BioShock: Infinite Review
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BioShock Infinite is a master class in storytelling. With exceedingly fun gameplay and combat, a beautifully intriguing world to explore, and an extremely impressive cast of characters, BioShock Infinite stands as one of the best first-person shooters ever made.
- Incredibly well-crafted atmosphere and intriguing world to explore
- The terrific cast and thought-provoking story
- The fun, easy-to-learn gameplay and combat
- The mediocre A.I.
- Some minor glitches that break the smooth gameplay, storytelling
- Like many great fantasy stories, some disjointed plot elements and holes create confusion
As soon as the credits started rolling at the end of BioShock Infinite, I scooped my jaw up from the floor and jumped on my laptop to start emailing my co-workers here at PSU. Just about everyone on our team was already knee deep in the story, and while I was careful not to spoil anything, I couldn't keep my excitement quiet any longer. I think I jokingly cursed the development team for making a game that was "so damn incredible."
Nothing prepared me, however, for what I would experience in the finale. I promise not to spoil anything in this review--I won't even come close, promise--but I still can't wrap my head around that ending. It will likely go down as one of those controversial finales with some believing it was wretched and others claiming brilliance. And still others--like me--will think it was great, but it was brought together with the familiar "God did it" explanation. No, the explanation is not God did it, it's just an example of how storytellers sometimes force rationale of things that didn't really make sense earlier by offering an even more contrived explanation at the end.
Getting us to think hard about the stories in our games is an accomplishment, and if that's how we judge success, BioShock Infinite knocks it out of the park. But my real words of praise for this expansive and epic title is that it's the only game I've reviewed (now more than 100) that both left me incredibly satisfied but instantly wanting more content, DLC, or anything to bring me back to that city in the sky.
That rush from the ending was only one small feeling that BioShock Infinite created. At the beginning that city in the sky left me in awe and wonder. By the end I was terrified by the corruption of man and society's contortion of religion and God. I was angry when reminded of the intense and pervasive racism in the early 1900s in America. I was euphoric exploring the city, basking in the game's vibrant palette and brilliant, warm lighting. I was mesmerized by the vast details used to create a sense of place.
Irrational Games put so much love and care into Columbia that its efforts bleed out of every location and section of the city, propaganda poster, snippet of historic video, drop of confetti, and phrase of dialogue from the city's residents. All of this is only a taste of what I experienced playing BioShock Infinite. Every gamer will experience something slightly different, and that only adds to the magic enclosed in that little game disc.
Regardless of what the game makes you think or feel, you'll experience it through the eyes of Booker DeWitt. He is an investigator with a slightly shady background. To clear up his debt, he must travel to the floating city and bring back a woman named Elizabeth. Once on Columbia, you are greeted with one of the most breathtaking, most awe-inspiring opening in gaming history. Soft white light elegantly shines through colored stained glass while white-robed men gently smile as they greet you.
You quickly learn Columbia is beautiful on the outside, but disgustingly ugly only slightly deeper. It's a "white" city in every sense of the word. From the towering marble statues of Father Comstock--a religious prophet and city leader--to the population of residents so white they seem to haunt the streets, Columbia is a clean white city. It's also founded on racism and anyone not fitting that pure white background is demonized, enslaved, tortured, or killed. Columbia is founded on the idea that America simply wasn't America enough and so it left the country's jurisdiction.
If you played the original BioShock, you know exactly what to expect from Infinite: an extremely rich atmosphere, fun and easy-to-learn combat, plenty of places to loot weapons and ammo, clever superpowers, interesting characters, and a twisting plot with more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese.
By rescuing Elizabeth, helping her escape from her towering cell, exploring the beaches and streets of Columbia, and ultimately fleeing the mysteriously floating steampunk city, you embark on the ultimate escort quest. Elizabeth is the quintessential victim in BioShock Infinite. Early on she hopelessly plays ... (continued on next page)