Monday, April 1, 2013

Review: Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite
PS3, Xbox 360, PC
ACB: MA15+
My first review for 2013... took a while huh? Long story short, poor and not sure when it will turn around. Well I just had to buy this game on release because of the fact it's the true sequel... well prequel to the original Bioshock and because Destructoid's review by Jim Sterling convinced me, even before I saw his score for it. No his review has not affected my decision in my review before you ask. Well, time to review this sucker.

Bioshock Infinite is set in 1912, 48 years before Rapture's adventure. A man named Booker DeWitt journey's to the floating city of Columbia, a city that seceded from the U.S. because it wasn't happy with the direction it was going and is run by a "Prophet" named Comstock. He is sent to retrieve a young woman named Elizabeth to settle his debt to an unknown debtor and obviously everything goes tits up and you have to fight through hordes of guards and robots. I'm not going to say anything more because I don't want to spoil it.

First off... this game is full of racism for the emphasis on the setting and time period but it's not offensive because it's showing the simple mindedness of bigot's of the time period. Secondly, this game will be kinda familiar if you played the first Bioshock during the opening moments but then sets itself apart from it really quickly.

The world of Columbia is bright and vibrant with colour unlike most FPS today. The familiar start showcases the scope of the world and as you traverse the streets during the opening moments of the game you get a feel for the type of place Columbia is until you showed up. It's also nice to not have to worry about the entire place wanting to kill you unlike in Rapture and it's a breath of fresh air. The tone does change later in the game but I won't spoil how and why but they do it so well.

Gameplay is nothing new for the most part. If you've played the first Bioshock and I certainly hope you have, everything feels and plays about the same. The controls are simple and don't feel awkward. As for new stuff there is a new melee weapon/mode of transportation called the Skyhook(no relation to the 80's band that Red Simmons was a part of... what? I listened to lots of crap as a kid and so did you.) that allows you to traverse Columbia's sky railway and hooks, plus you can fight with it and execute weakened enemies. The Plasmids are also now called Vigors and have two firing modes to shake up combat, trap and direct.

Like in most FPS' this game has a lot of guns. You get your standard array of hand guns, shotguns, rifles, sniper rifles, machine guns, grenade and rocket launchers, all period designs. Unlike the rest of the generic genre, you can dual wield the guns along side the games pseudo magic abilities called Vigors. Vigors can be used in a variety of ways to shake up the strategy of combat. While that sounds awesome, you can only quick select 2 Vigors and carry only 2 guns at a time. Kinda sucks but Vigors can be changed on the fly and guns are everywhere in Columbia... I mean it! I think there are more guns in Columbia then there are in the U.S.A!

Vigors as mentioned before are like magic to use in the game. They have two modes of fire for traps and direct attacks and some can be combined to deal more damage or look cool... like a flaming murder of crows! There are 8 Vigors in the game admittedly but it isn't overkill or being to spoiled for choice. Vigors are mainly used in combat but some are used for a couple extra uses like mugging vending machines for cash or opening certain doors.

To add the smallest mention of RPG elements, the game has upgrades for your guns and Vigors that can be bought from vending robots for extra power among other upgrades. You can also find gear that gives you special effects and work like the Tonics of Bioshock. On top of this there are stat upgrades that can be found called Infusions that allow you to select whether you want to increase your max health, salts(for Vigor use) and your shield... yeah, a shield... shocked me too... he he, shock... Bioshock... no?

After a little bit of progression in the story you meet Elizabeth, who becomes your partner in crime. GOOD NEWS, everyone! She doesn't need babysitting! Elizabeth is the best partner... EVER! She takes care of herself and will occasionally throw you ammo, money and recovery items. Elizabeth also has the ability to pick locks to gain access to secret areas and safes(there are a lot of them) or to progress further.

The world of Columbia's level design is extremely well done. It doesn't feel like it was designed as a game, but like a real town. All the sky rails feel like the were set up for transportation more then for game progression and you can leap from rail to rail, attack from the rails with your guns or even leap onto an enemies from it for a little fun too. Some things in the environment are actually stuck in another dimension... guess who has another use? Elizabeth can manifest a variety of things from cover, to items and even allies like the robots you fight and turrets.

Speaking of the robots, the enemies in the game are numerous in quantity. You'll fight cops, soldiers, resistance fighters... I should have just said humans, robots called Patriots and hulking cyborgs called a Handyman.The humans are easy to kill... mostly, depending on the weaponry and armor they carry and one even teleports using a murder of crows! The Patriot robots are dumb and usually just blindly shoot in your general direction and take a lot to kill, Handymen on the other hand take forever to kill and deal a lot of damage but the don't show up very much in the game. There are robotic turrets in the game, both stationary and flying that attack you but they are more of a nuisance then a threat.

Like in the other games in the "shock" franchise, audio logs(called Voxophones here) are peppered throughout the game. Like before they fill in the back story and the main players within it. Along with these are a few little movie players called Kinetoscopes that show propaganda videos to give you an idea of what the people of Columbia believe in.

The game is linear despite all how open it feels but a structured game with some side tracking for item hunting is better then an open and bland world with too much to do(*cough* Skyrim *cough!*). There's a boat load of collectibles to find(as mentioned before) and it's so great to get lost and take in the sights of Columbia... oh cant' get lost! The game features a nav point beacon like in Dead Space to help you find your way if your lost or forgot the mission objective with the push of a button. It's a welcomed feature to have to prevent unwanted faffing about.

The PS3 version of the game has the option to play using the PlayStation Move. Assuming you have it, it actually makes the game feel a lot more fluid then the clunky controller. The aiming with the PS Move is similar to other PS Move and Wii FPS' and by thrusting it you can melee and twist to execute an extremely low heath enemy with a gruesome finisher. I highly recommend playing with the PS Move if you play the PS3 version because it's similar to PC controls.

So what's the verdict? Well the game has a great story from start to finish and is hard to put down. It has a protagonist NOT voiced by Nolan North which is always welcome, the characters don't piss you off and most importantly is the fact that in the most generic and stagnant genre, the game is fun and fresh. The trip to Columbia is well worth the admission and if you don't like this game and love Call of Duty, please surrender yourself to a lunatic asylum and remove yourself from the rest of society so we can get better. This game is fantastic! I love it a lot!

Score 5/5

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