Explosive action, dynamic characters, and a memorable story are what make Bioshock Infinite an illustrious masterpiece.
-Rich story and characters
-Gratifying combat elements
-Skyline and dimensional tears are a fun and unique gameplay aspect
-Columbia is an enthralling place to explore
-Minor glitches and rough textures up close
The United States in the late 1800s launched an era of exceptionalism which brought about a national pride that invigorated the masses. A major byproduct, during this prosperous time, was the development of the majestic floating civilization known as Columbia. From the outside this paradise in the clouds seems to be the kind of utopia people yearn for, but to those who call Columbia home there is something more sinister that plagues each and every one of the inhabitants. Years of segregation has created an endless and violent power struggle between the elite, Caucasian upper class and poverty-stricken, minority lower class (known as the Vox Populi).
Bioshock Infinite begins with a former detective named Booker DeWitt getting transported, via row boat, to a mysterious light house. The two strange couriers drop Mr. DeWitt off and leave him with one simple instruction, "retrieve the girl and wipe away the debt." Booker then ascends in a rocket propelled pod to the beautiful world of Columbia and his outrageous journey to recover "the girl" aka Elisabeth begins.
The chemistry between the two leading protagonists, Booker and Elisabeth, is fantastic. The way the two interact, converse, or just share experiences together throughout this adventure is delightful. The storytelling is masterful and gripping up to the very end with a mind blowing finale that will surely keep you talking about it for months and years to come. The emotional conflict between the upper and lower classes is very real with segregation and racism as a dominate theme. Bioshock Infinite does a fantastic job in getting across the idea that the term 'good' is completely relative.
Columbia is a fun place to explore, which is mainly due two major aspects: the Skyline rail system and the ability to manipulate dimensional tears. The Skyline is a system of roller coaster type rails allowing you to quickly zip between locations via the handheld Skyhook device. Transferring from platform to platform, getting the drop on enemies, and escaping difficult situations makes this aspect a dynamic part of the gameplay. In addition, Columbia is a mysterious place in that dimensional tears or rifts to other worlds are ever so present. Elisabeth has the uncanny ability to interact with these portals and doing so, whether during a cut scene or by your command, is really fun to watch. This feature definitely comes in handy during combat as altering the battlefield in your favor can be the difference between life and death.
The shooting mechanics work well in this first person shooter and Booker's arsenal of weapons is quite impressive. They vary from the familiar like the pistol, shotgun, and sniper rifle to the more unique like the hand cannon and crank mini-gun. Upgrades are available, for a price, at various vending machines and for the most part each weapon works well in combat.
What truly makes the combat system in Bioshock Infinite such an absolute blast is the combination of firepower and special abilities granted by a mysterious substance known as Vigors. Vigors are an engineered concoction that alter Booker's DNA and lets him unleash havoc upon the enemy. Commanding elements like fire and electricity, telepathically mind-controlling baddies to fight for you, and summoning a murder of crows are just some of the awesome things these Vigors can do.
The voice acting is top-notch with Troy Baker (Booker) and Courtnee Draper (Elizabeth) giving outstanding performances. In addition, the music is wonderfully themed in Bioshock Infinite. One of the more notable moments came when a barbershop quartet harmonized The Beach Boys' tune "God Only Knows". This along with other catchy melodies are heard all throughout the game.
The steampunk style of Columbia looks great from a distance but flaws are forever evident from a closer angle. Textures and detail are unfortunately lost in the transition and the visual glitches from time to time don't help it's case either. Thankfully, these setbacks are minor and can be easily overlooked.
Bioshock Infinite is a brilliant masterpiece with a thrilling narrative and enchanting protagonists. The mysterious story unfolds gracefully and gradually intensifies to a dramatic finish. The steampunk themed world of Columbia offers many memorable moments. Opening dimensional tears and using the Skyline rail system adds a dynamic feel to the gameplay and makes exploring this city above the clouds enjoyable. The invigorating combination of guns and Vigors make you feel like a modern-day battle-mage in combat. If you are an Xbox 360 owner you owe it to yourself to play this game. Bioshock Infinite is an illustrious experience and is yet another reason why the Bioshock series will be looked upon as one of the greats for years to come.