4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Best gaming experience in years,
This review is from: BioShock Infinite (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
It's not often these days that I feel compelled to write Amazon reviews, but in the case of Bioshock Infinite I simply feel compelled to air my thoughts.
Let's get the basics out of the way first. Infinite is far and away the best game I've played this year. Hell, it's the best game I've played in many, many years. But why, you ask? Is it the graphics? The set pieces? The characters? The storyline?
In truth, it's all of these things to varying degrees, and more. Much more. You know a game has made a deep impression on you when you still find yourself dwelling on it days or even weeks after completion. It happens so rarely these days, but with this game, it has. Playing Bioshock Infinite is something I can only sum up as an EXPERIENCE.
The year is 1912. Your name is Booker DeWitt, a former soldier, disgraced police officer and gambler now deep in debt, and you've been handed a simple mission - infiltrate the floating city of Columbia, rescue a girl named Elizabeth and bring her to New York. In return, all your debts will be paid.
Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt, Mr DeWitt.
It sounds simple, but the reality once you rescue Elizabeth is anything but. Very soon you find yourself embroiled in political skulduggery, inhuman experiments, betrayals, revolutions and a civil war within the floating city state that threatens the fate of humanity itself. And as Booker's attachment to Elizabeth grows, so too do her mysterious powers that allow her to literally open tears in the fabric of space and time, eventually laying bare the true nature of Columbia, Elizabeth, and Booker himself.
It's not often I use the term beautiful to describe a game, but in this case there's just no other word. Whereas the Rapture of Bioshock was dark, dingy and broken down, Columbia is a vibrant, shining metropolis floating high above the clouds. The developers have really allowed their imaginations to run wild here, conjuring up one of the most spectacularly beautiful gaming worlds I've ever witnessed. At times, I actually found myself just stopping what I was doing and staring around in complete awe.
As far as the actual mechanics of the game go, everything that was solid about the original Bioshock is unchanged here. You've got your usual array of firearms, from pistols to shotguns, assault rifles and rockets, all of which are upgradeable to keep you on an even footing as enemies get tougher. You can also access Vigors (this game's equivalent of Plasmids) which are bio-organic weapons allowing you to do everything from shoot fire, to bolts of lightning, to unleashing a flock of murderous crows on your enemies. Their effectiveness varies, and which Vigors you elect to use depends on your own preferences and playing style.
Combat is challenging without being frustrating, and for once the buddy system actually works here, mainly because the developers chose to keep Elizabeth out of the way during battles. She can help out by tossing you ammo and health from time to time, but generally she keeps her head down, meaning you never have to worry about crappy AI leading to an untimely game over.
Characters and voice acting are superb. The various supporting characters are complex and well-drawn, from ruthless revolutionaries to self-righteous dictators, but really this game comes down to the relationship between Booker and Elizabeth. The conflicts, tensions and growing trust and companionship between these two is brilliantly done, particularly since Booker is essentially off-screen throughout the whole encounter. He's basically a decent man fallen on hard times, and living in the shadow of a dark past that he has never forgiven himself for.
Elizabeth by contrast is young, fiery and headstrong, but also wonderfully innocent and naïve in many ways, providing the perfect foil for Booker. It's hard not to like her, and to empathise with her plight.
Last of all I come to the story. I won't give too much away, but I will say that Infinite weaves such a spell that I was literally hanging on every word by the time the game reached its finale. Poignant, complex, emotional and thought provoking, it simply delivers in every way possible.
I can't recommend this game enough. It's a game that raises the bar for what videogames can and should be. It's a game that left its mark on me, and it's an experience I'll never forget.