An incredible, thought provoking shooter that matches the original in every way.
Bioshock Infinite is the third game in the franchise, and sees a return by the creative team from the original Bioshock. Ken Levine and the folks at Irrational Games do the original justice by delivering a game that's every bit as compelling and thrilling. It may be a new setting, with its own sense of wonder, and yet underneath fans of the series will find the familiar feelings that pervaded the underwater city of Rapture. There is a sense of awe as Booker, strapped in the seat of a rocket, bursts through the clouds and sees Columbia spread out before him. Unlike Rapture, which was already in a state of decay, Columbia is a thriving city, with plenty to see and places to explore. Your first hours will most likely be spent just casually strolling the streets and taking in the sights. It soon becomes apparent that a dark side lies beneath the sunny facade, and things take a more frenzied pace.
The controls work like a charm, and use the same set-up as the previous two games in the series. Combat is split as it was previously, with the right side controlling your weapons and the left controlling your powers, called Vigors instead of Plasmids in this outing. You can only carry two guns at a time, which lends itself to a bit of strategy as to what weapon will be more effective at any given time, though you can carry all of the Vigors you can find. As before, they offer a variety of ways to deal with your enemies, and it's quite fun to mix them up in combat. You also have a melee weapon in the form of your Sky Hook, which provides for some satisfying up-close action.
The Sky Hook also serves as a tool for travel, enabling you to make use of the Skylines that connect the various sections of the town. This adds yet another layer to combat, as you can use your guns while zipping around on the rails, as well as drop down and perform executions from on high. It's as simple as a button press to use, and a lot of fun as well.
Joining you on your travels through Columbia is the girl, Elizabeth, one of the best characters to be introduced into gaming. She is fully fleshed out and a delight to have along for the journey, and unlike some characters whom your escort in other games, is never a hindrance nor a burden. In fact, she proves to be quite useful, providing you with supplies during combat such as ammo or salts which power your Vigors, and also she's good at finding money which aid in purchasing items and upgrades at the many vending machines located throughout Columbia. You form a real emotional attachment to Elizabeth, taking joy in her wonder at the world around her and fearing for her safety when danger threatens. This is an AI character done right, and other developers should take notes.
The other characters you come across are all fleshed out as well, and the voice cast does an excellent job at bringing them to life. The city itself is a character all its own, and stunning graphics with sharp details make Columbia a place you want to spend time in. This is a game you don't want to rush through, as there is so much to see and do. Just like in Rapture, there are collectibles to be found which give you further insights into Columbia's history and its citizens. Voxophones and kinetiscopes are found throughout, and they're well worth taking the time to look for, as they add to the richness of the world.
The game has a nice length too- one playthrough should take anywhere between 15 and 20 hours, and the story is so good you'll want to replay this again as soon as you finish it. As a further incentive, there's the 1999 mode, which offers a more difficult challenge. PS3 owners get the added bonus of having the first Bioshock game on the disc, so you can dive back into Rapture again.
All in all, this is one of the best games to come along this year, and one of the best in this current generation. The bar has been set very high for the releases to come, as this is easily an early contender for GOTY. This is a must play, and a must own for all gamers, with an ending that's sure to be talked about and debated for years to come. Bioshock Infinite is a masterpiece that matches the original in every way, and is destined to become another classic.