What’s Killing My Social Life This Week – Bioshock: Infinite
Posted by C-Mart
Game on, Evil Geeks! Welcome to another edition of What’s Killing My Social Life This Week, the breakdown on what games are keeping us sequestered in the Evil Lair and preventing us from EVER seeing the sun! Today we’re talking a game that’s been hotly anticipated for a very, very, very long time: mainly because it’s release date kept getting pushed farther and farther back. It was supposed to be the big game of Spring 2012, then Fall 2012, then February 2013, and finally the big game of April 2013. Was it worth the wait? Read on and find out!
Normally, a Bioshock branded affair is typically a water-logged, murky, undersea adventure in which our protagonist does battle with the forces of science run amok without the governor of morality to hold it in check. Infinite though completely re-invents the look of the series. Gone are the dank, dark, claustrophobic passages of Rapture, now replaced by the brightly lit, vibrantly colored, open expanses of Columbia, a “utopian” city of marvels, floating high above in the clouds, looking down on the rest of humanity. The only way I can describe the city of Columbia is that it’s kind of like a steampunk Bespin. While the outside world of Bioshock may be completely changed, the overall theme of the game remains the same (an element that will play heavily into one of the many big reveals of the game). Science plays a major role in the creation of Columbia, but unlike the society of Rapture in the previous games, religion plays just as large a role as science. The founder of Columbia is a self-proclaimed prophet named Comstock, who rules the floating metropolis with an moral-clad iron fist. Science literally keeps the city afloat, but religion, more specifically, Comstock’s home-grown brand of fire and brimstone old-tyme religion mixed with hero-worship of America’s founding fathers is what runs the town. You play as Booker Dewitt, a former Pinkerton, who’s suffered some tragedies in his past. He’s heading to Columbia to “free” a girl who’s being held prisoner by Comstock. The only reason Booker wants to find the girl is to hand her over to some people he owes money to as a way to settle his debt. When Booker finds the girl, he finds out two things, 1.) This is no ordinary girl. She’s host to some incredible powers, the extent of which are unknown even to her. And 2.) Comstock isn’t going to let her just walk away from the city. In fact, he’s got a pretty hefty security measure in place to ensure that she doesn’t get away at all. The security measure is known as the Songbird; a monstrous, hulking, armored, bird-beast, who can reduce a building to rubble in mere seconds. The bird is so powerful, that it’s Columbia’s main line of defense and on occasion, Comstock even turns it out against enemies of the USA (that is until Comstock decides he no longer needs the USA, then packs up his city and goes home). Other than the giant behemoth, looking to stomp him out like a cigarette, Booker’s objective sounds pretty simple: get the girl, get the hell out of dodge, hand her over, no more debt, go back to boozing it up, right? Well, it’s not going to be that simple, along the way certain revelations come to light, which will completely upend Booker’s world. Booker also forms a bond with Elizabeth, the girl he’s planning on handing over to some shady folks, further complicating the situation for him.
I really don’t want to spoil any of the story for you, because the ending is such a complete mind f#$%, but I will say there are some pretty high concepts that you’re going to need to wrap your head around to grasp the full extent of the story. Not only will you be taking jumps through time, you’ll also be doing some hopping to different realities/dimensions as well. I honestly wasn’t aware of this element going into the game, I thought this was going to be a separate story, apart from the earlier entries in the series and for the most part it does stand on its own legs but, SPOILER: it’s absolutely connected to the other games! The revelation of the time jumping hit me pretty early on in the game. When you first enter Columbia, you wander the streets for a while taking in the sights of this strange new world. On one of the first avenues you traverse, a hover-barge pulls up carrying a barbershop quartet who are singing an amazing acapella version of the Beach Boys song “God Only Knows”. Normally this wouldn’t strike me as odd or out-of-place in a video game, except the game takes place in the year 1912. What the hell… The second I saw that I knew there was going to be some time traveling involved!
About those sights of the strange new world I mentioned earlier, boy are there ever some sights in this game. The look and feel of Columbia is beyond stupendous. The graphics of the game are a true achievement, because Columbia is home to some seriously breath-taking scenery. There’s been a debate raging over whether or not this game could be considered a work of art. In my opinion, visually: the game is without a doubt a modern artistic masterpiece. It makes you wish that there were a place like Columbia in real life, just so you could see this stuff in person.
An important element of art is the ability to make a statement about something in our society. There are several statements being made through out the story of Infinite, but it’s tough to say what exactly those statements are. Don’t believe in prophets? Don’t treat the lower class like shit? Don’t be a racist asshole? The story hits on all of these but never really gets across a precise lesson to learn. I will say the racism stuff was a little jarring to hear and see in the game. Asians, Blacks, the Irish and Native Americans are all demonized in Comstock’s world, yet each of the races are present and play vital roles in the city of Columbia. I guess the overall message would be “Some people will do horrible shit to other people out of fear and ignorance. Don’t be like them.”
As far as the game play, I’ll say it’s good and executed well, but at the same time I was a little disappointed that there was nothing really new or revolutionary introduced. It’s standard shooter fare with the added bonus of a set of superpowers on the side, which is what you’ve come to expect with Bioshock. The new element added for Infinite is the skyhook, which is this game’s counterpart of the previous game’s Big Daddy drill arm. You can use the skyhook to chew up baddies or traverse the rollercoaster like railway system of Columbia. There’s a ton of weapons to be had (all customizeable of course!) but I felt limited by the fact that I could only carry two at a time. I realize that’s more realistic, but damn it if you’re going to give me that many toys at least let me bring a bunch of them with me. I did feel that there could have been some more powers added to the set in the game. I felt like there was more of a variety in previous games, but I did like the fact that you could upgrade your skills to add different effects to your powers. However, some of the powers I barely used; if they added some more and let you choose which ones you wanted to use I think I would have liked the game better. I did like the new heavy baddies, the Handymen, who’ve taken the place of Big Daddies in Columbia. I feel like I was cheated out of an end boss though. The end sequence is a massive gun battle, but it’s a little unfulfilling to know that there’s no big bad to kill at the end, just an army of normal baddies.
I really enjoyed Bioshock: Infinite, but I do see a few places for improvement. It’s not a perfect game, but it is one hell of a great way to spend $60 and still feel like you got your money’s worth. It’s challenging, but still fun and without a doubt the imagery is supremely impressive. I can say that the game was worth waiting through the multitude of delays that preceded its release. If the developers hadn’t taken the extra time to perfect the beauty that is Columbia, the final product wouldn’t have been nearly as good as what we got. If you’re looking for a shoot ’em up, with a mind bending story, then head out and grab yourself a copy of Bioshock: Infinite. That’s all we got for today Evil Geeks, come back again real soon for a brand new edition of What’s Killing My Social Life This Week!
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About C-MartA true Marvel Zombie, die-hard George Romero fan, Star Wars addict, Whovian, and life-long gamer. I make with the Tweets @CMart0979
Posted on April 19, 2013, in Reviews, Video Games, What's Killing My Social Life This Week and tagged Bioshock, Bioshock: Infinite, Gamers, Games, Geeks, nerds, PS3, Video Games, Xbox. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.