A city in the sky, floating, suspended in the air, a true Eden you might say where everyone is happy, everyone has faith, and more importantly, everyone knows their savior, the prophet, the one who will save them all from the false shepherd who only wants to stray the flock from the truth and the certainty of their lives and bring chaos and destruction upon their perfect Eden. This Eden is nothing other than Columbia.
Bioshock Infinite is Irrational Games’ latest (and long overdue) installment in the highly regarded Bioshock series, however unlike Bioshock 2, Bioshock Infinite is mostly developed by the same team that brought us the first Bioshock, spearheaded by Ken Levine who brought us the clusterfuck of a storyline that was the first Bioshock.
It’s 1912, you’re Booker Dewitt, a man with a simple mission, bring them the girl and wipe away the debt. On that note, Dewitt travels by sea to an island lighthouse by two seemingly off people, he goes in the lighthouse and continues to see messages from his employers all over the walls, “bring us the girl and wipe away the debt”, he then proceeds to enter a rocket silo which takes him into the skies, to Columbia. Dewitt goes into a church that has a statue of their prophet, Comstock, and proceeds to explore the church until he finds a priest and some other people standing around said priest, the priest immediately notices Dewitt and tells him that he should be baptized in order to enter the city of Columbia, after accepting baptism (and renouncing your ways of evil, you evil people, you) Dewitt enters Columbia and proceeds to go through the city. All around the city the people are very cheerful, nice folks that just want to live without trouble, having nice conversations with one another, except there seems to be something off, you start to notice weird things in the conversations if you loiter long enough, like a woman telling her husband that she was worried because she noticed a hint of an accent in their waiter’s voice, or the odd mention of colored people every now and then, or the complete lack of any black person for that matter anywhere you go. Dewitt keeps on moving until he sees in front of him a poster with a picture of the false shepherd’s hand with the letters AD engraved on it, and this is the sign the people of Columbia will know the false shepherd by, and surprise surprise, Dewitt looks at his hand, and sees the unmistakable AD scars. He then gets a telegram telling him not to pick number 77, Dewitt takes the telegram and proceeds on to the carnival, where he’s invited to pick a ball from a basket, each ball is numbered, and well, he picks number 77, just because. Once Dewitt picks the ball, the true nature of Columbia is revealed, you are asked to throw the ball at either an interracial couple or the presenter asking you to throw the ball. Before Dewitt is able to throw the ball, he is stopped by Columbia’s police after they notice the AD on his throwing hand and proceed to try and arrest him, after they’re taken care of, Dewitt begins his journey into Columbia of finding the girl, and try and take her back to New York where he can wipe away his debt.
Bioshock Infinite incorporates some of the same mechanics as the first Bioshock, except for, you know, the sky bit. When you start out in the game all you have is a Vigor that you acquire during the carnival, Vigors are Bioshock Infinite’s Plasmids, if you’ve played the first Bioshock. That first Vigor allows you to convert enemies and turrets alike to fight for you for a short duration, or, and that’s a new thing for Bioshock, you can make a trap that will convert an enemy that walks through, which can be handy at times. After you kill the first officer during the carnival – in a very nicely gruesome manner I might add – you acquire his skyhook. The Skyhook is the melee weapon of Bioshock Infinite, along with giving you the invaluable ability to zip along sky lines and attach to freight hooks in order to get to higher places or just do some awesome sky executions, jump around through the area, gaze at the magnificence that is Columbia, or do awesome sky executions, did I mention the awesome sky executions? That’s not all what the Skyhook is good for though, aside from just hitting people closely, you can execute them when they are low on health, you get a nice bloody “cutscene” with the execution whenever you decide that they’ve outlived their usefulness as your mindless minions.
Onto the shooting mechanics, there is absolutely no shortage of weapons in Bioshock Infinite, througout Columbia you’ll find a plethora of weapon classes ranging from pistols to RPGs and even miniguns. Unlike the first Bioshock though, weapon upgrades are readily available if you have the silver eagles to purchase them, which makes upgrading weaponry less cumbersome. There are two classes of each weapon, however I won’t divulge more than that lest I spoil something.
The Vigors have been reworked from the first Bioshock, each Vigor has a primary and secondary firing method, primary is mainly just shooting at the enemy, and the secondary usually sets a trap for enemies that are unfortunate enough to pass by. While zapping enemies isn’t as fun in Bioshock Infinite as it was in Bioshock, setting a spark trap is always a good way to see a lot of enemies ensnared and in spasm from the shocks. Each vigor can be upgraded twice, however at a steeper cost than the weapon upgrades, while some upgrades offer higher damage, other upgrades either offer less salt usage, more hit chaining to nearby enemies, or in some cases, completely new abilities which makes upgrading Vigors exciting every time you do it. There is a total of 8 Vigors found throughout Columbia, 7 of them you will definitely find with only one that could be missed.
Throughout Columbia you’ll also find pieces of gear that you can equip, each piece of gear, or clothing, gives certain advantages, such as extra melee damage, incineration of melee targets, extra weapon damage while on skylines, and a good amount of other bonuses. These pieces of gear are scattered around Columbia is usually secret places, so a little bit of exploration will yield great benefits.
Dewitt himself can have his shield, health, or salt capacities upgraded via Infusions that are usually in secret places as well. Speaking of these secret areas, they’re usually either alternate paths or riddles written on walls, when you encounter the latter though you’ll need to look around for cypher books in order to access these hidden areas.
Throughout the game you’ll be playing with Elizabeth, and I can honestly say that Elizabeth is by far the best and most advantageous friendly AI that has been introduced in any game. What Elizabeth offers in terms of story enrichment is undeniable, taking aside the fact that the story more or less revolves around her, she offers commentaries on certain things you find throughout Columbia, she offers her opinions on the Comstock statues and the quotes written everywhere, and she genuinely makes you care about her. Elizabeth also offers lock picking abilities whenever you need them, she gives you salts, health and ammunition when you’re low during combat, and she tosses you the occasional silver eagle whenever she finds it. Elizabeth also has the ability to open tears in the world, you can bring back a turret, or a motorized patriot to fight alongside you, you can bring back weapons, health kits, salts, or even a wall for cover against bullets. There is no denying that Elizabeth makes Bioshock Infinite a lot more enjoyable than it already is, and I found myself bothered by the missions where she wasn’t there to help out, or give her insights.
Bioshock Infinite is jaw dropping to say the least, the first time you see Columbia you’re bound to have your mouth open in astonishment. The details in Columbia are sublime, the buildings in the sky, the clouds, everywhere you look you’ll find something to be amazed by. My only complaint with the visuals is the textures that are of very low resolution, you’ll find those in the form of flowers or fruits that can’t be picked up, while they don’t take away from the glorious sights throughout Columbia, they can be a little off putting. The game was running on my computer with everything set to the highest setting except for the dynamic shadows and it was running at a nice steady 60FPS with no frame drops that I noticed.
The game is filled with that good ol’ 1910’s music, whenever you enter shops you’ll hear songs from that era that fit the world quite nicely. If you stand long enough beside some citizens you’ll hear their conversations which is a really nice touch. The weapons sound genuine, so do the Vigors, with every Vigor having sounds to incorporate what said Vigor does.
After the game is beat you unlock the 1999 mode, which is a hardcore-ish mode where eveything is a LOT harder. Bioshock Infinite also offers a lot of replay-ability in merit of its outstanding story, you’ll want to go through it again, and again, and again, and will try to find every Infusion, or every piece of gear, every Voxophone, or every Kinetoscope.
Bioshock Infinite is 2013’s best shooter, hands down, there’s not another shooter that even comes close to how amazing the story in this game is. You can usually find the game for half the retail price nowadays, but Bioshock Infinite is definitely worth $60.
(Review written by: Pierre J. Iskandar)
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