When the original “Bioshock” came out it was heralded as a new stepping stone in gaming. When “Bioshock Infinite” was announced 2 years ago, audiences debated whether lightning could ever strike twice. After multiple delays and months of anticipation, I am happy to say that the game delivers in places I didn't expect it to.

The floating city of Columbia is the setting of our newest game, and Irrational didn't disappoint anyone with their ability to flesh out an environment. Every street was filled with character, as well as every individual you meet. Walking through the 1912 floating utopia felt like experiencing Main Street in Disney World. Fireworks filled the sky, cotton candy vendors lined the sidewalks, and barbershop quartets hummed songs by The Beach Boys as couples danced together to the tune. Despite the apparent benevolence to the beautiful and colorful city, just like any theme park one who pays attention can see much of the artificiality to their surroundings. Whispers of revolution can be heard by the trained ear, and the trained eye can see racism, segregation, and devout patriotism to the point of being synonymous with religion. The world is immersive and encourages exploration in many creative ways.

The most important character isn't the protagonist, the hired gun Booker Dewitt, but rather the girl that he is after: Elizabeth. As you rescue Elizabeth from her literal guarded tower, your connection with her and her experiences with this world inform the entire plot for the story. She is incredibly well written and designed, and it is incredibly difficult not to get attached to her intelligent, yet not worldly, personality. She is reminiscent of Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” except if the beast had successfully held her prisoner on less romantic terms. While the game literally is one giant escort mission, it never becomes a problem since enemies do not fire at her. Other characters stood out equally well creating a compelling narrative with indirect dialogue rather than fed exposition, like the villainous prophet Comstock, and my personal favorite characters: Robert and Rosalind Lutece, two enigmatic scientists who follow you throughout the game supplying you with advice and philosophy.

The gameplay is hardly different than the original “Bioshock” gameplay-wise, and instead is simply tweaked and improved with a few added mechanics. Elizabeth can add an element into the battlefield, like cover or items, and will even find you money when you are around shops. Using the rail system to flit from cover to cover and even ambush enemies is incredibly exciting. The vigors, magic powers similar to plasmids in “Bioshock,” are little more than cute gimmicks on their own but can be used in combination to create strategic advantages in ways that prove extremely thoughtful design. All of these options paired with diverse enemy design creates many varied battle experiences, keeping the game interesting over multiple playthroughs. Taking this into account, it is unfortunate to note that thematically the violence doesn't do much from a narrative point of view, and even often detracts from the moment. The game is incredibly easy on the normal difficulty, and even on the hardest difficulty had only one or two points that presented a serious challenge. This, compounded with the fact that you only get two guns at once and that usually when you are low on health Elizabeth offers to bring you back to full, tends to lean the game more towards the casual side than otherwise. This wasn't a huge problem for me on “1999” mode, a special mode made for those who like the challenge inherent in many 90's shooters.

It is impossible to fully describe the strengths and weaknesses of this game in anything short of thirty pages. There are so many facets to it, from the beautiful and affective in-game music, to the droves of little details that combine to total immersion, to the finale that was incredibly thought-provoking despite being far more bottom-heavy and expository than I would have liked. This game is far from perfect, philosophically and thematically it is not as important as the original “Bioshock,” was. The enemy design wasn't as good. The story wasn't as tight. The villain wasn't as captivating. The city was beautiful, but didn't consistantly put you in awe the same way Rapture did. Despite all this, this is a fun game, as fun if not more so than it's predecessor ever was. I whole heartedly suggest Atmospheric FPS fans to play the game as soon as they can, because while it probably won't be heralded as a new age of gaming the same way “Bioshock” was, it certainly will be talked about and enjoyed for years to come.