Saturday, 21 December 2013

Bioshock Infinite

Gamespot Score: 9.0 (Editor's Choice)

My Score: 8.0

(+) Pros: - Columbia is almost about as fun as Rapture, - Solid shooting mechanics with a good variety of weapons, - Interesting Vigor powers, - Upgrades are actually a big deal, - Elizabeth is actually a useful partner AI, - Filled with a great variety of enemies and many intense shooting segments.

(-) Cons: - The ending was bad, end of story (opinions people, don't try to justify this), - Doesn't really introduce much EXTENSIVE gameplay mechanics when transitioning to Columbia from Rapture, other than limiting the amount of weapons you can hold.

Gameplay time: 10-20 hours

I don't know about you guys, but I sure was expecting a hell lot out of "Bioshock Infinite". The original 'Bishock" and its successor "Bioshock 2" were some of my favorite shooter games of all time (I don't even like shooters all that much because they all feel the same). Surely, the long ass development time they had for "infinite" with their countless delays made the game the best that it could be, right?! It would have to be the best game in the series, right?! Well, the game is pretty damn fun as a standalone title, but in all honestly, when you compare it to the previous "Bioshock" games, there's a lot left to be desired. The gameplay mechanics feel like a complete overhaul of the old ones in "Bioshock", but that doesn't mean its better. In fact, you can find bits and pieces of the gameplay that resemble the old "Bioshock" games, but they sugarcoat it in such a way that they make you think otherwise. It's a great game, but it could have easily been much better.

The story puts players in the shoes of Booker Dewitt, a gun for hire who is on a job. It starts with him going into a lighthouse on a boat, and his client telling him to look for a certain girl by the name of Elizabeth. He is given a code for bells on the top of the lighthouse, and when he is finally up there, he is in for a surprise of his life when he gets whisked away on a flying chair into the middle of nowhere. It is before long that he realizes that he was taken to Columbia, the great flying city that is ruled by Comstock, the self proclaimed prophet of Columbia. He spends some time walking around the city and knows that the entire city is in search for a man with a brand on his hand...that man is known as the false Shepard. And guess what, Booker looks down on his hand, and notices that he has that brand. A few moments later, he was found out by the city guard. But of course, being the badass that he is, he decides not to go down without a fight...

It's time to burn!

A good deal of atmosphere and intensity in "Bioshock" was due to how awesome of a place Rapture was. In "Infinite"...we get another amazing place to discover, and that is Columbia. While Columbia is a MASSIVE change of pace from Rapture (Rapture was dark as hell, Columbia is high up in the sky with sunlight everywhere), it still does a great job of making the player stay on their guard. You will be experiencing the joy of riding the skyline, exploring your share of enemy filled museums, traversing  streets with the city guard at every turn...Columbia is still a pretty intense place, albeit being a little more flashy and less creepy. Its a different joy on its own. Exploring the city's little secrets make it all the more interesting as there are a lot of "different" themes being implemented here.

Being a shooting game, you have to make sure that the shooting feels right, this has been something that the "Bioshock" series has always been good with. Fortunately, "Infinite" does a good job as well. Guns feel powerful, and different weapons serve different purposes in a fight, just like they all should, the weapons all feel important in their own different ways (except the pistol, it seems pretty bad this time around). There are also a nice variety of weapons that you can pick up from the dead Columbian soldiers. Machine guns, shotguns, RPGs, grenade launchers, sniper name it, you got it. Though the lack of more "imaginative weapons" like the chemical thrower or the harpoon launcher aren't present here. It doesn't hurt the experience too much though, landing head shots on enemies with a sniper rifle still feels great.

Gotta shoot them hoes from afar.

"Bioshock" won't be "Bioshock" without the powers (one of the main reasons why I even wanted to play the game), and "Infinite" has its fair share of interesting ones. Plasmids are gone, but instead, the game introduces Vigors, powers developed on Columbia itself. Whatever they're called...its the same thing as always. Booker uses one hand as a gun arm and the other arm to use his vigor powers. As expected of a "Bioshock" game, the vigor powers are pretty insane and powerful looking. Fire and lightning seem to be the norm nowadays, but the really cool abilities are the ones that allow you to summon crows to attack your enemies, summon a water tentacle to throw your enemies far away, to summon a shield to block all incoming bullets and then firing it all back at once, OR the one power that lets you fling all enemies into the air for free shots.

Unlike in previous games, you don't buy the powers in "Bioshock Infinite", instead, they are found during story segments. The only things you buy are the upgrades for them. In previous games there were improved versions of plasmids, like "Frigid Blast 1,2 and 3", in "Bioshock Infinite" you simply buy upgrades from the shop to boost the power of said Vigor. That applies to weapons as well. This functions like the upgrade stations in games of old, just that you can upgrade your weapons at any time now at the cost of money. Upgrades for both vigors and weapons make them feel significantly stronger, which is great, since it doesn't make the upgrade shops look like pointless window shopping. This is especially true for the vigor side, since the upgrades drastically change how you use your powers to deal with enemies.

Into battle, soldier.

Somewhere through the game you'll run into Elizabeth, Booker's contract, and she'll tag along with you for the most of the game. Elizabeth, frankly, is pretty impressive. Thank GOD the game isn't a stretched out escort mission, because believe it or not, she actually pulls her own weight in fights. She DOES NOT attack enemies at all, but instead, she'll be running around the area, trying to scavenge items for Booker. She also does not receive damage from enemy attacks, nor will the enemies even bother to attack her. In the heat of battle, she'll throw you ammo, money, salts to replenish your vigors, first aid kits to restore your health, and she can open tears that have different effects based on the tear you chose to open. Some provide tons of health kits, some provide weapons, some even summon turrets and robots to attack enemies. She did glitch out on me a couple of times, but she'll always reappear near me magically when I enter an elevator or advance to a new area.

The enemies in this game also come in quite a variety. Gone are the days of big daddies, but the game introduces this sort of "mini-boss" enemy types that come at you during many points in the game. There are armored bruiser types that rush at you and shoot fire all around, causing major damage. There are these crow type enemies that wield a blade, they'll charge at you mercilessly and disappear into crows when you shoot them, then reappear elsewhere to try and attack you again. There are the BRUTAL handymen enemies, whom are huge, robotic abominations that show NO mercy whatsoever if you don't know how to deal with them. All enemies have different counter strategies, and fighting them in midst of all the other normal enemies which have different powers on their own can be quite the intense and daunting task.


Now we get to the flaws in the game, which are frankly, quite subjective. This game was received as the best in the series by critics worldwide....I actually think its the worst. ITS STILL A FUN GAME, I'M GIVING IT AN 8 GOD DAMMIT. First off, the story, it doesn't add up. It starts off pretty good and remains that way throughout a good portion of the game, then it starts to throw itself out the window during the ending segments, where it starts explaining about...very stupid things (I won't go too in depth because I don't want to spoil the POS ending). There are also not many extensive gameplay improvements to the previous games. They took out the passive plasmid abilities, there are no passive vigors to boost your stats, instead, there are drinks you find throughout the game that either boost your salts, health or shield. There are also "clothes" that you pick up that act as "passive abilities". All in all, there's really nothing new that is game breaking....and no, skyline zipping doesn't really count, it doesn't do much. Also, limiting our weapon counts to 2 just makes everything feel lazy.

"Bioshock Infinite" is a great game that focuses on what it does best, great gun fights with great special abilities, having a nice and interesting world to dive into and having a great variety of diverse enemies. I felt like while the game had plenty of amazing moments, it was to hide the fact that they sort of dumbed down combat into a pretty generic cover shooting like in many other games, rather than the old "Bioshock" where there were a ton of enemies that just charged and flanked you, instead of enemies standing and shooting you from afar, taking cover. Its a different experience overall, I can't really say that it feels too much like a "Bioshock" game, but sometimes being different isn't exactly bad. Its still a pretty damn fun game on its own.

Happy gaming!