- Making me cry...
Irrational Games really had some work to do when they started developing Bioshock Infinite. When Bioshock was released all the way back in 2007, it was met with critical acclaim across the board. Not only did Bioshock Infinite have to compete with that, but it would try to surpass it. Rapture was one of the most atmospherically perfect settings that exists in the gaming world today. Since Infinite was breaking away from this, they had to create a new world that would instill the same awe and wonderment in the gamer that Rapture did. Irrational had to take everything they had done in their previous game, improve upon it and return it in the best possible state. They really shot for the stars with this one, and they hit it in every way, shape, and form possible.
The first 20 or so minutes of Bioshock Infinite (after the initial opening sequence) have one goal and one goal only; to get you introduced to the beautiful world of Colombia. Colombia is a glorious skyborn city that floats above the clouds off the coast of Maine. Well, a city can still be beautiful if it supports racism, has a “prophet” as its sole dictator and has a giant statue of John Wilkes Booth…right? Yeah, I am going to go with a hell yeah on that one. When you first break through those clouds and see the shining city, there are no words to describe it. You just wanna get into things and walk around…which is an experience in itself. From the first walk through the church shrine to navigating the various streets, there’s always something amazing to occupy your time. Even in those sequences where you are not shooting up the various hordes of enemies who want you dead, you can still have fun browsing the environment which is full of different takes on the American history that we know so well. While I do think that Colombia falls a bit short when you compare it to the behemoth of Rapture, it’s still a wonderfully crafted environment and a great setting for Bioshock Infinite.
After a while, I started to wonder when they were finally going to put a gun in my hand and let me murder some seemingly innocent people. While wandering around and exploring Colombia was a worthwhile experience, I wanted to spill some blood. Oh damn, do they let you spill blood. The first combat scene in the game lets you brutally destroy someone’s face by shoving a rotating blade into it. Next, you quickly learn that finishing off enemies with melee involves you either blasting them away after you destroy their innards, breaking their neck, or cutting their head clean off. One word to describe all this: Awesome…..and that’s just the melee. The combat is much better than anything you experience in Bioshock 1, which was a feat in itself. While there are some issues with bad level design when it comes to the various gun sequences, the actual shooting is actually very enjoyable. Unlike in Bioshock, where you would confront enemies in a relatively confined space, there are more open area shootouts where you must strategically take out enemies to preserve ammo and your life. Combine that with the fact that you can only carry two guns with you at one time and you quickly learn that specialization is key to having a successful play through. Personally, I decided to take a basic approach and rock the carbine and hand cannon for most of the game, sprinkling a sniper rifle in there at times. The shooting mechanics were much more “modernized” in Bioshock Infinite, which actually improved the gameplay quite a bit.
To add with this improved gameplay, Irrational decided to give us Elizabeth. While Elizabeth is mighty fine to look at (even more so when she puts on her second costume), she serves an integral part in grasping success while you take on a pool of baddies. Elizabeth is by far the best NPC partner I have ever had in a game (though I am only used to those of Sheva and Ashley fame…). Her main purpose is to gather supplies, mainly ammo, salts (Infinite‘s replacement for EVE) and health. If you are low on carbine ammo, she will generally supply you with that. Have only a sliver of health? Elizabeth is on it, giving you a giant health pack at her next convenience Did you just waste all your salt throwing shock jockey traps? Don’t worry about it. Elizabeth will have your bar replenished in no time. She does what you want to be done in a pretty timely fashion. That’s all we wanted, game developers. We just wanted an NPC partner who makes the game better. Elizabeth definitely delivers in this aspect. Not to mention the fact that this genuinely makes you care about her. And that’s without all the awesome story telling that happens during the cutscenes. Did I mention storytelling? No? I better get to that.
While the gameplay is massively improved when compared to the original Bioshock, Infinite still manages to make the most impact when it comes to story. The storytelling in Bioshock Infinite is near perfect and makes you care about both Booker and Elizabeth as if they were your friends in real life. While most of the story elements throughout the main campaign seem just like any other search and rescue mission you encountered in all those other games you played (besides the fact that Booker and Elizabeth are awesome characters), the ending is where Bioshock Infinite really sticks it to you. Since I am not going to spoil anything to you, just go ahead and imagine this. You are sitting there on a warm summers day… you are on a farm – don’t ask why, you just are – there is a watermelon sitting on a tree stump. You are staring at the watermelon for 60 minutes and then all of a sudden, the watermelon is smashed by a giant hammer into a billion tiny little splashes of watermelon slush. That, my silly little friends, is what my brain did while I was watching the final scene in Bioshock Infinite. Interpret that in any way you will, but it just adds to the fact that the story was fantastic. Hell, that is by far the biggest talking point when it comes to Infinite as well. Please, just buy the game and finish it for that ending.
It’s pretty hard to find bad things to say about Bioshock Infinite, so I am going to have to stretch to get some. You ready? A lot of the battle are pretty poorly developed. They will put you in a situation where you can barely see enemies, where the only real way out is to take a sniper rifle and give them a headshot. While most of these examples are relatively late in the game, it is definitely worth noting. Another “bad” thing about the game would be that you can only hold two weapons. Maybe it is just the veteran Bioshock player inside of me talking, but I very much enjoyed when I could readily switch between any weapon. This would be a lot harder since there are so many various weapons throughout Infinite, but that was definitely something I missed. Especially when you consider that you are able to do that in the PC version of the game (I played on my ol’ trusty PS3). Lastly, one might be able to call the graphics a bit dated. While the environment is beautifully made, some of the facial animations and graphics fall a bit short. Not that that has been something Irrational has strived for in the past, of course.
Overall, I would go as far to say that Bioshock Infinite is a damn near perfect game. Bioshock was my previous favorite game of all time, and now the title has been passed onto Bioshock Infinite. Whether it is the journey through Colombia, the sense of companionship you feel towards Booker and Elizabeth or the amazing twist at the end, Bioshock Infinite is the full package when it comes to a video game. As I said in the beginning of the review, Irrational had to shoot for the stars when they were developing this game. They hit every single one of those stars with a giant headshot and 50 extra bonus points (that may not make sense to some people, so to clarify they did an amazing job). If you haven’t picked up Bioshock Infinite yet, please….for the love of all that is good go and get it now. You will not regret it.