The lights are on
Concept: The developer of the original Bioshock returns to continue the series legacy with a fantastic entry that is exemplary of art.
Graphics: Aside from slightly muddy textures from up-close, this game is gorgeous.
Sound: The original score is very fitting and the sound effects are great. There are also a few songs you might recognize. Additionally, this is some of the best voice acting I have ever heard.
Playability: The controls are responsive and well-mapped. You won't have any problems in this aspect.
Entertainment: The world of Columbia grips you during the whole experience and the combat is very different from anything since the first Bioshock.
Replay Value: High
"A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad." These words come from the industry-god Shigeru Miyamoto. As my time with Bioshock Infinite continued, I thought of this quote. With over five years of development time and three delays, Infinite shows us what can be accomplished if you pour time and effort into a game. Be it the jaw-dropping world, unpredictable and intriguing story, or the great gameplay, Infinite makes you want to play more. Irrational Games has done it again; they have given us an experience that any gamer, young or old, must partake in.
In the game, the player controls a middle-aged man from New York named Booker Dewitt. I'll try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but he ends up in a city in the sky known as Columbia. Columbia is a beautiful, awe-inspiring city with amazingly-rendered clouds, ships, buildings, and more. No matter where you go in the city, there is something to do. Kids singing, women conversing; there is a lot to uncover in the world. Something else that fuels this sense of exploration is that there are many secrets in the world. For example, within the first hour of the game, right after the action starts, you get a side-quest that tasks you with finding the key to a chest. If you neglect to do it, then you'll be fine, but if you take the time to complete it, you gain a reward. These secrets are numerous in the world, as I found at least 25 of them in my twelve-hour journey.
The gameplay is also something that was executed particularly well. You can carry two guns at a time, which forces you to constantly make decisions that shape your strategy, and you have a melee device called the Skyhook that also is the basis of the platforming sections. The platforming is simple, as you just look at something that you can hook onto with the Skyhook and press A. There is nothing horrible about it. To add even more depth to the combat, you can perform executions with the Skyhook that are brutal and can offer bonuses to your character. Plasmids are back, but under a new name, Vigors. They essentially are the same in both execution and effect. Additionally, you can outfit your character with Gear items that offer boosts to your character. Despite all of this, you never feel like a One Man Army. The difficulty increases as you go. For my review, I played through the game once on Normal, and half-way on 1999 Mode, a difficulty level that you can't change as you play, and in it your resources are restricted, along with enemies being better. You will die, no matter what difficulty you play on, but you are punished very little if that does happen. If it does, then you lose around $20, which is nothing when you have around $2000, and your enemies gain some health again. Still, you gain health and ammo as well. At no point was I frustrated over the difficulty, and the great gameplay made it easy to adjust to my enemies.
Elizabeth is another prominent character in the game, and she is easily the best AI anything I have ever encountered in a video game. Her animations are life-like, as well as her voice acting. She showcases actual human emotions, and she does things that normal humans would do. For example, I was walking though a casino once, and she just immediately wemt over to a slot machine. Shortly after that, she started to talking to some people, and then after that, she started to look at a new game coming out (there was also an easter egg here referencing the delays that Bioshock Infinite went through). In combat, she looked frightened, and whenever she was waiting for me so that we could continue on in our quiet, she would lean against a wall while looking bored. Irrational did such an amazing job that by the end of the game, I cared for Elizabeth. I didn't want her to be harmed or anything like that. For a character that I as a player have no opportunity to change to mean something to me, that's amazing. It's never happened before in my gaming career. Elizabeth is such a well made and fleshed-out character that she made me excited for what lies ahead in the future of gaming.
Despite all of this, the best part of the game is it's story. The story envelopes the whole experieence, as something is always happening. This drew me into the game like few have before. I was always paying attention to what was happening on screen, and at no point during my twelve-hour playthrough did it feel like the content was filler to lengthen the game. The pacing was so good that I thought every step of the way that something was about to happen. Something else worth noting is that the game seamlessly transitions from story segments to gameplay segments better than any other game ever has. This caused me to not only think that I was always taking in story, but also make me feel like I was always playing, as well as keeping me immersed in the experience. Fans of the first Bioshock might be expecting a twist, and while I'll avoid specifics, I will say this: It is there and it comes when you least expect it. It's absolutely awesome and makes you want to want to play the game immediately after the credits (stay tuned until after the credits, though). It may be confusing to some, but I advise that you replay the game, as it soon makes a lot of sense. The twist isn't all there is. Like I pointed out earlier, the story is so good that you care for some characters, want to kill others, and want to stay away from some. To illustrate that, at one point in the game, I had to rescue a character. I had become so attached to them that when I shot my semi-auto rifle that I was holding, I instinctively pressed RT (the button to shoot) faster than I had before. It's been a while since I have felt emotions towards the characters in a game, but few do it as good as Infinite. The narrative also effectively gets players to rethink choices in their own lives. To get the most out of the game's message, I advise you listen to the people around town and look at objects around Columbia with every chance you get. This isn't a game where you can just plow through it and get an awesome experience. If you take your time and observe, then you, like me, might realize that Bioshock Infinite has one of the most gripping aand well-told stories in gaming history.
Much like it's predecessor, Bioshock Infinite is one of the best examples of why video games can be a form of art. The game conveys a strong, creative story that makes players feel as if they are in the world, and its clear that Ken Levine and his team used Infinite as a form of expression. I very much believe that Infinite will be talked about as much as Bioshock. Much like that game, Infinite offers a mature experience that is interesting and thought-provoking, and quite frankly, it just reminds you of why gaming is awesome. If you have a machine that can run it, then take advantage of that opportunity. Games this good only come around every now and then.