Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bioshock Infinite Review

Note: this blog has been migrated to Medium, with the articles here available to preserve permalinks Please see this post at

Holy cow, I haven't gotten this sucked into a game since Half-Life 2! And Half-Life 2 resulted in my mother banning me from video games for two weeks. My mother isn't at college with me, so my productivity went down the drain. Bioshock Infinite came out at 11:00 on Monday evening (Central Time) and I finished it 38 hours later at 1:00 Wednesday afternoon. 

During that time I spent 13 hours in the game.

That's one-third of my time.

That's more time than I spent sleeping.

I have no self-control.

Not only did I spend a ton of my time in the game, but even when I had to leave it I was thinking about it; I couldn't get it out of my head!

So let's get into the stuff that you probably want to know about the game. It's a first-person shooter, single-player, linear, and story-based. Infinite takes the best things of the first two Bioshock games and puts them together into one game. Much like Bioshock 2, you have both your weapon and a special power (called a vigor) equipped at once, so you don't have to switch between them. Vigors are pretty much the same thing as plasmids were in the previous games, just with a different name. Unlike the previous games you can only carry two weapons at once, but ammunition is more abundant. An addition that I really appreciated was the fact that melee was assigned its own button and you didn't have to have a specific weapon equipped for it. The other addition to gameplay that they made was the skylanes. They add a lot of movement and verticality to the maps, and they are a ton of fun. Nothing quite as satisfying as zipping around, dropping down on an unsuspecting enemy and knocking them off of the city. They get a long time to wave goodbye.

Of course you're not going to pay $60 for 13 hours of fun gameplay; if you just want fun FPS gameplay you're probably playing Team Fortress 2 right now. The story, atmosphere, and characters are the real heart of Bioshock. You play as Booker DeWitt, a man with a colored past that he would rather forget. A US Cavalry veteran and former Pinkerton who is sent to the flying city of Columbia to retrieve Elizabeth. "Bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt."

This couldn't possibly be a trap.
 When I first heard about Bioshock Infinite's setting, I thought it was just going to be the City of Rapture in the sky; Columbia is so much more than that. There are two things that give it a huge advantage over Rapture: Rapture's society had already collapsed, so pretty much all of the storytelling was done through audio recordings. Columbia is populated, and is in the middle of a revolution when you show up; this allows for much richer storytelling. It also doesn't hurt that the city itself is a joy to behold. I would just spend a while walking around and looking at whatever was around because it was all so gorgeous.

No, you can't kill the children. You monster.
This cake isn't a lie.

Another huge difference between Rapture and Columbia is the ideology behind them. rapture was founded by a crazy guy who wanted governments and religions and morality to stop telling him what to do. Columbia was founded by a crazy guy who worships the founding fathers and wants to purge the sinful world below. And of course the girl you have to rescue is the key to his plan.

That brings me to Elizabeth. If you are worried about the game being an extended escort mission, you can relax. Elizabeth can't be harmed in combat, and she comes in very handy. While fighting she will often find items that you need. If you are low on health, she'll often toss you a medkit; if you're burning through a bunch of clips she'll toss you some ammunition for whatever gun you're using. She can also bring certain items into our world from parallel universes, and you get to choose which ones will benefit you the most.

She's also the most emotionally engaging video game character that I can remember encountering. Even though there isn't any player choice, I legitimately felt guilty when she got mad at Booker for lying to her, and I rushed through a few levels after she was captured because I was desperate to rescue her.

The whole alternate-realities thing is more than just a convenient gameplay tool, it pops up quite a bit in the storyline. For example, the technology that keeps the city floating has to do with quantum entanglement or some such fiddle-faddle. It starts getting pretty crazy about halfway through, which is one of the reasons that I was so engaged; I wanted to find out how it would all get resolved.

On a related note you should all buy the game and finish it as quickly as you can because I want someone who I can talk to about the ending of the game. None of my friends have finished the game yet, and it is driving me crazy.

Issues of racism and classism come up quite a bit throughout the course of the game (that's the whole reason the rebellion is happening after all) and from a modern perspective we can all agree that having separate bathrooms is wrong. So I don't feel the need to go into it.

Random screenshots time!

Somebody watches Doctor Who.

If you want to see all of my screenshots you can head over to my Steam profile. They have a nice spoiler tag now so it will warn you about any screenshots that might give away important things.

Instead of giving games a 1-10 score I like to give them a reasonable price point. Bioshock Infinite is definitely worth $60, even though it isn't very long. When I finished I felt extremely satisfied with the game, I wasn't longing for the story to continue or anything. The awesome story, Elizabeth, and gameplay are the huge selling points of this awesome title.


There are a few DLCs planned, and I have purchased the season pass because I have faith that they will be worth it.

EDIT: you can now read my review of the Burial at Sea DLC.