BioShock Infinite Review : Mac – Xbox – Playstation – Windows

What is it like to stand on the edge of a city in the clouds and look back? To feel the thunder of a gunshot, to watch a building crumble before you? To push the boundaries of what we expect from games or rather, what games can teach us about ourselves? 

BioShock Infinite is a shooter unlike any other.

BioShock Infinite Review - Mac - Xbox - Playstation - Windows
BioShock Infinite Review – Mac – Xbox – Playstation – Windows

It’s a little strange to talk about a game that’s based in a fictional city built in the sky, as it feels as though this review risks slipping into hyperbole at any moment. After having finished BioShock Infinite I actually feel that way. The ability to create something so grandiose, so all-encompassing and over-arching, is what is proving most challenging to my esteemed colleagues and friends who remain, even now, unable to complete the game.

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BioShock Infinite is an action-adventure video game developed by Irrational Games, and published by 2K Games. It was released worldwide for the Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 platforms on March 25, 2013. BioShock Infinite is the third instalment in the BioShock series, and though it is not part of the storyline of previous BioShock games, it does feature similar gameplay concepts and themes.

In contrast to the previous instalments, which took place in an underwater dystopian city with a dark atmosphere and religious undertones, BioShock Infinite takes place in the airborne floating city of Columbia in 1912. The game features a mixture of typical first-person shooter, with exploration across large expanses as well as melee combat, and Elizabeth’s whom possess various forms of aid in battle.

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BioShock Infinite Review

BioShock Infinite is pretty awesome. The story, the gameplay, the world, Elizabeth–I mean really…it’s all amazing. If you loved the original BioShock ( like I did ) you are going to absolutely love this one. When you finish this game you will find yourself thinking about it for a long time afterward.

In fact, it’s so good that it might just be in the running for the best game you have played. One minor note of caution: if you played and liked the original BioShock, prepare for some disappointment with Infinite’s opening hour.

BioShock Infinite is a really unique game and will take you to the clouds and beyond. The storyline is absurdly compelling, the soundtrack is gorgeous, and it has some of the most unique and fantastic characters in video game history. There’s a ton of replay-ability because of the way you can interact with the city, but be warned that it might make you think a little bit too much.

If there was ever a game that can make you question the ethical implications of extreme political policies, it would be Irrational Games’ masterful BioShock Infinite. I childishly skipped off to buy my copy as soon as midnight rolled around. I played it through twice in the following three days, once to get the full cinematic experience and again to soak in all the deep philosophical and theological questions while reading each pamphlet, collectible, and audio diary.

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BioShock Infinite, the third in the series, had a lot working against it. Fans wanted a return to Rapture, the underwater city that served as the setting for the first game. The second game had moved away from the underwater city and players didn’t like the feeling of change.

BioShock Infinite does not succeed or fail in a vacuum. It succeeds or fails for you, the gamer. This review is only meant to offer an insight into that process. If it helps you make your mind up on whether you want to buy the game, great! The most important thing I can tell you, however, is that BioShock Infinite is a game everyone should play – and one which is likely to be considered one of this generation’s best. The interactive medium has never seen a work quite like it and never will again.

Gameplay

BioShock Infinite is the rare game that’s so story-driven that it even makes dying a meaningful and entertaining part of the overall journey. And, oh, what a journey it is.

Soaring heights and dizzying falls arrive at the end of nearly every firefight and exploration segment, giving way to new characters, revelations about them and, inevitably, a crushing sense of tragedy at their situation and your own actions. To say anything more specific about the plot would ruin some truly fantastic surprises.

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Atrocious combat. Nothing can take away from BioShock Infinite’s greatness in other areas, but combat is the foundation of any first-person shooter and it just plain doesn’t work very well.

BioShock Infinite is one of the best shooters I’ve played in years
BioShock Infinite is one of the best shooters I’ve played in years

Not only do enemies crawl on you relentlessly unless you have a machine gun or heavy pistol handy, but occasionally Booker will suddenly stand up out of cover and turn his back to open fire on the enemy — or worse, pump lead into an enemy directly in front of him without looking.

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It’s a recipe to get killed over and over again unless you stop playing like a person who knows how to handle themselves in a firefight, and start playing like you’re prepared to lose many of your lives along the way.

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Seeking to create a sense of wonder, or awe as Plass puts it, is the first step to creating a good fantastical world. Fittingly, Irrational Games does this expertly in BioShock Infinite. Throughout my play through I found myself completely taken aback by the manner in which the game breaks its own rules to create new and interesting gameplay experiences.

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In BioShock Infinite as in BioShock, you start out as a lowly private with extraordinary powers. In the first game, it was upgrading more powerful weapons. Here, it’s “vigors”, potions that give you superhuman abilities such as the ability to conjure fireballs or a swarm of bees.

Unlike the original game’s plasmids, though, these abilities recharge over time and tend to be used up in short spurts. You can upgrade your skills related to vigors and carry more at once thanks to upgrades you pick up along the way. However, given a chance, I’d largely prefer being able to use my abilities however I wished rather than having to rely on how much charge I had left after a few small uses.

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The combat excels to match the level design, which is nearly flawless. How? It’s paced impeccably and never resorts to mindless corridor shooting or artless filler sequences. It can frustrate at times, but it’s usually only through deliberate design.

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Everything that happens in this game matters, from the first bullet fired to the last bloody battle cry uttered. This is a shooter, then, that challenges instead of punishing players who want to craft their own exciting narrative within it. Thanks, too, to an intricate weapon upgrade system and an intuitive Skylines-style movement system that makes exploration and skydiving a joy – no matter how many times you have to replay those scenarios thanks to Booker’s frequent inability to read a situation correctly and make the correct decision about who lives and who dies.

Bioshock Infinite’s opening is so incredible, so memorable and so stirring that it’s easy to overlook the rest of the game as pure cinematic fluff. That’s a shame, because there’s much more to Bioshock Infinite than its twists, turns, and shocking revelations.

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Its gameplay has been honed to a shine; its exhilarating action, spectacular vigors and varied weapons are marvellous fun to wield; and Columbia itself – familiar yet simultaneously a revelation – is perhaps one of the most engrossing virtual places ever created. Irrational has accomplished what few others have: It’s delivered an action game that offers both awe-inspiring play and an engaging experience. And that’s saying something.

This is a game that demands your attention, where the environment and characters draw you in both physically and emotionally as they try to win you over. Booker is difficult to read at first, but his role in the events of Columbia shine a sympathetic light on his behaviour as he becomes more comfortable using violence to get ahead.

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At one point, a de facto leader of the Columbia resistance tells him, “There’s always an excuse–for men like you. Guns for hire! The problems of the world solved with a bullet! And God forgive me…I hope this ends with only blood on my hands…not yours.” It’s powerful stuff, doubly so when Booker must take or leave her words depending on how he chooses to behave while pursuing his underlying goal.

It’s difficult to adequately describe BioShock Infinite as merely a video game. The scale, ambition and achievement of this first-person shooter is without question literary; yet, at the same time, it is absolutely still a video game. Its gameplay conforms to standard first-person shooter aesthetics while delivering on all narrative fronts. This, in addition to its beautiful art style, amazing voice performances, and unparalleled world building, makes the game worth experiencing at least once this year.

BioShock Infinite Review : Mac - Xbox - Playstation - Windows
  • Gameplay
  • Storyline
  • Graphics
  • Characters
4.8

Summary

BioShock Infinite, Irrational Games’ follow up to the original BioShock, starts out as an exciting action-adventure game and transforms into a spiritual puzzle that allows players to decide whether they’re Booker DeWitt or the unreliable narrator who guides him. BioShock Infinite pushes the first-person shooter genre forward with a lot of big ideas, and though it doesn’t necessarily hit all of them out of the park, its tale about a floating city in 1912 that has been overtaken by religious extremists is riveting.

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