You may or may not have heard about this little-known indie title that recently came out, Bioshock Infinite. It hasn’t had much publicity and not many people have been … alright, enough of that. Bioshock Infinite is one of the biggest releases in recent memory and, as you may have guessed by the Big Daddy on my page’s background, I’m a huge fan of Bioshock. I’ll do my best to avoid any spoilers. The short version — if you have some kind of gaming vessel capable of playing this game, you have absolutely no reason not to do so.
- TL;DR: Epic visuals and mind blowing story. Truly one for the ages.
- Platform: Xbox 360
- Score: 9.5
- Hours Played: 15-20
- What I Played: Main campaign
- Recommended: Yes, yes, 1000 times yes
Bioshock Infinite takes place in 1912 in Columbia, a city in the clouds. You play as Booker Dewitt who is hired to rescue a girl by the name of Elizabeth. You don’t know anything about her, who hired you, or why. You are brought to a lighthouse on a rowboat and, upon reaching the top, are rocketed into the sky towards the city with that singular goal. Sound a little too fantastical for your taste? Trust me, stick with it and you’ll thank me.
Infinite plays like other Bioshock games. Your right hand is your gun hand, although this time you don’t have “infinite backpack syndrome”. You can only carry two guns at a time, but other guns are readily available through dead enemies and random locations.
Plasmids Vigors are accessed through your left hand. Some oldies return through different names, like Shock Jockey replacing Electro-Bolt and Devil’s Kiss replacing Incinerate, but there are also some new, pretty fun vigors. Bucking Bronco, for example, shoots a shockwave in front of you that will lift and suspend enemies in the air. You know what’s super fun? Lifting someone with Bucking Bronco and throwing Devil’s Kiss at them. The environment plays a factor as it did in games past — shocking a pool of water can deliver massive damage, as will lighting an oil spill on fire. One of the most apparent additions is a shielding system, which drains before your health takes any damage and will recharge if you get out of harm’s way long enough. You also have access to a skyhook, a metal contraption that lets you, and enemies, hook onto Columbia’s many skylines and zip around like a floating train. It’s also used when executing enemies (melee when nearly dead).
Early in the game, you will [SPOILER … kind of?] rescue Elizabeth, who will come along with you. Have you played Resident Evil 4 where you rescue the president’s daughter, Ashley, and she follows you for a bit? Remember how incredible stupid she was? Her penchant for running in front of your scoped-in gun right when you were about to shoot? Yeah, Elizabeth is the opposite of that. In one of the best moves in game design history, you are told in no uncertain terms that Elizabeth can handle herself during fights and you don’t have to worry about protecting her. Seriously — it’s put on the screen in huge letters. What a sigh of relief that was. Elizabeth will not only take care of herself, but even help you out by finding health, salt (Infinite’s eve), and ammo when you’re about to go belly up.
Bioshock Infinite is incredibly beautiful and deep. The first time I was able to control Booker in Columbia, I just stood there and looked around for a while. The lighting effects, the faces, the rippling water … everything is breathtaking. Cut-scenes are unconventional in that they aren’t cut-scenes in the normal way you’re expecting. Rather than abruptly stopping gameplay to show you a pre-rendered video, anything that would be a cut-scene is played out through normal gameplay. This helps build the immersion of the game. Instead of watching Booker and Elizabeth do something, you see it play out in front of you in first-person view and can see Elizabeth’s reactions. The general steampunk atmosphere and old-timey phonographs also help transport you back.
If you run through the game as fast as you can, you can finish it in about 12 hours. But, you’d be missing out on the half of the story that plays out through voxophones, collectible audio diaries left around for you to find. There are 80 of them in all. I’m not one for playing games with strategy guides, but I recommend looking up the voxophone locations as you play through the first time. There are so many little details and side stories that you’ll only hear from them that it’d be a shame not to. Doing so pushed my playthrough to about 20 hours.
You have to play Bioshock Infinite. The graphics, the story, the emotions, the gameplay… I wish there was a book or a movie so non-gamers could experience all there is in Columbia. There are so many seemingly disconnected storylines that come together so beautifully in the end that my first thought after seeing the credits was, “I need to start a new playthrough, right now”. Now, would you kindly excuse me while I do?