By Willem Weinstein
Bioshock Infinite, developed by the amazing, groundbreaking Irrational Games and published by 2K Games this past March, is by far one of the best games of the year, and certainly one of the best video games in recent memory.
It definitely lives up to the standards set by the original Bioshock and even surpasses that game in some respects. There are certainly issues with this installment in the series, but I never found that any of these problems diminished my overall sense of enjoyment while playing.
The plot of Bioshock Infinite is simple enough. The year is 1912, and you, as the player, assume the role of Booker Dewitt, an ex-agent of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency sent to Columbia, an almost mythical floating city in the clouds, to rescue a young girl, Elizabeth, trapped up there by a group of mysterious people.
Bioshock Infinite is best summed up by the quote, “Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt.”
Upon arriving in Columbia, Booker is confronted by a twisted and complex city that idolizes and worships—in the actual devout, religious sense—the core ideals espoused by the American Dream and the founding fathers.
If you have ever played the original Bioshock, which was released in August 2007, then you know that the story is told implicitly through its setting (in addition to direct explanations given to the player). The same set up applies to the second Bioshock game.
There are several little details around you that, if you take the time to look for them, can explain and flesh out the Bioshock universe. This includes—but certainly is not limited to—the dialogue spouted by the non-playable characters throughout the game or the propaganda posters promoting racial purity that litter the city of Columbia.
As for the gameplay elements themselves, players have a wide and useful selection of tools at their disposal that they can employ in order to solve their problems, which generally means killing enemies as they endeavor to save Elizabeth and finish the game.
Players have a variety of guns from which to choose, ranging from shotguns to RPGs. Ammunition for these weapons is never scarce, but players can only carry two guns at a time, so weapons often need to be swapped in order to continue battling opponents when necessary.
More impressive than the weaponry, though, is the arsenal of tools available to players throughout Bioshock Infinite. These range from the ability to summon crows in order to distract enemies to the use of watery tentacles to grab the evil villains and hold them in place.
The selection of these tools is clearly quite varied, and each skill has a different application that can make gameplay more specialized and unique to each player’s individual style and preferences.
There are no perfect games, and Bioshock Infinite is certainly no exception to this rule.
There are definitely problems with this installment in the Bioshock series, although these are generally minor flaws in an overall high-quality and enjoyable game.
First, I thought that Bioshock Infinite was a bit too short, as it offers only 12 to 14 hours of play. Since I am used to playing longer role-playing games like this for over 50 hours, its brevity came as an unpleasant surprise. By the end of the game, I found that I was not anywhere near ready to put it down.
There is a new game plus mode in this installment, but I would have rather had more new content throughout Bioshock Infinite than a harder, seemingly pointless rehash of older parts of the game.
The constant barrage of enemy shooting galleries, while undoubtedly exciting and intense overall, is rather dull and tiresome at times. However, different Vigor combinations can make these sections far more interesting. Vigors are drinks that grant the player special, useful abilities.
I was not particularly impressed with the special enemies that were so hyped up in trailers for the game; instead, I found them to be annoying and predictable.
They did not stand apart from other video game villains in the way that early buzz for Bioshock Infinite suggested they would.
However, these issues are quickly forgotten throughout the game, which is essentially a beautiful and enjoyable masterpiece. To top it all off, the soundtrack is perfectly appropriate for the setting and nicely executed.
Bioshock Infinite is a truly marvelous and engaging game, and Irrational Games and 2K Games should be infinitely proud of what they have created.