BioShock Infinite (Video Game)
Published by 2K Games
Available for Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3 and PC
It was hard to wrap your mind around the fact that the well-known icons Big Daddy and Little Sister would not be featured in BioShock Infinite when it was announced. Many hard-core fans questioned whether the game would even be worth playing without them... I know I did! The previous two games took place in the underwater city of Rapture, but in BioShock Infinite we venture beyond the clouds to a city in the sky.
You start out as Booker DeWitt, a former solider with a rocky past, who must venture to Eden to retrieve the daughter of a self-appointed prophet. Booker makes a deal to have all of his gambling debt wiped free if he retrieves Elizabeth and returns her to New York. Elizabeth's father is the leader of a supremacist cult, and he envisaged the floating city of Columbia as a type of Ark to carry his people away from the evils of America.
BioShock Infinite is all about Elizabeth, a young girl who has spent her entire life trapped inside a tower guarded by a mechanical "Songbird." She has a weird and wonderful ability that allows her to rip holes in the fabric of reality which are peep holes into another dimension. Once you rescue Elizabeth, she is like a small child who is experiencing the world for the first time. You get to experience the new wonders with her as she dances with random people on the beach and tries cotton candy for the first time. Elizabeth becomes a part of you as the game progresses and will constantly toss you items such as silver money, weapons, and items. She is a perfectly-balanced character who manages to always be there when you need her and stay out of your way when you don't.
The city of Columbia is a breath-taking environment that aches to be explored. I found myself wandering around just taking in all the settings had to offer from the beautifully-crafted structures to the intriguing dialogue. It has been awhile since I took the time to talk to the NPCs in a game--but with Infinite it was different--the game pushes the boundaries of the imagination so much that you can't help but be curious about everything and everyone in the game. Fast travel involves utilizing your hook device across the skylines, which is not only exhilarating but amazingly fun.
Players will clear out areas during missions and then collect the treasures left behind such as money, food, and upgrades. Columbia is more focused than Rapture with Infinite having only a few sections that protrude off with alternative detours. There is less emphasis on using your map or guiding system here than we saw in the previous two titles as well. Basically, the environments are just large enough to explore without being overwhelming to the player.
Audio diaries called voxophones are laid all around Columbia; they give you more details about Zachary Comstock and advance the game's exquisite story. Comstock may be praised by his cult of crazies, but the diaries will give more insight into his arch-enemy Daisy Fitzroy, who leads the worker faction of Vox Populi. You will also learn that Comstock plans for Elizabeth to succeed him and destroy those below the city.
The frantic combat in Infinite is carried out with weapons or magical abilities. The game's enemies are devilishly accurate and full of character. Players have two weapon slots and can gather salt to power their magical abilities entitled "vigors." These attacks can be carried out in two ways, which include shooting projectiles or through trap mode. You can upgrade all of your weapons and vigors through using cash in vending machines. The game focuses on combat and exploration, and upgrading is essential as you progress through more difficult environments.
BioShock Infinite far succeeds its predecessors with such vigor that you can't help falling in love with it. The game's perfection is only enhanced by its beautiful visuals, emotional soundtrack, and exquisite storyline. The masterful writing in Infinite will have even the cleverest of gamers second-guessing what will happen next with all the twists and turns that follow. The game manages to balance your own in-game actions together with the ingenuity of the larger picture which brings everything together in the end with perfect context. This was Elizabeth's journey, and we were just along for the ride.
BioShock Infinite is now available for $59.99 on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. The title is rated M (Mature) and contains content that is suitable for persons ages 17 and older. For more information on the game, check out the official BioShock Infinite website.
5 out of 5