Review: BioShock Infinite (PC)

bioshock-infinite

It’s time to surface from the depths of the ocean, and head skywards to the lavish floating city of Columbia. This new world, a far cry from the unsettling Rapture, is just as peculiar as the underwater city. It’s clear from your first steps there’s something not quite right.

“Bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt”. It’s not much to go on as you, Booker DeWitt, find yourself propelled from a mysterious lighthouse into the clouds. As the skies clear the sight of Columbia is magnificent. Decorative buildings, vibrant gardens and gold statues of the Prophet Comstock are suspended in the sky, defying gravity and reality.

Your first steps in the city are jaw dropping. There’s been no civil war here, no damage done, everything seems so wonderful and perfect, all way ahead of its time. However, amidst the beauty something is odd. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but it’s clear that something large is at work here, hidden behind the lavishness of the city. The Prophet Comstock founder of Columbia is not all he seems. Nevertheless, you need to find the girl, Elizabeth.

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First steps in Columbia.

Elizabeth is the heart of BioShock Infinite. She’s innocent, trapped, and beautiful in her ways and yet she possess powers that no man could imagine – powers that should make us afraid of her. As you discover who she is, the secrets of Columbia and Comstock’s reign unravel themselves and everything becomes clear, all leading to one of the most ambiguous game endings in recent times.

Infinite’s story is one of the most well imagined plots I’ve ever followed. It’s captivating, dark and saddening at times, and at its finale it’s simply astonishing. There have been questions raised to whether the plot and tries too much, and there are issues with pacing, but overall the story alone makes Infinite the best game I’ve played this generation.

On par with the intriguing story is essentially how the game plays. As you fight your way through Columbia you’ll meet a variety of different foes from rifleman to the infamous handyman, with some even equipped with powerful vigors (which are basically plasmids).

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Here comes the Calvary. 

DeWitt, can equip two guns as well as have two vigors equipped. Your arsenal can consist of carbines, RPGs and sniper rifles. What’s more impressive is the vigors on off. Fancy setting a foe a light? Well you can by firing a burning fire ball. Or would you prefer to send a flock of murderous crows into the path of a group of infantry? With the vigors on offer everything is possible.

There’s so much diversity to the combat in terms of weapons, vigors and foes. To top it off each combat area feels like an open world. Given the scale of Columbia it only makes sense that you can take advantage of everything on offer.

When in combat, there’ll no doubt be many ways to tackle the situation. Skylines allow you to attack foes from above, as you literally whiz around buildings tops. Or you can ask for Elizabeth’s help. She can bring objects into the world, through tears, which can aid you in battle, from medical supplies to fixed machine guns.

Tears, which Elizabeth can open, are pathways into other worlds – they allow you to travel through time and space. Throughout Infinite they’ll be an important aspect to combat by giving each battle a sense of strategy. More importantly they play a large role in the overall story. By mixing guns, vigors, tears and open world exploration you’ll find the combat to be extremely good fun, with near limitless possibilities.

Infinite doesn’t disappoint with its visuals either. Running on the PC the game looks wonderful, even at low quality. The sight of the suspended city is remarkable. The environments are diverse and vibrant with sharp textures and some excellent lighting. The same can be said for the characters of Infinite too. Elizabeth, for example, is captured to near perfection. Her movements and facial expressions are so life like. It’s easy to pick up on her emotions from simply staring into her eyes. Sadly, Infinite does suffer from frame rate issues. These dips only really occur during combat when there’s a lot of screen. Apart from this the game remains smooth.

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This shouldn’t be possible.

As with the first BioShock the idea of immersion is strong in Infinite  Although not as atmospheric as Rapture, Columbia remains to be just as immersible with the use of culture. With no civil war within Columbia everywhere is bustling with activity. A thriving happy population, corn dog stands and fun fairs give Columbia a real sense of community – it’s easy to lose yourself here. Exploring off the beaten path rewards the players with a better insight into Columbia, this can be by either collecting audio recollections or by simply engaging with Columbia’s residents and propaganda promotions.

Pros/+

  • Engaging and ambioguous plot
  • Visually stunning
  • Vigors and fun to play around with
  • Open world styles combat areas

Cons/-

  • Pacing issues
  • Some frame rate problems

BioShock Infinite is personally my game of this generation. Visually it’s stunning and a joy to play, but where Infinite really shines is the story it has to offer. It’s engaging and hugely ambiguous, and has a plot which leaves you swept up in its ideas long after the game has finished.

9/10

 

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