Customer Review

118 of 158 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The False Shepard Seeks Only to Lead Our Lamb Away...", March 26, 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: BioShock Infinite - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
The Good

+Solid story and narrative that really draws the player in
+Very thematically ambitious
+Gorgeous world really draws you into the experience
+Solid gameplay mechanics
+A lot of variety in ability and gear to help change up the experience
+Elizabeth is a very well crafted character
+The music and audio is very good; the voice acting is fantastic

The Bad

-Slight dips in framerate from time to time
-Death can feel a little disorienting
-Some choice decisions fail to have an impact

---

Note: The Following Review is Long

In 2007 the original Bioshock came out and added a layer to gaming that few games have been able to do. The game was not nearly as big of a success as other titles of the year such as Halo or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but it quickly seized hold of an enormous cult following that became very emotionally attached to the game. The game was so beloved and so much of a success that when Bioshock 2 came out a year later it couldn't have hoped to be as beloved. After all, the original Bioshock was groundbreaking from a narrative standpoint. A game that reached so high any game which followed it couldn't hope to come within an arms length of its legacy. Nevertheless, Bioshock Infinite is here and it reaches. In some regards, perhaps even higher than the one that started it all.

You play as Booker Dewitt. He's got some debts to settle and believes he can do so. He must first venture to the floating city of Columbia. There he must rescue a young woman named Elizabeth. But it will not be easy. Columbia is a city ruled under the watchful eye of Father Comstock, a prophet who can supposedly see the future. It isn't long before Booker realizes that rescuing Elizabeth and escaping the city of Columbia will be much more difficult than he imagined. Quickly branded as a false prophet, Booker comes under attack.

Like the first game, Bioshock Infinite is a very thematically ambitious game. One that begins to elevate storytelling in gaming. There will surely be a lot of discussion to follow with this one. There's a lot of care taken with the world in which it takes place in, as well as with some of the themes it handles. And Bioshock Infinite opts to hold very little back. Here you'll be tackling themes such as racism, religion, false prophets, gender roles, even moments that will test your own morals. It's got a lot to say. The story and the world also come to life in the same way that Rapture does. While Columbia is not as dazzling as the trip into the underwater world, it does have a pulse just the same. You'll find Voxphones scattered throughout. These, like the original Bioshocks audio diaries, add a lot more to the tale at hand. They add to the story, the world and the atmosphere. To ignore them is to miss out on a considerable portion of the game. For those very curious about the world they're playing in, they will most certainly want to pick these up.

From the outset it doesn't seem as though there is much which separates Bioshock Infinite from it's predecessor. Indeed, it takes a moment to get there. Many aspects will be familiar to you from the outset. Instead of Plasmids, for example, you have Vigors. These allow you to do things such as possess machines and make them attack your enemies, or hurl explosive fireballs at your foes. If there are crows an area you can even turn them against your foes. There's a lot variety with the vigors, as well as many different ways to use them. There is a limit, of course, you need salts to be able to use them. Like the original there are also vending machines around where you can use currency to buy upgrades for your vigors or guns. You can also restore health.

Unlike the original, however, you don't stock up on health packs that will be used immediately when your life reaches zero. Rather you have one life gauge that doesn't recharge at all. You must find food or other means of sustenance to restore your health. There is, however, a shield you'll get early on that does recharge. If you can find cover in the midst of a gun fight or keep from taking damage your shield will recharge and you'll be ready again. This seems like it'll make the game particularly difficult at first, but Bioshock Infinite is not too challenging in and of itself. Sometimes the enemies can come in large waves. But should you bite the dust you are never punished too harshly. You'll respawn really close to where you died and you'll be given some health and some ammo. Your enemies will also have some of their health restored as well, so whatever killed you is usually still lurking. The only downside is that there will be times when you respawn and you'll need to take time to adjust to your surroundings. Though you never respawn far from where you've died, there are times when you'll feel disoriented and turned around when you do.

There is also gear you can put on to help you out along the way. These will enhance your abilities. And if you mix and match things will change. One piece of gear, for instance, allows you to run faster when your shield burst. Another lets you set people on fire when you attack them. This adds a layer of strategy and gives you a different means of approaching the bad guys. Get enough variety of gear and you'll be able to create different "builds" for your character. You might think of these builds as various job classes from an RPG. This all provides many different ways to tackle many of the big firefights in Bioshock Infinite.

Chances are you won't die too many times. Bioshock Infinite's biggest change to gameplay is adding Elizabeth into the equation. Elizabeth will accompany you throughout much of the experience and as such she is a companion. This isn't some game where you'll have to babysit, though. Elizabeth can't die. Although she will supply you with ammunition and health if you need it. This little tweak can make the game a bit easier than it has to be, but it won't make death impossible. She also helps you unlock doors when you come across them, although it is just a tad bit strange that you

What really helps Elizabeth along is how well realized of a character she is. How she develops and her facial expressions give her a lot of life. To say much more than that would be to spoil a lot of the fun of the game. Booker is not a bad character, by any means, but the story quickly lets you know it isn't about him. He's a man with a simple mission, but this is much more her story than his. She is truly a loveable and charming character. Not that Booker is bad, but he's primarily there to make sure you experience the story more so than to add a lot. While he makes commentary and quips (that are mostly to provide hints of where to go) every now and then the game makes no illusions about who is the star of the show here.

That being said, because of such a huge emphasis on its narrative and story, Bioshock Infinite often has a real clear path for you to go. It's a very linear game where you'll rarely (if ever) find yourself lost. That doesn't mean you can't explore. There is plenty off the beaten path where you can go off track for a moment to find gear, vigors and sometimes even going so far as to find a sidequest or two. If you ever find yourself exploring too much, a tap of a button will show the way to go in order to get back onto the right path.

Most areas are not too big, but they are filled to the brim with a lot of details. For the most part, Bioshock Infinite doesn't look that much different than the previous two games. This is fine as they were gorgeous looking. Here there is a lot of detail to the world. One of the chief criticisms lodged at Bioshock 2 was that we'd already explored quite a bit of Rapture. A return there wasn't exciting enough. Columbia definitely is. The tone is very similar, but the atmosphere is not. Instead of going down dark corridors you're exploring a lot of open spaces. Not everyone you meet is someone who has lost their mind either (and some do not even care to try to kill you). Especially in the beginning moments of the game, you may come across citizens having idle conversation. Likewise, where as the original Bioshock was pretty dark in its environment, Infinite is not afraid to let the sunshine in. Many of its set piece moments stand in contrast to the original.

The audio is just as good. The sound effects are great. But what is the most rewarding is listening to the voice acting. All the performances are great. Comstock, in some cases, can be downright haunting (particularly listening to him on Voxphone). It helps to make a pretty engaging experience. If there was anything about the presentation that might be a bit of a nuisance it might be that from time to time the frame rate can get a little choppy.

Bioshock Infinite is not for the weak-hearted however. It's a violent game with some pretty gruesome death moments. Nothing to cringe worthy for those who have played the original Bioshock or other violent games. What makes it more startling is that there is a much deeper context to much of it here. As in, moments in which you'll see innocent people brutally murdered before your eyes or treated very poorly. Much of this is put forth for thematic or story driven purposes. It can be brutal, but it isn't here just for the sake of shock or as a means to see how far they can push the envelope. There are many things thrown into Bioshock Infinite as a means of either reinforcing how horrible the bad guys are, or reinforcing how horrible the society you're in is. In particular, a lot of it seems to be done as a means of showing the player just how cruel this world really is to those they do not deem to actually be worthy. The enforcement here is to show the player how wrong this "utopia" they've found themselves on is.

If there was anything about Bioshock Infinite that immediately sticks out like a sore thumb, it would be some of the "choices" and "decisions." Some moments you're able to make certain choices by pushing one trigger or another. The problem is that the impact of these choices isn't really clear--if they even manage to change anything at all. At the beginning of the game, for instance you can choose to throw a baseball at a couple or throw it at the MC on stage. Regardless of your decision things will play out the same. It isn't particularly obvious if this has any lasting impact. It has a bit of an impact later on, but it doesn't really have a major impact on the story.

Bioshock Infinite isn't a perfect game, but it is a great one. A thematically ambitious game with a well told story, Bioshock Infinite is sure to delight fans who fell in love with the original back in 2007. It is a game that not only delivers well from a gameplay standpoint, but from a narrative one as well. If you enjoyed exploring the world of Rapture in 2007, then you'll love going through the land of Columbia, here.
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 27, 2013 1:59:38 AM PDT
Andy Voong says:
This game is interesting but there are some flaws. First off is that, why is the player limited to two weapons? In both BioShock 1 and 2, you have a great amount of weapons to use. It makes the gameplay unique as each person has their own playing preference. In BioShock Infinite, I'm mostly using the sniper rifle and the machine gun since they can deal a lot of damage on their own. Secondly, I kind of hate the fact that you can't manually save the game at any time. Rather than freely saving the game, it autosaves the game. At least you can restart at your last checkpoint but I rather load my own save whenever I need to. Also, it would have been cool if the hacking feature was in this game like the first two games. It could make it extremely useful to hack a turret to help aid you in battle or hack the safes and doors so you don't need to find lock-picks to open them.

Posted on Mar 27, 2013 5:33:58 PM PDT
PowerBookG4 says:
You need to work for a game review website!

Posted on Mar 28, 2013 12:36:28 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Mar 30, 2013 7:52:23 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2013 3:21:44 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 30, 2013 3:22:16 PM PDT
R. Altman says:
The weapons are limited so that players don't feel like a one-man army as much. Rather than having all of the weapons all of the time, having only two weapons at a time forces players to develop new strategies (i.e. no relying on only shotgun+shock vigor, for example). I believe that it's a great choice and makes it more interesting on the battlefield to find weapons appropriate for the situation.

Posted on Mar 30, 2013 7:09:05 PM PDT
Dragon3dge says:
Actually, if you fully understand the story and the ending of the game, every choice you make has a large impact (although in the sense of in game experiences it has no impact with the exception of a slight cinematic change, you are correct there). It just further develops the story.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2013 7:36:46 PM PDT
yyz says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2013 3:08:57 PM PDT
ShoppingGeek says:
While you cannot carry as many weapons as in BS1&2, there are often various weapons on the ground with which you can swap. For example, you might want to swap an RPG for a sniper rifle and then swap back when you are through picking off the distant foes.

I also hate that they did away with the ability to save at any time. If I have to stop playing suddenly, I can either turn off the machine and lose my progress or leave it on for hours (even overnight) and waste electricity.

I also miss the hacking. They should have hired us as beta testers.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2013 10:51:37 PM PDT
Mino Guy says:
They took out hacking because half of people were fine with it, the other half hated it. I was completely fine with it being gone. It was just a totally different game experience in general.

Posted on May 5, 2013 3:30:56 PM PDT
VVV says:
I am a big fan of Bioshock 1 & 2. Infinite game play was a shadow of the first two. Story wise, I don't know why the game designers felt it necessary to make a political statement by mocking those that are religious or have some degree of respect for the founding of America. I find it ironic that those that "perceive" intolerance in others that have differing political views are themselves the ones displaying cultural bigotry and intolerance.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2013 11:48:01 PM PDT
Mino Guy says:
I'm both a big fan of the original founders' dreams of America, and I'm a very religious Jew. I'm not offended by anything in BioShock Infinite. The point that comes across in the end is not that those things are bad, but that those things taken to the radical extreme can be harmful. Ken Levine said in an interview that the point he was making is that nothing is ever good in extremes.

Do you really think they were trying to incriminate on people who believe in those things? They criticized the other end of the spectrum in BioShock 1 too! That environment is the exact opposite, and it also goes completely down the toilet, because as Ken Levine shows, there is no good in extremes.

On a separate note, very nice review, S. Rhodes. However, something you should realize is that decisions not mattering was deliberate, if you played until the end and understood the point. You just don't realize it until the end. (SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS variables and constants, how things like the coin toss and the rowing and the songbird thing never changed in each universe/timeline but apparently something that did vary was the bird/cage choice, who to throw at, and whether Slate lived or died SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS).
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