10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
9.5/10 - Phenomenal
, March 31, 2013
This review is from: BioShock Infinite - Playstation 3 (Video Game)
Note: May contain spoilers. Proceed with caution.
For video game enthusiasts everywhere the Bioshock franchise has become thee franchise this gen. From our trip to Rapture in 2007, and our subsequent return in 2010, this series has shown that the FPS genre is far from stale. It did so by testing your morality, giving you some small RPG elements, and creating an extremely strong and engaging narrative. Well I'm more than happy to announce that Infinite doesn't break that cycle and, at the risk of sounding premature, I'm willing to say that I think it surpasses the original in more ways than one.
It would be downright impossible to explain the story without lacing the entire summary with spoilers and that's not really what I want to do. For those who have already played the game they know exactly why the story is so fantastic. For those who are thinking about playing the game I would prefer not to ruin the experience. Normally I wouldn't mind having a spoiler or two, but I feel like that would take away from Infinite's beauty.
"Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt." This is a statement that you will hear countless times throughout this game's 10+ hour campaign. In short, it's this game's equivalent of "Would you kindly?" And no, I'm not joking. This one phrase is way more complex than what it appears to be at the beginning of the game. The entire story, in fact, is way more complex than what it appears to be. Which is why I enjoyed it so much. I was a little skeptical at first and I found myself expecting to be disappointed by a pretty generic story. I think this stemmed from past franchises having a weak third entry (Killzone, Resistance, etc.) but Infinite breaks that cycle.
What starts as a simple mission to free Elizabeth from her captivity in order to pay off some gambling debts soon turns into a complex story about infinite realities. I will admit that while I had a vague understanding of what happened at the end I wasn't 100% sure. A simple Google search let me know that I was right for the most part, but, just as there's an infinite number of realities, there's an infinite number of ways to interpret the ending. Some people have even gone as far as actually making connections between Columbia and the world of Rapture. Now at this point in time most of this is just speculation, but a lot of it makes sense in the context of this story.
One thing this franchise is known for is its sense of atmosphere. Even though we might not be in Rapture anymore it doesn't mean that element got tossed out as well. Walking through Columbia I felt like I was in 1912. The way the buildings were decorated and the racist comments overheard from common citizens are just some small examples of how this game transports you to a different time period. Then there's the music that does a fantastic job at bringing the already beautiful visuals to life. It makes you creep around corners in fear of walking into a huge group of soldiers. I remember one part of the game where I was looking at a monitor as Comstock talked to me and when I turned around there was a Boy of Silence right in my face. I literally jumped in my seat and screamed "JESUS CHRIST!" None of that would have been possible without the eerie tone set by the music. It does a wonderful job at enhancing the player's experience as he/she wanders around Columbia.
If you've ever played the first two games then you can expect more of the same in terms of gameplay. You move from location to location killing off enemies that get in your way. Plasmids are back in the form of Vigors and instead of being replenished with Eve they're replenished with Salts. Even with these similarities Infinite manages to provide some new ideas that branch out from the core gameplay. The most noticeable being the inclusion of the skyline. I will admit that I was skeptical about the idea, but after playing through the game my doubts were washed away. The Skyhook adds an extra layer to the combat that enables each battle to feel unique because not only are you able to hop on and ride around the battlefield in search for better ground, your enemies will too.
Then throughout the game you can find Infusions, Clothing, Voxophones, and Kinetoscopes. Infusions are basically personal upgrades. When you find a bottle you have the option of upgrading your shield, your health, or your salts. Clothing can be found in boxes wrapped in bright blue wrapping paper. These pieces of clothing give you an extra buff that ranges from a stronger melee attack to an easier Skyhook execution. Voxophones take the place of the audio recordings and Kinetoscopes are these short little film clips placed in these weird podiums. During my first playthrough most of the Voxophones seemed pretty insignificant, but as I'm going through 1999 Mode and picking them up again it's amazing to see just how many clues the developers gave you towards the big plot twist. You just have to pay attention. The Kinetoscopes are kind of boring and after watching the first 10 of them I started closing them as soon as I turned one on. The only thing missing in Columbia is the security cameras and bots.
So far the game has followed in the footsteps of its predecessors. Keeping what people praised (story, atmosphere, etc.) while taking out what most people disliked (the multiplayer). But what's a Bioshock game without interesting characters? Well, it wouldn't be a Bioshock game. Which is exactly why Infinite is filled with them. You have Daisy Fitzroy, Cornelius Slate, Robert Lutece, and Rosalind Lutece, just to name a few. The Luteces are, in my opinion, two of the most fascinating characters I've seen in years. Between their back and forth banter and their habit of constantly popping up throughout the story it makes you feel like they never really leave you even after they have disappeared from the screen.
Then there's Elizabeth. Usually games with escort missions turn out to be a babysitting disaster. Thankfully, Bioshock Infinite breaks that trend. The beautiful thing about Elizabeth's character is her purity. She's been locked up her entire life so when she finally gets out it's like a new world for her. The way she walks around the environments, the way she stops to look at certain items in buildings, she does so with so much wonder and awe on her face. It's like a blind person finally given the gift of sight. One of my favorite moments with her is when I was searching around this one building. I was walking down the hall and she said "Why is one bathroom for colors and the other for whites?" Booker replied with "It just is." Her response was, and I quote, "Seems like an unnecessary complication." At that moment I wanted to jump through my TV and hug her. It's also this genuine purity that makes you question your morals in a way the Little Sisters never did. After certain events she will look genuinely disgusted with you and it's hard not to question if what you did was right. It's not just her personality that makes her worthwhile, it's the fact that she isn't a drone. She can find money on the ground and toss it to you, she can pick locks (if you have lock picks), and she can supply you with health and salts during a battle. Just a tip though, the health and salts are not infinite. So don't go all Rambo because, in my experience, it's usually one of each during every fight.
Finally, as great as this game is, it does have some small technical issues. As I played through the game I noticed that there was some slowdown. Most of it occurred during automatic save points so it doesn't cripple you in a big fight, but it's there. Then there were a few graphical glitches as well. Off the top of my head I remember one instance where the Luteces' feet were submerged in the concrete and another where I was standing by a wall while Elizabeth was talking to someone and I kind of got sucked into the wall. I was able to pull myself out right away, but it did happen.
Overall Score: 9.5/10 - To say I was blown away by my experience would be an understatement. I had chills throughout majority of the story and I found myself motionless when I reached the conclusion. The sheer complexity of the narrative makes you think in ways no other video game has done thus far. In my opinion this is the definitive game to own this gen. If you're a fan of the original games or just a fan of video games with a good story then it's a must that you play Bioshock Infinite.
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