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Retroactive Posts: Bioshock Infinite

May 8, 2013

(Originally posted on March 29th, 2013)

bioshock_infinite_boxart_360Bioshock Infinite

What’s Good:
 -Jaw dropping visuals. Every new area is a complete looker, and (if you’re like me) you’ll want to spend a large amount of time simply soaking in the sights.
-Excellently realized, mind-bender narrative.
-Terrific sound design, with good voice overs, ambiance and music.
-The Elizabeth dynamic is not only beneficial to the story-telling, but implemented well mechanically and lends well to immersion.
-Combat is a ton of fun, especially in areas sporting sky-lines.

What’s Bad:
 -The technical limitations of the 360 show. Go into Visual options and turn that Frame-rate limiter off. The game still looks astounding without it, and a little tearing beats a shoddy frame-rate any day if you ask me.
-If you’re coming off of the previous Bioshock games, the reduced combat tool-set may seem limiting.

If I were to give it a rating: 5 out of 5

Other thoughts:
Hey. Big surprise, you guys. Bioshock Infinite actually turned out to be pretty good. Let me preface this with the fact that I friggin’ loved the first two Bioshock games. In a world where the FPS genre is over-saturated with summer blockbuster military shooters, it’s such a huge breath of fresh air to play a shooter that stands on its own feet without having to resort to nonstop spectacle.
To avoid any sort of spoilers, and not only with the story, but with the sense of discovery so important to Bioshock games, I won’t talk about the setting or the plot, so much as to say both are fantastic and deserve to be seen.

I will talk about Elizabeth though, who, surely you know by now that you will meet during the course of the game. While the immediate dread may be that Bioshock Infinite is just a prolonged escort mission, rest assured that Elizabeth doesn’t require any hand-holding, and instead is what I would proclaim as the new standard for AI partner behavior moving forward.
She doesn’t require your help during combat; instead she helps you, frequently tossing you ammo or consumables and using her power to phase in objects to help you.
She doesn’t pester you for not tirelessly trucking forward, but instead quips at or investigates things in the environment alongside you. She seems like an intelligent being, and this makes your trip through Columbia all the more immersive, as you’re both uncovering its secrets together.

Aside from the companion, the game plays pretty similarly to the two previous Bioshock games, with all of the vendor browsing and audiolog listening you may expect. There are some changes, though. Instead of plasmids, you have upgradable Vigors. You no longer carry along a full arsenal of weapons, each coming with different ammo types. Instead you’re limited to two upgradable weapons at a time.
Initially, I was pretty bummed about this, but you soon get over the seeming lack of options, as what Bioshock Infinite might lack in strategized murder, it makes up for with complete chaos. Gone is the hilarity of catching an enemy on fire and watching him dive into a pool of water just to zap the water and electrocute him, and in is speedily weaving up and around sky-lines, gunning down a couple enemies before leaping down on top of another to send him spiraling off into the world below. It may lack the intimacy of the previous two games’ combat, but instead it achieves a sense of speed and scale. A fair trade.

If you’re thorough during your travels through Columbia, you’ll come across a wide assortment of gear. There are 4 slots for these items, and since they’re relatively scarce, their buffs are tremendous. One might give you a chance while firing your weapon to have it automatically reload without having to watch the animation play out, while another will buff your melee attack to catch your victim ablaze on contact. A couple of these items were very difficult for me to part ways with (which may have just been due to personal preference), but stumbling across a new one was always an exciting occasion, and you’re able to swap between previously discovered ones at will if you change your mind later.

Bioshock Infinite is a relatively lengthy adventure by today’s FPS standards (though I suppose that isn’t saying much), and your trek leads you through a wide variety of gorgeous environments. I had figured my days of being wowed by current gen graphics were behind me, but there were many occasions during my stay in Columbia in which I couldn’t help but stand and soak in the visuals on show. There’s some truly creative stuff here, backed by some of the slickest lighting I’ve seen in awhile. Come for the looks; stay for the story, imo.
While the 360 version of the game has its share of technical short-comings (I would say play it on PC if you can. I can’t even imagine how good the game would look running at 60 fps), none of that was enough of a detriment to diminish the experience.

Bioshock Infinite masterfully recaptures all of the mystery and discovery that the two games that came before it accomplished, and if it’s the last truly awe-inspiring journey we’ll have on current gen consoles, then I can’t imagine a better way to send them off.

From → Games

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