I remember when this game was announced like 3 years ago. It was going to be the spiritual successor to my favorite game of all time, Bioshock. We didn’t know that much about it; all we saw was a little title card teaser. But it was enough to get me excited. Very, very excited. For a long time, it was my most anticipated game, and while it doesn’t hold up to the original (which, admittedly, is considered one of the best games of all time), it definitely met my very lofty expectations, and even managed to improve on the original in some key ways.
The game opens with you knowing very little about your character, Booker DeWitt, and even less about what you’re supposed to be doing. “Bring us the girl, wipe away the debt” was repeated over and over in the trailers and it’s echoed in the opening sequences of the game. It seems like a simple retrieval mission, but Bioshock Infinite is anything but that.
The entirety of the game takes place on Columbia, a floating city in the clouds created from the vision of one man: Zachary Hale Comstock. He was unhappy with the society of his time, so he decided to create one of his own. Sound familiar? Guess what, that’s not the only influence this game draws from the original Bioshock. So Booker lands on Columbia, a stranger in a strange land, so to speak. But while at first glance Comstock has created a flying paradise, Booker soon finds out that “utopia” really depends on your point of view.
Without going too far into the story, things quickly unravel and the denizens on Columbia by and large become your foes. You’re given a variety of weapons to deal with them throughout the game: shotguns, pistols, grenade launchers are all present, and they all handle pretty well. Vigors also feel very familiar to those who played with the plasmids in the original Bioshock. There are some cool new ones, and being able to combine them for multi-elemental kills is awesome, but they just don’t feel different enough from the original. Compared to the originial Bioshock, combat is much easier to deal with. Enemies are smarter so they’ll take cover (mostly) rather than bumb rush you like the wrench wielding enemies of Rapture. However, this does take away some of the frenetic “oh shit” moments, especially since there aren’t as many opportunities to plan out your attack strategy. Some of the best moments in Bioshock were planning out how to deal with a Big Daddy and then executing it perfectly, or not so perfectly. Infinite on the other hand, grows a little repetitive in the combat area because it mostly just throws more enemies at you than its predecessor.
While the combat isn’t always the most interesting thing in the game (though it’s far from bad), the story really pushes Infinite into the upper echelon of games this generation. Simply put, the game puts you through some crazy twists and turns that had even my jaded, cynical mind trying to stay one step ahead (and mostly failing). There was one particular revelation that, similar to Atlus being revealed as Fontaine, seemed super obvious after the fact, but while playing, dropped my jaw to the floor. Some other reveals, not so much (the true nature of Elizabeth and Comstock’s relationship, for example.) But without spoiling anything here, the story needs to be seen and experienced first hand. There are things that you WILL NOT see coming, and those are always the best stories.
Some other minor quibbles: only being able to carry 2 weapons at a time is a bummer, as is only being able to hotkey two vigors (though on PC you can hotkey more). Setting vigor traps was mostly useless, and adding one or two other unique enemy types would have kept the combat fresh until the end.
That being said, Bioshock Infinite is a fantastic game and it’s well worth your time if you enjoy shooters or story driven games. Honestly, calling Infinite a “first person shooter” does not do it justice in the slightest; it’s much more of a “first person mind bending character driven story shooter/magic-er”. Though I guess that isn’t as easy to say.
-well crafted story
-deep, engaging characters
-constant story surprises
-combat can feel repetitive
-only carry 2 weapons
-important story details found only in hidden collectibles