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Review: BioShock Infinite

April 2, 2013 • Reviews

Irrational Games has been at the helm of many releases over the last few years, but one of their more successful franchises is BioShock. Starting out in 2007, they crafted a world ruled by Big Daddies and Litttle Sisters, tucked firmly under the ocean in the city of Rapture.

Elizabeth is Booker DeWitt's companion throughout the title (image: Irrational Games)

Although BioShock 2 was not developed under the original Irrational Games name, the company returned to deliver the visually-breathtaking first-person shooter BioShock Infinite – a prequel to the other two BioShock games.

What we like about it

BioShock Infinite is an incredible game. Every aspect of the title, from the gameplay, the controls, and even the plot, has been carefully curated to fit into the beautifully designed world that is Columbia.

Players take on the role of Booker DeWitt, and for all that he knows, he has to “bring them the girl, and repay the debt”. But things start to unravel in the idyllic world of the 1912 floating city and it soon becomes clear that there is much more to this debt.

The visuals are almost a character in their own right because of the level of attention to detail. Some gamers might argue that the graphics are a bit over the top and basic in animation – but it all blends together well to accentuate outstanding colours and beautiful scenery.

At the beginning of the title, players walk through a carnival and the character can engage all games at the carnival. Gamers will be able to stop by a stand and shoot aliens, throw bottles at devils and try their luck at the strength meter. And everything has been design to fit in with the theme of 1912 – from the clothes people wear, their conversations and even the food they eat.

In terms of controls, gamers are given a short tutorial at the beginning of the title, with button hints popping up when new items are discovered. The default controller scheme might seem a bit strange at first, but players can change it to Marksman to revert back to the usual FPS scheme.

In combat, players can make use of two different weapons, melee attacks and use salts to power-up and deliver special attacks. When the opportunity presents itself, DeWitt can also make use of Sky-Lines to get across the city, or drop on enemies.

Just as the graphics is an entity in itself, so is the plot. BioShock Infinite has one of the most beautifully crafted stories, and while the different plots may seem disjointed, it all melts into a big finish at the end – when all is revealed. During the chaotic and sometimes scrambled combat, players will not have a lot of time to piece things together, but it all serves the purpose of revealing the next surprising element.

While players take on the role of DeWitt, they are actually not playing the main character – that role belongs to the young girl Elizabeth. DeWitt needs to rescue the girl and take her to a specific place, but it soon turns out that she is actually the main character in Infinite, while players only assist her in her endeavours.

It is a great touch to the BioShock franchise, and the view is further substantiated by the fact that Elizabeth helps DeWitt more than what he does for her. Elizabeth will scurry around during combat looking for supplies for DeWittt, and players also do not need to protect her when the bullets start flying, as she can look after herself.

What we do not like about it

With a game of this magnitude, there is actually very little criticism that can be levelled against it. As strange as it may sound, the title is near-prefect as every element works in harmony to deliver a stunning end product. The only negative about the title is that the plot does not always carry the same pace, and there are parts in the middle of the story where things are toned down a bit. Some of the artefacts and salt potions were also a bit difficult to get to, but it did not ruin the level in any way. The ending of the game might also raise a number of eyebrows, as it slows down a lot as it is more about revealing facts than leaving it on a cliff-hanger for future titles.

Conclusion

BioShock Infinite is an incredible prequel to the previous games in the franchise and it will be hard to beat. The visuals are absolutely stunning, the combat is fast-paced and often very chaotic and the plot is one of the best gamers have seen in a very long time. The stunning attention to detail also further drives the title to becoming Game of the Year, and Elizabeth as a character is almost worthy of an Oscar. The character development, and even the personal connection between DeWitt and Elizabeth is beautifully explored, and draws the player further into the narrative.

Gamers who are fans of the BioShock franchise will absolutely love Infinite, and there is also no better time to get into the franchise than with Infinite.

Our score: 9.5/10

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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