Friday, April 12, 2013

Review: Bioshock Infinite

So I picked up Bioshock Infinite on release day (well, the midnight release, actually), and beat it within a couple days. I've waited for a bit because my review below is going to contain spoilers for Bioshock Infinite. If you have not played either game, stick to my initial impression, which you can find here.

Now that that's out of the way, I'm going to do my best to make this review concise because I recognize that I'm a wordy bastard. You know, like going on about how I'm going to keep things concise.

---------------------HEY, LISTEN! DID YOU READ THAT THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW?---------------------


Infinite is much more of an action game than the original. Large scale battles occur often. You can usually tell when they are coming when you enter a large, open space. The enemies you fight are fairly generic, with the difference being certain weapons, amount of hits they can take, or the few special enemies such as Crows, Firemen, and Handymen.
Handymen are the strongest enemies in the game.
There are no puzzles in the game, and no mini-games present. There is some exploration, hidden items, and a bit of backtracking, but overall the game focuses on the combat. Skylines, which are rails suspended in the air, are the biggest change to combat -- they allow a whole new, fast paced dimension to combat, though they are underutilized -- there is no point where they are mandatory in combat, and I think the game could have really used a skyline-only fight.

Powers in the game are fairly standard fare and, usually, you can find one or two you like early on and never use another. I won't describe them all, but I will say that several do change up the flow of combat if you choose to use them -- there are ranged attacks, a physical lunge, and an interesting shield for example. You can focus on certain abilities buy buying upgrades, which can reduce the energy cost for each ability or add effects.

Weapons are reasonably varied, though it was pretty standard fair. You can also upgrade weapons, but these upgrades are VERY mundane, leading to increased damage or clip size or something similar.

An interesting addition to Infinite would be that you have four slots for clothing (hat, shirt, pants, shoes) and these clothing, which are found around the world, can have some significant changes and allow you to specialize in a certain kind of combat or try something completely new.

Score: There's nothing amazing about the gameplay, though it is put together very well. I give it an 8/10, though that's mostly because I found it actively fun, not original.


Columbia is awesome. In true Bioshock fashion, there are interesting characters, interesting locales, and a wealth of history for you to uncover if you're interested.
Love this place.

Time travel/dimension hopping eventually becomes an important facet to the setting, though the rules are a bit hazily defined. Even so, it gives us a few different outlooks on Columbia/the world, which is a nice touch.

One of my favorite parts of the game is when we get to revisit Rapture. It's a nice homage and a powerful part of the game.

Score: One of my favorite things about the series is the awesome settings, and Infinite doesn't disappoint. I give it a 9/10, and it only loses a point for not addressing some issues with dimensional travel.


I could go on about the story. I really enjoyed playing through it, I think the mystery of Booker and Elizabeth was handled well to a point, and I felt compelled to get to the next section of the game.

I personally loved Booker's character. He's not your usual hero and I'm VERY glad they went away from the silent protagonist. Elizabeth is a simply amazing creation as well, and the game does a great job of showing her personality changing over the course of the game. Most of the enemies are interesting, though they don't really compare to Andrew Ryan for me.
A truly awesome character. Best in a long time.
There were a few issues for me, however. At one point, Elizabeth quickly forgives Booker after he attempts to take her to New York instead of Paris. We needed to see a bit more of what Elizabeth was thinking, and what her concerns were with New York (true, Booker told her Paris, but NY was still better than Columbia).

My issue with the dimensional travel is that the cause and effect relationship is mentioned but not shown very well. Booker has to help the rebels, the Vox Populi, so they'll give him his airship back. In dimension 1, he makes a deal to have a man agree to make weapons for them, and then he's good. Turns out the man is dead, and then we take a quick hop to a new dimension, with no hope of going back. The man is no longer dead, but his equipment is gone, so we go back, only to realize that we can't move the equipment... So we jump to dimension 3, where it's back at the shop -- but the guy is dead when we get there. Obviously the Booker of this dimension convinced the man to make weapons for the Vox, but how? Did HE have to move the equipment too, or was the second dimension a complete waste of time? The dimensional travel was used almost as a Deus Ex Machina for something far too small, making it look like a lazy plot decision.

Zachary Hale Comstock
The ending, in which an alternate reality version of Booker is shown to be Comstock (the main villain), is really, really interesting... But WAY too short! You spend more time walking among infinite lighthouses, learning about an infinite multi-verse theory than you do with any reaction of the revelation that Booker = Comstock. Even being a horrible time-travel story cliche where the hero is the villain, so much more could have been done. Even a bit of exposition at the ending would have worked, which we know Bioshock has done at least in the first game.

Also, they laid it on pretty thick that Comstock=Booker throughout the game. This just enhances the short amount of time we deal with the revelation.

Score: I loved the story and it engaged me, but it certainly had some weak points. I'm scoring it an 8/10, but feel that will get lower if I think about it too much...

Overall, the game scores an arbitrary score of 8/10. I'd love to hear some other thoughts/reactions to the game -- leave a comment!

Next up, I've finished another round of my pull list, so expect a Pull List Review soon(ish)!

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