‘Bioshock Infinite’ brings back familiar mechanics in a new world

After the release of “Bioshock” in 2007 at the start of the seventh generation of consoles, Irrational Games developed another game in the franchise called, “Bioshock Infinite.” Originally announced in 2011, the game was pushed back for 2 years, until it settled for this year. On March 26, near the end of the seventh generation, the “Bioshock” family was brought full circle.

Despite sharing the name, “Bioshock Infinite” seemingly has little in common with its two predecessors. Where the first two games focused on the fallen underwater paradise of Rapture, this title goes the opposite direction and takes place in Columbia, a city in the sky during its prime. This game also takes place in the 1912, 48 years before the events in “Bioshock.”

Columbia, built in the 1890’s, contains several themes common during the time period, including hints of racism and American Exceptionalism. Religion is apparent in Columbia, also. From the statues immortalizing the Founding Fathers to the prayers the people pray, the 1912 city shows its influence in the style of the times. Even the musical score include songs like “Will the Circle be Unbroken” and “God Only Knows.”

Columbia is not only historically stunning, but visually great, as well. Although the consoles do not display the graphics as well as the PC version, the public area is crisp and bright as a city in the clouds should be, while the more mechanical side shows a darker tone of Columbia.

Booker DeWitt, the game’s protagonist, goes into this world with one mission: rescue a woman with mysterious powers, Elizabeth, from Columbia and bring her back to the mainland in order to “pay back the debt.”

Although this plot is seemingly simple at first, the story becomes much more complex as the identities of DeWitt, Elizabeth, Comstock and others are explored in detail. This game doesn’t contain any missions that seem like padding, as almost every piece of dialogue provides insight into the history of Columbia, its people and the interactions among them. What the main story doesn’t tell, the various audio recording found throughout the game sheds light on.

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As DeWitt goes through Columbia, he encounters several enemies, including Elizabeth’s guard, the Songbird, and several Heavy Hitters, like the Boys of Silence and Sirens, as well as Columbia policemen and soldiers. As DeWitt fights, Elizabeth, although not playable, helps him through unlocking areas and offers health and ammo.

This provides a new level of tactics into the game, as Elizabeth can bring in cover and guns that can prove useful, adding some strategy even before shooting a bullet. The skylines also enhance the experience, making combat more dynamic and fluid. The enemies that are faced are not dumb, however, and give chase, even on the skylines, drawing the player in.

In order to defeat these enemies, DeWitt uses an arsenal or guns, his skyhook used to move on the aforementioned skylines, and Vigors, which are powers granted to DeWitt similar to the Plasmids in Bioshock. These Vigors, which include powers like calling a murder of crows or electricity, are replenished using Salts. These are controlled in one hand and can be either thrown at enemies or laid as a trap, providing more options. Also, one Vigor can be placed behind an active one and activated shortly, allowing combinations, like attacking enemies with flaming crows.

After 2 years of being teased to gamers, “Bioshock Infinite” delivers in all aspects: story, look, gameplay and originality. The only complaints may be that the game is too ambitious for the older consoles. For this, “Bioshock Infinite” deserves 96 out of 100.

Fans of the original “Bioshock” should enjoy “Bioshock Infinite,” due to the similarities among the characters and the controls. Also, people who enjoy games for the environment and feel, as well as those interested in American history and religion, should give this game a try; Columbia has a history unique to itself and a religion that is worth looking into. People who are fans of first-person shooters should also try “Bioshock Infinite,” if only for the experience of a revolutionary shooter at the end of a generation.

 

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