Give Us The Girl, And Wipe Away The Debt...Then Get Bored
Written by Super User
Published Sunday, 05 May 2013 20:00
The third game in the BioShock series, and the second developed by Irrational Games, seeks to take the series to new heights, literally. Exchanging the watery depths of Rapture for the sunny skies of Columbia, Irrational presents us with a doorway to the past and entrenches us in a world of intrigue, mystery, and emotion. Although, it is not without its flaws...
Players assume the role of Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton agent with a not-so-pleasant past. Up to his neck in debts, Booker accepts an offer that will get him out of the red. If he can rescue a woman named Elizabeth from the city of Columbia his account will be settled. Though it sounds simple enough, Elizabeth is no ordinary woman and Columbia is no ordinary city.
"This is a story driven game and all its twists and turns keep you playing and wanting to discover more."
Elizabeth follows you around for the majority of the game, and is by far the most helpful and emotionally powerful AI that I have ever encountered. She constantly gives you more money and supplies you with health, salts (the power supply for your Vigors, which I’ll touch on in a bit), and ammo when necessary. When in dialogue with her you feel as if you’re talking to a real person. The emotions and humanity she conveys, be it directly through her dialog or implied through her very dynamic body language, are the product of great writing, fantastic voice acting, and awesome graphics (which gives some credence to Mr. Yerli). She is such an integral and compelling character that it’s impossible to imagine the game without her.
Columbia is filled with bright, vibrant colors and many curious characters. The city spews happy vibes (at first), and is rooted in pure nostalgia. The sights and sounds are exactly as I imagine any American town to be like in 1912. Objects are made out of wood and metal instead of plastic. Suits and dresses are the only attire people wear. And of course sexism and racism are rampant. It has a personality all its own that keeps you wanting to explore its every crevice and uncover its seedy underbelly.
The themes reflected are as relevant now as they would have been in 1912. The game is an interactive commentary on social equality, and the power of religion, among other things. These issues provide interesting bits of dialogue, and are the basis for the intelligent storytelling found throughout.
Even if you don’t pay attention to the story (though you really should), you’ll have a grand time playing. Controls are easy to use, and there is a nice assortment of locations to explore and weapons to acquire. Some enemies that are presented as bosses in the first few hours of gameplay become somewhat regular foes later on in the game, so the level of challenge is always rising. There are also enough collectibles that will keep perfectionists like myself scrounging around for one more playthrough at least.
Up to this point you may be thinking, "Why this game sounds absolutely capital! To not play it is simply balderdash!" Well, hold on there. Though there are many good things that make this game "capital," there are others that will make you exclaim, "madness!"
One of the first issues will hit you not long after stepping foot on the floating metropolis. There are four decisions that must be made early on in the game that are are poised to be rife with dramatic narrative impact, but turn out to be absolutely meaningless. While I enjoy being given a choice in games, I want my choices to have a lasting effect. The seemingly moral decisions you make in Infinite won’t waver your compass one bit, having no effect on the story or the gameplay. They are purely aesthetic changes that you’re likely not to notice as you play through the rest of the game.
There are eight Vigors in the game that are effectively magic abilities that do crazy things to your hands. They are essentially Infinite’s version of Plasmids, and have a wide range of amusing effects, from setting a murder of crows upon your enemies to washing your foes right off the edge of the city. As cool as that sounds, it turns out that most of them are relatively useless. I found myself only using three throughout the entire game, while the others lay in wait for the rare time I require them. It boils down to the fact that some Vigors simply injure the enemy, and others kill. Which one would you rather use?
There are thirteen weapons available for use in combat. From shotguns to machine guns to RPGs, there is a somewhat wide array of weapons to choose from. However, they suffer from a problem similar to the Vigors: some weapons completely out-do others. The pistol is only needed for the first 30 or so minutes before you find the Triple R Machine Gun which, as you would imagine, provides a significantly faster kill. The Hand Cannon is much like a small shotgun in pistol form, but it cannot compete with the actual shotgun in terms of close quarters damage. The RPG is slow but powerful projectiles do not stack up to the Volley Gun’s fast firing grenades, especially against armored opponents. Furthermore, the carbine, shotgun, machine gun, and volley gun each have a knock-off variation used by the Vox Populi faction. Like most knock-offs, they don’t work as well as the original, which in turn makes them almost useless considering how populated the landscape is with ammo for the real thing.
The weapons and Vigors are meant to co-exist and be used together in combat and given the right combination, they get the job done. Levitating an enemy with Bucking Bronco or using Return to Sender’s shield ability allows you to get up close and personal with the shotgun. Electrocuting enemies with Shock Jockey leaves them open for headshots with your carbine or machine gun. Perhaps most useful is using Possession, turning an opponent into an ally, giving you time to focus on other enemies or attack your new friend without consequence (although, once it wears off, your former ally would off himself instead of going back to waging war against you.) There are many more combinations you’re sure to find to your liking if and when you give it a go.
As great and enthralling as the story is, it just seems too short. My first playthrough took me 15 hours at the most, and I’m not one to rush through stories, especially ones as intriguing as this. I have completed the game twice since, and now that I’ve completed it 100% I feel no desire to play it further. Two weeks after I first fired up Infinite, it is already gathering dust among my other games. It doesn’t have the lasting appeal or replay value of other great single player games such as Metal Gear Solid. One key reason is the degree of challenge, or rather the lack thereof.
My first playthrough was on 1999 Mode difficulty. 1999 Mode is recommended for "the best of the best" and is "especially demanding." As I played I became increasingly agitated. Some parts seemed absolutely impossible to get through. However, I soldiered on and by the end, even though I was seething with rage, I was enjoying the experience; the challenge of it all. But by the time I completed my second playthrough on medium, that enjoyment was gone. The enemies were no longer ruthless and were anything but expert marksmen. Everything that made my first playthrough so great was lost. There was no challenge to be had and without challenge there is no sense of pride or achievement. Even when I went back to play 1999 Mode again it felt so easy that it was becoming boring and I was wondering why I was still playing.
It all comes back to the story. This is a story driven game and all its twists and turns keep you playing and wanting to discover more. The superb voice acting and intelligent plot more than makes up for what it lacks in length and challenge. BioShock Infinite is a sure-fire game-of-the-year candidate, and definitely one of the standout single-player games of this generation.
+ Elizabeth + Excellent story + 1999 Mode is an excruciatingly enjoyable challenge the first time + Well developed characters
- Decisions are meaningless - Not a lot of replay value - Too easy past first playthrough - Most Vigors aren’t that good
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Release date : 2013-03-26
Publisher : 2K Games
Developer : Irrational Games
Gameplay : Action
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