Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tech: BioShock Infinite review

BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter, the third (and possibly last) entry in the BioShock series.  In the game, you play as hardboiled ex-Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt, who exists in a fictionalized, steampunk version of pre-WWI America. Booker's mission is straightforward: infiltrate the floating city of Columbia to retrieve (kidnap?) a mysterious girl. As you might imagine, things don't go smoothly:

The best part of Infinite is the first hour. Like the iconic opening sequences of Half-Life, Deus Ex, and, of course, the original BioShock, the game doesn't immediately throw you into combat, preferring instead to show you a fully realized fictional world to explore, with its own characters, rules, and problems. You learn pretty early on that something weird's going on in Columbia, unless the Beach Boys pilfered a song from the Chicago World's Fair:

Once things start getting violent, you'll find that the combat in Infinite is a lot more involving than its predecessors. Guns and enemies feel meatier, you can blast apart enemies with "Vigors" (think Plasmids from the first BioShock), and the fights are much more dynamic thanks to the addition of "Skylines," rollercoaster-like rails that allow you to move and shoot like you're in a John Woo flick:

There are a lot of twists and turns in BioShock Infinite's 12-15 hour campaign (I won't spoil any of the story here), but the combat experience sort of flatlines in the last third. By then, you've seen all the weapons, enemies, and Vigors, and it's just a matter of putting it all together in increasingly hairy setpiece battles. The simplified console-friendly FPS gameplay also won't appeal to those looking for a true FPS/RPG hybrid experience - Booker doesn't level up or build any special skills aside from bigger and badder ways of mowing people down. Still, the level of craft here is ridiculous, and anyone even remotely fond of shooters should take a trip to the city of Columbia.

Rating: 88/100


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