An honest review of Bioshock Infinite

A truthful, honest review of the new hit game, Bioshock Infinite.

A true, blue, honest reviewI've seen a lot of reviews of Bioshock Infinite, and they all seem to sing it's praises on the wings of angels. I wasn't lucky enough to get my hands on an early copy, and I didn't want to sully my hands by pirating it either. I had liked the previous two games, and was always a fan of the System Shock games. Having finally completed a full play-through on Hard difficulty, lasting a little over eleven hours, I'm ready to make my decision. Let's get this party started.SettingThe setting of the game, Columbia, is great. It felt alive and kicking the whole way through. From the gorgeous panoramas when you first arrive in the city, to the giant statues and buildings, it was really breath taking. The NPCs also surprised me. I wasn't expecting something on par with Oblivion, where people would have schedules and daily routines. For an FPS, it felt perfect. Children playing in the streets, couples dancing to a barbershop quarter, even the downtrodden minority workers in Finkton felt alive, and were very well animated and voiced. And there were lots of nice little touches too, my personal favorite being an off duty mascot in a back alley having a smoke break.GraphicsLike I said before, the game mostly looks great. From the sweeping skyscapes, all the way down to little details like the groves of a sight adjustment wheel on a weapon, there was real care and polish. The people in the game look... all right. There's a lot of detail, and nice little touches like pieces of an enemies armor falling off when damaged. Since it's a matter of personal taste, I don't let it bug me much. I played on PC myself, and I think that helped a lot. Only every now and then did I manage to snag a glimpse of a texture not fully loaded, and that was mostly because I was sprinting and backtracking directly after entering a new zone.SoundMy personal favorite part of the game, as weird as that may sound. The art direction in this game is glorious. The aforementioned barbershop quartet was a delight for the ears, and there are a lot of interesting things to catch with a finely trained ear. Not wanting to spoil anything, I'll just say to listen carefully when you have your first moments of peace and quiet with Elizabeth to listen to the music around you. The sounds the weapons and powers made in the game were very satisfying. The shotgun booms, the carbine has a sharp crack, and it all helps the combat draw you in a bit more.GameplayThe game plays like a shooter should. Bad guys show up, shoot 'em, proceed. This is mixed up by involving different weapons and powers, a nice melee weapon with finishing moves, and  a good amount of three-dimensional combat using the city's notorious Sky-Lines. Here's where I get down to the nitty gritty and force my complaints out. None of the vigors felt worth using, with the exception of Return to Sender(which allows you to catch bullets and throw them back in an explosive ball). In the previous BioShock titles, I was used to cycling through several powers in a fight. I was throwing every element I could, from fire to BEES. In this game, I stuck with Return to Sender the whole way through, only using the Lightning power when I needed to open a side passage.My other major complaint is the weapons in the game. My major problem was the 2 weapon limit, which felt like a huge leap back from Bioshock one and two. I missed setting traps, grabbing available head shots with a pistol, clearing crowds with a shotgun and flamethrower, and then finishing the rest off from a distance with a rifle or machine gun. Thanks to a weapon limit, I really only got to experience a couple of weapons; namely the carbine and shotgun. Sure, I grabbed an RPG when it was available to take down a bigger enemy three or four times. But thanks to the limit and weapon upgrade system, it was simply smarter to carry the weapons I poured the most money into. And the weapon upgrade system felt generic, and not entirely noticeable. Again, the previous games allowed for basic upgrades, followed by crazy ones, like lightning shotguns and flaming pistol rounds. All in all, the gun play felt fast and frantic, but most of the time generic.StoryWhat can I say here without dropping any major spoilers? Well, the twist (and we all knew there would be a twist, this is Bioshock, people) was revealed in bits and pieces. More and more could be found by exploring then just by being told, which was a good touch. And when the reveal finally hit it was late in the game, allowing the climax to have a great impact on the characters and the player. The story of Columbia itself is very nicely worked. Told to the player in dialogue sequences, little silent movie viewers, and the iconic audio diaries, it's a solid narrative through and through, although the ending leaves a lot of questions because of its nature.The wrap-upSo why a seven out of ten? Well, the answer is simple. I had fun with the game, and I'm looking forward to trying out 1999 difficulty. But the core game play, the shooting, vigors, and sky-rails combat just felt somewhat tedious at times. One of the things I loved so much about the the previous Bioshock titles was the variance in fights, and how sticking with one weapon, or one power, generally meant a harder play-through. It might seem like a minor gripe, but when the core itself feels a little lackluster, the rest of the game suffers. I would recommend this to a fan of of the Bioshock games, and even to your "hardcore" Call of Duty fans. I guess final word would be give it a rent, or grab it if/when it goes on sale, but I don't feel like this game is worth sixty dollars, more than that with the season pass.

Our Rating
7
A truthful, honest review of the new hit game, Bioshock Infinite.

Columnist

A freelance crimefighter and player of VIDYA GAEMS, currently sweating like a pig in the Arizona desert.

Published Mar. 27th 2013

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