Bioshock Infinite, A City in the Clouds

Reads: 489  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A game review for Bioshock Infinite.

Submitted: December 04, 2013

A A A | A A A

Submitted: December 04, 2013

A A A

A A A


“Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt.” That’s all you have to go on as you step into the boots of Booker DeWitt, an indebted private investigator sent to the idyllic, floating city of Columbia, nestled high above the clouds in 1912.

Originally teased back in 2010, the first-person shooter Bioshock Infinite was released in early 2013. It is a sequel of sorts to the original Bioshock released in 2007. Created by Irrational Games, the original Bioshock’s story was lauded as one of the most inspired and brilliant stories told in gaming, even though the climatic finale of the game split fans pretty evenly. The plot twisted and turned as you discovered the sinister and disturbing nature of the underwater utopia called Rapture.

Infinite has callbacks that many fans of the original Bioshock will pick up on. One of the most memorable moments from the original game is how you arrive to the city of Rapture aboard a bathysphere. Booker arrives to the city of Columbia in a similarly strange way.

After a rainy rowboat ride to an abandoned dock, you make your way to the top of a nearby lighthouse, climb into a rocket, and launch yourself above the clouds.

Columbia is a paradise, not unlike Rapture was. However, by the time the protagonist arrived in Rapture, the city had already gone to hell. In this game, the heavenly city of Columbia is at its peak. Columbia is a character unto itself, and you’ve never seen a game world like this one. It’s as if a piece of 1912 America tore itself away from the rest of the country to make its own world. Everything is there, from the Americana art and décor to the extreme patriotism to their leader, Comstock. There is even subtle and not so subtle racism as the game progresses and you uncover more of the seedy underbelly of Columbia and are reminded of a darker time in American history, a time when American Exceptionalism commanded the American people.

The atmosphere of Infinite is incredible. Columbia is a living, breathing world, full of life and wonder. The city is made up of large, floating platforms with propellers on the bottom. Each platform has different sections of the city on it.

The first half-hour of Bioshock Infinite plays more like a film than a game because there are no real “gameplay” elements to speak of. You’re just wandering around the city, taking everything in. I spent awhile listening to a rendition of “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys sung by a barbershop quartet stood on a floating platform. After the song was over, they zoomed away and I realized I had been standing there for several minutes, listening to a song sung by NPCs in a video game. Bioshock Infinite is full of moments like this. It’s a game that lets you discover things on your own--a far cry from the twitchy shooters that dominate the game market today.

Booker’s mission sounds simple enough on the surface. He’s there to deliver a girl to his debtors so he can get rid of his debt and get on with life. As you make your way toward Monument Island early on in the game, you discover that Monument Island is a prison. The girl, Elizabeth is being held there against her will.

Eventually, Booker gets into trouble with the law and the game becomes a race to get to Monument Island before it becomes locked down and you can’t reach it at all.

I won’t spoil what happens when you meet Elizabeth, but I will say that the moments leading up to the meeting, the meeting itself, and the wild ride that ensues immediately after will always hold a special place in my gaming heart. It’s an incredible rush of nostalgia, confusion, and excitement that no game has ever truly articulated the same way Infinite has.

From Monument Island, Elizabeth accompanies Booker as they continue on through Columbia. Booker soon realizes there’s more to Elizabeth than meets the eye. The relationship between the two characters is completely believable and genuine. The two journey on a fantastical, and in many ways unbelievable and confusing, adventure. I won’t say any more about the story as it’s something you’ll need to experience rather than read.

The game controls incredibly well, a surprising testament to the long and troubled development cycle Infinite went through. A fun, exhilarating way to travel around Columbia is on Skylines, a rollercoaster-like railing used to move goods and services around the city. Early on, Booker acquires a skyhook--a grappling hook of sorts that can attach to the Skylines--in a gruesome, shocking scene that seemingly comes out of nowhere to spoil the peaceful, serene atmosphere of Columbia. Using the skyhook and Skylines, Booker can travel around at high speeds, shooting at enemies and leaping off the Skyline onto enemies, using the full force of his jump to connect the skyhook with an enemy’s face.

After obtaining the skyhook, Booker begins to collect other, more conventional weapons, like a pistol, a shotgun a sniper rifle, and more.

A commonality between Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite is the use of Vigors. These were called plasmids in Bioshock, and both function in similar ways. Think of a Vigor as a superpower in a bottle. Booker takes a swig out of a bottle of Possession, the first Vigor he comes into contact with, and he gains the ability to possess turrets and turn them against his enemies. An upgrade to Possession allows the player to possess enemies, who will turn on their buddies and commit suicide if there are no other enemies to kill.

Other Vigors include Devil’s Kiss (think pyromaniac: you throw fire); Murder of Crows (you throw a murder of crows on an enemy, distracting and injuring them); and my favorite, Shock Jockey (you throw lighting, stunning enemies). All of these can be combined to destroy your enemies in any way you see fit.

Bioshock Infinite, although astonishing in many ways, is not without its flaws. The combat, while fluid and swift, lasts far too long in some instances. The game is driven by a story the player wants to know more about. Instead, we’re bogged down into kill-boxes we have to out crawl of. And while the city of Columbia is fully fleshed out with characters and sideshows, at times it’s like walking through a Hollywood back lot because you can’t really interact back with the characters. The worst offender in Infinite, however, is the boss battle midway through the game. It’s not fun, it’s unnecessarily difficult, and--if you really think about it--it doesn’t make any sense.

Bioshock Infinite is unquestionably a contender for Game of the Year. The atmosphere of Columbia, the voice acting and delivery between Booker and Elizabeth (driven by performances from actors Troy Baker and Courtnee Draper), the game mechanics, the combat system, the music, and the rollercoaster ride of a story all mesh together unbelievably well for a twenty to twenty-five hour unforgettable experience you have to play to believe.


© Copyright 2020 tbolt. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments: