I am Andrew Ryan, and I am here to ask you a question. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?
‘No,’ says the man in Washington, ‘it belongs to the poor.’ ‘No,’ says the man in the Vatican, ‘it belongs to God.’ ‘No,’ says the man in Moscow, ‘it belongs to everyone.’
I rejected those answers. Instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose…
A city where the artist would not fear the censor, where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality, where the great would not be constrained by the small.
And with the sweat of your brow, Rapture can become your city, as well.
This review contains no spoilers, but does touch on some plot details. If you don’t want any plot details revealed turn back NOW.
When the original Bioshock came out in 2007, players saw it as more than just a game, but as social commentary. Bioshock asked a very unique question. What if John Galt set up his own society? What would happen if that society failed? Ken Levine did just that. What he created was the world of Andrew Ryan and his underwater city of Rapture. Rapture started like any other utopia, but suddenly went downhill. You arrive after the decline of Rapture and witness the aftermath of the events. In Bioshock Infinite, you arrive in the floating city of Columbia. Unlike its predecessor, Columbia is flourishing and ripe with people. Levine decided to take on a whole different subject with Bioshock Infinite, American exceptionalism. Where the founding fathers are revered as gods, John Wilkes Booth is a hero, and the most important part of society is the almighty God. Many more examples come up throughout the game showing just how Columbia believes that its mission is to spread the American idea of liberty and democracy.
Bring us the girl…and wipe away the debt. Booker DeWitt is a Pinkerton agent living in 1912. A disgruntled war veteran, Booker is tasked with going to the flying city of Columbia to bring back Elizabeth, a young woman held captive by Zachary Hale Comstock. The mission was simple, bring the girl to New York and Booker would be relieved of all his debt. Like all simple things, it just isn’t that simple. The story is told brilliantly and never feels slow or padded. Few games have kept me up at night comprehending what I just experienced. The story established by Irrational is absolutely astonishing and is something that can be enjoyed by almost anyone.
The first thing players will notice when they step into the world of Columbia are the eye popping sounds, graphics, and the overall feel of Columbia. Bioshock looks and feels just absolutely blissful. Irrational has once again hit the nail on the head presenting the game to players, just as the original Bioshock did. Players will notice “Whites Only” bathrooms, people praying to the founding fathers, and even a cult that praises John Wilkes Booth. Most of these questionable sights make you wonder, how could anyone justify this? This is the question Irrational has presented and leaves open for only you to answer.
When wandering around the world of Columbia, players will immediately notice the different style of art than its predecessors. While Bioshock had a prominent and dark art deco style, Columbia is riddled with statues of the founding fathers, American patriotism, and dedications to Comstock and his kin. The scene truly shows how Columbia thinks as a society and makes the city feel alive.
Characters are designed with great detail just as previous entries into the series. Players will immediately notice that Booker is not a silent protagonist, unlike most games in the genre. He comments on many actions that the player chooses to do throughout the game. The relationship between Booker and Elizabeth is comparable to other gaming relationships, most notably Lee and Clementine from The Walking Dead. These kind of relationships set up a magical feeling of actually being responsible for your protectorate. One of my greatest fears when I started playing Bioshock was that it would be one giant escort mission protecting Elizabeth. Elizabeth never gets in your way and can’t actually be killed in combat. One of the more helpful characters in gaming, Elizabeth will actually find you medical kits, salts, and ammo during the course of combat.
Combat in Bioshock Infinite has been refined, which now feels natural and smooth. Using the skyline in Bioshock Infinite is one of the highlights of the game and is implemented perfectly. Players can use the skyline to gain an advantage over enemies, get out of a sticky situation, or just pretend you’re the next Evil Knievel. The skyline adds a nice break from the constant combat and adds a new level of strategy to the already excellent gameplay experience. Plasmid powers also add another level to the gameplay. Like previous entries, powers in Infinite are somewhat unchanged. Plasmids are essential to beat Infinite on higher levels of difficulty, which makes for a dynamic experience where thinking of what powers you’re going to use is essential to surviving.
Boss battles tend to lack excitement in the newest Bioshock and feel somewhat plain. There is almost no point in fighting these bosses, unlike the original Bioshock where you fought Big Daddies for a purpose. The bosses just show up and players must pop a couple of magazines in them and move on.
The most disappointing feature of Bioshock Infinite is the weapon upgrade system. While Infinite does contain more weapons than Bioshock, upgrades are severely disappointing. When upgrading a weapon there is no physical change to the weapon. Whereas you could actually see the upgrade in Bioshock, in Infinite the upgrades are simply a stat. The upgrades do make the weapons more powerful, but the lack of physical features is disappointing.
A disturbing feature of Bioshock Infinite is the complete lack of a user save system. The game has automatic checkpoints throughout the story that are spaced somewhat questionably. When trying to exit the game I had a hard time figuring out where my last save was and making sure that it wouldn’t set me back too far. The addition of a user save feature would be helpful in 1999 mode. Many players will not even bother with the 1999 mode as it does not give the ability to let the user save, ironically System Shock 2 had user saves. Infinite can also feel linear at certain parts in the game. Levels seem to have shrunk down since Bioshock and now feel more layered than open.
Problems aside, this is a game that most people will enjoy tremendously as Bioshock Infinite is a once in a lifetime experience. No other game has made me think longer than Bioshock Infinite. Players who are looking for a pure gameplay experience will be somewhat disappointed. Players who are looking for multiple play-throughs, via 1999 mode, will also be disappointed. While some parts of the game fall short, no one should be held back from playing this game. Only one thought remains. Would you kindly, purchase Bioshock Infinite.