Published on March 28th, 2013 | by Aaron Owens0
BioShock Infinite Review
Developer(s): Irrational Games
Publisher(s): 2K Games
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Platform(s): Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Rating: M for Mature
Bioshock Infinite is the true successor to 2007′s Bioshock, which is still considered to be one of the best shooters of all time, and Infinite is a very worthy successor indeed. Leading up to it’s release the game was setting almost irrationally high goals for itself, yet despite these insane goals Bioshock Infinite managed to not only match, but exceed expectations. In fact, I have a hard time thinking of a single place that the game goes wrong.
The story of Infinite is one of it’s strongest points, and in a game that makes virtually no missteps whatsoever, that’s saying something. The year is 1912 and you play as Booker Dewitt, a war veteran. The story starts with Booker being told to find and retrieve a girl named Elizabeth in order to ‘wash away the debt’. You arrive in the flying city of Columbia, which is essentially a white supremacist theocracy led by ‘The Prophet’ Zachary Comstock, and are soon after labeled as a false prophet which turns the majority of the city against you. As you try to take Elizabeth from the tower where she has been secluded for much of her life you are confronted by the Songbird, a giant mechanical bird capable of a great deal of destruction, and the Songbird is pursuing you in the background throughout the game. Eventually, the city as a whole falls into a civil war and begins tearing itself apart, and the warring factions throw more monkey wrenches into the already chaotic and problematic mission. I won’t explain any more of the story in order to avoid spoilers, but anyone who played the original Bioshock is likely expecting a big twist like the monumental, almost world-shattering, twist that the first game contained. I went into the game expecting a twist, but even so I was caught completely off guard and left utterly speechless.
The story, no matter how well written, would not carry the same weight and tone without the phenomenal sound design and music. The sound design is very well done, from music realistically echoing through a church with gently running water flowing over the floors, to the sounds of the mechanisms of the city working in the background. The soundtrack is even more impressive and goes everywhere from a fairly cheery romantic ditty sung by a barbershop quartet, to chillingly beautiful gospel music, to intense background music for the battles, and yet the music never breaks character and maintains the early 20th century feel. The visuals are just as well done, if not even better, in terms of keeping the tone of the game appropriate to the story, but still engaging and, in many cases, even breathtakingly beautiful. However on the console versions of the game, there are places where the graphics could certainly be improved, but once you get into the game those spots are nearly unnoticeable. If you’re someone who wants to get the very best graphics possible from the game, though, and your computer can handle it, I have been led to understand that the PC version has nearly flawless graphics (although I haven’t seen them for myself, so I can’t say for certain).
The games default controls are fairly easy to grasp, although I played through with my controls on ‘Marksman’ which changes them to the usually assumed default shooter controls, simply because it felt a bit more natural to me. I was playing the PS3 version, and one of the things that usually has me wary about shooters on the PS3 is the system’s odd habit of using the shoulder buttons for aim/fire in place of the triggers, but Infinite is kind enough to provide the option to flip L1/R1 with L2/R2, which had me happy with the controls right off of the start. The implementation of the controls feels very smooth and natural throughout the game, and it truly shines with riding the skylines. You can hop on and off of the lines on a whim for the most part, provided they’re within range, and can even be fluidly chained in multiple times in the thick of battle. Infinite also managed to take an idea that can normally break games and make it into one of the strongest features of an already great game. The ‘escorting’ of Elizabeth is in no way a chore, because through my entire playthough she never really needed any kind of rescuing unless is was dictated by the story (which was rare). In fact, because she will gather health and ammo for you during battle, the few instances when you are separated end up feeling noticeably more problematic and forces you to be much more careful when you’re without her.
The only complaints I have with the game are fairly minor ones, the biggest being that I feel that the Songbird should have been featured much more prominently, because it only has about five appearances in the entire game. The other small issue I noticed was that occasionally I got caught by some odd item collisions, but this only happened a few times and didn’t really even make it to the point of being annoying.
Overall, Bioshock Infinite is not only a worthy successor to one of the most critically acclaimed shooters of all time, but even manages to surpass the original in some ways. There is almost nothing about the game that isn’t beautiful in some way, and the story gave me chills and left me speechless. I had such high hopes for the game that even a simply great game would have been a significant disappointment to me, but I’m left hard pressed to think of any way that the game actually let me down at all. Infinite is more than just a great game, I would even go so far as to call it a genuine masterpiece. There is little doubt in my mind that Infinite will be a powerful contender for the game of the year for almost everyone.
Summary: Bioshock Infinite is one of the most anticipated games of the year, and managed to set some of the most absurdly high standards for itself that it couldn't possibly meet them. Luckily, nobody told the developers that, and the game does not disappoint on any front. Infinite ends up being more than just a game, it is an experience that is very well worth having. The flawless balance of all of the parts making up the game is truly astonishing, and makes for possibly one of the best games we'll be getting this year.