Released in 2013, BioShock Infinite is the second sequel to 2008’s BioShock. While Infinite is a radically different game, it still fits into the series nicely. The player leaves behind the undersea city of Rapture in exchange for the flying city of Colombia.
Of course, with this drastic change comes a narrative with a different tone and a new perspective. While Infinite is an incredible game all on its own, it fails to live up to BioShock in various ways.
“Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt.”
This is the quote that echoes throughout the story of BioShock Infinite. It serves as a reminder of the main character’s goal, as well as a teasing mystery. A mystery that holds the player’s attention until the truth is revealed.
BioShock Infinite is initially about Booker DeWitt traveling to a flying city to rescue a woman named Elizabeth. The goal is simple enough to explain. The execution is far more complicated, however.
Booker DeWitt may be the playable character, but the narrative does not focus on him entirely. Although, he has a much larger presence in Infinite than Jack did in BioShock. This is good, as Booker is quite interesting. However, the girl he is meant to save is the real star of the show.
Elizabeth is a young woman who has been locked away in a tower for all of her life. Watching as she interacts with the outside world for the first time is captivating. And it is moving to witness Elizabeth grow wise to the ugly ways of the world. The adventure shared between Elizabeth and DeWitt goes to some crazy places that leaves your mind reeling.
Lost Plot Points
The first half of BioShock Infinite is great. The world is beautiful and it seems to be heading towards a gritty discussion on heavy topics.
Unfortunately, that is where it stops for the most part. The game almost immediately sets up plot points dealing with controversial topics such as racism, nationalism, and religion. But, these are largely abandoned by the second half of the game.
BioShock painted issues and philosophies such as Objectivism with ease. Infinite shies away from the issues that give its first act flavor and thought. While they do pop up and play minor roles throughout the story, the narrative focuses more on sci-fi adventure instead. This is personally disappointing: the narrative plays it safe by sticking to Elizabeth’s story.
There is no doubt that Infinite is fun to play. It is a simple, easy-to-learn game in the same vein as BioShock. You have a few great options to choose from in the weapons category. You also have the companion to Plasmids, called “Vigors” in BioShock Infinite.
Vigors are familiar for the most part. They give you powers that are helpful in combat and can make for neat play styles. Whether you’re tossing fireballs or covering a foe in crows, the combat is fun.
A big addition to BioShock Infinite is the “skyhook.” The skyhook has two valuable mechanics to it. It allows Booker to melee enemies effectively. Most importantly, it also allows the player to traverse the skyline.
The skyline is a rail system that runs throughout Colombia. With a button press, the player jumps onto the rail and speeds around the battlefield. From here, you can shoot at foes or position yourself better on the ground.
In BioShock Infinite, you fight a good range of enemies. The standard foe could be a Colombian law enforcer, a Vox Populi radicalist, and even the Colombian equivalent of a splicer. These are your usual enemy fodder, but there is far more to the game than that.
Booker goes up against motorized Handymen: huge, sad creatures of flesh and metal who pack a punch. Robots in the form of U.S. presidents appear at various points in the game. Even a few supernatural enemies are featured in Infinite. They grant the player more variety in combat situations and keep things fresh.
A Good Partner
The quickest way to kill momentum in a game is to feature an escort mission. BioShock Infinite is one of the games that realized that escorting NPCs is a bad time for players. Therefore, the developers decided to make Elizabeth an actual asset to DeWitt in combat. She is able to find items such as money and ammo to offer to the player mid-battle. This also goes for the occasional gun.
But, her real power comes in the form of tears in reality. Using these tears, Elizabeth is able to bring defensive objects into reality for the player to use. She can also summon offensively, using turrets to turn the tide of combat. Plus, she cannot actually be hurt at any point, which is great.
BioShock Infinite has a lot to live up to in regards to setting and atmosphere. BioShock’s Rapture is one of the most iconic gaming locations in recent memory. Therefore, it is only natural that Colombia will be held to the same standards. While the flying city does not quite reach the same level of hype that Rapture did, it’s still a fantastic setting.
Colombia is gorgeous and presented in a cinematic way. Collectibles found throughout the game flesh out more of the city’s backstory. The locations within Colombia can range from cheery and warm to creepy and tense. Honestly, it’s easy to imagine that many people will prefer the vibrant Colombia over the dreary Rapture any day.
BioShock Infinite is not a perfect game, but that does not mean it’s bad at all. It is fantastic at its best and average at its absolute worst. The worst being an annoying boss fight that is recycled three times.
However, the great moments and characters in BioShock Infinite overshadow that completely. Infinite may not quite live up to the original BioShock, but that doesn’t stop it from being terrific.