BioShock Infinite Review: Floating Dystopia
BioShock Infinite presents the absurdity that is mankind, the crux of our corrupt existence and the reflection of unattainable redemption. Only through forgiveness, can one start the journey.
“Of thy sins shall I wash thee.
From Sodom shall I lead thee.
To thine own land shall I take thee.
In New Eden soil shall I plant thee.”
Set in a man-made Shangri-la in 1912, this shooter is unlike anything you’ve experienced before. The breathtaking floating city of Columbia is home to one of the best written casts to date and host to the greatest retro-science fiction a video game has ever produced. In every sense of the word, it’s a true work of brilliance.
BioShock Infinite makes no apologies for its back-story and pulls no punches. It’s the raw depiction of political repression and the heinous consequence of religious extremism. The game explores subjects most development studios and writers dare not touch. Unlike the previous games in the franchise, it is not an exaggeration of our world or an ideal as such, but closer to a true interpretation than most care to admit. The honesty in every aspect of it is refreshing not only for a video game, but for any medium of entertainment in our society.
The absolute depth of dialogue, environment, architecture and character leaves the player wanting for nothing. No matter your religion or political affiliation, no matter who or what you are, the game will move you in a most intimate way.
What is, was, and will be. Ask not “where am I?” but when.
There are more delectable twists to the tale than you’d know what to do with, but served in carefully measured portions, each is sure to blow your mind. The intensity as the story unfolds ensnares your cognizance and the riddle that is every new chapter keeps you addicted. Right from the start the player is strapped in on a rollercoaster of uncertainty, just when you think you have it all figured out, you descend into a new concept at 100 miles per hour.
Lambs to the slaughter
BioShock Infinite offers an improved combat system to the franchise. Although the classic elements which we enjoyed in BioShock are prominent, they have been polished to absolute perfection. The multiplicity of choice provides the most creative ways to ensure your survival, through weapons and vigors or super powers (plasmids as seen in BioShock) and new ways to utilize your environment.
Equipped with two weapons at any given time and as many vigors as you’ve picked up along the way, you’re duel wielding both weapons and super-human abilities. Both are easily upgradable from vendors, ammunition and salts are abundant throughout the game. Salts are used to power your special abilities, like mana for magic spells. Changing the way you play is easy and can frequently be done, with different kinds of guns lying round after battles; you can choose to switch form being a heavy gunner to a sniper in seconds. Adapting to each fight by countering your opponents is seamless. If you play smart, the masses who so willingly give their lives to the cause will stand no chance. That being said, when played on the medium or hard difficulty, most fights will prove to be a challenge for gamers familiar to, or even seasoned in the shooter genre.
BioShock Infinite introduces random pieces of gear that can be discovered, which give players extra bonuses, and a simple way to upgrade either the health bar, armor- or salts bar.
Enter Elizabeth, a wide-eyed young lady keen to see the world. Once you’ve met her, she’ll accompany you for the remainder of the game. Elizabeth can be a powerful ally, but you’ll have to work hard to get her there. Her character development is in sync with that which she is prepared to do for you. Not sure who or what she is, she is able to provide you with super-natural aid as well as simple things such as giving you med kits or ammo when you need it during a brawl. Elizabeth will pick locks which lead to useful rewards or serve to open doors to progress in the game, gaining her trust creates an unbreakable bond. As the game progresses, Elizabeth is the only thing tethering you to the world, to whatever sanity you may have left. Navigation has also greatly been improved on; while Elizabeth will to an extent guide you in the right direction, you can at any time know exactly where to go at the press of a button – similar to Dead Space.
Paradise – Perdition
The change of scenery in BioShock Infinite from the previous titles in the franchise is almost poetic. Depicted as a paradise, it can be interpreted as the feeling of rapture; Rapture also being the underwater city in which BioShock 2 takes place. But while Columbia is in the same way an escape from society as Rapture is a retreat from post-World War II political, religious and social anxieties its appearance is the complete opposite.
The heavenly, crisp, enlightening exterior is a fresh break away from the usual derelict and grim surroundings of the previous titles. Only as the game nears its end, will players experience true destruction, the face of Armageddon. The light palette of soft colours make the floating city more believable, creating the feeling of being in the clouds, in paradise, and creates a false sense of security. But as any one would expect, the candy-coated setting has at its core the most tyrannical, brutal and disturbed villains hell has to offer.
The Martyrdom of man
Much like William Winwood Reade’s book “The Martyrdom of Man”, BioShock Infinite can be divided into four chapters: War – the imprisonment of man’s body; Religion – the imprisonment of man’s mind; Liberty – which man has been deprived of; and Intellect – the tool through which those shackles are overcome.
War is prominent in BioShock Infinite. Physical war between purists – the reigning one man government Comstock and his army and so called rebels fighting for their freedom – the Vox Populi. But war is suffered on a more personal level by most of the characters. Our protagonist Booker DeWitt, the role of which players take on, fights a roaring war within himself. At first glance, he is just a hired gun, a man trying to pay off a debt to some bad people; But the deal he has made is everything but simple.
Elizabeth, the mysterious girl whom Booker is sent to retrieve fights a war against her father, Comstock and her imprisonment both physical and mental by him. She is conflicted with who and what she is. Elizabeth has great supernatural power, the power to tear rifts between time and space. The ability to transport objects from one world to another becomes crucial in her aid to you during combat but is even more so when it comes to the story.
Organised religion is depicted as an unbreakable bond over the minds of the citizens of Columbia. Comstock, the prophet, the dictator has imprisoned the minds of his people, attempts to imprison the mind of Elizabeth and destroys any individual who opposes him. He has created his own religion to accompany his Utopia. In the same way the religion of slave labor is forced upon a certain demographic and the rebels attribute the same kind of religious behavior towards their cause.
Liberty is something that no one has, not even Comstock. Booker is bound by his mission to wipe away his debt, deprived of his liberty through his own actions. Elizabeth had always been deprived of it, being imprisoned her entire life.; she may never have freedom unless she destroys the cause at its roots. Needless to say, through war and religion the citizens of Columbia do not enjoy any form of freedom, and neither do the rebels.
Most of the villains and protagonists in BioShock Infinite are highly intelligent characters, having the ability to either rule or oppose political repression or mold the masses to their will. In contrast to their intellectual abilities in some matters, they do not have the faculty of reasoning and being objective when it comes to anything they oppose. Elizabeth is the only character in the game with a higher sense of intellect. She sees everything as a whole.
BioShock Infinite is everything you want from a video game and more.
BioShock infinite was reviewed by Yolanda Green on a PC