Bioshock Infinite is the most recent installment in the Bioshock series, a beloved first person shooter series introduced in this generation of consoles but a spiritual successor to System Shock. It keeps it’s focus on storytelling as the previous games do, but it brings in a setting completely new to the fans. There is no Rapture, welcome to Columbia.
Before delving into the game play itself, let’s talk about Columbia. The city is amazingly well designed, consisting of several island grouped together by a Skyrail, a rail system built to help transport cargo and used by police officers for quick movement around the city using the Skyhook, the new melee weapon in this installment. It is an efficient method of transportation and being able to jump down and executing enemies really quickly is fun, but shooting is not very efficient, considering how heavily explored this idea was before the games release, the Skyrail is not really that amazing, but it does gives you a good view of the city, Columbia being an extremely bright scenario, contrasting with the very dark original Bioshock games, which feels quite shocking to the experienced Bioshock player.
In game you are Booker DeWitt, a man with a mission: “bring the girl, and wipe away the debt”. As you arrive, it gives you glimpse a moment of the populations lifestyle, game rooms, beaches, carnivals, seeing people going by their everyday life while you go through your mission makes it even more immerse. The “girl”, Elizabeth, is not only a great companion and character, but she also provides Salts, Health, Money and Ammo randomly during the game, supporting you on the narrative and game play alike. Your relationship with her makes the foundation of the game, and it’s really well written too, the moments shared of joy, frustration and disappointment are legit, making you care about both along the length of it’s 8 hours long story mode. The other characters all are well written, having their own conflicts and motives flashed out during the game, they all make you interested, even if sometimes inconsistently. The story is developed very well, with interesting plot twists and good pacing.
The collectibles are all interesting in the game, either being power-ups or pieces of information about the background and points of view in the games, like the Kinetoscopes, that show a very quick black and white clip (Hey, it is set in 1912!) about the city and its history, ranging from plot important details, like how Comstock after the civil war, went against the Union and took Columbia to the skies; or a small eight second clip showing a cigarette for kids advert. The music and sounds of the game are very well planned and add to the immersion, giving you a good feel of what is going on as you play, peaceful cities, terrifying combat or saddening moments.
Game play wise, the game is very similar to the original, you have your Plasmids which are now called Vigors and you use Salts instead of using EVE, some of the new ones are interesting and fun to use like “Possession” which temporarily makes an enemy fight for you and, depending on what enemy it is, suicide after the end of the possession, or “Undertow” with which you can push people away with a massive wave or pull them in with a watery tentacle, others are quite forgettable, like “Charge”, which makes you ram into a distant character with your melee weapon. You can also set traps with some of these Vigors, which will leave a small Area of Effect vigor waiting for someone to walk on it. The gun-play is the same, you can buy upgrades if you have enough cash, and although not perfect, it works well enough. As previously mentioned riding the Skyrail is fun and dropping into a guard is satisfying, just as meleeing and executing.
There are several ways to go about your combinations of weapons and vigors, but all in all the game ends up being really easy, being slightly challenging on two specific occasions, even on the toughest difficulty “1999 mode”, which is essentially a Very Hard mode that will not re-spawn you unless you have $100 to spare. The games lacks any other modes, but I believe the campaign speaks for itself, and it doesn’t require anything else. With the exclusion of certain iconic franchise symbols, like the big daddy, Bioshock Infinite takes a huge risk, even more exacerbated when it throws a completely new setting. But with a brilliant pace, amazing writing and gameplay that will give you that familiar sense of the series, it manages to hold as a stand alone game, without depending on what the other games of the franchise built upon. It is new game, on a new setting, with new characters and a new story to tell, but it’s still Bioshock, and it will blow you to the skies.
Amazing stories and characters
Brand new setting
Really easy game, providing barely any challenge