BioShock Infinite review

BioShock Infinite review

T3 5
  • BioShock Infinite, Irrational’s new superb arthouse shooter aims to ignite the imagination while posting a true test of gaming mettle

    BioShock Infinite review

    Love

    • Beautiful visuals
    • Mind-bending story
    • Rich and layered world

    Hate

    • Plot spoilers
    • All over too soon

    Update: We've updated our review to include a BioShock Infinite Burial at Sea DLC review

    BioShock Infinite is the sort of game that’s an absolute nightmare to review. The reason for this is because the central appeal of Irrational’s superb first-person-shooter is tied directly to its plot. The story isn’t just an important feature in BioShock Infinite, it’s the overriding factor. And naturally, the less one knows about the plot going into the game, the better a time one is likely to have.

    BioShock Infinite: Plot

    So right from the start, reviewing BioShock Infinite is a tricky proposition. We obviously don’t want give away any the plot’s major revelations and since they’re the best parts of the game, this places us slightly in a quandary.

    Just as the knife-twist in the plot of BioShock depended on the players’ state of ignorance for maximum impact, so too does BioShock Infinite’s layered narrative – to the extent that any mention of the plot’s details seems a disservice to anyone reading this.

    There are aspects that have already emerged, however. Players know that BioShock Infinite is set a floating city called Columbia in 1912. They know they take on the role of an ex-Pinkerton called Booker DeWitt who enters this fantastical metropolis in search of a woman named Elizabeth.

    Both she and the city of Columbia are held in thrall by a religious zealot called Comstock and a giant mechanical nightmare called Songbird. As Booker heads into the city to free Elizabeth, he runs up against Comstock’s soldiers and a movement called the Vox Populi, who speak for Columbia’s disenfranchised and downtrodden.

    BioShock Infinite: Characters

    The relationship between Elizabeth and Booker lies at both the heart of BioShock Infinite’s story and its gameplay. Players never need to protect Elizabeth in a firefight, and she will occasionally toss them health, ammunition, coins and power-ups.

    Elizabeth also has the power to open up ‘tears’ in the fabric of reality and yank useful items through, such as gun turret, a rack of health kits or a piece of cover Booker can shield himself behind.

    Over the course of the game, players will work their way through a variety of weapons – machine guns, pistols, rocket launchers – and Vigors, which are essentially a series of superpowers.

    Some cause direct damage to targets – such as Devil’s Kiss, which is an exploding fireball – while others give the player a temporary edge – such as Bucking Bronco, which briefly suspends multiple targets in the air.

    Along with his collection of guns and superpowers, Booker has a device called a Skyhook that allows him to latch onto the series of rails that encircle many of the in-game environments.

  • BioShock Infinite hint blends ferocious shooter action with outlandish visuals and a plot that hints at a head trip of mind blowing proportions

    BioShock Infinite review

    Love

    • Beautiful visuals
    • Mind-bending story
    • Rich and layered world

    Hate

    • Plot spoilers
    • All over too soon

    You’d be hard pressed to find a game slated for release in 2013 – other than say, Grand Theft Auto V – that gamers are more eager to get their hands on than BioShock Infinite.

    It’s not just that the reveal footage and demos have made the game look positively lip-smacking – this is the first game from Irrational Games since 2007’s critically lauded BioShock, a game that broke the mould for storytelling in shooters and even managed to take a pop at respected – at least in some right wing circles – author, Ayn Rand.

    However, punters have seen very little of Infinite since it was last demoed at E3 in June this year and the news that’s emerged about the game since then hasn’t exactly been promising.

    First, its release date was pushed from October 2012 to February of 2013 – and has since been moved to March 2013. Then a string of high profile departures at Irrational took place – in the space of two months, the game’s Art Director, Product Director, AI Lead and Combat Design Director all left.

    Most recently, the game’s Creative Director (and one of Irrational’s co-founders) tweeted that the game would have no multiplayer. From the outside looking in, it began to appear that Infinite could be well on its way to becoming vaporware.

    BioShock Infinite: Plot & Characters

    After a recent hands-on with the game in Los Angeles this week, we’re happy to report that this isn’t the case. Irrational’s latest shooter is very much alive and kicking and after five or so hours at its controls, we can confirm its shaping up to be one of 2013’s most enticing prospects.

    In Infinite, which is set in 1912, players take on the role of ex-Pinkerton and gun-for-hire Booker DeWitt who has been tasked with rescuing a woman named Elizabeth from a religious zealot named Comstock.

    Seems straightforward enough until you factor in the reality that Elizabeth’s prison cell is in a floating city called Columbia, and Comstock holds sway over the population there as its nominated leader.

    While the set up seems pretty rudimentary, you’d be a fool to think all need be considered is the surface detail. Indeed, there are indications that Irrational is playing with the player’s expectations right off the bat. As they guide Booker through the beautiful cityscape, they’ll begin to notice things that seem out of place in its admittedly outlandish environment.

    A young upper class British couple pop up at certain intervals – and it seems only Booker can see them. Booker is also prone to flashbacks in which a woman named Anna in continually mentioned.

    And occasionally, musicians around Columbia can be heard playing covers of songs that hadn’t been written by 1912. This, by the way, is before the game even broaches the subject of trans-dimensional warping.

    BioShock Infinite: Gameplay

     

    Yes, you read that correctly: trans-dimensional warping, which plays a in both the plot and the gameplay mechanics. Elizabeth, as it turns out, can peel apart the fabric of reality at certain points – known as ‘tears’ – opening the way to parallel dimensions.

    While she can’t step through these ‘tears’, she can warp through useful items such as weapons, turret guns and ammo packs, which is quite useful in a firefight. She can also scrounge up guns, bullets and ammo while the player is blowing enemies away.

    Booker, for his part, also has magical abilities, although they’re tied to Vigors – potions which grant him supernatural powers. These include Devil’s Kiss, which allows him to lob molten lava at foes, setting them on fire and Bucking Bronco, which allows him to briefly suspend enemies in the air and then fill them with lead.

    On top of his Vigors and guns, Booker is armed with a device called a Skyhook, which allows him to latch onto the system of rails that link Columbia’s floating city platforms. Not only is it his primary mode of transport, the Skyhook is a rather nasty melee weapon, capable of ripping through an enemy’s face or neck when the player activates it in a hand to hand fight.

    BioShock Infinite: Verdict

    That having been said, though, on the evidence of our hands-on, players do spend an awful lot of time scrounging, shooting, fighting and listening to audio diaries – much as they did in the first BioShock. But if Irrational’s track record is to be trusted, and everything in the game serves a purpose, this familiar gameplay may be part of the game’s ruse.

    BioShock Infinite plays with its own realities and the player’s expectations simultaneously, promising one of the best stories in gaming of 2013. If it delivers, we’ll be standing in the presence of greatness.

    BioShock Infinite release date: 26 March 2012

    BioShock Infinite price: TBC

    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/bi/xs_Bioshock-Infinite-DLC-1-624.jpg
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    • Bioshock Infinite trailer
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/bi/xs_Bioshock-Infinite-lead-624.jpg
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    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/bi/xs_Bioshock-Infinite-6-624.jpg
    • Video
      Bioshock Infinite Tears video

      Bioshock Infinite Tears video

      03:21
    • Video
      Bioshock Infinite Elizabeth video

      Bioshock Infinite Elizabeth video

      03:54

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