When Bioshock Infinite was first announced it immediately became my most anticipated game of 2012. Slated for release some time in Spring, I couldn’t wait to explore the above-sky city of Columbia. But then, it was delayed, and delayed, and delayed. Until finally March 2013 rolls around and bringing with it one of the best games of the year. Bioshock Infinite is a very worthy successor to its predecessors and in some regards it surpasses the original Bioshock as my personal favourite FPS of all time.
In my opinion, the Bioshock franchise seems to get a fair bit of unwarranted criticism with regards to gameplay. In a sea of Call of Dutys, Battlefields, Medal of Honors and Killzones its nice to have a game that contains a mechanic that allows you to play differently each time. Vigors are a great way to take out your enemies and offer a fair amount of strategy to the gameplay. That enemy who’s hiding behind cover in front of you? Why not use Bucking Bronco to launch him sky high and take him out with your shotgun? Vigors can also be combined which offers a great amount of variety to how you go about dispatching your enemies. That’s not to say Bioshock Inifinite is easy, for experienced gamers I would highly recommend playing 1999 mode which offers a great amount of challenge particularly towards the end of the game.
Bioshock Infinite also brings some new gameplay mechanics to the franchise, the first of which is the skyhook. The skyhook allows you to traverse the city of Columbia very easily and can also be used strategically on the battlefield to get the jump on enemies. It also doubles as a melee weapon which is very handy early on in the game, when gun supplies are low and enemies are weak, however, not far into the game this stops being useful and quickly becomes an in-viable option. The second, much more predominant new mechanic is your sidekick Elizabeth, who can open riffs for Booker that allows him to stock up on ammo, place turrets and structures to grapple onto with the skyhook as well as occasionally using certain types of enemies to fight on your side. Not only this but Elizabeth will frequently find health, money, ammo and salts throughout the course of the game making her one of gaming’s most useful companions.
While the gameplay is very very fun the real meat that’ll draw gamers in is the story. Bioshock Infinite is a master-class in video game storytelling – particularly for the FPS genre. It’s regrettable that The Last of Us came and seemed to draw attention away from the storytelling in Bioshock Infinite as the writing here is great. While the game does seem to slow down just a tiny bit about 3/4 of the way through the game every moment was gripping and many moments particularly the end-game made me think and it was very refreshing to have an FPS that made me go “WTF?!” Without giving anything away every fan of first person shooters or simply good storytelling should experience Bioshock Infinite’s story if not solely for the last 20 minutes or so that will be remembered for years to come as one of the best endings in an FPS if not in gaming as a whole.
Not only does Bioshock play great, but it looks great too. Columbia is a beautifully well realized city and the amount of detail that has gone into certain areas is extremely impressive. Not only this, but character designs are well made too, most noticeably Elizabeth and enemies such as the Songbird (Infinite’s answer to the Big Daddy) and the Motorized Patriots (mecha homicidal George Washingtons). On top of this, it’s nice to have a FPS which has a bright colour scheme which is a welcome contrast to some other entries in the genre including both Bioshock predecessors. There were a couple of occasions where I experienced freezing but this was a minor issue and didn’t disrupt the game too much.
The voice acting in Bioshock Infinite was fantastic. This game was essentially Troy Baker’s (The Last of Us, Batman: Arkham Origins) break out in the video game industry and he was fantastic as was Kirk VandenHeuvel as Comstock, but the real star of the show here is Courtnee Draper who excels as Elizabeth and successfully portrays every emotion a character like Elizabeth would experience. Sound effects were also very well done from vigors to bullets to riding the skyrail, everything sounded accurate and clear.
Overall, Bioshock Infinite isn’t just a great addition to the FPS genre but gaming as a whole, raising the bar for story telling in video game and making characters that will be remembered for a long time. Bioshock Infinite will be remembered as one of 2013’s strongest games and if you’re reading this and haven’t yet given it a try I would highly recommend you do so. Bioshock Infinite is a fantastic addition to an iconic franchise.