First person shooters haven’t been terribly inspiring as of late. In a world of endless Call of Duty sequels and the never ending wait for Valve to release Half Life 3, it’s easy to just say, “you know what, I have better things to do with my life than sit glued to a computer for hours on end”. I’m happy to inform you that Bioshock Infinite will suck you right away from a world of wholesome outdoor activities and the company of other people. To put it simply, this game is an absolute masterpiece.
The plot should be the envy of any Adam Sandler employing Hollywood hack. It’s the kind of story you wish had been made into a book or a movie instead, if only to satiate a craving for more information about the world of quantum physics and Christian fundamentalism that Bioshock Infinite hurls you into. Without giving the story away, there is no way I can express to you just how enthralling this story really is.
This time around, Irrational and 2K have created a turn-of-the-century floating steampunk city, complete with all the early 20th-century trimmings: hidden slavery, Christian fundamentalism, the struggle of the working class, American Exceptionalism, clockwork mechanisms and blimps. The developers’ intention was that this be essentially a floating (armed) version of the 1893 Chicago World Fair. A city originally designed to impress the world has been taken over by a Prophet who has proclaimed that “The seed of the Prophet shall sit the throne, and burn the men and mountains below”. The city itself is simply stunning: although developed with the now-aging Unreal 3 engine, the environment and design are exceptional, character models look excellent, and facial animation has never been this precise. The environment is enormous, and your eye is constantly being caught by minute details.
The gameplay remains true to the Bioshock series – you arm yourself with Vigors in the one hand (19th-century tonics and concoctions that through the magic of quantum physics provide the user with demigod-like powers), and a vast selection of weaponry in the other. The amount of horror and gore on display is in line with the atmosphere the developers are trying to create; it provides visceral and engrossing visuals, but not to the point of bad taste or excess. Admittedly the level design could be better: for a game as linear as Bioshock Infinite, there shouldn’t be as much back-tracking as there is, and the location of objectives is often highly ambiguous.
The combat is as exciting as you want it to be. There are oodles of ways to maim your way through the diverse array of enemies; if you stick to the same gun and Vigor combinations through the game then the combat can get stale and dull, so you really ought to try every tool you can find. The zip-line movement system deserves a mention; it’s wildly fun and really livens the pace of the game as you careen about the city on rails dangling high above the earth.
All things considered, Bioshock Infinite is definitely worth your time, the story is as gripping as they come, and the game is a visual delight. So clear your schedule and shut yourself away, turn off your phone, and prepare to not leave your seat for the next thirty hours.