“Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt”.
Here it is – Irrational’s pièce de resistance, the notorious Infinite, teased to us for years on end, until BioShock’s good name was no longer enough to assure us that it would be all we were promised. Does it hold up? Yes.
In the very beginning, Infinite intentionally relates and distances itself to the original, with morally ambiguous hero Booker DeWitt arriving at a lighthouse in the middle of the sea. He’s here to find a girl, and he’s got all the embittered irreverence and world-weary posturing you might imagine for someone who, at first glance, is straight out of the Bro-Dude handbook. But this time, we go up, not down. The skies open up and Booker is launched straight towards Columbia.
Make no bones about it, Columbia is beautiful. You couldn’t find a greater contrast to Rapture if you tried, a living, breathing dystopia packed with colour and steampunk charm. Previously, you fought off living, stinking metaphors for elitism and drug addiction – now you’ll be fighting faith-blinded humans and walking symbols of both religious and political oppression. A gorgeous marvel of human ingenuity ripped apart by ignorance and ambition, and a thousand different threats to overcome.
Early on you get the skyhook, which allows you to bash faces and slide along airborne rails to traverse the vast city. Using the hook as a melee weapon is satisfying at first but doesn’t feel quite as crunchy as the classic wrench or as gleefully destructive as Delta’s drill. It’s easily the least impressive melee weapon in the series so far, but possibly the most versatile – as well as chopping up authoritarian religious nutters you can grind from place to place like some overzealous human monorail. Getting from place to place is a bit odd to control at first, and it only gets more complicated as you have to jump from rail to rail later on. Once you get the hang of it, things certainly get a little bit easier but it’s not quite as great as it seemed to be in all of the trailers. It works best as an on-rails section (har har) like an early escape from the notorious Songbird which is nothing short of cinematic.
There’s a completely different kind of tension going on here, and you can imagine that this was sort of like how Rapture went down before it fell apart. One completely domineering villain figure dividing the population between the loyal and the rebellious, all the while fantastical science goes from innovational wonders to terrible war machines. Infinite’s trademark villains are often more characterised than Booker himself.
The Big Daddy is easily the most definitive ‘monster’ of this gaming generation. Granted, Infinite goes in a slightly different direction, unleashing a slew of bizarre beasties that reflect Columbia’s turmoil. There’s the Handyman, the machine with a human heart, the Patriot, a warmachine facsimile of the founding father, and, most distinctively, the Songbird, Elizabeth’s protector and tormentor, a creature designed to feel betrayal if the imprisoned Elizabeth escapes his care.
Songbird is terrifying. He is ruthless in his pursuit, ever present, emotionless and furious all at once. Where the Big Daddies had an almost tragic paternal bond to their Little Sisters, and wouldn’t tangle with you unless you threatened their charge (at which point they’d attack you to their last breath), Songbird is more comparable to a spurned, jealous lover. There are other villains in Infinite, sure. The zealous Comstock and corrupted masses, and the weird machines sent after you as you make your escape. But none of them strike the same chord as Songbird, who simply captures the essence of the faceless, unstoppable pursuant. You get the vibe that he doesn’t care about whatever grand plot Comstock is hatching – he just wants Elizabeth to be his. They’re all grand testaments to character design, and the sheer amount of love put into this game.
Combat itself relies on the use of Vigors (Essentially Plasmids in whiskey form) to keep things interesting, and while the series staples are all in place – Star Wars style lightning hands, firebombs, etc – they’re implemented differently and supported with different firing modes and a whole new roster of powers. Murder of Crows, for example, allows you to summon ravenous birds to confuse and weaken your enemies, which isn’t too powerful by itself but mixed with a deadly close-up shotgun, allows Booker to decimate his enemies without taking too much of a licking himself. Powers can be evolved to behave more effectively, with this being something as simple as a damage increase or, in Murder’s case, the ability to add more crows with every death caused by the Vigor. It’s simple but gives more than enough variety to help you churn through the hordes of enemies, finding new and fun ways to do it every time. Elizabeth is a perfect AI companion, too, throwing you stuff she finds in the battlefield and doing her best to keep you in shape. She can hold her own, too, opening up ‘tears’ in reality to hinder enemies and resupply you when needed. These tears are a vital part of Infinite’s story, which is really much too impressive and ambitious to spoil in any degree here.
Elizabeth is perfect – her innocence and joy contrasts sharply with Booker’s bitter persona, but she’s no dainty flower who needs your protection. She’ll scan through rooms with you when you enter, leafing through books, rifling through desks, and in combat, she’ll stay out of the way whilst searching for fresh supplies and, y’know, opening holes in reality to give you knew tactical advantages. This is BioShock’s gameplay taken to the next level. Before, you were just altering yourself – now you’re altering the world around you to overcome your foes.
The storyline is a series of individual revelations rather than one big golf club moment – there isn’t one big twist in the tale this time. The story is paced excellently but it does feel a little drawn out sometimes, like when you’re venturing across the city towards Elizabeth with the entire population out for your blood. It all ties together neatly eventually, though, forming one of the most lovingly crafted gaming experiences you’ve played in years.
All in all, the game isn’t perfect, but it’s damn close – this is not your average first person shooter. This is BioShock, its story and gameplay, elevated to a whole new level, and a must-play for absolutely everybody.
PC Version Editors Opinion
The PC version of Bioshock Infinite has to be the Ultimate version for any fan of the franchise to own, with DX11 running on the Unreal 3 Engine, High Definition and much more. The game runs perfect on my Rig with an AMD 6990m, Intel i7 CPU, 16GB DDR3 running at 1920x1080p resolution, I do not run any FPS checks as long as the game runs who cares.
This game is huge, with a great story, awesome plot and a twist that will blow your mind,
The console suffers from a few issues like having to pause the game to choose vigor’s, not on the PC version, everything runs without having to pause the game once, unless you need a drink or the toilet.
Also a must have if you love this game, grab yourself the Season pass to save money on upcoming single players DLC.
‘A sky high heck of a ride.’ A must have game for your collection.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.