The lights are on
"Irrational takes a legendary name to the skies..."
PS3, Xbox 360, PC
First Person Shooter
Back when the first Bioshock launched in 2008, it was quickly recognized as one of the greatest and most influential games of the generation, its name still holding up today. I too, consider Bioshock perhaps one of the greatest first person shooters ever create, thanks to its dark and highly original location of Rapture, the big daddies, and the excellent and innovative combat. Fast forward to 2013, the last year of this current generation, and Irrational Games seeks out to provide yet another achievement seen in gaming history. Do they succeed with something better then the first Bioshock? Or do they fall behind and craft something that is only just great. Lets find out.
Perhaps one of the greatest concepts I ever seen, even rivaling the first Bioshock, Bioshock Infinite delivers. Irrational games yet again blows us away with the brand new beautiful city in the sky known as Columbia. Representing an alternate America, Columbia comes off as a more impressionable world then the first Bioshock's rapture, with art style that Adam Sessler stated in his review "numbing" which I whole heartedly agree. Columbia is perhaps one of the greatest locations ever created in the boundaries of the game world, and its inhabitants and products of destruction (the vigores) are ever bit as memorable. From the intimidating and daunting Song Bird, to the Handymen, to the George Washington mechs, Bioshock Infinite boasts a much broader variation of spectacular foes over then the first Bioshock's small number. The vigors, which are this games iteration of Plasmids, provide just as much as fun and variation as the first Bioshock's, and also giving opportunities that allow for combat never before seen in gaming. From murderous crows you dispatch from your hands, to possession to the ultra fun shock jockey, all these vigores are upgrade-able, and in the later stages of the game, can reach levels of devastation so high, you will forget your sense of maturity and will feel like a 5 year old again pretending to be a super hero. And let me mention again that the city of Columbia is just gorgeous.
Bioshock is one of the greatest universes created, and Bioshock Infinite just adds to that, making what was already great, even that much greater.
Bioshock Infinite handles very well, on the line with triple-a shooters such as Battlefield 3. Players will have the smoothest controls, and the aiming reticule is one of the best I have had in a game. You can literally play the whole game without ever using iron sights once, just to give you an idea. Sky hook controls handle well enough for such as complex gaming system, and navigation is as simple as any other first person shooter: Walk forward and shoot straight. Searching and looting items from around the game world is as easy as pressing two buttons. The game also provides a very handy directional arrow that shows up drawn on the ground at any time with the press of a button, which acts very similar to the locater system seen in the Dead Space games. Everything works how it should, no gripes here.
Although quite lengthy at around 12 to 14 hours on hard difficulty, Bioshock Infinite comes up rather bare when it comes to amount of additional content. There are side quests, but I will admit I found none of them engaging, all of them pretty much consisting of fetch quests that task you with finding a code or some item. Its needless and the reward is never worth the bother. The game comes with no multiplayer, so I can't judge there, but it does help high-light the flaws of the actual structure of the single player experience: It is primarily a shooting game, rather then a promised revolutionary feat in story telling. The game has you engaging in non-stop huge scale battles that stretch 15 minutes every time, within intervals or 5 minutes at some occasions. Alot of this could of been cut to fit in more story. The excessive combat dilutes the story experience. Yes, I know this is a video game and not a movie, but I have seen games that can do it right, a prime example being Red Dead Redemption, which feels like a game, one of the best ever, but also provides one of the greatest story experiences ever made. Bioshock Infinite does have innovative gameplay, but like a firework show, its cool and fun for just so long before you say "This is pretty much the same thing, I've had enough."
After the half way point in the game, I found myself dreading another combat scenario. After the first few, the combat situations you are pitted in, all give a hearty challenge, but at the consistency that Bioshock Infinite gives... I almost found myself screaming for some of the excellent story that Bioshock is known for. I recognize the fact that it is a shooter, but the developers at Irrational could have cut out many unnecessary combat stretches, and filled those cut spaces with more story and we would have still been easily as satisfied.
Infinite's story is the strongest part of the experience, however it is weak in amount. By now, we all know the story, Booker Dewitt has to pay off a debt, and to do that he attempts to take an extraordinary girl by the name of Elizabeth away from the oppressive grip of Columbia. Up until the end, with the exception of the legitimate charisma exchanged between Booker and Elizabeth, and some of the surrounding mystery and intrigue, alot of the story is actually filler, and mediocre at that. Certain aspects of the story are excellent, like the mystery of Booker being the "false shepard" and Elizabeth's mysterious powers. Comstock I felt, was a great antagonist, and the hidden details hidden in the voxophones and the kinectograms I felt were all intriguing. The story can also be hard to follow and very complex at times, a most notable example of when the "tears" are introduced. But a good chunk of the story I felt was filler to stretch a story past spaces where I felt the developer couldn't think of anything creative to put in, so they force us to undergo monotonous tasks by the likes running across the whole world of Columbia to find find one vigor, or chase after a gun smith across multiple dimensions just to obtain some guns.
I mean seriously, it feels stretched at many times, one thing that was supposed to lead to another, pretty much leads us into a deeper pit of nothing. Its almost nauseating. And it doesn't help the fact that throughout all of this you are fighting monumental scaled battles just to carry out these meager tasks that, only to receive meager rewards. But the ending makes it all make sense, well sort of. The ending, I felt, was brilliant, a little rushed, but overall brilliant in its thought. You will not guess the ending, never in a million years, its that smart. It makes the narrative seem more complex, and it is very smart indeed. It will have you thinking about it for at least two days after finishing. Hell, it even made me give the first Bioshock's story a second thought. That is how deep it goes.
Overall, I felt the story of Bioshock Infinite is a smart one. Bioshock Infinite is a better story telling experience then the first Bioshock, but it could have been something better. And as for the much hyped relationship of Booker and Elizabeth, I felt that aspect was lacking also. The two never really interacted enough for their relationship to flourish, myself counting about six notable moments all-together. But in the end, Bioshock Infinite is a rewarding experience, but Generation Defining? I don't think so.
Gameplay Features and Variety:
Bioshock Infinite does offer some of the greatest combat gameplay I ever experienced in a game, like I stated earlier in this review, it returns you to your former child. Its actually a step up from the first Bioshock, implementing innovation that allow for opportunities of increased strategy. Two new additions are added to the standard Bioshock formula. These additions are the Sky Line system and the Tears, both wonderful additions. In the early hours when combat is first unveiled, combat is a rush. You feel like you have a whole battlefield that you can manipulate at your own control. How will you go about defeating this batch of enemies? Will you posses that patriot across the map to gun down some of the enemies, then leap to the Sky Line and take most of the rest from above, before leaping down and finishing the last with a flock of angry killer crows? Or will you take the traditional route of gunning your way through, taking cover at the necessary times, opening tears of cover or health. There is alot you can do, and it is fun for some time, but like I have already stressed, the combat gets so ridiculous (that part is good), but so frequent, that you start to dread it and find yourself just trying to get through things as fast as possible. Yes, there is alot of variety, but the number of combat scenarios could have been easily cut by 30 percent and we would have still been able have the same experience.
One cool thing, but ultimately worthless, is how the player can outfit Booker with clothing pieces that grant increased abilities, which are cool at most, but never really become too useful. Exploration is enhanced slightly this time around, as in many areas you will find buildings and rooms that hold many goodies and can be accessed with Elizabeth's lock picking skills. Outside of this, you are either pretty much running around and searching loose containers for supplies, or shooting your way through eight hundred and fifty waves of enemies at a time. At the surface, this look great, but once you get in deeper, the same tricks becomes predictable and almost exhausting .
Elizabeth. Nuff' said. She is one of the greatest (and beautiful I may say) female characters created in game, I liked her alot and was intrigued to see everything she did. Ever second she had on screen I had devoted my fullest attention to. She is great, but isn't used enough. The world of Columbia is almost just as good of a highlight, as it is stunning and elegant to the fullest degree, offering one of the most unforgettable locations for gaming. The ending itself is what makes the game (next to Columbia and Elizabeth), because it makes everything that seemed to have no worth, actually feel like it did have worth in the end.
Bioshock Infinite is one of the most beautiful, and stunning games I have ever laid eyes on. Combing the highly original and dazzling art style, along with the beautiful graphics, the world of Columbia literally comes to life. Detail hides behind every corner. Something worth seeing awaits in every direction. Its a very breath taking and immersive experience. Bioshock Infinite has some of the greatest art direction and graphical beauty I ever ever seen in a game, no exaggeration there.
Bioshock Infinite is NOT a generation defining moment. But despite this, it is a game well worth playing, offering one of the greatest worlds' to explore, and telling a very smart story that will stick with you. It doesn't afflict you emotionally (other then amaze and awe in the initial moments of the game), it doesn't really give you enough reasons to feel for the main character, much less care about anybody other than Elizabeth. Bioshock Infinite does do, is it makes you think. It tells a very smart story that would otherwise be much less if not for its ending. Is it disappointing because of this? Not in the least, even if your expecting some masterpiece it was praised to be. It is a great experience hands down, and one of the better games of this year. It defiantly does deserve to share the name of Bioshock, and belongs in the universe. And in some ways, Bioshock Infinite is art. It truly is. But I do feel like its over hyped. It isn't this overly amazing, masterpiece of today's generation, but it is great, and I guarantee, most of anybody who plays it to the end, will no doubt, leave impressed.
The Good Stuff:
++ The city of Columbia is one of the greatest locations for game.
+ Elizabeth is one of the best female characters ever created.
+ A very smart story
+ Highly Original
+ Amazing Art Direction
+ Combat is superb
The Bad Stuff:
- Alot of the game is stretched with overly excessive and unnecessary combat sequences that dilute the story.
- Not much gameplay variety outside of combat and item searching.
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