BioShock travels to new heights.
The original BioShock is certainly one of the most memorable games in the industry. Back in 2007, there was no game quite like it. With it's unique underwater setting, immersive environments, and a compelling story, BioShock provided something new and refreshing. Irrational Games, formerly known as 2K Boston, soon made a reputation. They know what it means to make a AAA title, and BioShock is up there as one of the best. With the original BioShock and sequel both taking place in Rapture, an underwater city, rebooting the series and making it just as memorable seems a tricky task. How do you do it ?, well, "build a city in the sky of course".
BioShock Infinite takes place in 1912, on a steampunk air-city called Columbia. You take the role of a man named Booker Dewitt, a former Pinkerton Agent. He travels to Columbia, but not for sight seeing. He owes a lot of money, and to pay his debt, he must find and bring back a lady named Elizabeth. To begin with, Booker seems very mysterious. He has done some rights and wrongs in his time, and you will discover more about him as the story unfolds.
Your first visit to Columbia is awe-inspiring. High above the clouds, buildings are suspended with large blimps and balloons. The visuals and sheer amount of detail is astonishing. You will spend the first hour simply walking through the cobbled streets, admiring all the beautiful scenery. There's so much on screen, you wont know where to turn. I found myself slowing moving on bit by bit, as I didn't want to miss anything. It's so immersive and interactive, that you will feel bad to rush it. This is something BioShock titles have always achieved. Exploration plays a big role, and it's far more broader than Rapture.There's so much that could be missed. For example, many side doors can contain loot, collectibles and other useful items. You always feel rewarded for exploring, and it makes you want to scout every nook and cranny before continuing.
To begin with, Columbia seems a very welcoming and peaceful place to be. People are singing, dancing and playing games. It sure feels like Cloud Nine, but it's not long before things turns ugly. Columbia holds some dark secrets, and Booker is about to discover them. It's packed with twists and turns you wont even see coming. I won't give anything away, but prepare for another spectacular story-driven adventure. It's so original and well written, it almost knocks the original BioShock out of the water.
After it's slow paced opening, your quickly introduced to combat. Most of the DNA from it's predecessors are still intact. It's setting may be far away from the underneath depths of Rapture, but Infinite still feels like a BioShock game. Combat is very familiar, with RT handling your weaponry, whilst LT controls your powers. Booker soon discovers a range of weapons. From Pistols, shotguns, sniper rifles, and many more. You can only carry two weapons at a time, but there's always enough gun variety lying around. What makes Infinite feel like BioShock, though, is it's supernatural abilities. Vigors are bottles that Booker can drink to acquire special powers. Vigors are simply the equivalent to Plasmids, featured in the first game. Although, they seem far more interesting and fun this time. One ability allows you to suspend enemies in the air momentarily. Another can shock foes with electric bolts, or even possess them. The possession ability is one of my favourites, allowing you to turn enemies and turrets against each other.
The Sky Hook is one of the highlights to Infinite. You receive this early on, and it's something you cannot drop. You begin to use it as a melee weapon, which can produce some devastating executions. The biggest surprise about the Hook is when using it for travel. Not all your time is spent on foot. BioShock Infinite has a new innovative way of travelling. Metal rails, known as a Sky-Line, swirl throughout different parts of Columbia. By simply pressing the A button, you can latch onto a rail and slide along it. You can control it's speed, change direction, and even hop to another rail.
The Sky-Line is also very helpful in combat situations. It can give you a great advantage over your enemies, allowing you to shoot from up above. With a perfectly timed button press, you can also perform a finishing move. Navigating the Sky-line sounds fiddly, but it works surprisingly well. The controls are extremely easy and fluid. I had no problems, and picked it up within seconds. Enemies also use the rails at times. For example, mini-bosses will sometimes grab onto a rail, sending electric volts across it. Whilst smaller foes will slide along it and chase you. Jumping onto a Skyline is always a thrilling moment. It's a unique addition that never grows old.
Then there's Elizabeth, who is the star of the whole game. Not only is she the main focus and emotion of the narrative, but she is an AI companion. When watching the early footage of BioShock Infinite, I wondered whether Elizabeth would become more of an annoyance, rather than a companion. Thankfully, Elizabeth is a smart young lady. She is the most intelligent AI game character I've experienced to date. For most of the game, she will stay by your side. You never have to worry about her either. In Combat, she doesn't get hurt. Instead, she will search for nearby resources. From health packs, ammo, and salt. When she finds something, she will shout it out, then throws it to you with a simple button tap. It's impressive stuff , and sets a new standard for AI companions.
Many areas of Columbia have locked doors. Thankfully, Elizabeth has lock picking skills. Collecting enough lock picks will allow her to open secret rooms. Doing so isn't compulsory, but you can find some extra loot and collectibles hidden away.
Elizabeth's most special ability is part of the mystery. She is capable of opening up tears, which are dimensions to other worlds. By simply pressing the corresponding button on a fuzzy shaped object, Elizabeth can bring the item through to reality. These can range from health packs, coverable structure, and turret guns. It can come in very handy when on the battlefield, but is sometimes distracting when in a large fire-fight.
BioShock Infinite lives up to it's potential. It succeeds in nearly every possible way. It's a triple-A title in the making, and every gamer should experience it. With it's broad and rich world, compelling story-line, and unique gameplay, BioShock Infinite shouldn't be missed.