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Bioshock Infinite Spoiler Free Review

Developer: Irrational Games | Publisher: 2K Games
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 03/26/13 | Genre: FPS

The word Art is defined as the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination. For many, Art and videogames don’t go together. Videogames are seen as a game that requires pressing buttons and little or no thought. This argument could have been made many years ago but not so much anymore. With titles like The Walking Dead, Journey, and now Bioshock Infinite showing that games can be art. They can exist as interactive novels, places to explore with new forms of communication, and they can use conventional “game mechanics” and infuse a deep and thought provoking story. The latter is what Bioshock Infinite brings to the table.

Bioshock Infinite is the latest game from the creative minds at Irrational Games and 2K Games. Ken Levine, the Creative Director and Co-Founder of the studio, has put together a team and created a game that employs the mechanics of classic First Person Shooter titles while adding in an engaging story and new elements to the genre. 

In Bioshock Infinite, you control Booker Dewitt. He is tasked with going to the mysterious floating city of Columbia to retrieve a girl, named Elizabeth, and return her to New York. Doing so will forgive Booker of a debt that he has accrued. The player is then dropped off at a location that takes them to Columbia. Because of the iconic nature of this opening scene, I don’t want to spoil the experience for you. 

As you arrive in Columbia, things seem peaceful. You are in a world set in the early 1900’s and there is a great sense of patriotism that is tied to the religious philosophy of the people. In these early parts of the game, the player will begin to feel something is off with this world. There is a key moment between learning the mechanics of the game, where the real gameplay starts, that will make you want to fight. 

Racism, Religion, and Blind Patriotism are all key themes found in Bioshock Infinite. I would love to go into detail about how the use of these themes impacted me in the game. Doing so would take away from the story. Just like a big summer blockbuster or a book, the story is a big part of the attraction of Bioshock Infinite. The story far outshines what they have done with the gameplay. So instead of telling you that “he is already dead,” like what happened to me before I saw the Sixth Sense, or “Dumbledore dies,” as what happened to my wife in the Harry Potter book review she heard the day it came out--I will let you experience it all for yourself.  

Booker Dewitt and Elizabeth are full voiced and their interactions throughout the game lead to a breakthrough in the First Person Genre. We have seen several Third Person games utilize this type of dialogue but never in the FPS. What this leads to is Booker and Elizabeth being a team. When you join up with Elizabeth, the game tells you that she can take care of herself. So you don’t need to worry about her safety and can concentrate on playing the game.

Elizabeth has a skill of opening up tears between dimensions. For the purpose of the gameplay, she can bring in structures for cover, boxes of health, ammo stations, turrets, and other powerful allies. These tears are also used as a structure for the story but I don’t wish to spoil that. 

Another interesting mechanic of the gameplay are the rails. Early on, Booker and Elizabeth, both get a mechanical device they can place on their arms. This is magnetic and can grapple onto rails hung throughout the different areas found in Columbia. These rails can allow you to reach new areas, get above the action, and even drop down on unsuspecting foes. The enemies can also utilize these rails as well. 

Bioshock Infinite allows the player to carry any two weapons they encounter. You will have to drop one if you wish to pick up another. This lead to some issues as ammo can be scarce during parts of the game. Players can choose to spend Silver Eagles on upgrades to their weapons. This can increase clip capacity, accuracy, damage, and other stats. Money is not unlimited so you will have to pick and choose what works best for you. For the most part, I found the Carbine and Sniper Rifle to be my primary guns.

Like Bioshock before it, Infinite introduces a type of powers called Vigors. Vigors are the Plasmids of Infinite and provide magical powers like throwing fire, sending an army of crows, throwing lightning, controlling machines or enemies, etc. Vigors can also be used to lay down traps if an enemy walks over them. LIke guns, they too can be upgraded to increase their powers. However, these upgrades are very expensive and I only found a handful of them to be worth it. Personally, I felt the Plasmids, used in the original Bioshock, were much more fun and iconic than the Vigors.

Rounding out a great game is the music. The musical score is wonderfully done. In fact, the 2 CD soundtrack is something I would recommend you getting. 

Players should expect to spend anywhere in the neighborhood of 9 to 15 hours playing through the game on Medium. The challenge is a lot tougher on Hard and the “1999 Mode.” The main thing here is to make sure you experience the story. If that means you aren’t great at First Person Shooters, don’t be afraid to play the game on Easy. The challenge doesn’t really get difficult until the last part of the game. Even then, you can beat it with a little patience no matter your skill level.

Is Bioshock Infinite the best game we will see in 2013? That is a tough question to answer. I will say this--you will be hard pressed to find a better story to experience in any game during 2013. Just make sure you watch the ending credits all the way through. There is a “hidden gem” for you after the credits get done rolling.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 04/02/13
ESRB Details: Rated for: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Mild Sexual Themes, and Use of Alcohol and Tobacco.

Rating Summary: This is a first-person shooter, set in a fictional city-in-the sky (Columbia), in which players assume the role of a private investigator searching for a mysterious woman. As players explore the city, they encounter a variety of armed guards, thugs, and mechanical creations that attack the central character. Players use pistols, shotguns, rifles, and machine guns to kill these enemies. A three-pronged hook can be used to dismember and decapitate several enemies. Players can also use an assortment of special powers to defeat enemies (e.g., setting characters on fire, electrocuting them). Large blood-splatter effects occur when characters are injured. Enemies are also depicted beating themselves with a bat or shooting themselves in the head when they are possessed; during one sequence, a character intentionally sets herself on fire. During the course of the game, characters sometimes engage in suggestive/sexual dialogue (e.g., “Obscenity and fornication everywhere!” “Could use a good roll in the hay after this,” “I think yeh gave me the clap, ya dirty boy…”). The game allows players' character to obtain 'health' by consuming beer and whiskey; the screen turns fuzzy and distorted if the player consumes too many drinks. The social/political backdrop of the fictional city (set in the year 1912) includes the use of derogatory ethnic/racial terms (e.g., the words 'gook,' 'chink,' 'negroes,' 'injuns,' 'crackers'); language such as 'sh*t' can also be heard in dialogue.
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