It’s hard to write a Bioshock Infinite review without spoiling anything. It would be a real shame for some of the wonderful experiences in this game to be ruined by a reviewer and I promise I will try my hardest not to succumb to this.
Bioshock Infinite is not unlike its predecessors, it is a wonderfully told story based in the impossible cloud city of Columbia, a place that the God fearing rich can live in comfort under the iron first of Father Zachary Comstock. It is a game that weaves plot details like a finely woven rug and a story that makes you the player fall in love with the two main characters.
Bioshock Infinite’s main character is Booker DeWitt, a private investigator with a lot of problems, not least a mountain of debt. A group of mysterious people come knocking on his door and offer to wipe the debt clean if he goes to Columbia and kidnaps a girl named Elizabeth who is being held there.
Fast forward to you sitting in a boat rowing to a nearby lighthouse, a lighthouse that turns out to be a rocket that propels you to the City in the sky.
Once there you are baptised against your will in Columbia’s water and flushed out into the city.
The first thing I noticed was how gorgeous the city looked, how polite the people were and just how happy they looked. On the surface it is a wonderful place to live, a city raised above a rancid earth and bathes in the glory of the sun.
As you scratch the surface the propaganda reveals itself to you, Father Comstock has messages all around, posters and statues. There are viewing boxes that let you see the history of the city through rose tinted glasses, showing you in picture after picture a racist, religious fanatic and flawed city. All of this is just a background to the main story but something that adds a rich texture to the already great story.
It will be around the 40 minute mark before you start a battle with anyone, possibly closer to the hour if you like to scour every corner looking for details, clues and loot.
Once it begins the world turns from a friendly and beautiful place to an ugly brainwashed one. Around every corner there are Columbia City police waiting to take you down, drones who target you from the ground/air and a massive machine called ‘The Songbird’.
The first weapon you are given has two uses, the skyhook can be used as a brutal melee weapon which has the power to take a man’s head clean off; its other use is transportation. Around Columbia there are sky rails, these can be used by the many sky trams they have but are also used by those with skyhooks to traverse. It is a fun way to get around Columbia like a rollercoaster from one area to the other, you eventually unlock the ability to shoot from skylines but I was unable to do this successfully too many times.
Eventually you will find your way to Elizabeth and you will start your adventure finding out the mystery behind the city, becoming embroiled in the fight between the people of the city and the Vox Populi (people fighting against Comstock led by one Daisy Fitzroy).
My biggest worry going into this game was having all the fun sucked out by escorting an NPC, I was worried Elizabeth would be like Ashley in Resident Evil 4, just getting into trouble and raising my blood pressure in order to save her.
Thankfully this isn’t the case, the people at Irrational Games know what gamers want and give them a helpful NPC. Elizabeth will throw ammo, health and Salts (which replenish vigors) whilst in the heat of battle, assuming there are any nearby. She will throw you money when you approach a vending machine and don’t buy anything and she will point out different pieces of loot, some harder to see than others.
Whilst in battle she isn’t someone who needs protected, she runs and hides then later in the game she is able to help you by creating tears in the world and pulling various items from other dimensions.
You see Elizabeth has an amazing power not given to her by Vigors, she has the power to tear holes in reality. These holes can be used to gain tactical advantages but are also a nifty plot device.
Elizabeth is a wonderful character, one full of wonder and excitement, pair that with her massive features and Disney Princess looks and you have a recipe for greatness.
The action of the game is what you come to expect from Bioshock. You can use melee, guns and powers. The powers come in the form of Vigors which can be used to set things on fire, electrocute people, throw them in the air and set traps etc.
The guns are all pretty standard, they look a little steampunk but they are just your run of the mill guns, the difference between this game and the original Bioshock is here there is plenty of ammo, whereas Bioshock had a distinct lack of.
The action sequences can be exciting if you employ the use of skyhooks to raise yourself to different platforms, quickly escape or come crashing down on the enemy from up above.
Throughout the game you will come across gear, this can be worn for different effects, you can wear one on your head, a shirt, and trousers and boots each giving their unique trait. It’s an interesting element bringing more of a traditional RPG element to the game.
As the game escalates so does the story, it becomes less about a civil war in Columbia, propaganda and religion and more about the mystery surrounding the city. It weaves its way in and out of various plot threads and keeps you wanting more.
The game is more than worth your time, it could be game of the year and that’s saying something.
I give the game 9/10
There is a slight lull in the narrative about halfway through but if you power through it you will be rewarded with one of the best endings in a game.
Thank you to Renegade PR for the review copy of the game.