Bioshock Infinite is one of the defining games of this generation. Not only does it surpass all other Irrational Games' titles to date, it stands alone as an achievement in storytelling, engaging environments, and, above all else, fun gameplay. In a world where Skylines, Vigor, and heavy artillery are your best friends, Columbia is a living, breathing, utopian roller coaster ride that will leave your jaw on the floor for fifteen hours. From its opening moments to its mind-bending conclusion, after you get blasted over the rainbow, you will never want to go back. We're not in Rapture anymore.
This game is a work of art. Everything that is presented to you in this game can so easily be taken out of context, but it never seems contrived and is never done in a disrespectful way. That's ultimately why I felt okay with topics such as racism, religion, and other socio-political taboos being fully integrated into Infinite's story. While the original two Bioshocks touched on those subjects a tad, they felt more at home in the bright and vibrant world of Columbia. The floating city is the star of the show though. This game is mouth-wateringly gorgeous. From lighting shining through windows, to eavesdropping on the conversations of the Columbians, the game does not skimp on creating a city that feels as though it continues to exist every time you shut down your console.
"From its opening moments to its mind-bending conclusion, after you get blasted over the rainbow, you will never want to go back. We're not in Rapture anymore."
The game's story revolves around Booker Dewitt sky rocketing into the backwards world of Columbia where he is tasked with rescuing a girl by the name of Elizabeth in order to repay a personal debt. This selfish beginning instantly makes you want to hate Dewitt, but as the story unravels you will race past every emotion humans are able to feel. This emotional fluctuation isn't limited to just Booker though. Elizabeth with also play devil's advocate at times and will even assist you in combat.
Infinite's gameplay is familiar enough to anyone who has played a first-person shooter before, but what it does differently sets it apart from generic fish-in-a-barrel shooters. Shotguns, machine guns, sniper rifles, and every other familiar Bioshock weapon exist in this universe. No worries there. Plasmids, however, have been replaced by Vigors. These drinkable tonics give you the crazy, biomorphing left hands that fans of the series crave. This time there are some really rewarding ones. Every Vigor has a projectile burst you can launch or a trap you can set up by holding down the Vigor button. Each of these options is intriguing and both are useful in different combat scenarios. Murder of Crows is pretty self-explanatory. Bucking Bronco can suspend enemies in a sort of midair status, so you can headshot them each individually. Undertow allows you the option to reel in enemies close or fling them off into the sky with a watery tentacle. The ridiculous combos and depth of Infinite's combat are undeniable.
"Infinite's gameplay is familiar enough to anyone who has played a first-person shooter before, but what it does differently sets it apart from generic fish-in-a-barrel shooters."
Larger scale battles will offer you two different, but equally important, options in addition to all of the insane Vigor and gun possibilities. Elizabeth has the ability to open tears into other worlds. With that in mind, she will be able to conjure cover, medical kits, gattling guns, rocket launchers, and many other useful, yet otherworldly, tools that you can use to gain advantage over your opponents when you're overwhelmed. She will also scour the battlefield and loot dead bodies that you haven't gotten around to searching yet. She could find Vigor, ammo, health, or money. Not too many options there, but it's always helpful!
The other tool you will be using in battles is your skyhook. Not only is it the most brutal melee weapon in gaming since Gears of War strapped a chainsaw on a Lancer, but it allows you to travel via Skylines, which then switches the game to an on-rails shooter, breaking up the monotony of running-and-gunning. There was a moment in the game where I latched onto a Skyline, jumped onto a zeppelin, destroyed its engine by ripping it out with a skyhook, I leapt from the descending airship onto a Skyline, and jumped off at the exactly appropriate time to meet up with my fellow members of the Vox Populi. Bioshock Infinite delivers moments like this on a minute-to-minute basis. Infinite will make you feel like a badass throughout.
"Everything about Infinite is refreshing to see under the guise of the first-person shooter genre."
The varied enemy types in this game are also a fresh change of pace from the previous two games. I was tired of fighting Splicers. From blasting away at a Motorized Patriot until his George Washington face is shrapnel, to sneaking past a Boy of Silence simply to avoid fighting those creepy, hobbit-sized Ben Franklins, the enemies in this game are not only tough, but consistently unique depending on which one you are up against. Handymen posed the biggest threat to me due to my love of Skylines, which they can electrocute by grabbing on to.
Everything about Infinite is refreshing to see under the guise of the first-person shooter genre. While this game is undeniably a shooter, this games story will have the gaming industry talking for years to come. Not since Half-Life 2 I have I been as impressed and fulfilled with the narrative in a first-person shooter. The game nodded toward all of the untouched subjects gaming has been trying to avoid for years. It's one of those rare games that is seemingly self-aware of the current state of the gaming industry and is, in large strides, trying to remove clichés and rewrite the norm on many different impactful levels. Bioshock Infinite accomplished that, exceeded my every expectation, and leaves me wanting more from Irrational Games. If this is the future, I hope it's forever. I hope it's infinite.
Review by: Michael Engle | Reviewed on: Xbox 360