How does the 2013 platinum hit hold up five years later?
by Connor Wellington
Gamers play the hardened veteran with a complicated past Booker DeWitt in the 2013 hit “Bioshock: Infinite.” Seeking to erase his past and pay his debts, Booker accepts a mission, which is to travel to the floating city of Columbia and find Elizabeth. In return, Booker will be given a clean slate. Upon arrival to Columbia, Booker is introduced to Comstock, a prophetic extremist who serves as Columbia’s unquestioned political and religious leader. Due to a scar-etched on his hand, Booker is accused of being the “false shepherd” of Comstock’s almighty prophecy, which foretells of the grand future he envisions for the city. After finding Elizabeth, she acts as Booker’s companion while they attempt to escape Columbia and discover the secrets behind her, Comstock and the city itself.
One of the most universally praised elements of this game, is the setting and graphics. Infinite takes place in the year 1912 and is set almost entirely in Columbia, which is an Americanized, city in the sky full of steampunk-esque technology and WWI-era aesthetics. From the beginning this game amazed millions because of its breathtaking visuals. The world Columbia depicts is nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece, with countless memorable sights and locations. The sci-fi aspects of the world are integrated seamlessly with the city, creating an immersive and visually stunning experience. Even five years later and even after games like “The Last of Us” and “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild” that were praised highly for their astounding environments, “Bioshock:Infinite” arguably stands out as one of the best of all time. Although that isn’t to say that all aspects of its aesthetic hold up as well. While Infinite released near the end of the PS3 and Xbox 360 era, it is still a seventh-generation game, and for the models, textures and animations of a majority of the characters featured, it shows its age.
“Bioshock:Infinite” is primarily a firstperson shooter, featuring a variety of different weapons, enemies and upgrades. The weapons found in Infinite aren’t particularly groundbreaking, mostly including basic pistols, shotguns, machine guns, etc. However, they are very satisfying to control and contribute to an extremely smooth combat experience. There is one inconvenience concerning the limitation of weapons in this game. Unfortunately, Booker can only carry two weapons at a time, each having a very small maximum capacity for ammo. Because of this, a large portion of battles are built around looting ammo and guns off fallen enemies and conveniently-placed barrels in order to continue fighting. This play pattern does make the game more unique and engaging, but it isn’t always a positive aspect.
In addition to shooting, Booker gains access to a variety of different combat-enhancing substances called “Vigors.” In the base game, there are eight Vigors in total, each with different functions and advantages, such as levitating enemies or possessing hostile machines to fight for the player. Additionally, unlike weapons, every Vigor collected is available to the player at all times, making them an integral part of combat. Their inclusion can make the gameplay more fun and even a natural extension of fighting. While there are certainly are some Vigors that are better than others, they each have value in different situations. When combined with the different weapon types that are available, it allows players to develop their own unique play styles. They’ve been a staple mechanic ever since the original “Bioshock,” and they are still one of the most fun aspects of the franchise’s combat gameplay to this day, with Infinite being no exception.
Overall, “Bioshock Infinite” has a fantastic story. The characters are complex and well-fleshed out. The city of Columbia is beautiful, mysterious, and a complete joy to explore. The game does an admirable job of building upon the story Booker takes part in, masterfully creating an intelligent, engaging narrative with many clever themes and twists. The inclusion of the optional audio logs provides an extra layer of backstory and detail for players without bloating the story. The contrast between the bright, colorful city of Columbia and the dark, conspirators force of Comstock leaves a lasting impact on both you and the characters. The powerful demonstrations of how war, segregation, and oppression affect people differently is striking. The relationship that builds between Booker and Elizabeth is one of the strongest aspects of the story and seeing how they interact with each other and change together over the course of the game adds a crucial touch of humanity to an otherwise grim situation. It’s an incredible roller-coaster of events that tells an incredibly moving and memorable story.
From it’s incredible visuals and strong gameplay, to its multidimensional characters and excellent plot, “Bioshock Infinite” is a journey that cannot be recommended enough to anyone who enjoys story-driven games. It is a very short game for its scope, but with the two major expansions available for it, its secret areas and its vast hidden lore, there is a fair amount of replay ability. It does suffer a bit from the graphical limitations of the consoles it was developed for, and its gameplay can lead to a few frustrating situations, but overall, it is a well-designed, beautiful game that has aged very well.