[ Note: The contents here SPOILER FREE] Three days after my first playthrough, I am still ‘infinitely bio-shocked’ from the conclusion of the story campaign.
I admit that prior to its launch, I was very sceptical about the game being set on another world that is opposite from what we’ve seen from past two Bioshock games. When the first Bioshock was launched, I recall the game was highlighted for being the first game with excellent water effects.
This was further enhanced with the Bioshock 2’s ‘There’s something in the sea’ campaign that went viral pretty well. Add that with Thalassophobia, my personal phobia of large masses of water such as the ocean, and this is a game other than Dead Space that will always cause a layer of uneasiness to me while playing.
With Bioshock Infinite, I felt a different kind of uncertainty in the first few hours of the game. To me, the build up was slow until my first encounter with Elizabeth. Maybe it’s because I’ve been hearing so much about Elizabeth from the pre-launch videos and I’m desperate to meet her. The tension began to escalate as the plot thickens, and with the discovery of Vigors and weapons, it became the Bioshock that I was familiar with.
At this point of time, I am quite settled down in the game. I stick to switching between Murder of Crows and Possession because the game allows easy switching between two recently employed Vigors. For weapons, I had to take a different approach as some areas were just littered with specific weapons so being an average shooter, I sometimes use up my bullets too quickly and had to resort to other arsenal with a steady supply of ammunition.
Much of the items in Bioshock Infinite mirror the features from BS1 and BS2. The right hand is for weapons handling, while the left hand is for casting chemical induced spells. Although they’re named differently, there’s similar to the counterpart items in the past titles. I even wondered the rationale for the new names. Little did I know that all these will be answered and much more.
The skycity of Columbia didn’t draw me in as much as the dark corridors of Rapture. Perhaps because it appears more expansive. Many times, I’m quite lost on where to go and had to rely on the objective arrow to lead the way.
I have mixed feelings about the Skyhook, an accessory for the player that was not seen in BS1 and BS2. Understandably, the device is irrelevant underwater. However, as much as it is a weapon and a means of travel, the potential of the device feels underwhelmed. While attaching to the skyrails, the hook instantly wheels you along until you bump into an obstacle or a dead end. The first time it happened, it felt great. I could almost imagine the wind while hanging freely and watching the city from a bird’s eye view. After a few rounds of wheeling though, I start to notice its shortcomings.
You can make it slow down but you cannot stop midway on the rails. This reduces my element of surprise because by the time I approach an area, I had to decide to dismount quickly or risk landing too near to attract unwanted attention or landing on a disadvantaged spot, especially when the story dictates a bounty for my capture. I guess it helps if the Skyhook wheeling can be manually activated and stopped at the player’s discretion. This reminded me of Batman’s videogame (Arkham Asylum and ArkhamCity) that has a similar arsenal but which can be upgraded later on to allow the player to pause midway.
Keeping with tradition, Bioshock Infinite remains a first-person shooter. However, for a game that constantly invokes the feelings and mood of the player, a visual expression is needed from the player’s point of view. While the game may intend the reaction to be personal, thus coming from the human player directly, I feel that the adding a third person perspective of Booker would enhance his connection with Elizabeth. Many times Elizabeth is seen staring back at Booker (me) with a multitude of facial expression, and I wish there was a way I could see how Booker reacts. Dead Space recognised this and had evolved their Isaac character.
Without discussing on her role in the plot, Elizabeth is an example of an ally that many games should emulate. She interacts, offers her opinion, scouts resources and hands them over to you (if you allow it). She has the nose to spot items like the dog in Fable II but with a similar resurrecting power of Erika’s from Prince of Persia. Having a girl pulling you up and saying something is always more uplifting than having to walk through a door (when she’s not on your side). Plus, you don’t have to carry her around like Erika. And she sings too, if you didn’t miss the guitar.
My other quip with the game is that while the Voxophones can be replayed separately through a menu, launching it immediately during the game does not trigger any visual text of the played message. While you’re busy scavenging the room and perhaps triggering some in-game dialogue in the process, the focus on the Voxophones is affected, thus probably contribute to missing clues and details on the story. Perhaps this is meant to get the player to absorb the story fillers slowly, but when I play the game late at night, I usually keep the TV volume low and this affects how much I can catch from the Voxophones. This means I should set up my headphones, but I would like to have that as an option, not a necessity.
The final minor letdown I have with the game is that when I was getting very much engaged with the atmosphere, my interaction is still scripted. I don’t mind the restriction of being able to only open certain doors, but there was an episode when I would like to make a contribution to the kids in the game. They were extending their hands to me but the game wouldn’t let spare a few silver eagles for them. If Elizabeth can throw me some coins, I would like to do the same to these kids.
That aside, other elements of Bioshock Infinite that contribute to the story deserve much praise and awards and I like the conclusion to the plot. I beat myself for not paying attention/spotting the signs along the way but it leads to an understandable closure that is still open to interpretation.
Nevertheless, there might be elements of the plot that may remain a mystery (from the articles I read) which presents an opportunity to be enlightened through downloadable content.
A note to those who have not played/finished the game – don’t skip the credits!
Bioshock Infinite has no multiplayer, unlike in Bioshock 2, but this is a game which doesn’t need one. Play it for the plot and easter eggs.
Verdict: Must have; Must Play – 9/10
Xbox360 version of Bioshock Infinite was provided for review.
Premium Edition, priced at S$99.90 comprise the following:
- 64 page art book
- Lithographic Print
- Handyman Figurine
- Murder of Crows KeyChain
- DLC – digital soundtrack and Gear pack