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Bioshock Infinite - A Review


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This section of the Den has been dead for almost a year now so I thought I might try to revive it.

 

Fair warning: I'll try to keep the review itself light on spoilers but some parts with heavy spoilers will have spoiler tags around them. So be warned.

 

Story:

Booker DeWitt is sent to the floating city of Columbia to rescue a woman named Elizabeth from imprisonment and bring her to New York to wipe away his gambling debt. Columbia itself is a Utopian society built around American patriotism and a reverence for the Founding Fathers and the principals of early America. Racism is rampant throughout Columbia. Non-whites and the poor suffer a terrible quality of life and unfair work conditions. The city is ruled by its "prophet" Father Comstock, whose rule over Columbia is built on a house of lies. Not only that, he keeps Elizabeth locked away in a tower so that he can indoctrinate her into taking over Columbia after his passing.

 

Almost immediately upon his arrival Booker is identified as a false prophet that is said to lead Elizabeth astray and he is soon targeted by all of Columbia. Despite this, he manages to free Elizabeth from captivity and discovers she has the amazing ability to open tears in reality and even journey to alternate universes.

 

Gameplay:

I'm just gonna say it: I'm terrible at first-person shooters. However, I had little trouble playing through Bioshock Infinite. A lot can be said about its accessibility. This is either good or bad depending on how you view things.

 

First, there's almost no penalty for dying. If you're killed, you're brought back where you were with half your health and a little less money with the only downside being that some of the enemy's health is restored as well. Not that it's particularly hard to die. Along with a health bar, you also have a shield that depletes before your health does, and if you find cover long enough, your shield will quickly restore. More often than not, you'll emerge from a grueling gunfight with more than half of your health still intact.

 

In a fight you have a choice of three modes of combat: guns, Vigors, or melee. Vigors are special powers such as manipulation or electric shock. I'm sure a better player could make good use of them, but I found that when I was in combat, it was a lot less complicated to shoot at the enemies instead of going through a menu of 8 different abilities. And you're only allowed two weapons at a time, which served to only stifle my combat. My personal favorite weapon was the carbine and I always need to have a sniper rifle on hand, meaning I almost never changed weapons, and Elizabeth's ability to find ammo in combat didn't make me want to. More on that below.

 

During combat, Elizabeth will scour the area for anything you might need in the moment such as ammo, med kits, or Salts. Along with this, Elizabeth can open tears in time that give you various objects like weapons and decoys to help you. While this was appreciated, I couldn't help but feel almost god-like knowing I could discharge all of my ammo and Elizabeth will throw some my way shortly after.

 

I know that this might sound like a list of complaints, but that depends on your viewpoint. As a non-first-person shooter gamer, these various assists and minor penalties were very appreciated. However, for a player who prefers things hardcore, you should consider playing on hard mode. And if that isn't enough of a challenge, finishing the game on any difficulty will unlock "1999 Mode," an even more challenging difficulty level.

 

Some Observations:

I played Bioshock Infinite on a gaming PC at ultra high settings and it is gorgeous. I especially loved the glare that reflected off of the various surfaces and statues around the game.

 

The game rests heavily on Booker and Elizabeth's interactions and though I liked their back and forth and felt that it mostly succeeded, there wasn't much verbal communication that didn't have to do with the story. I could feel their bond getting closer the more Booker started to sympathize with her fate but I'd prefer a bit more light-hearted stuff aside from the few moments after you rescue her.

 

This is more of a minor nitpick on my end but the fact that you see everything through Booker's eyes really took me out of things sometimes. As Booker shows more concern for Elizabeth, he starts to open up more, yet the fact that he was just a disembodied voice without any hand gestures made it hard to feel the moment.

 

The voice acting was superb, particularly Elizabeth and Father Comstock's performance. The Lutece twins were always fun to listen to as well.

 

Spoilerific Odds-and-ends:

 

Throughout the game, you are teased with a potential showdown with Songbird, the machine that guarded Elizabeth in her tower. However, you never actually get the chance to fight him, which seems like a major missed opportunity. Why even bother with Songbird in the first place? They could have easily removed him from the game and still given us the same outcome.

 

Also, the various times you hopped to other realities was so poorly done. I could spend all day ranting about it but it would come off as rambling and incoherent. Thankfully most of the alternate dimension stuff was mostly at the end of the story so it didn't diminish things too much.

 

Another note is about the Vox Populi and racism. A lot of people claim that because the oppressed weren't violently abused or called the n word that they didn't have enough motivation to lead a resistance against Columbia. I happen to disagree. Though it might not have been communicated a ton in the story, the numerous voxophones that can easily be found throughout the game tell you everything you need to know about how Father Comstock and the citizens of Columbia feel about non-whites and the poor. Regardless, you pass the many places they are forced to live in and work at through your journey and that should be more than enough to make clear why they would want to revolt against their oppressors.

 

 

 

Grade: B

A solid story that drops the ball at the end, accessible gameplay for newbies, and an interesting world makes for a solid 10+ hour of entertainment.

 

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  • 1 month later...

I have to agree with you on that. It was oversll a good gane, and the first-person element didnt really impair my sucess in the game. Now, im no,1st-person expert, in fact im dead within a minute, but in Bioshock Infinite I had no trouble looking through a first person view. And I would give it an overall rating of a B+.

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