Release Date: March 26, 2013
Developer: Irrational Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Genre: First Person Shooter
Plataform: PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 / PC / Mac
When a game gets to the point that it is able to convince players to invest in a genre that they never enjoyed in the past, it means that the game did it right. I felt exactly like that when the first Bioshock was released and fell immediately in love with this incredible masterpiece of storytelling. The Bioshock series deserves all the honour and admiration it has received, again sending the player to one of the most beautiful and incredible cities ever.
COLUMBIA – THE CITY IN THE SKY
In Bioshock: Infinite the player controls Booker DeWitt, a private investigator that refers to himself as an “independent contractor”. Following a series of events and problems that he faced in the past, he become involve in gambling, leaving an enormous debt to pay. To find a way to pay his debt, he is sent to Columbia – a floating city in the sky – to find a girl named Elizabeth and bring her back to New York City.
Columbia is divided into two different factions: the Founders and the Vox Populi. The Founders try to keep the city for pure Americans only, while the Vox Populi represents the others of color or different ethnicity. With that in mind, the player will face all types of conflicts between those two groups of people.
Different of the other Bioshock games, Infinite introduces to players a character who actually speaks and have his own personality. Full of opinion and attitudes, DeWitt will express himself from beginning to the end of the game, creating a very strong bond between player and character. And all of this “expression” gets even deeper when the player finally meets Elizabeth, having in-game dialogues all the time during the game experience. Some players have criticised these dialogues as annoying during the gameplay, but in my opinion – considering how immersive and important the story of the game is – those dialogues worked pretty well and I could not complain of a single one. Elizabeth is extremely interesting and special and I could listen to her talking for hours and hours.
Columbia is one of the most exciting and “welcoming” cities that I have ever experienced in a game. Every corner of Columbia is filled by NPC’s actions, colours, songs etc. You don’t feel like you are walking around a “synthetic and plastic” city. Columbia actually convinces you that you are facing a “real” and nice place to live. Right in the beginning of the game when you first gets to Columbia, a city fair is happening, full of people, music, activities and fireworks. Everything looks amazing and magical. Columbia is huge and everything that you see of it by distance are actually parts of the city that you will still visit at some point of the game. But there is something dark brewing below the vibrant exterior.
ELIZABETH – AN AI THAT ACTUALLY WORKS
Elizabeth is an extremely special character in the game. While the whole plot of Infinite runs around her, the player also has her help during the combat situations and other moments of the game. And, so far, I guess this is the first time that an NPC artificial intelligence for in-game co-op works so well. Elizabeth will “never break” during the game. She always knows exactly where to go and where to hide from the enemies, as well giving you 100% of support all the time. She is there to give you tips, more ammunition, health packages and money – in this case it’s kind of annoying at some point, considering that she gives you items all the time, making the game too easy at times.
The mystery surrounding Elizabeth is the main plot of the game and goes from beginning until the last minute of it. Don’t expect to figure out the twist in the storyline, because YOU WILL NOT. Just let things happen and try to absorb as much information as you can from the game dialogues and Voxphones – the new Audio Diaries of the first two Bioshocks – and you will not regret it.
It is not too odd to compare Elizabeth with some princesses from Disney. The classic princess locked in the tower, watched over by a monster, and waiting for her hero to save her. To be more specific, her tastes and desires to live in France, as well as your looks, love for songs and dances and even her commitment with reading, makes me compare her directly with Belle from Beauty and the Beast. In the first half of the game Elizabeth will earn your affection, with all of her kindness and love. She is definitely more than an AI. She is a true character that will follow you during your journey and staying at your side, allowing you to see how she grows up.
So, while Elizabeth “is” Belle, Songbird – the giant mechanical bird – is Beast; having mixed feelings that evolves from protection, to possession, rage and love and uncomfortably evokes feelings of a possessive lover. I just wonder if this relationship between both characters were suppose to have some reference from the classic of Disney.
LEVEL DESIGN AND GAMEPLAY EXPERIENCE
As I said before, and you probably already saw in some videos of the game, Columbia is an huge city. So, probably you are wondering if you will feel lost in some moments of the game, while searching for your main objective direction. The answer is NO! DIfferent from the first two Bioshocks, in Infinite the game offers an option to guide the player to the right direction by just pressing a button and following the arrow that will arise in the floor in front of you. In theory this may seem like a very weak strategy, but in practice it works very well and can save hours lost by players who would be looking for the right direction until now.
Another cool aspect in the game is how the player is introduced to the new gameplay mechanics. By using the city fair that is happening in Columbia as an excuse, the tutorial is presented as part of this festival, offering at the same time more details for the plot, like how racist and heavy the game is, as well as an amazing set for the two first Vigors – the new Plasmids in Infinite – as well as shooting and aiming game controls. But as always, not everything can be perfect. Something sounded weird for me, considering that he is using the two first Vigors for the first time in the game, DeWitt does not react hesitant or different, despite knowing that his body is changing and being affected by this strange power. But what is even more odd is that when he finally gets for real a fixed Vigor, he starts feeling weird and uncomfortable, and reacts with that by dialogues in-game. I understand that the first Vigors to be introduced are there just as a part of a “tutorial section” of the game, but even so, they could have at least activate an “event” condition that by the first time that DeWitt gets the first Vigor – tutorial or not – he should react with his body changes.
But you know what? The Vigors are awesome, the special effects by using it are amazing, and the traditional “new power old-style explanation” is still in there, so I will stop being too judgmental and start giving positive points to Infinite.
Level Design wise the game works very well. All objectives are creative and pretty clear. I didn’t feel bored by completing any of them. Everything makes sense with the plot and with what you are searching for in the game. Another nice thing about the levels / environments is that if you actually come back in an old area to complete a side mission, or even just to visit a specific place again, the game will not reload enemies. All enemies are spawned for a reason in each one of the environments and they all make sense for the game storytelling and combat situations. By playing the game you can see that each part of Columbia was constructed to be able to be revisited in different moments, with different “eyes”.
The combats in Infinite are very similar of the old Bioshocks – not considering the newest AI help from Elizabeth – you will be basically just swapping between weapons and vigors, trying to find the perfect match between them. The difference is that this time you can only care two weapons with you, forcing you to think carefully before making a choice. Another cool thing is that the game also allows you to combine Vigors Powers, damaging the enemy even more.
Another big surprise is how easy and intuitive the skylines are. It’s pretty easy and pleasurable to control DeWitt around the huge number of skylines around Columbia. They help you to reach some places faster of the city, as well as offering amazing exciting combat situations.
Although the game offers some choice moments, your actual decisions for those choices does not influences the plot of the game at all. I can understand that this was added more like a way to explore more how the players will react and judge according to each situation, but I don’t think Irrational Games explored this in the best way possible.
Besides that, what else was changed for the best? Mini games! They are not present in the game anymore and I am just glad for that. You will not face mini games to unlock doors or hack computers and machines. That’s why Elizabeth is next to you after all.
STUNNING VISUALS AND AMAZING ENVIRONMENT ATMOSPHERE
Bioshock Infinite is stunning! I don’t have too much to say besides the fact that EVERYTHING in the game seems so well planed from Pre-Production to the actual Production of it. Again, Columbia is the most convincing city that I ever played on. Everything is so colourful, magical, beautiful, well modelled and alive.
The game starts introducing this amazing and bright city, that drastically moves to a radical atmosphere, darker, dirtier and “cold”. Each one of the environments have something special that characterizes the game moment and explore the maximum of its forms. We can feel exactly the feelings that they wanted us to feel by playing and walking around the city.
LESS HORROR, LESS HARDCORE
Different of the older Bioshocks, Infinite is extremely easy, considering the Normal Mode Difficult. Enemies seem to die easier and if it wasn’t enough, Elizabeth is always there to give you extra life and salt, to help you during combat. Out of combats, the girl will also offer you loads of cash, making it super easy to buy new items, weapons and vigors upgrades. The whole financial hard time presented in the old Bioshocks are not here in this game and I still don’t know what I think about that…
Difficulty is not the only thing that changed in the game series. Infinite has no sense of horror or tension. Don’t expect to feel the tension that you probably had at the first time that you fight against a Big Daddy or a Big Sister. What Infinite offers is a very deep and strong sense of action. I guess my biggest mistake was to wait too much for Songbird and the Boys of Silence. Don’t get me wrong: both enemies are amazing and they totally make sense with the plot, but I was expecting to see them more often in the game and to face epic combats against them. And, unfortunately, that’s not what happens. I would actually say that characters like the Lutece twins were much more interesting characters to me, if not my favourite ones in the game.
Finally, independently of whether you are a fan or not of Bioshock, you definitely need to try this one. Infinite brings all the big aspects of an epic game, with a magical environment, a plot full of intelligent twist and characters that makes you believe that even a digital character can have real feelings. I am trying to not show my personal feelings for this game too much, but I can say that it is one of – if not – my favourite games ever.
My Personal Score: 5/5
[button type=”icon” icon=”paper”]Written by Matheus Pitillo.[/button]