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Bioshock: Infinite Review

Bioshock has always been a great game with style, sinister undertones and a good amount of suspense but with Bioshock: Infinite taking place in the sky and being loosely based on previous titles, how does the latest in the series compare?

Gone is the underwater City of Rapture, previous fans of the series have become familiar with, and instead we're now presented with the bold and vibrant floating sky city of Columbia!

The story takes place in 1912, placing you in the role of Booker Dewitt. Unlike usual plots however, Bioshock: Infinite's works in reverse. To elaborate, you begin play completely in the dark with the story, knowing nothing of the world or characters, with the only things to go on, being the clues you pick up along the way (Voxophones) and the branded mark on the back of Dewitt's hand that reads "AD".

For the most part, Dewitt knows more about what's going on than the player, giving him an air of mystery that serves as a way to keep you interested at all times, through curiosity if nothing else. As you progress through the game, the plot becomes more apparent to you, and you start to gain a good understanding of what exactly is going on around you. The relationship between Booker and Elizabeth feels as though it grows in a natural way, the more familiar you become as a player towards them. I feel there are very few games out there that can actually pull this off, but you really grow attached to Elizabeth with each moment you spend in her company.

I felt that having her as your companion from start to finish, in addition to the story being primarily focused around her was a good design choice, because it helps to better explain her motives, her reasons for helping you and the character development between her and you as the player I felt was nice, because the more she trusts you, the more she opens up, revealing her insecurities, which in turn makes her feel a lot more believable as a character, solidifying your reason for travelling with her, and giving you more meaning for being where you are at the same time.

With Racism having such a prominent role in the game, one of the factions you'll be working both for and against, are the Vox Populi - A rebellious faction who fight for the power and freedom of their people. Racism, slavery, power and revolution are things that can all too easily get to people’s heads, and as such, has helped build strong personalities for characters such as the brutal leader of the Vox Populi, Daisy Fitzroy. In fact, most of the characters within Columbia have their own selfish and evil motives.

Needless to say, there's a lot to discover in Bioshock: Infinite and if you take the time out to explore each section of the game, you're rewarded with a great deal of background information for each of the world of Columbia and each of the characters you'll cross paths with. As such, the story is engaging and enjoyable from start to finish and one that I feel should be experienced by many.

The City of Columbia is both beautiful and high in detail!

As your in game partner, Elizabeth serves to be the focal point of the story, only there's more to her than meets the eye. With the ability to open up tears in reality, Elizabeth can pull objects from parallel dimensions into your own to aid you. If a Skyhook, Vending machine or Weapon Crate for example, exists in an alternate dimension, she can pull it through to get you out of trouble or to places you wouldn't otherwise be able to reach. Later, you can also use these tears to hop dimensions and escape pursuing threats.

Detracting from this however is the fact that she doesn't really need your aid in combat. The story tries to portray her as a physically weak woman who has her own abilities but relies on your (Dewitt's) strength to survive. the reality of this however is that you could happily ignore her in combat while she hides, because the enemies are always focused on you over her, and even if she gets caught in the cross fire, she appears to be invincible. This has its good and bad points, because I personally hate babysitting missions in games, so the positive is that you don't need to worry about her dying, but I feel for purposes of the story, she could have seemed a little more fragile in the gameplay.

Replacing Tonics and Plasmids of previous Bioshock titles, your powers now come in the form of Vigors. The first Vigor you receive is the Possession power, which as you can undoubtedly guess, allows for you to possess things around you. You start out with the ability to possess machines, granting yourself entry to otherwise inaccessible areas and the ability to take control of automated turrets for a limited period of time, but you can later upgrade your power to possess humans who will commit suicide once the possession times out.

You're granted a new Vigor at various points of the game, with each offering something a little different to the last. As an example, here are a handful of powers you'll grow accustomed to:

Charge: This allows for you home in on your opponents fast, granting you temporary invincibility later on.

Devil's Kiss: This is essentially your magical ability to create fiery cluster grenades to fry your opposition.

Return to Sender: This gives you the ability to shield yourself from bullets and fire them back at their senders.

Shock Jockey: Closely resembling that of the Electro Bolt Plasmid from Bioshock 1 and 2, this allows for you to zap your opponents, sending a high voltage of electricity through anything it touches, and also powers up doorways that were previously inaccessible to you, earlier in your adventure.

The Devil's Kiss Vigor is as much gruesome as it is brutal!
You're also given a shield, which in typical Halo fashion allows for you to take damage (whether melee or ranged) without affecting your health. When the shield drops your health depletes like normal, but as soon as you step out of combat for a few seconds, your shield replenishes once more. In addition to your powers, you're also granted perks to help focus and strengthen your favoured methods of murder. Some grant you defensive abilities such as shocking your opponents as the strike you, while others grant you extra damage.

The Skyline is what first grabbed many gamers attention all around the globe. Almost every segment of the game has a Roller Coaster-esque rail running around and/or through it and this is what’s called the Skyline. This is used for both traversing across levels and reaching otherwise out of reach locations, as well as giving the player combat advantages for getting into and out of fights fast.

The Skyline is a fast way to travel and as an entertaining addition to the series it helps to aid in some truly satisfying takedowns. As an example of this, if you're racing around a Skyline and see an enemy below you, you can just let go of the Skyline and perform and aerial to ground takedown on your enemy, hitting them in the face with your Sky Hook and sending them flying over ledges. Hopping on and off the Skyline is an incredibly easy feat to pull off, and allows for both (literal) on rail and ground shooting/combat.

While you are given the choice to melee all your enemies, the use of weapons are also available and although limited in choice, the ones on offer feel and sound satisfying, and are just as beneficial to your survival as your Vigor's are.

On offer is a Shotgun, Grenade Gun, Rocket Launcher, Machine Gun, Sniper Rifle and my personal favourite, a Revolver. Each of these can be upgraded numerous times via one of the Vending Machines, to increase damage or clip size, decrease recoil and increase reload speed. Combine these with your Vigor's and Perks and you'll have some serious firepower! The Vending Machines are where you spend your acquired wealth. There are three vending machines in game, the first of which is the Dollar Bill, which gives you health, salts (used to refill your Vigor powers) and ammunition. The second is the Veni Vidi Vigor machine, which allows for you to upgrade your Vigor powers and abilities, with the Minuteman's Armoury machine serving the same purpose but for your weapons.

Aside from combat, there are a number of collectibles (in the form of Voxophones and viewpoints) that help to further educate you on the City of Columbia, along with the secrets within it.

Voxophones are found scattered around Columbia and offer additional
content in the form of character and background information.
When looking to relocate, Columbia might not be your first choice of location, but there's no denying it's a mind blowing world of fascination and beauty. Columbia is stunning to look at and at times due to the constant up and down motion of the areas you visit, you can genuinely feel nauseous. Oddly, with the amount of memory is must take to have a moving City in game, there were very few dips in the frame rate, even with the various things going on in the background as you zip around on the skyline. The design and animation of the weapons didn't feel as great as they could have been, but this didn't detract from the overall experience of the game, and only really slightly matters to the picky gamers amongst us (myself included).

I really liked the art style, but felt that the enemy design could have been far better had Irrational Games put a little more effort into varying and refining the look of each mechanical or living being you encounter. Though, characters such as Daisy Fitzroy, Father Comstock, Elizabeth and the Lutece' I felt had really nice designs.

Moving onto sound now, having recently bought myself a pair of Turtle Beach headphones, I can honestly say that it makes a huge difference and really helps to immerse you in titles in which Bioshock: Infinite didn't disappoint on that front. Supporting full surround sound, subtle noises can be heard all around you, with sounds increasing in volume the closer you get to the source. The music ranged from feeling mysterious and atmospheric to angry and empowering, occasionally feeling mournful, but each audio file felt as though it was in the right place thematically at all times.

On top of this the voice acting was great and the interaction between characters was something that I really enjoyed, though the character animation sometimes let this down. My only issue with the sound is that at times the music could just cut out during conversations and sometimes the Voxophones would overlap the sound of triggered character interaction between Dewitt and Elizabeth during gameplay.

Less of a Sorceress and more of a female Brendan Fraser, Elizabeth has
gone through a lot of changes since the titles first announcement.
Final Verdict
There could have been a few more weapons and Vigor's to choose from, with more imaginative upgrades on offer for both and it would have been great to have seen how the original concept could have turned out, but Bioshock: Infinite doesn't fail to deliver a memorable experience to both old and new fans.

Story = 8/10
Gameplay = 8.5/10
Graphics/Sound = 9/10

Final We Know Gamers Score = 8.5/10

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