Who would have thought that the next step for the Bioshock series, after two games that took place underwater, would be the skies of Colombia. It was a full 180 degree turn in direction for the franchise. The series was well known for the eerie atmosphere that the game put off in it’s cramped spaces and underwater scenery. However, Infinite establishes a new, and better, atmosphere high up in the sky.
Colombia is full of life. The retro-steam punk vibe that the game gives off works very well. The game presents an alternate history where everything is run by Comstock, and his wife Lady Comstock. Comstock is regarded as a God to the citizens of Colombia, and he is the founder of Colombia. The setting is very familiar of the World Expositions and the turn of the century, the progressive era of industrialism and growth.
You, the player, play as Booker DeWitt, a man sent to this city in the sky to find a woman named Elizabeth. Once he arrives, he quickly rescues her from her tower where she has been kept and watched for a while. The two then find themselves wrapped up in the conflicts that plague the city of Colombia. There are two factions in the game, the elite Founders who fight for preservation of rights for the White Americans and the Vox Populi, who are the rebels of the city representing the underclass.
As you walk around Columbia and immerse yourself in the atmosphere, you quickly see the problems that are present. There is still racial discrimination everywhere you go and there just seems like there is something wrong with the way that Comstock is running things. Colombia may look like it is a well off and prosperous place, but there is a seedy underbelly that you discover as you go along.
You also discover that Elizabeth has the power to open up “tears” in the space time continuum, which allow her to bring things into the environment. This dark secret leads to more trouble and the conflict gets even deeper as you discover more about Elizabeth.
The story present in Infinite is probably one of the best I have experienced in a while. There is just so much going on and everything seems to build up to a bigger finale. And speaking of finale, the game’s final act is amazing and it offers a surprise that I was not expecting at all. It lifted me off my feet and then threw me back on the ground.
The relationship that brews between Booker and Elizabeth is also an intriguing one that builds up as you go along. The thing that I like about Elizabeth is that she is not just some damsel in distress that Booker has to watch over. She actually can hold her own in battle and she frequently helps you out in combat. She is also a strong character with a lot to learn. Being boarded up and locked away for all of her life gives her a different viewpoint of the world outside. The two get off to a rocky start, but their relationship is so satisfying to watch unfold as the game goes on.
Infinite also is an extremely fun game to play. There is so much things that this game does to distinguish itself from other first person shooters out there. First off, the game introduces the concept of vigors, which the player can consume to give themselves special abilities on top of the weapons that they have. For example, one of the vigors allows the players to send a flurry of crows on enemies to attack them. These vigors offer more variety to gameplay besides simple gun-play. Elizabeth’s “tears” also provided some interesting gameplay as she can bring things like turrets, health packs, ammo, and hooks into the environment that can aid Booker in battle.
Speaking of hooks, the game offers a unique way of navigating around Colombia in the form of a skyline. As you walk around the city, it’s hard to miss the skyline that weaves itself around the sky. Booker has a hook that can latch onto the skyline to get himself to different parts of the city in a speedy manner. The player can then use special jump attacks and skyline strikes that once again change up the gameplay.
The last thing I want to mention are the Heavy Hitters, which are a different form of enemy. They have special abilities that differ them from the regular enemies. They are big, bad, and very powerful and they offer a different variety to the gameplay. My favorite was the Mechanized Patriot, which is a mechanized statue of George Washington that happens to have a rail gun. He isn’t friendly to say the least.
As I made my way through the game, the gameplay was only a side note in my opinion. The main feature was the story and the environment that the game inhabited. Irrational has created such a masterpiece in storytelling, as well as a rich and fully-realized world that is amazing. I often found myself just taking walks through the environment and just taking in the sights. The game is beautiful, in more ways than one. Just a true masterpiece.