by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
"Booker... are you afraid of God?"
Combat took me a little while to readjust to. Infinite uses the left mouse as the weapon (as is usual for a FPS) but uses the right mouse as the one that controls the use of Vigors. I must admit that early on in the game, I was wasting a heap of my salt reserves (Salt is used to power the Vigors) because I was trying to zoom the scope on my weapon with the right mouse button as I've become accustomed to in other FPS titles. But after readjusting to the control scheme, everything just feels so natural again. The weapons are fairly standard (and aren't all that different from those used in Rapture - no rivet guns though) but the Vigors are definitely fun to play around with, finding out which work in a variety of situations. The Bucking Bronco Vigor sends enemies up into the sky similar to the Phaselock ability of Maya in Borderlands 2, allowing you to shoot at them whilst they are immobile. My other favourites were the Murder of Crows, which acts like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds with a hundred birds attacking your foes, and Possession, which works much like the Hypnotize plasmid from BioShock 2. Both the Vigors and the weapons can be upgraded (for a price) at vending machines similar to the ones used in previous BioShock games.
Travelling around the city is done via the use of a glove-like object known as a Skyhook. This device attaches to the city's rail based gondola system which enables the user to slide along the rails known as Skylines, often at a break-neck speed. And often, that's exactly what you do when you descend from the rail system, although it is not your own neck that you break as you fall on an often unsuspecting victim. The Skyhook can also be used as a melee weapon in a similar way that the Big Daddy's drill was used in BioShock.
It pays to take your time to search Columbia thoroughly for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the Voxaphones (similar to Audio files in Rapture) that you discover help to propel the story, giving accounts of various characters in Columbia and their history. The same goes for finding Kinetoscopes as they too help to fill out the story behind Columbia. But it's not just an increased knowledge of the story that Booker can discover. Gear that he can don can give him certain boosts to performance such as the Bull Rush pants that causes enemies to fall back when attacked in melee. Booker can also find Infusions which allow him to increase the potency of his Health, Salts or Shield. Personally, if I hadn't spent so much time traipsing into every corner of Columbia, I probably could have completed the game in half the time.
"A world of difference between what we see, and what is" - Elizabeth
Visually, BioShock Infinite is a amazing. Columbia is a vibrant city and looks like the marvel of modern science (for the era) that it is said to represent. And everything around the city (including the propaganda) makes you think that this would be a lovely city to inhabit - assuming your skin was white. There is just so much attention to detail in the design of the city from the city buildings, to the advertisement for cigarettes, to the news reel style kinetoscope recordings, to the costumes worn by the inhabitants down at the beach. Even the comical nature of some of the enemy units such as the Patriots fail to dampen the criticism with everything else being so well manicured.
The same can be said of the sound effect and music. The period style music fits the time frame marvelously further enriching the idyllic nature of Comstock's grand design. The weapon sound effects are fairly standard, but the Vigors each have their own unique sound. Timber floors creak as you walk over them and Booker's boots sound different depending on the surface he is running on. But the greatest part of the audio is the dialogue, especially between Booker and Elizabeth. You can hear the anger in Elizabeth's voice when she finds out she's been watched while she was captive and then the joy in her voice when she's dancing at the pier with other revellers.
"Donít disappoint us" - sign on a dead body in Lighthouse
Prior to playing BioShock Infinite, I was wondering if the floating city would seem as realistic as the underwater Utopia of Rapture. Yes, it is quite easy to believe a city could survive underwater in an airtight environment, but one floating in the sky? But the wonderful storyline and the memorable characters help to make the unbelievable believable. Despite the change in scenery, Columbia still exhibits the BioShock feel that was evident in Rapture. The game mechanics are largely the same albeit rebranded. Tonics and plasmids have been given new titles, but they work in a manner that will be familiar to BioShock veterans. The introduction of Elizabeth as a more than handy sidekick works extremely well, and by the end of the game it seems more like it is her that is holding your hand, rather than you leading her. Ken Levine and his team have certainly not disappointed us.
The story, the location and the characters make Columbia believable. Gameplay is pure BioShock with some great new abilities.
It took me a short while to adjust to the weapons/vigor mouse controls