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Bioshock Infinite

April 2, 2013

I wonder whether Ken Levine regrets calling Bioshock’s setting Rapture, as while Columbia still makes sense as the name of the city Bioshock Infinite is based the themes of redemption running through Infinite, Rapture would have fitted perfectly.
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I’m thinking of writing two pieces about Bioshock Infinite. One to tell you why you should go out and buy this amazing game and another spoiler filled post where I can talk about the themes in more detail, especially the amazing ending. Hopefully this opening paragraph will be be enough that the preview window wont show anything to those people who don’t want to know anything at all about this game as they’re about to play it. As well you should too cause as I’ve said it’s amazing.

There will be slight spoilers in this blog and as this game has been out less than a week you should be careful when reading if you don’t want to know anything. The only spoilers I’ll be mentioning here are from early on in the game or when referencing enemies, gameplay etc.
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Easily the best non playable character in a game. You’ll actually feel like she’s a co-op friend.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a huge Bioshock fan so I’ve probably got a fair amount of bias coming into Infinite so it actually becomes difficult to give constructive criticism of a brand that I love so much.
The opening of this game is so beautiful that I might have spent a good 10 minutes more than needed to explore and drink in the atmosphere. You play as Booker DeWitt. A man given the chance to repay his debt by collecting a girl called Elizabeth from a city floating in the sky above America. After arriving in Columbia you are guided through a church to be baptised as this is the only way to enter the city. The church is so well rendered and the lighting so directed that you would have to have no soul at all to not be affected. The choral music in the background is enchanting and probably the best reason to wear headphones during the game it also makes you more likely to accept the baptism required to proceed. It will be interesting to discuss this particular part of the game with someone who isn’t a Christian and how it made them feel, if anything at all. As someone who’s been baptized I didn’t have a problem with this section at all, how the rest of the game shows the bigotry that can be a result of Christianity and organized religion was very well handled and even though I’m not very sensitive when it comes to my faith I would hope those with a more sensitive disposition could take the commentary on the chin instead of complain.
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Creepy priest aside

Most of the bigotry comes from the lead bad guy in the game Zachary “Father” Comstock. He is the savior and prophet of Columbia who has created this floating city and also its rules. He has huge statues in his likeness strewn around the city to remind the citizens of how god like his powers of prophecy are. Infinite does a brilliant job of using non playable character interactions to flesh out characters, the voxophone recordings are as intriguing as the last two games. You are also able to listen into conversations the citizens of Columbia are having. These should not be missed and the voxophones should be sought out as they are as much a part of the story telling then any direct interactions with Booker.

Back to the bigotry. Racism is rife in this game. It’s not done in a gratuitous way but more as a reminder of the attitudes of the time that are accentuated by the civilization so cut off from the rest of the world. The problems running through the city have cultivated a small element of rebellion that Comstock is trying to stamp out. The underclass of Irish, Asian and Black citizens forced to work as slaves have started to rise up against their prophet. This group is called the Vox Populi and while you can understand the frustrations of the group, the actions may not always be to your tastes.
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The politics of freedom fighters/ terrorists, religious bigotry, racism, redemption and unregulated science give you so much to think about during the 12-16 hours of gameplay that it’s easy to get drawn in for hours at a time. I probably could have played this through in one sitting if I’d had enough food, water and no work to go to, It’s THAT interesting.
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As far as game play goes there is not a huge amount of difference in the model created in the first game. I’d actually say it’s not as fun as Bioshock 2 which had the best gun play of the series if the worst story. There are a lot more guns or variations of guns in infinite and personally I didn’t feel an ownership of those guns in the same way as the first two games. Leveling up a gun doesn’t mod a gun in the same way and change the appearance to the same extent. It’s a slight negative but overall the guns feel and sound powerful. There don’t seem to be any over powered guns and the balancing is well done.
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I wouldn’t bother with tails

The Vigors (Infinite plasmids) feel less balanced. I relied on a couple during most of the playthrough. Initially I was going to say that this obviously meant they needed to change things up. However after seeing reviews saying the same thing about different vigors than the few I used the game may have meant to be played that way. I could have done with a few puzzles or tasks to introduce vigors and their uses better but again this is a minor negative.
Overall this is an outstanding game with one of the best stories and climaxes that you’ll see in a piece of media let alone video games. The ending is lengthy and complex so pay attention. My point about the voxophones is mostly because you need to listen to many of them to fully understand the story and ending so try and seek them out as much as possible. The whole thing is put together so well. I was wondering how people got around Columbia considering the movements of the various islands of city moving around. I then turned the corner and saw a docking timetable. There are even a couple of signs in the game that look wrong, however I would be very surprised if they weren’t intentional.
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This took me a couple of looks to see the mistake

If you haven’t gathered by now, I think you should buy this game and clear some time aside. If you play this game and don’t complete it you are doing yourself a disservice. I know that’s pretty much the point of this blog, but I implore you. BUY AND FINISH THIS GAME. Do it on easy if you must but it’s really that good.

I’m going to post this and start the spoiler filled blog. Hopefully no one mixes up the two.

XBL PSN and Twitter @Urbundave

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