BioShock Infinite Review: Floating Dystopia


By Yolanda Green on Monday, March 25, 2013
"BioShock Infinite is everything you want from a video game and more."

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.”

welcome

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.

Totalitarianism

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.

combat

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.

bioshockinfinite_elizabeth

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.

city in the sky

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 on the 25th of March , 2013 at 2:00 PM on PC

GAMEPLAY
9.5
True to classic BioShock, Infinite offers a massively improved and polished version of the formula. Whether you are familiar to the franchise or not, you’ll be able to jump in and enjoy the game without complication right from the start.
DESIGN
9.5
Irrational Games have kept the concept of design from the previous titles, but adapted it to be more current and clean. Tweaking small aspects of the design has made the game cleaner, simpler and immensely enjoyable.
VALUE
10
BioShock Infinite gives players everything they’ve paid for and more. Every second of the game is jam-packed with a rich story, every fight with creative combat and every environment with breath taking eye candy. The 15 – 20 hour campaign keeps you glued to your screen without even a moment of wishing the game would just end.
TOTAL
9.6
BioShock Infinite is no doubt the most profound game I’ve played in a very long time. Take from it what you will, whether it’s an adrenaline pumping shooter experience or a deeper, intellectual experience or both, the almost perfect and flawless game is worth taking the time to play. This game will be rivaled by few for Game of The Year 2013.

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Author:Yolanda Green

I like bacon and games, and occasionally I say something coherent about it. I'm not old or cynical, and I'm not the Dork Knight. I AM SHE-RA! Wait, what?

Don't stop now.... you're having a good time


  • Admiral Chief Erwin

    Raise your hand if you scrolled down to score and comments first!

    • LordCaptainAwesomeness

      As long as I can go … Bang Bang..kaboom…. (ahh the horror…..) bang bang, then the game is okay enough

    • Sir Captain Rincethis

      Oi! *Slaps to left, right, left. Be NICE!

      • Admiral Chief Erwin

        I am, was not trying to be funny, article is well written, score is damn impressive.

  • Admiral Chief Erwin

    I loved Bioshock. I loved System Shock. I liked Bioshock 2 a lot.
    So far, the odds are in its favour!

    • Deon Steyn

      What a shock!

      • http://twitter.com/ClericZA Kobus Nel

        LOL! I see what you did there :P

  • https://twitter.com/jGLZA_b00 jGLZA

    Eagerly awaiting my copy tomorrow! May even put GOWJ down for this.

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    Nice review! Well written.

    A little unsure about the fact that it has such hectic religious overtones. But I’m not the kind who will point blank refuse to play it just because of it.

    Really considering getting this game

    • http://twitter.com/ClericZA Kobus Nel

      Same.

    • Skyblue

      Because our lives do not have overbearingly stifling religious undertones…

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    Nice review! Well written.

    A little unsure about the fact that it has such hectic religious overtones. But I’m not the kind who will point blank refuse to play it just because of it.

    Really considering getting this game

  • Kagutsuchi

    Super stoked!

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  • Johann

    Damnit, will only be able to get it tomorrow after work… This is one of my most anticipated games in a very long time.

  • Anon A Mouse

    Ohh lookey Fireworks…. July 4th all over again.

  • Uberutang

    Been torture having this ready to play on Steam..but not yet released when you click play!

    • CaptainNemo42

      I’ll plug in an el-cheapo mouse if I were you. Before you wear out that clicker trying to get in.

      • Uberutang

        Available: 26 March 2013

        This game will unlock in approximately 11 hours

        • CaptainNemo42

          So that’s about 11 hours of clicking.

  • http://twitter.com/SaveTheQueenIX umar bastra

    Few questions.

    How does the abilities feel?do new plasmids give rise to interesting ways to fight enemies?any examples?

    How is Elizabeth handled by the AI? is she competent?does she require you to protect her?

    Is there any form of exploration or is it a linear affair?

    Any logs like in previous titles?

    Would just like some more gameplay details

    Thank you :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Theo-Steenekamp/100000464298189 Theo Steenekamp

      Abilities are awesome, lot like BS2. Elizabeth is more like a conscious, she guides you in many ways, there are certain missions that you need to protect her. She is also very much competent.
      Exploration is a big yes, at times feels like Dishonored. You have certain areas where you can choose how you will overcome the obstacles. Yes logs and some other fun nostalgic stuff are found ingame.

      • http://twitter.com/SaveTheQueenIX umar bastra

        Nice , I love Logs, they build up a nice mythos. I can’t wait to see the chemistry between the two

    • http://twitter.com/Lolita_za Yolanda Green

      Using your vigors (plasmids) is the same as in previous games, you activate them with the right mouse click. They provide awesome ways to fight enemies. For example, you could posses enemies just like in previous titles to become your allies for the time they remain alive or use an ability similar to telekinesis to lift them into the air. Each vigor is usable to counter a certain opponent.

      Elizabeth is a very competent companion, she’s never in the way. Really well controlled, you don’t have to protect her. Exploration comes with progression in the game, but it’s obviously more limited than in open-world games. It is beneficial to do so though, or you might miss out on valuable gear or upgrades.

      There are voice logs, just like in the previous titles, they tell an important part of the story, and give some insight and history of the characters.

      • http://twitter.com/SaveTheQueenIX umar bastra

        Thanx :) an now I am fully Excited those vigors sounds so awesome and I love the fact that there are logs, they played a huge role in world building for me in the previous games :) lovely review by the way. No offence though for asking for more details,I’m just pedantic

        • http://twitter.com/Lolita_za Yolanda Green

          No problem :) and ask away! There were so many aspects of the game, it was hard to keep it all together, so if I missed anything, I don’t mind any one asking.

          • http://twitter.com/SaveTheQueenIX umar bastra

            If anything I can clearly see how much you like this game, when you see that much passion you know it’s a good game lol

    • Admiral Chief Erwin

      Yes. New combos etc
      Handled well apparently, thee doth not needeth to babysit.

      Yes, quite a bit of exploration.
      Yes, there are logs.
      I suggest you read Geoff’s preview.

      • http://twitter.com/SaveTheQueenIX umar bastra

        that’s awesome , I won’t lie I was worried it might have escort mission syndrom, but shame on me for thinking that lol. I be excitedness

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  • CaptainNemo42

    Only reason I want to play the game is to see why Elizabeth changes her clothing sometime (or all the time) in the game. The trailers still confuse the crap out of me.

    • http://twitter.com/ClericZA Kobus Nel

      I think it’s deliberate. So you can play the game and put the pieces together yourself :)

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  • Tbone187

    Those are some pretty convincing scores indeed…

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  • Admiral Chief Erwin

    DeWitt?

    RACIST!

    :P

    • Johan de Wit

      :(

      • Admiral Chief Erwin

        XD

  • http://twitter.com/Kikmi Slade Boender

    Caption for screeny#2? “I’m so pretty oh so pretty…”

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  • Sir Captain Rincethis

    Dammit! I was kindda hoping this would get an okayish score, I just don’t have the money for all these games! Does anyone? Now I will HAVE to buy it, just so I can boast to OVG…

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  • http://twitter.com/ClericZA Kobus Nel

    Nice review Yolanda! Just something I’d like to know. I miss mystery in games. Not to be guided where to go, what to do, what button to use. I find games today, lack the mystery of games back in the day. Remember when you started a game, and the rest was up to you? No quick time actions, no telling how to get to the next area. We had to discover and figure that stuff out ourselves! And that was part of the fun. Games today really need to get that back, otherwise it feels like they’re holding my hand, and giving me everything on a silver platter. It’s insulting. So if this game doesn’t hold my hand and spoon feed me, I think I might just enjoy it.

    Oh and another thing… I haven’t played far in the previous BioShock games, so don’t know much about the story… Does this one continue from the previous titles, or can anyone jump in and not be a bit lost from what happened before?

    • http://twitter.com/Lolita_za Yolanda Green

      Thanks Kobus :)

      I wouldn’t say the game spoon feeds the player, but it has an incredible flow to it. The navigation option is also something you really don’t have to use unless you’re really stuck. The game is all about discovery, discovering the real story, it’s quite a ride. I felt like tips for combat was a lot less frequent than in other games, I hardly even noticed them. You’ll be told once how it works and can rely on your instincts to take it from there. The game is somewhat intertwined with the previous titles, but you don’t have to play them to play this game. the characters and story is new.

      • http://twitter.com/ClericZA Kobus Nel

        Ah ok, I guess you’ll just have more BioShock background story knowledge then having played the previous titles… Thanks, sounds fun :)

    • OVG

      Have you played Dark Souls?

      • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

        OVG, some of us do not hate ourselves that much man :P

    • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

      Dude, I couldn’t agree more. Can you just imagine what it would have been like had Super Mario been done in this day and age? Scary thought man…. Like this:

      • OVG

        lol not to mention Ken throwing a generic Sam Fisher on the front cover to attract more sales when the real star of the game is squeezed onto the back cover. Or Naughty Dog fighting tooth and nail to have the young girl on the cover.

        Gamers are sad but like Jim Sterling said in this weeks rant “We all say we like our coffee dark and rich but when we go to the shops we all buy the week milky coffee”

        http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jimquisition/7044-The-Creepy-Cull-of-Female-Protagonists

        • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

          *cries* I still can’t watch videos! It buffers too slowly! Stupid Seacom cable break :(

      • http://twitter.com/ClericZA Kobus Nel

        WHAHAHA! So true. That’s what games are like now. And it’s really annoying more than it is informative.

  • Scoobaz

    My nerves… Want. Now!

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  • OVG

    Told you :) GOTY… Until GTAV is released.

    Now if only we had more Kens and Housers in the industry then we will be in gamergasim heaven while Aliens and Duke Nukem are never even conceptualized, considering they are also $59.

    PURE ART and this is what you get when the Top Brass allow the director full creative freedom with a blank cheque book and even told to leave co-op and multiplayer out. Sure its going to have DLC as that is the latest work model, BUT as a gamer I would be happy parting with $79 to support somebody’s true vision… not to mention it being pushed back for some extra love and polish.

    SOLD SOLD SOLD SOLD SOLD SOLD SOLD SOLD.

    Easter is cancelled, my egg money is going to Kens purse :)

  • OVG

    Now would you kindly buy my game :)

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  • Aussious

    The only thing I hate about this game thus far is that stupid cover, we are not that backward and simple minded as male gamers that we wouldn’t buy a game simply because there’s a fully dressed female on the cover.

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