersion that just wasn’t there in the previous Bioshock games. Not since Mass Effect have I found myself really caring so much about game characters and I loved the interaction between the two.I’m glad Booker is not another silent protagonist. Those seem to be fading away from games and I’m glad. This game couldn’t have worked with a hero who never talks so I’m glad Irrational Games made him talk and have real character.
Other characters like Combstock and the Lutece twins are great but its Elizabeth who steals the show.
She has been popular long before this game came out with plenty of fan art and cosplays of her over the past couple years. A lot of work was put in to make her a very likeable character and it definitely shows. She is heavily inspired by Disney princesses, namely Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I’ll talk more about Elizabeth later on in the review.
Lastly I’ll point out that the game has a very good ending. Good as in, it is clear there was a lot of effort put into it and it was not rushed like the ending to most games these days. It’s definitely a mind bender though and not exactly what I was expecting but it was very good none the less. Everyone will have a different opinion on the ending but I’ve seen far worse endings to games. Also there is only one ending, no multiple endings. However, I’d rather have one well done ending instead of a couple half assed ones so it’s all good.The game clocks it at around 9 to 10 hours I think so it’s slightly above average in length but it didn’t feel too short or too long at all and it gave me that feeling of not wanting it to end which is a good feeling in my book.
The core gameplay of Bioshock Infinite remains relatively unchanged from the previous games. You shoot guns with the right hand and use special powers with the left and most anything can be checked and looted for goods. One thing I could tell I wouldn’t like from the game before even playing it was the change of weapons. In the previous games you’d collect and upgrade weapons throughout the game and you would keep all those weapons on you the entire time. This time you can only carry two guns at a time.
The guns are mostly modeled after real weapons from the time period but are less interesting to look at than the guns from the previous games.
However, there is an upside to this. There are many more guns to be found this time around ranging from pistols, to carbines, to machineguns, and rocket launchers. During major fights, it’s usually easy to find weapons fitting to the situation if you stop and look around for a moment. All the guns can be upgraded but the upgrades are less noticeable than in the previous games however the guns do feel satisfying to use and are generally accurate whether you’re aiming down the sites or from the hip. The vigor powers (same thing as plasmids from the previous games) are all new, creative, and fun to use. They all have multiple uses and alternative uses for setting up traps which makes combat even more fun. I was a bit disappointed that they did not bring back telekinesis but the ability to block and throw back bullets greatly replaces it. You also have this hook device that you use to ride on the sky rails that are found around the city. You use these for travel and combat. These segments are fun and feel like a roller coaster ride but can be a little difficult to control if you’re trying to attack enemies from them. The hook can also be used as a melee weapon to deliver some brutal finishers to enemies. The combat is a lot of fun and can be very challenging.
While the level designs are fairly linear there are always areas to explore in each part of the city you visit with tons of things to loot, items to collect, and sites to see. The fair at the beginning of the game has lots of little mini-games to play and acts as sort of a tutorial. Speaking of tutorials, this game doesn’t seem to know when they end. Throughout almost the entire game, instructions would appear on the screen to tell you how to do things from time to time. I can understand having these pop up at the beginning of the game or when a new mechanic is introduced but through the entire game?It doesn’t break the game; it’s just annoying to be trying to look through a wall of text that blocks half the screen from time to time.
There is a good variety of enemies you face including regular gun wielding guards to vigor powered enemies.
You sometimes also have to battle a Handyman which is pretty much this game’s Big Daddy. They’re a bit more disturbing though as they are just old or disabled people forced to wear these mechanical bodies. These guys are hard though. There are only a few battles with them in the game but they are some of the hardest. I am little disappointed that there is no climatic battle with the Songbird (the other Big Daddy like thing) but that might because I was dreading it the whole game. What happens instead is more interesting.
Unlike in the previous games there is no morality system which would affect the game’s ending since there is only one ending. Then why did they have you make seemingly important choices in a couple spots in the game? Only one had an outcome later but it was minor. Another is just picking which broche Elizabeth is going to wear throughout the rest of the game. They seem a little pointless now but do not detract from the game. The AI for Elizabeth is where the game stands out again. She’s one of the much more competent AIs I’ve dealt with in a video game. Not only does she act like a real person for the most part, she is also helpful. She will actively search levels for items and will give you ammo and power ups during fights. You can also have her pick locks for you to gain access to secret areas in stages. She’s far more useful than say the AI in Call of Duty games who just run around and shoot at nothing…
GRAPHICS AND SOUND:
What can I say? Wow. This game is just beautiful. One of the best looking games I’ve ever seen on the 360. However, if you want the best possible visuals you MUST play it on the PC. It has been declared a technical benchmark in gaming if that means anything to you. It is a feast for the eyes. This is one of those games where you just walk around looking at everything and just take in the sites.The design of Columbia is just jaw dropping.
The character models are just as beautiful but once again Elizabeth steals the show.
Like I said, she was designed after Disney princesses and she looks like one with those big blue eyes. While her model is very impressive and technical feat, I’ll honestly say I was more impressed by the way Lara Croft’s character model acted in the Tomb Raider reboot.
Along with the excellent visuals is the excellent sound design. Everything sounds great including the amazing voice acting that really brings these characters to life. Troy Baker and Courtnee Draper suit the roles of Booker and Elizabeth perfectly. The old timey music used for the soundtrack is very fitting and adds to the immersive feel of the game. It reminds me of the music from O Brother Where Art Thou?
Over all, this game surpasses the previous Bioshock games far more than I was expecting and has given me new love for this franchise. Not only is the best Bioshock game yet, this is one of the best FPS games I have played in awhile, even better than Crysis 3. I should add that this game does not have a multiplayer mode and I’m glad they didn’t try to force one in like they did with Tomb Raider and every other game out there. If you’re one of those people who enjoy games just for their multiplayer, this game clearly isn’tfor you.
If you are a Bioshock fan, most like you’ve already played this game multiple times by now and loved it.
If you’re like me and were on the fence, play it.Play it now! Even if you’ve never played the previous games, I highly recommend checking this game out. This game has the honor of being my first 10 out 10 game since I started writing game reviews. It’s not 100% perfect but the pros greatly outweigh the cons to the point where they didn’t really bother me at all. Bioshock Infinite is one hell of a ride everyone should check out. Thank you for reading and waiting for me to getting around to writing this. I’m not exactly sure what my next review will be but keep a look out through this summer!
- Strong story and characters
- Fun, challenging combat
- Beautiful graphics and an immersive setting
- Too many on screen instructions at times
- Weapons less interesting than previous games
- Good gaming PC required for best way to view the visuals