Welcome to an alternate version of 1912, a version where a legendary city of Columbia dwells within the clouds. A city where if you a white Christian then you well know a paradise beyond anything that can be imagined to surface dwellers but if you are colored or have separate beliefs then only hell awaits. Bioshock infinite is a much-anticipated game that dropped March 26th of 2013 and reworks the universe that we know well from the other Bioshock games. This review will go over the story, gameplay and in-depth universe that is presented to us in this version of our past, now this review will have no spoilers and little to no comparisons to the earlier games.
The story of Bioshock infinite is refreshingly complex, dealing with complex issues and topics that touch upon pseudo science in a way that makes you believe that a flying city is possible. The game has twists and turns that come at you from every angle so doing this review spoiler free will be extraordinarily difficult, to talk about the unique story elements and the emotions that this game makes you feel without spoiling is near impossible, to keep myself from spoiling I will stick to the beginning and characters while also revealing minor back story details while not releasing any story information that is pertinent to the future unveilings. You play as Booker Dewitt a man who is tasked at capturing a girl who is being held in the floating city of Columbia and in turn Booker has all his debts wiped out, Booker takes the job but doesn’t understand the true trouble that lies ahead. Booker makes his way to the city and finds a Christian paradise that is run by a fabled prophet; everything takes a turn for the worse when Booker learns that he is the “false Sheppard”, an anti-Christ foretold by the prophet, and is attacked by every official and some civilians in the city. Booker must now escape the city but at the same time finish his mission of taking the girl back to the surface world, but is he kidnapping her or rescuing her? Will Booker unlock the secrets of Columbia and the Prophet or die trying to complete his selfish mission? The story of Bioshock Infinite is rooted is many levels of politics and quantum theory that I don’t know where I should start, the game never has a piece of dialog that isn’t grounded in the story in some way making the experience of paying attention to every bystander and npc a rewarding one. The game takes its time to build the city of Columbia around you from very early in the game and doesn’t stop until the ending credits, from the fair in the first 15 minutes to the meeting of the girl in the first hour or so the game never ceases to fill your eyes with knowledge of the world. It builds this world but it never feels like its self-indulgent, you never get information you won’t need to understand the story or events later in the game, every small moment in the game is important in some way or another and you don’t realise it till you need to or until your second play through. The game also has a rich back story but learning that is told through recordings making that part completely optional, for someone like me the recordings were fascinating and I found myself eager to find the next one but to someone who only likes gameplay then it can be completely ignored. Talking about the characters will also be difficult without revealing much so I will stick to the two leads and avoid the rest.
Booker isn’t your average hero; he only wants to save the girl because it works for him in some way. Mountains of debt at the start of the game Booker will do about anything to get that cleared up. From the moment I turned on the game I fell madly in love with Booker because of how flawed and disturbed he obviously was, I hate perfect heroes so to playing a completely selfish and boorish hero made me extraordinarily happy. People who want to be able to think that the hero is a good person deep down need to play another game because Booker never redeems himself and you never want him to; a destroyed man buried in debt why else would he continue this tireless and death-bringing journey?
Elizabeth is the damsel in distress who quickly becomes more than that, it’s impossible to really go into who she is and what makes her so fascinating without touching on major points so let me try doing this without revealing but I will spoil events, no major twists just some important events. Elizabeth has been locked in a tower for her entire life where she is guarded by a giant mechanical bird known as song bird; she is studied because she has the unique to open rifts in space and time. Elizabeth has never seen true violence or bigotry so bringing her out in the world and fighting beside her makes you feel like a monster. Elizabeth is a strong-willed individual often fighting against oppression she see’s when taken out in the real world and understands she is a prisoner.
For those who have played the earlier Bioshock games than I’ll sum this up quickly: it plays like the last two for the most part so skip this part; now for the rest of the readers I’ll go into a more in-depth gameplay review. The game comprises of mostly combat and its very much an FPS version of a oldschool bullet hell like game; enemies appearing at every angle, some melee and small while others are more of the long-range verity but that is not even counting the behemoth like Handy-men and the teleporting crows. The game is as fast pace as you can get from running and gunning to riding monorail like tracks to get from one area to the next, the combat though is at every corner never seems repetitive thanks to the many different weapons and special abilities brought on by Vigors. Being able to carry two guns at a time may seem like a low number but you will quickly pick two favorites and never want to part from them, every gun is customizable and ammo never seems scarce. Guns, though very satisfying, are not the only way to fight in the game; Booker comes across many Vigors which grant him super powers that are creative and brutal such as sending a murder of deadly cross to simple fire grenades. Throughout the majority of the game Elizabeth is with you and if you are like me then you still have nightmares about Ashley from Resident Evil 4 but thankfully you won’t have to revisit those bad times since Elizabeth hides and stays out of danger during every firefight. The biggest disappointment of the game is that you are given morality choices throughout the game that have very little consequences in the later events of the game. Booker resurrects from Silver coins he finds but you are never low on silver so the resurrection is never a worry, in fact money is so easy to come by I find myself spending all of it before a big fight and not worrying about dying since I know there will be silver during said fight. Before I move on I do have to talk about the unlockable 1999 mode which makes the game extraordinarily difficult by increasing defenses and accuracy of enemies as well as removing most of the silver from the game. 1999 mode is a great way to play the game after you just defeated it so you can focus on the extremely difficult gameplay and don’t lose focus in the story.
As to be expected from this series this game delivers a creepy tone that makes you always on your toes and uneasy but unlike the last games, that delivered that through dark and disturbing atmosphere, this game has a very bright and charming feeling to it. Booker is not killing insane splicers but humans like you and me for the most part who are just dying for what they believe in and that makes the horror tone because of the feeling of nowhere is safe. From the moment you reach Columbia you are greeted by statues and beautiful scenery that are meant to put you at ease so when they rip that away from you it’s even more jarring; we all knew that the darkness would come but the developers do it in such a way that almost tricks you for a good forty minutes to an hour before sending you to a brightly lit hell. The voice acting and music in the game is phenomenal but I specifically want to point out Courtnee Draper who gave Elizabeth more life than anything the animators or modellers did. Though I’m not sure if Courtnee did her own singing I will say every word she said made me believe Elizabeth was real and I probably wouldn’t have cared so much if not for her.
If you haven’t been able to guess, I loved this game so much. I think this game was near perfect and I recommend this game to fans of the series or new comers who want to try out something new.
Final Score: 14/15