Bioshock: Infinite lifts the Bioshock franchise from the depths of the ocean to the heights of the skies, as the floating city of Columbia presents itself as your next playground. The player takes on the role of Booker DeWitt, tasked with rescuing ‘the girl’, Elizabeth, from the grasps of the notorious prophet, Comstock. Of course, it isn’t quite that simple…
You’ll soon discover an utopian vision traditional to the Bioshock series within Columbia, and like its predecessors, Infinite slowly reveals the ghastly interior behind the façade of paradise this city presents. Set in 1912, historical events are in full play, as the segregation and racism conventional of early 20th century America is explored throughout the game, which is often uncomfortable to witness. It works to ground the game in human history, making it a part of our own reality.
Bioshock: Infinite is certainly one of the most beautiful games you’ll ever have the pleasure to experience. The city in the clouds takes full advantage of its location; stunning skyscapes, dizzying views of the greenery of Earth below and awe-inspiring lighting come part and parcel of the experience.
Combat takes up a large portion of the game, and has been vastly improved from the original entries of the series. The gunplay is fluid and rewarding; headshots are vital for survival, killing most unarmoured targets within seconds. The real damage comes with the usage of superhuman abilities alongside your firearms. Vigors replace the Plasmids of old, and allow you for example to conjure flaming grenades, charge across the battlefield, or absorb incoming bullets and add them to your own. The battlefield is also transformed through the introduction of the rollercoaster-esque Sky-Lines. They’re not available for the majority of the fights, but they give you an opportunity to catch a breather from your assailants, or dart in with a hugely damaging skyline strike.
But it’s your relationship with Elizabeth which sets Bioshock: Infinite aside from all the other first person action shooters out there. You’ll grow to see her as a friend and a companion as the story progresses. Your decisions and the predicament of your situation are etched onto her extensive facial features and body language on levels not seen since Alyx Vance from Half Life 2. And she doesn’t go without her uses either. The fast paced combat in Infinite will mean finding ammo or health during battle is low on the priority list. When you need it most, Elizabeth will throw you a life-saving health kit or fuel for your abilities to carry on fighting. She can also open ‘tears’ in the world, allowing you to turn the tide of a fight with the help of an other-worldly gun turret, or find a powerful weapon.
But even out of combat, her AI never stops ceasing to amaze. While you’re scavenging through desks and cupboards for supplies, Elizabeth will examine a stack of papers, go and rest against a wall, or even identify things you’ve missed in your searching. She provides commentary on elements of Columbia which aren’t clearly visible, and in the periods where Elizabeth doesn’t accompany you, you’ll almost feel lost.
There are some miniscule flaws with Bioshock: Infinite. I only mention them because there is little else to say negatively. You’ll notice the variety and range of character models available in the first few hours of the game is lacking; a lot of the citizens of Columbia look the same. The perception of the enemy AI also leaves something to be desired; you can often walk right in front of them before they start firing.
Four years of love, care and hard work have gone into the making of Bioshock: Infinite. The brilliance of the storyline is akin to that of Inception, the colourful cartoon visuals of the game are breath-taking, and the companionship of Elizabeth will make you never want to play a single-player game again. Bioshock: Infinite is what can only be described as a masterpiece.