With expectations high, gamers anxiously awaited this year’s most talked about release, Bioshock Infinite. Since release of the original Bioshock, 2K and Irrational Games banded together to bring there most recent title of a city not immersed in the sea but suspended in the sky. The fresh new setting and storyline based around the same characteristics of “utopian” societies, brings fans and newcomers an experience that will not only tantalize there mind but make them question reality itself.
Set in the year 1912, you take control of Booker DeWitt, a middle-aged man sent on a mission to retrieve a girl by the name of Elizabeth in order to settle a personal debt. To locate the girl, Booker finds himself launched into the sky, arriving at an airborne city named Columbia, also referred to by its residents as “Heaven.” Booker soon realizes that Columbia is no Heaven at all. Led by a prophet named Father Comstock, the city controlled by the upper class known as the “founders” has been warned of Booker’s arrival and will stop at nothing to make him feel anything but welcomed.
As Booker travels using the innovative Skyline to obtain Elizabeth, out run the infamous Songbird, and return home, he is faced with enemies unlike any other. Brought up to battle against the founders, mechanically altered assailants, and even time and reality, Booker fights for freedom with Elizabeth’s assistance at his side. The game presents an absolutely unique storyline based around mind shattering plot twists and an emotional connection to the characters that will make you not want to put your controller down until Booker’s mission is complete.
As if the story itself is not enough to make you want to play, no corners were cut when combining the glorious color palette and lighting effect to create this visual masterpiece. From the first glimpse of Columbia, players will be in awe by the stunning visuals presented at every moment. Though a bit more bright and colorful then prior titles, there is no lack of imagination in building this city in the sky. Even with its cheerful demeanor, you will notice this game series has not lost its taste for gory scenes and bizarre concepts. With a new means of travel called the Skylines players will use the skyhook to explore as well as move from area to area giving the feeling of an open-world concept when in fact, the path is at most times preset. Along with the perfect visual depiction of circa 1912, the whimsical music from the early 1900s ties everything together in perfect harmony.
While players admire their surroundings, you’re presented with opportunities to interact with countless objects and people through-out the game. Bioshock Infinite is not the type of game you can expect to charge right through. Players should take their time to open every box, interact with many things from carnival booths to museum displays, and listen in on people conversations to really get immersed in the story. Not only will searching each area help develop the story, but also find helpful things. From an apple for health to money scattered under an arcade game, helpful things are placed in ever y nook and cranny around Columbia. While you scrutinize each area for new things, be on constant look out for the game’s collectables that also help to make the story more intriguing.
Known as plasmids in previous titles, Bioshock Infinite continues to play off the use of genetically alternating compounds known as Vigors. Used in the same manner as before, players will be able to take on their enemies with the use of some new and some familiar powers. You will also be able to fight your enemies with guns just as before only this time, you will not be carrying around a full armory. Players will be limited to carrying two guns making battle more challenging and strategic and more focus being put towards using your Vigors. A new execution feature has been added so players can use their travel skyhook to administer a lethal and bloody final blow.
It’s not just the scenery and story that gives you the connection to the game but the characters as well. With one of the best voice acting experiences I have ever encountered, the repartee between Booker and Elizabeth invokes a powerful emotional connection. Not only will you find yourself rooting for Booker’s success, but you will do everything in your power to keep Elizabeth safe. Much to our surprise, Elizabeth is not your typical escort mission. Unlike Bioshock 2 where you were forced to escort vulnerable Little Sisters to safety, Elizabeth is a self-sufficient character, willing to lend a helping hand during battle. Tossing you things like ammo and health when you are running low, she is one escort, you will be thankful to have around.
In addition to the standard array of difficulties, Bioshock Infinite presents an additional play mode titled 1999 Mode. Playable only after you’ve beaten the game, this extremely difficult mode allows you to venture through the story while making crucial decisions along the way. In order to survive, every choice you make should be properly planned out and seen as essential to your mission. The purpose behind including this mode was to allow players to be more aware of the choices they are making and to be sure they are effectively upgrading to survive what lies ahead. Without effective decision making and strategically thought out tactics, you might find yourself restarting your journey through 1999 mode more than once.
From water to air, Bioshock Infinite is a clear example that changing up the scenery is not always a bad thing. Ken Levine and his team at Irrational Games offer a whole new experience with the same great concepts that will easily steal your heart. With illuminating graphics, an emotional connection between characters and player, and an unforgettable storyline that rivals its predecessors, Bioshock Infinite is one of the must-have games of the year.
Editor’s Note: Bioshock Infinite was reviewed using a Xbox 360 copy of the game. If further investigation reveals any differences between the PlayStation 3, Wii U and Xbox 360 version, this review will be updated accordingly.