“Booker, are you afraid of God?”…”No, but I’m afraid of you.”
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Release Date: March 26th 2013
Developers: Irrational Games
Publishers: 2K Games
Six years ago we plunged into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean unaware of the horrors and tragedy that awaited us on the seafloor, Rapture an underwater metropolis had fallen into chaos and anarchy reigned supreme. A few years later we were afforded the opportunity to once more return to the deep waters of the ruined city, this time a little more prepared for what lay waiting in the darkness. Bioshock and Bioshock 2 replaced firm favorite first person shooters on my list, they took the genre apart and showed the world that not only could this genre of games be more than just reloading and headshots, they became hard evidence that video games could be just as powerful as novels and cinema when it came to story telling and as intellectual and profound as poetry or piece of art.
So when the world found out that the series would continue but turn in a different direction many of us were left wondering where developers would take us!
Bioshock Infinite takes place not in Rapture but in a new city, Colombia, a flying megalopolis hidden in the clouds above a 1912 America, a city that has seceded itself from the US government and is now ruled by one man calling himself the Prophet. You are Booker Dewitt, a man hired or rather forced into a mission in order to clear away some gambling debts to reach Colombia and rescue a girl and delivering her to your employer in New York city. On the surface Colombia appears to be a shining beacon, a place for the devout and the dedicated to stake their claim and excel but all is not what it seems and under the glistening facade an ugliness bubbles and boils waiting to explode and tear the city apart. The Prophet foretells that the Lamb will burn away the sins of the people living in the Sodom below their city, his followers are encouraged to beware the False Shepherd baring the mark ‘AD’ and to stop him at any and all cost. The child of prophecy is Elizabeth, the girl you must free from the city in order to wipe away your debt, your mission is not only hampered by the army of devout worshipers the Prophet sends to stop you but the threat of a civil war becomes real when the Vox Populi rise up against their oppressors catching you in the middle of a bloody and brutal battle.
That’s the bones of the story laid out without hopefully giving too much away, needless to say I was completely immersed in the world of Colombia, gawking like a wide eyed tourists at the magnificient beauty and scale of my surroundings, horrified by the casual racism of the people standing around me, determined to free Elizabeth from this terrifying place and adamant I wouldn’t pick a side in the futile war.
Bioshock Infinite plays perfectly, the only real way to describe it is that feeling you get when you’ve accomplished something with little effort, it just all flows so well. Plasmids are replaced with Vigours and while the staple weapons are there from previous games they’ve got a steampunk makeover and had some rejigging in terms of their use in combat, whether you choose to riddle your foe with bullets or have them pecked to death by birds, everyone will find their own middle ground with the game allowing you to work out what works best for you (Bucking Bronco + Possession x Shotgun = lots of dead enemies). You are not alone in this struggle though as Elizabeth works alongside you picking locks, finding useful items including ammunition during gunfights and even providing you with cover. While not the first sidekick to offer these services, Elizabeth has a knack for coming to your rescue just when it all seems hopeless and you’ll have to restart from the last checkpoint.
As well as Vigours you can equip special ‘Gear’ that will grant Booker specific attributes aimed at bettering your chances in combat, from improving your punch to affording you more currency when you uncover hidden Voxphones.
The game has plenty to do aside from the main story, you can collect various recordings and watch short clips that explain more about the origins and current events in Colombia, offering you a chance to better understand how and why things have fallen so far from the ideals that set the city afloat in the first place. There are secondary objectives that lead you on short trips around the floating labyrinth with promises of upgrades and riches waiting for you if you are shrewd enough. Failing that you can also go down the route of the explorer and tourist and oogle every thing your greedy eyes can spy.
If you are looking for something to challenger your skill as an FPS gamer then you can’t look further than Bioshock Infinite and while you’re equipped with both gun and vigor powers you’ll need more than that to stem the tide of rampaging fanatics and blood thirsty rebels. Amidst this rabble both sides employ a varied arsenal of terrifying foes from Devil’s Kiss wielding pyromaniacs with a tendency to go suicidal when on the verge and the monstrous hulk that is the Handyman, you will have adapt your techniques for each scenario or face a bloody end at the mechanical hands of these foes. The AI in the game is not just smart, it’s cunning, enemies won’t just charge in guns blazing, they want to live and they will seek out cover, pick off their allies that you’ve turned against them and bring down the turrets you’ve under your control before they aim their sights on you.
Being perfectly honest I am finding it very hard to summarize exactly how I feel about this game, it is the first game in a long time that I’ve returned to replay immediately after completing it (on Hard mode… for your information!). I have been a huge fan of the series since it’s early days and even with Infinite going in a different direction to its predecessors, it doesn’t turn it’s back on the series, instead it grows from past experiences, adding so much more while skillfully maintaining all that was good and pure about the first two games. You will not go wrong if you pick up a copy of this game, it’s challenging, thought provoking and moving, it is a work of brilliance both in terms of gameplay and style and what is more, it has replay value, as you will want to return to Colombia not only to find those last few Voxphones but to better understand what you just experience and watch more closely how all of this fits together so well.
Bioshock Infinite is the perfect example of just how wonderful video games can be, powerful, emotional and inspiring.
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!