BioShock Infinite Review

Editor: Tim Harmer  Date: 02-04-13   3 Comment(s) - Join the discussion here
Introduction



Title: BioShock Infinite
Developer: Irrational Games
Publisher: 2k Games
Platform: PC, XBOX 360, Playstation 3
Genre: First Person Shooter
Price: £35 MSRP
Approx Completion Time: 12 hours
Review Sponsor: AMD



Minimum Specifications:

Operating System: Windows Vista Service Pack 2 32-bit
CPU: Intel Core 2 DUO 2.4 GHz / AMD Athlon X2 2.7 GHZ
System Memory (RAM): 2GB
Video Card: 512 MB VRAM, DirectX10 Compatible ATI Radeon 3870 / NVIDIA 8800 GT
Hard Disk Space: 20GB

Other Requirements: Steam, DirectX Compatible Sound


Recommended:

Operating System: Windows 7 Service Pack 1 64-bit
CPU: Quad Core Processor
System Memory (RAM): 4GB
Video Card: 1GB VRAM, DirectX11 Compatible Card, ATI Radeon HD6950 / NVIDIA GTX 560
Hard Disk Space: 30GB


This review contains mild spoilers from the first hour of gameplay.



BioShock was a markee title in the relatively early days of the XBOX 360, spawning commentary on the growing narrative maturity of the First Person Shooter genre, as well as one outright sequel in BioShock 2. For a new generation of gamers it provided an interactive experience where the storytelling and gameplay where equally strong parts of a cohesive whole, whilst also taking on the twin undertakings of a compelling plot which also fed back into your in-game actions. Whilst not strictly novel, the execution set it above the vast majority of contemporary titles. BioShock Infinite therefore has big boots to fill.

The Setting: Columbia - America’s Greatest City.

For the first time eschewing the post-War under-sea world of Rapture, Infinite takes place in an alternate 1912, where the historical ideal of American Exceptionalism has driven advanced technological innovation out of which the floating city of Columbia was born. The light and day contrasts between Columbia and Rapture set both a visual and temporal distinction from the original franchise titles, generating the impression that it serves as a spiritual rather than logical successor.

Columbia is named for the personification of America popularised at the turn of the 20th Century, and represents something of an idealised society from that time. As with Rapture, the city’s aesthetic and layout both conforms to the logical restrictions of such a setting and informs the motivations of its creation – where Rapture was a libertarian enclave divorced from the world, Columbia is a theocratic, corporatist city-state which sets itself above the rest of the world. Even the means of travel to the city, ascension, speaks to this; an implicit sense of superiority pervades the city customs in a way which becomes brutally evident very swiftly.

Rapture was a fallen city long before the protagonist - Jack - arrived, but Columbia is still in the bloom of health with little indication of the cataclysmic times to come. Over time the story becomes progressively darker and more despairing, such that the atmosphere becomes palpably oppressive in a way that is reflected in the colour pallet and tone of content. Watching the city evolve as you progress in your mission is a huge part of what will make BioShock Infinite an experience which will sit with you long after the game ends.



From the start you take the role of former New York PI Booker DeWitt as he is rowed to a lighthouse just off the coast of Maine in the US. It’s dark and murky when you’re handed a case containing a gun, key and photograph that gives you your primary purpose: ‘Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt’. Irrational are canny writers – immediately you’re left wondering who the girl and what sort of debt Booker incurred in order to require this task; left unsaid is ‘Us’, presumable that is your companions in the boat. As to the role the girl plays, we only have a photo and handwritten scrawl to go on. The girl is Elizabeth, whom we discover is daughter of the spiritual figurehead and President of Columbia, but we don’t know why she could be so important as to be worth the debt.

Less than 2 minutes in and Infinite could have you hooked simply on unravelling this mystery.

Like the weather around him Booker’s history is equally murky. We begin with very little of his backstory save that he was involved in the Battle of Wounded Knee/Wounded Knee Massacre, although it swiftly becomes clear that combat, and not people skills, are his forte. From the get-go DeWitt is somewhat more than the silent protagonist of games past, fulfilling an active role more akin to Dead Space's Issac Clarke than BioShock's Jack.

Here we'd normally explore the plot a little more, but in this case would spoil far too much of the game. Instead, we'll discuss the characters and where they fit at the beginning of the narrative.


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