First Impressions of Bioshock Infinite: The following post details my opinion on this particular game after having played it for approximately five hours
-Stunningly beautiful graphics
-Incredibly fun Skyhook segments
-No multiplayer functionality
-Vastly different than predecessors
In comparison to the previous Bioshock games, many hardcore fans may be disappointed with the wealth of changes that have occurred since the second game. As a standalone title though, Bioshock Infinite is spectacular, and is well worth the wait since the release of the last game.
Unlike in the previous Bioshock games, where you, the player, were a little dissociated with your character due to never seeing your character’s face and discovering very little about their life or identity, Infinite is, well, infinitely different in that you learn more and more about the lead protagonist, Booker Dewitt, over the course of the game.
Dewitt, who has more debt than he has money to ease his burden, is recruited to extract a young mysterious woman, Elizabeth, from an unknowable city known only as Columbia, located, where else, but in the clouds. Built in 1893, and having being floating around for the past 19 years, the entire city and its founding is shrouded in complete mystery, and so are the reasons behind why your employers are so intrigued in this particular young woman.
However, it would seem that although forces outside of the city wish to have Elizabeth, so do forces from the city within, who revere Elizabeth as being their ‘lamb’, who is prophesised to lead their city when their founding father of creation, Father Zachary Hale Comstock passes away.
On that note, it is prudent to notify the gamer that the storyline behind Infinite is extraordinarily religious, with an incredibly detailed back story being generated to accommodate said religion. As with all religions, there are its heroes, and in this case that would be, you guessed it, its creator Father Comstock, and its nemesis is, well, we’ll get to that…
Upon arrival into the city, you will find yourself unable to look away from the incredibly vivid detail of every surface and each construction. There is so much going on in the world all at once and often there is a lot to take in that you will more often than not find yourself staring admirably at what Irrational Games has accomplished. Every single piece of the gorgeous artwork looks as though it is a necessary part to the storyline, and not a thing seems out of place in this fictitious world that will enthrall you to the very end.
With this writ, there are often many areas to look through, and searching around the environment is a mandate to ensure that you don’t miss out on anything. There is much to explore and even more to find, with the additional support of side quests that will cause you to deviate from your current path in order to find something that will efficaciously assist you, whether it be weaponry or other such offensive and/or defensive capabilities.
Safe to say not everything is in plain sight, so it is often prudent to stay sharp and keep all eyes open. Much like in the previous games though, you can open up cabinets and chests and look inside to discover the loot they contain.
Furthermore, like in the previous titles, much of the back story of the city can be found in the recordings, these particular one’s labeled as Voxophone’s. Although not a necessary mandate to the game’s completion, these recordings provide an invaluable amount of information on the culture and the climate of the city that you stumble into.
There is plenty of money to be found moreover, which comes in the form of Silver Eagle coins, which can be found in purses and prizes, but unfortunately often come in singular pieces scattered about the environment. You’ll be unwittingly surprised by how much money people seem to simply leave about their city. Astounding!
Adjunctively, there is health to be found about the city, which comers in both medical packs and tasty, tasty food. To better protect you, your character later discovers a shield that, much like the shield used by the Spartans in the Halo games, will automatically replenish itself during portions of the game when you are not under attack. This shield you will often find is unbelievably beneficial, and will assist you greatly.
Unlike in the previous titles where you could accumulate an assortment of health packs and hold onto them until a time was critical enough to use them, in Infinite, this is not allowed. You will either pick up an item and use it immediately, or you will simply not pick it up at all. The lack of a storage system ensures that you are kept on your toes more often and pay closer attention to your health bar, because in this game, the only way to save yourself is through finding an item rather than hitting a key and immediately becoming rejuvenated.
The same goes for salt; yes, you read that right, but this ain’t the white specks you put onto your meat for additional flavor – this is the blue stuff that powers you abilities, known in Infinite as Vigors, and as the expression goes on their advertisement, ‘a life with Vigors is a life that’s bigger.’
Vigors are the titles given to the powers that your character is able to wield (think back to the powers in previous Bioshock games, but with different names). In this game, by simply clicking the activation key, you are able to send out a quick offensive attack in the direction of your intended target, but by holding down the key, you are able to conjure a more powerful attack, resulting in a tarp that will heinously harm your attacker.
Each Vigor can be upgraded twice by accumulating such upgrades from a vending machine (bearing in mind the prices are unbelievably frightful). On top of this, your Vigors, your health and your shield can be upgraded with Infusion. These bottles that are scattered about the game can be applied to only one of the three upgradable options at a time, so it is up to you whether you become the healthiest character alive, the most well armored, or the most incredibly powerful.
On the subject of armor moreover, you are also able to equip clothing; not to say that your character runs about stark naked beforehand, not at all. You can exchange your character’s clothes for different shirts, pants, hats and boots, which each come with their own powerful attachments. These can range from defensive abilities activated upon coming under attack, to offensive strengths. Either way, the assistance these clothes will provide is incalculable.
Moving on, upon arrival in Columbia, not only is the city highly religious and stunningly beautiful, but incredibly peaceful and charming to boot, making it a paradise. Columbia is a city of music, dance, joy and love; at least for a short amount of time. There’s just one little problem – earlier I mentioned that like all religions there was a bad guy, remember? Well, you see, the problem is that you, the character, are the supposed bad guy. Father Comstock predicted that you would one day come to steal their blessed lamb from their city, and upon being spotted for the suspected pariah that you are, the entire city goes from a place of zen and peace to a place of madness and horror, and you finally see the city for what it is; a body of lies, mangled with the disgusting ideologies of racism and hatred that have mirrored society below, only far more intensified. Designed for the privileged, white upper class, anyone who does not fit such a limiting constraint is not treated kindly at all.
Upon being discovered as the enemy to this zealous regime, the game turns into a sudden explosion of blood as you violently attack your oppressors, and in this moment you cannot help but be entertained as the action finally heats up.
You immediately acquire yourself a Skyhook, which is the unanimous device in the city for quick movement. You can hook yourself up to a rail line suspended above the ground and go for a ride, or you can use the magnetized device and leap from one section of metal attached to the side of a building to another as to quickly move about your environment and accomplish your objectives. Or, you could always use the device to bludgeon your opponents to death with, the melee capacity of this weapon being unfathomably astounding.
From above, when attached to a rail line or other like piece where the Skyhook is necessary, you can pounce down upon unsuspected enemies below and instantly kill them in a comical style attack that will leave you breathless.
As for your other weapons, that is one of the disappointing factors of the game. True, you acquire them at an incredibly fast pace, but since you only ever have two weapon slots, you have to choose which ones you intend to carry into combat, unlike in previous titles where you could carry all of them at once. Irrational Games also tend to provide you with a limited assortment of ammo, and you are often forced to resort to using your abilities and being quite tactical. Those who have the bull at a gate syndrome may sometimes find that the more subtle approach is often recommended in defeating large groups of bad guys out for your blood.
Another part of the game you will need to change up and rely upon are your checkpoints. Again, unlike in previous installments where you could save your progress whenever you deemed necessary, you are forced to rely upon the game to checkpoint every so often as you continue through the campaign. Although most games in general today rely upon such a saving technique, it is annoying to be denied something of such great import after having the luxury in the past.
Lastly, as previously mentioned at the beginning, the goal of making your way up to Columbia, was not only to marvel at your surroundings, but to find and extract Elizabeth.
As with all stereotypical video game heroines, Elizabeth is unbelievably gorgeous physically, however, is not just limited to standing around and looking pretty. Having been locked up for most of her life with nothing to do but read up on a wealth of knowledge, she has become alarmingly resourceful, and her intellect is borderline unrivalled. Elizabeth has the ability to pick the locks of doors, and, much like your own character, will be able to search about the environment and scavenge for supplies that she will gladly give to you. However, these environmental interactions don’t stop there, and Elizabeth will also interact with controls, look at videos, talk to the people of the city and even sit down every so often when there is a chair near her location. All in all, the realism of her character is astounding, and efficaciously assists in making the game even more powerfully realistic.
Although I mentioned that Elizabeth’s character is highly intelligent, years of being locked up inside a tower like a prisoner have also caused her to become quite ignorant of the world outside. She is alarmingly sweet and her views are incredibly innocent, heightening her evocative character’s features and causing her to be even more desirable, not just as a sumptuous looking woman, but as a human being.
On a last note, I should mention the lack of multiplayer functionality. I was never entirely rapt with the Bioshock multiplayer and only ever played the games because of their alarmingly fantastical single player experiences. However, this decision to chop out such a popular gaming aspect may well come back to bite Irrational where it hurts and they may well be doing themselves a great disservice for such a feature was available in both of the previous titles.
One may suspect that perhaps multiplayer was dropped as to focus more on the single player campaign. Time will only tell if this is true, and if so, if such a decision was well worth it.
In conclusion, although a vast number of changes have being implemented since the last game in the franchise, and although a number of these changes may initially seem difficult to come to terms with, Bioshock Infinite stands alone as an extraordinary piece of fiction worthy of any gamers’ collection.