Bioshock Infinite has been highly anticipated since it was first teased. It takes the setting of the original games and raises expectation massively. A wildly different setting as the game moves from Rapture, deep under the ocean, to Columbia way up in the clouds. Yet Ken Levine seems to be able to work his magic to produce another special game.
The original Bioshock and its subsequent follow up were without a shadow of a doubt standout games during the 360 and PS3 era of gaming. They brought about some amazing visuals, tense atmosphere and even a little controversy with the moral decisions that had to be made. On the surface Bioshock Infinite looks at first glance a much more open and bright affair, however a lot of the themes from the earlier games remain.
The last thing we want to do at Gamestyle is ruin the story, we don’t do that. What we will tell you though is as per the original games, the story is told within the gameplay, via a natural narrative as you progress, as well as various recordings you will find along the way that will flesh out back-story for the main arc and the various citizens of Columbia. Nothing seems forced, yet the writing comes across really well and you do follow the plot with ease, despite it not being a cut-scene heavy game. The writers and the developers trust the user’s intelligence and that shines through.
Moving from Rapture, to Columbia allows the game to have a hugely different visual style. Rapture was dark, dank, yet beautiful. The Art Deco theme came across really well. Being set in a city built underwater allowed for some smoke and mirror tricks, yet in Columbia the game is set in the sky, there aren’t as many opportunities to close in the walls and use those tricks. Everything is vast and you can see for miles, as parts of the City move around to merge with other parts, it just feels alive. It can be very easy to forget what you were meant to be doing and just go off exploring. Not because you feel you have to, but just because you want to take in all the amazing sights around as once again the artists manage to take a style from an era and somehow infuse it with an alternate reality. It just has to be seen to be appreciated.
In fact, Bioshock Infinite is just full of ‘WOW’ moments, whether that be from the visuals as you uncover new areas of Columbia, or from the various new things you encounter in the gameplay. This starts right from the very beginning, the moment you arrive. There is a page taken out of the Half Life playbook here, as you are guided, while still in control the the very first firefight. Everything is nice and calm, you’re busy taking everything in, walking around in awe of your surroundings. Then it happens, all hell breaks loose and your world is flipped upside down. The game doesn’t let go, new powers are introduced, you are given the skyhook, new weapons and you enter a rollercoaster of action.
Bioshock Infinite is full of moments that leave you wide mouthed and gushing with excitement. It kind of drip feeds you new abilities and weapons as you progress through the opening levels. The first time you use your skyhook to escape danger, or use it to open up an enemies face in melee is something you will absolutely love. Attaching to a Sky-Line for the first time and being taken on a ride is completely exhilarating. Everything just feels so much faster and more exciting than the original games. Yet at the same time, it has that Bioshock feel, it is Bioshock, just with added flavour.
As previously mentioned the story is told on the fly and filled out with recordings and videos you can find on your travels. The two main characters, Dewitt and Elizabeth have an excellent on screen relationship and the conversations that happen between the two throughout the game will not only move the narrative along, but have you listening intently, simply because of the chemistry between them. It is a relationship that grows in a very natural way and one you feel invested in from the very first time they meet. You immediately feel a responsibility for Elizabeth, which shows the power of the writing here.
The combat in Bioshock Infinite doesn’t add anything new as such. You still have your powers from vigour, with each having a unique ability, whether that be the power of possession, the ability to destroy with fire and more. You still need to manage your powers too, by collecting ‘salts’, with some powers using more salt than others. The best thing though is that you start to feel like a god, seeing the bad guys go up in flames, or turning a turret against your foes doesn’t get old.
The gunplay again offers nothing really new. It isn’t trying to be a realistic shooter, despite being a FPS at heart. Aiming is simple and whilst you may find yourself spraying bullets from time to time, you will quickly get the hang of hitting your targets.
One of the things that really stood out from the Bioshock games was the ability to loot the bodies of your victims, cash registers, desks, trash cans, etc. This hasn’t been forgotten in Infinite and you will be loading up on cash, health and more as you mop up after a battle. There is something satisfying about games that let you loot, being rewarded for your successes and here is no exception, you will get a great feeling finding all the goodies on the body of a slaughtered enemy.
Elizabeth, despite needing to be saved, isn’t a hindrance on your journey, if anything she is quite the opposite. She has the ability to pick locks, as long as you can find the lockpicks for her to do it and during battles she will offer you additional health and ammo. This comes in vital when being pinned down by enemies and seeing your supplies dwindle away.
Bioshock Infinite had some great expectations and all too often we have seen other games fail to live up to the hype. Ken Levine has talked a great game in the months building up to the release and the truth is, he has delivered and delivered big time. Bioshock Infinite does nothing new, it isn’t the second coming, but what it does do is play a wonderful game that you will easily lose yourself in and at the end of the day, that is why we play games, to escape reality and to be wowed. That is exactly what this game does!