Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt, these are the words are played over and over again during your play of Bioshock Infinite, the third game of the surreal shooter series that focus on political and social issues of fantastical cities like the underwater utopia of Rapture controlled by Andrew Ryan. Bioshock Infinite changes everything we know about the Bioshock series by throwing us into a utopia that is ready to come crashing down, the city in the sky called Columbia.
Bioshock Infinite starts out fairly slow, with the game taking some time to get you acquainted with the themes and environments that you’ll facing during your trials. As Booker Dewitt, a private detective sent on a job to find Columbia with one goal in mind, “Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt.” The girl in question is Elizabeth Comstock, the daughter of the city’s founder, Zachary Comstock. Before the action starts, Booker sees that the city of Columbia is highly religious, idolizing the Comstock as a prophet who will bring devastation to the sinners below. The streets of Columbia had become a breeding ground for bigots, racists, and xenophobes.
After an extremely racist scene where a couple an interracial couple is tied up, Booker is found to be the False Shepard that Comstock warned the city about. Just like that the cult of Columbia start an all out war against Booker Dewitt, using the new Vigors, the Skyhook tool and various weapons to rescue Elizabeth from her tower.
The story here is full of twists and turns, provoking a lot of theories and making us think about the violence and inequality that affected the beautiful city. As it brings up the discussion of a city controlled by Religion and heavy Right-Winged politics, while some people may say it’s pretentious of the developer, the team has made a convincing real world out of a fantastical setting.
Like the original game, Bioshock Infinite is a unique First Person Shooter. Focusing on using firearms and special magical/scientific attacks, Booker has a huge arsenal behind him as he takes on the Vox and the Founders (the two warring factions of Columbia.) Guns play a huge part in the basic combat, using multiple type of weapon types from the factions to bring down your opponents. The common guns includes pistols and machine guns, but can later includes RPGs, Burst guns, Pepper Guns, various different explosive weapons, and the Hand Cannon (my personal favourite.) All the guns are upgradeable using the in-game money called Silver Eagles. The big difference between gun-play in Infinite compared to the originals is that they only allow you to hold 2 guns in your inventory at a time.
Of course like the originals, the big game changing ability is Vigors, originally called Plasmids in Bioshock 1 and 2. Vigors differentiate from the Plasmids in different ways, the first of which is that you don’t have to inject it into yourself but drink it from a cool looking bottle. All the Vigors have a cool, yet painful first time animation which range from Booker’s hands melting off, to suction cups growing out of his hands. Vigors change up the battlefield by creating bombs of fire, distracting enemies with crows or launching people into the air and out of cover. Like the guns, Vigors can be upgraded by spending Silver Eagles, decreasing the amount of Salt (the Vigors ammo system) the powers use, their range and effects. Unlike the guns, Booker is able to carry all of the Vigors he collects and use them at any point in the game.
Less than a quarter way through the game, Elizabeth will join you as you fight Comstock’s people. While first impression is that the game has turned into a giant escort mission, this is not the case as the game tells you that you don’t have to worry about her. This quickly becomes one of the best parts about Bioshock Infinite as Elizabeth becomes on of the best teammates you could have in a FPS like this, throwing you money, health, ammo, salts and using her unique power to open tears in the world. This allows her to create items that will benefit you and help defeat your enemies.
Of course, Comstock and the Vox have their own tricks up their sleeves as you’ll be facing a large amount of different enemy types, from basic Vigor users like Assassins using the Murder of Crows Vigor and heavy armoured Firemen using the Devil’s Kiss Vigor, to giant enemies like the Handyman, the Clockwork Founders and the Boys of Silence. Defeating these enemies require special tactics instead of running up and attacking them head on. Of course none are as fearful as Elizabeth’s protector, Song Bird.
If it wasn’t for the bigots that inhabit it, Columbia would be considered the most unique and beautiful city ever made. Covered in bright colours and giant flags, the city is a wonder to behold. The game’s characters are nicely animated and look great in the world setting. The best part about the aesthetics for the game is the music, because of the tears caused by Elizabeth, more modern music is heard throughout the city and given a slight twist to make the song as if it came out during 1912. These songs include an old-timely “Everybody wants to rule the world,” “Fortunate Son” and a song that fits the game all to well, “Will the Circle be Unbroken” by June Carter. The last one is especially important as you hear this in the background in the church and it is sung by Elizabeth during a really neat Easter Egg.
There are some top notch voice acting that rivals that of Hollywood films here, with veteran voice actors like Troy Barker (Booker Dewitt, other notable work include Kanji in Persona 4 and Vincent in Catherine) and Jennifer Hale (Rosalind Lutece, other notable work include FemShep from Mass Effect.) But even they are blown away by a newcomer to video game voice acting Courtnee Draper who play Elizabeth.
Bioshock Infinite is one of those games that you can keep coming back to it and learning more about the world it’s set in. It can be a bit dicey at times and there are a few glitches but none of them are game breakers. The game is not for the faint of heart as there is a heavy amount of Religious, Racial and Political prosecution, but what you have here is one of the best settings, the best story and the best games to hit this generation of gaming.