Bioshock Infinite Review

An imposing statue of Father Comstock, founder of Columbia

  • Developer: Irrational Games
  • Publisher: 2K Games
  • Release Date: 25 March 2013
  • Time played: 13 hours

As I mentioned when I did my "First Impressions" post for Bioshock Infinite, late last month, I mentioned that I'm actually not a returning Bioshock fan. I've totally missed out on Bioshock and Bioshock 2 but this is not entirely surprising since I also haven't played any of the System Shock games (*an audible gasp is heard from the audience*). I can respect that System Shock 2 was a good game, I even tried going back to play the game and let me tell you, it's tough. Those with the nostalgia glasses on can probably look past the dated graphics and interface but it's a bit hard for someone who has never played it before. It's like me harping on about how good the original Deus Ex is and trying to get someone today, more than a decade later, to go back and play it. It's not the same despite how awesome the gameplay and story is. It's something only you and those who played it when it originally came out, can really appreciate.

Anyway, what I think I'm trying to say is that this review would be pretty good for those of you who have never played a Bioshock game before and are curious as to what the fuss is all about. For those who are fans of the series, this review will probably not sway you one way or another since you just want to know if it's different to the previous Bioshocks or not - I can't give you that answer. I can only judge this game on its own merits.

Plot (4/5)
The year is 1912 and you're on an alternate Earth where a huge floating city known as Columbia exists. You play the role of an ex-Pinkerton agent called Booker DeWitt whose mission is to infiltrate this floating city and recover a girl called Elizabeth, the daughter of the city's leader, Zachary Hale Comstock. Things start turning pear-shaped when you realise you're not welcome in the city pretty early on in the game. Posters in the city warn Columbia's citizens of the arrival of "the False Shepherd" who happens to have the same markings on his hand as you do, so you know you're going to be in for a rough time.

I won't reveal much more of the plot but it does get very interesting later on and goes to explain many of the burning questions you probably have at the start, such as how could a city float in the sky? Where would they be able to get this technology from in 1912? The setting is also very well developed with the floating micronation of Columbia espousing the old fashioned American ideals of Manifest Destiny, bringing their own brand of American imperialism wherever in the world they visit.

The only thing that broke the immersion however was how quickly Booker accepted the use of these things called "Vigors" which are just like magic potions granting you superpowers. Unless "Vigors" are somehow commonplace on Earth as they are on Columbia, I find this very strange. There are several other plot holes you'll discover in the game, even the ending was a bit confusing (although I understood the general gist of it), however without ruining the plot, it's to be expected somewhat with the plot device they decided to adopt.

Gameplay (4/5)
In terms of gameplay, the game runs a lot like your typical FPS action-adventure. You can carry two weapons at any given time and you can pick from a wide variety such as sub-machine guns, shotguns, pistols, sniper rifles, grenade launchers and rocket launchers. Each have their usual pros and cons. As the game is principally an FPS action-adventure, guns are usually quite effective at dispatching enemies, so much so that in most parts of the game you probably don't need the use of Vigors since there's so much ammo and guns dropping around the place you're rarely going to be short. Which is a bit of a shame since then you wonder why bother adding the ability to use Vigors in the first place?

In terms of the campaign, the game is rather linear not really affording you too much opportunity to explore. This didn't bother me too much and there are some optional side quests you can do along the way anyway, just not as many as you'd expect in a typical RPG.

Sound (5/5)
Irrational Games has done a splendid job with the audio, having all the background noises you'd expect from an early 20th century town (with a bit of future technology put in there for good measure). Voice acting is performed by professional voice actors and is consequently top notch, especially Chris VandenHeuvel's performance as Zachary Hale Comstock.

Music (5/5)
One of the best aspects of this game is its music. I was actually shocked (maybe even, bio-shocked, get it?) by not only how good the background music was, dynamically adapting to what was occurring during combat, but also the licensed music used in the game with such classics as God Only Knows by the Beach Boys, Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival and Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears. An eclectic mix to be sure but songs that work surprisingly well when used as old-fashioned renditions in the right context.

ZOMG those eyes! They're creeping me out!

Graphics (4/5)
The game has some very beautiful vistas but that's bound to happen when you've got an almost magical floating city in the clouds. The game also ran pretty smoothly although the only criticism I have is that the character models were a bit too "cartoony" for my liking, especially the eyes on some of the female character models - it makes them look like living porcelain dolls which just creeps me out.

Replay (2/5)
It's unlikely I'll replay Bioshock Infinite anytime soon although the 13 hours of gameplay I did experience was a blast to play. The game also has various Steam achievements you can hunt for increasing the replay value of the game not to mention there have been a few story-based DLCs released too.

Polish (5/5)
I didn't encounter any serious bugs while playing the game which is pretty amazing for a AAA title nowadays. The controls seemed intuitive enough too.

Score – 8/10

Seeing as this is my first every Bioshock title I've played, I was pleasantly surprised to see how enjoyable the experience was despite being a newcomer to the series. The game is a competent FPS action-adventure with an intriguing storyline that entices you to keep playing more in order to solve the mystery about Elizabeth Comstock and the strange floating city of Columbia. Along with high production values that you'd expect from a AAA title, it's no surprise that this title rated so well when released over a year ago.

Bioshock Infinite is available from these retailers:

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[ LINK: Official Bioshock Infinite website ]