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PS3 Game Review

Bioshock: Infinite


Format: PS3
2K Games
RRP: £39.99
5 026555 408684
Age Restrictions: 18+
Available 26 March 2013

The floating city of Columbia is the wonder of its age and a visible reminder of nineteenth century Americas technological might. Created by Zachary Hale Comstock, a man with a messianic drive towards the betterment of white folk, he falls out of favour with the government when Lincoln decides to emancipate the slaves. The city finally goes into self-exile after its violent and disastrous intervention in the Boxer Rebellion. Booker, a washed up Pinkerton, takes a job to travel to Columbia to retrieve Elizabeth, a young woman being held there, but instead of the Eden he was expecting to find, he discovers a society controlled by a madman, whose darker underbelly is rising to the surface...

Review imageBioshock: Infinite is the long awaited new game from Irrational, creators of the previous two Bioshock games. Infinite is not a continuation of those previous games, but does take place in a world, not a million miles away. For the seasoned gamer there is much that will feel familiar as well as a lot of new things to experience.

As Booker you travel to Columbia, the game opens up with you travelling to a light house, a nice nod to the previous two games. In fact the game is littered with cultural references, from Mozart’s requiem, to a rather natty Star Wars reference on a Parisian cinema.

Once in Columbia you have to find Elizabeth and get her off the city. You want to take her to New York, but she has her heart set on going to Paris. Either way getting off will not be an easy task.

Review imageYou are not alone as you travel through the city with Comstock remaining an omnipresent presence, often conversing or preaching to you. He even seems to know who you are, calling you the "False Shepard" and Elizabeth "The Lamb", or "Miracle Child". Your arriving seems to have been foretold and you even bear a mark known by all of Columbia's citizenry. For you this means lots of gun fights with the local cops.

Structurally, there is much here which you will remember from Bioshock. As you progress through the game a number of weapons become available which can be upgraded at the vending machines. The machines also will sell you ammo and upgrades. You also have access to Vigors, which work very much the same way Tonics did; these can also be upgraded and combined.

The big change, apart from the environment, is Elizabeth, who displays psi powers right from the start. Her greatest gift is being able to open fissures in reality. So, at one point, in order to progress she takes you back in time, but mostly she is able to manifest objects which once stood in open spaces. This little trick allows you access to all number of defensive and offensive extras. During combat Elizabeth will take care of herself, but more than this she will scout the area of useful objects, often tossing you money she has found or health and ammo during a particularly heavy bout of fighting.

Review imageAs well as a new environment, the game comes with its own set of challengers. The Handyman is a large cyborg, who is disconcertingly quick on their feet given his large size. The songbird is not, as Elizabeth presumes, her only friend, but in fact turns out to be a large mechanical flying jailor. In Columbia even the display models will come to life and the motorised Patriot, with its Gatling gun, appears from time to time. As your decent into the rotten core of Columbia progresses you will meet the Boys of Silence, with their heads encased in metal helmets. These little tykes will give away your position, you can either sneak past or blow them away.

Along the way there is money and ammo to collect as well as audio diaries, which provide much of the back story to the game. Being a Bioshock game, you are best advised to spent time looking at every possible thing in your environment, as you may pick up a rare item to increase your health or shield. One nice addition to the game is clothing and no I don’t mean you spend most of the game naked, but you can pick up extra special clothing which will enhance you offensive/defensive capabilities.

Review imageEven after you spring Elizabeth things do not go smoothly when you run into the Vox Populi, a freedom fighting group, led by Daisy Fitzroy. Don’t think that just because you’re the hero of this story that she isn’t going to give you a hard time.

Combat mechanics and overall narrative apart, Bioshock Infinite also brings to the fore racism and white supremacy, dodgy subjects for a game, meaning some of what is said and written in the game could be construed to be offensive to people who are not paying attention.

Attention to detail is everything in this game, a wonderfully crafted immersive experience, I’m wondering if there is a case to sue Irrational on a plea of its WTF power. Throw yourself into the game and at some point you’re going to look up, thinking only an hour has past , when in fact, its four in the morning and you have to get up for work in two hours time - investment in a timer may be wise.

Review imageSo, what didn’t I like about the game. Well, nothing. Columbia is the sort of place you’ll just love to explore; the game has the same narrative pulling power of Mass Effect and Final Fantasy, where the story is as strong as the game's mechanics. Thought has gone into the presentation, even to the point of being able to track enemies as you can swing your view around and hear their voices more left to right across your speakers.

One of the aspects which most worried me, prior to actually playing the game, was the Sky Hooks. Columbia does not float as a coherent whole; rather it is a collection of island areas, joined together by rails. You can get around by hooking onto the rails to travel between the various locations. From the stuff that was put out as trailers this looked like a confusing and difficult proposition, likely to spoil the whole game. As it turns out this part is pretty easy and as a bonus you can bludgeon people to death with your Sky Hook.

In the end it’s another triumph for Irrational and the story driven genre.


Charles Packer

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