I finally finished BioShock Infinte (some of us have to wait until the title is released before they can review it…) and all I can say is, Well done 2k Games and Irrational games…Well done! Bioshock Infinite had me completely interested and on the edge of my seat from start to finish. I laughed, I cried, and I even jumped from time to time. Bioshock Infinite is a current gen master piece and the story deserves to be explored and experienced by all. The team have really out done themselves this time by creating a vibrant, beautiful (yet violent), and misguided world which is just waiting to be explored!
“Bring us the Girl and wipe away the debt” – Mysterious Voice. This is what you are tasked with; go to Columbia, find Elizabeth and bring her back to New York City. The second you step into Columbia you can tell that something is off. This floating city is a deeply religious, deeply purist (which is a nice way of saying racist) society. The racism was so intense at points that I was a bit uncomfortable playing! However this is done intentionally to raise social warrens on real world problems. I think it worked, I was astonished at how I felt after witnessing acts of racism in the game! Any way back to the story… As you look for the girl you learn that she is the daughter of the prophet of Columbia, Zachary Hale Comstock. The prophet, like all self righteous lunatics, believes he has seen the perfect world and knows exactly what is best for his people, and will stop at nothing to keep his daughter safe from you, the one hes has deemed “False Shepard”. As you attempt to bring Elizabeth back to New York you begin to feel sorry for her and make it your task to stop what has happened to her and to stop the suffering that you have witnessed in Columbia. This brings you closer and closer to the truth behind Columbia and its origins!
The Story of Bioshock Infinite was enough to make me play the game. However it was the extras that kept me coming back and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The developers went the extra mile to make sure that Infinite was a truly unique game, and focused on the world around you, as well as the story. The use of colour in Infinite was an amazing touch to the game. 2k has used colour to describe the mood that should be felt. For example, in instances of sad or depressing times during the story they would use a septa colour filter over the game. The team would use of greys and blacks in place of the vivid blues and greens you would normally see outside during exploration. The developers seem to be using colour like a movie would use music to let the player know how he or she should be feeling…and it works. Although the game could look cartoonish (which i am fine with!) in sections there was no lack of blood and gore. The gore was so intense at parts I couldn’t help but laugh! Colour aside, there is still a lot more to see in Infinite. The attention to detail is absolutely amazing! By attention to detail I mean the little things that most people don’t even bother to put in a game. The best example of this can be seen by just watching Elizabeth for a bit. When the player stops moving she begins to look around the room, she will read posters on the wall or files on desks. If there is nothing interesting in the room she will find something to lean on. This may not sound like much, but I found it really help draw me into the game. This may be the first time I have seen an NPC follower in a game having as much interest in the world around her as I did. At times she may even point out some loot that you may have left behind! Elizabeth was the best follower/Companion I have seen in a game…I mean after Ashely in Resident Evil I never wanted a companion again! As the game progresses and you and Elizabeth fight to escape, you can even start to notice that what she is wearing is starting to tear and become damaged. Elizabeth begins to look as if she is actually going through this adventure with you. Again, this has no actual effect on the game play, but it is an added dimension to the game that most developers leave out! How many adventure games are there where the Hero or following NPCs look as if they have just come from the spa? The visuals used to depict this utopia were a very nice touch. Every little detail helps draw the player into the world of Columbia, pushing you to explore and progress just to see what may change. These visuals really helped me believe I was in the flying city of Columbia, a city so advanced for its time that it exists 15,000 feet above sea level…in the clouds. A city where anyone can go to wash away their sins and live in peace and harmony…at least this is what antagonist Comstock would have you believe.
What good is an amazing beautifully coloured world to explore without filling it with interesting characters? Interesting characters are key to a good single player story, and with that Bioshock delivers 10 times over. The conversations you over hear in the game are so interesting and unique that I found myself stopping to listen to see what was being said. Even the first two people you meet in the game have a very in depth interesting conversation about choices and why they are made, and if there is even a point to them…they were simple people tasked with rowing you to a dock! As the game progresses it is easy to notice the characters acting and reacting to the changes going on. This is what really dragged me into the game, and made me want to continue. The Main Characters Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth Comstock both evolve as the story progress, both showing fear, emotion, and empathy. Booker begins to regret the decisions of the past where as Elizabeth slowly starts to see what the world is actually like…There are times I actually felt like a monster for things she would say! There are other times I would be laughing out loud over the commentary between the two of them “Pfft, A city….under the ocean…Ridiculous!!” – Booker DeWitt.
Interesting game and story mechanics can only take a game so far however, the rest relies on game play…which was also nailed! The game felt like an open world FPS, but it was never difficult to know where you should be going. The game was also packed with side missions and items to find, which added its own level of challenge. The side mission relied heavily on the player exploring every room, building, and chest. If you were simply too lazy to look, the game would not tell you or give you hints on where to go. These missions however would often reward the player with loot and upgrades…which are very needed on the harder difficulties. The best part about the missions and the fighting was the ability and freedom to do it how you like. Every situation would have a number of ways to complete it, whether you like sniping from a distance, running and opening fire, or using your sky hook to melee your way through, Bioshock offered something for every play stile. This was mainly possible thanks to a mechanic that was introduced into the game play which allowed the player to phase shift weapons, allies, health, cover, and means of escape into the physical world. This was absolutely key to progressing! The ability to phase shift different elements into the game really got me thinking about the best way to complete a challenge with my play stile. Another interesting game play mechanic was Elizabeth’s ability to find loot in the heat of a battle. She would let you know she has found health, ammo, or salts and toss them to you in battle to keep you going. The ammo would always be in the form of a fully loaded gun, which would be the same weapon that you currently have equipped. This was a very useful feature to keep you stocked in the longer fights….and there were some LONG fights!
Finally for those of you who are up for the challenge there is the game mode “1999 mode” awarded for those who have finished the game and would like to try a new challenge. This is very similar to the survivor mode in Resident Evil remake on the Game Cube. This mode reduces over all ammo and player health, increases enemy damage, and removes the navigation arrow…oh and if you do not have enough money to re-spawn well then you get booted straight back to the game menu. 1999 mode is best described in this quote from Ken Levine, a developer for Irrational Games – “This mode is not going to feel like BioShock…Failure can be fun… Non-hardcore gamers, they’re gonna hate this mode. That’s okay– it’s not for them.” This mode gives the die hard players a chance to play through again for the greats challenge…Challenge accepted!
While on the topic of game play I would like to point out the lack of multiplayer. I was 100% ok with this, just because Bioshock infinite is a FPS does not automatically mean it needs a multiplayer mode. Let’s take a look at Far Cry 3: This was an amazing single player game with a unfinished, rushed multiplayer. In my mind this took away from the over all score of the game because it was an aspect that was included. I feel if something is going to be included it needs to be just as good as the main game, why give something out that is broken or unfinished? The fact that Infinite is a solid single player experience is enough in my books!
Overall I loved this game from start to finish, Bioshock Infinite is the perfect example of what can happen when a publisher is willing to experiment with a very polished single player game. Anyone who is a fan of the series will love it, and those who want to try something new and exciting will enjoy it just as much. The different difficulties, and abundant side missions /collectables will give plenty of replay value for those of us compelled to get a 100% completion (even if there is no achievement).
With everything said and done there is only one tiny thing I would change. When selecting your preferred storage device on 360, there is no way to re-select if you choose the wrong one…which I do almost every time I play. Since that is my own stupidity and not the fault of the developers I give Bioshock Infinite a…