Bioshock Infinite PS3 Review
The Playstation 3 has been around for quite some time now and, with the PS4 officially announced, seems to have reached its final year as one of the most powerful consoles on the market. Throughout its long lifetime, how many games have been so memorable that you will think of them when the console is mentioned? How many will live on inside us like the original Pokemon games, Goldeneye and the unforgettable Final Fantasy VII do? There aren’t many, that’s for sure, but I can honestly say that Bioshock Infinite makes that small list and definitely does this generation proud. I salute you Irrational Games.
Bioshock Infinite is set in the floating city of Columbia, a city abandoned by its American founders after an ‘international incident’ and left to float the skies without a country, run by a religion built on the prophecy of Zachary Comstock, the father of this great city. It was only a matter of time before a civil war broke out with factions trying to seize what power they could. Tearing the city apart, the ‘Vox Populi’ fight for power over ideological differences with the Founders. Caught in the middle of it all, ‘Booker DeWitt’ has been sent to retrieve a girl by the name of Elizabeth Comstock in order to ‘wipe away his debts’. But he gets a little more than he bargained for when he finally meets her and realises she has a special power unlike any other. She can create a ‘Tear’ in time and space, acting as a doorway to a parallel universe. This ability becomes quite useful throughout the game, but can also be very dangerous as they both soon learn.
When you first reach Columbia, you can easily spend an hour or two taking in the beautiful scenery, listening to people and playing on the fairground attractions. Some of the stalls act as tutorials, showing you how to aim and shoot. Here you will also find your first ‘Vigor’, a special magic power that can be cast providing you have enough ‘Salts’ (magic points if you like). However, things turn pear-shaped quicker than you can say ‘where are the weapons?!’ Before you know it, the once bustling streets are deserted and only Columbia’s finest stand in your way.
There are a variety of different enemies in the city each with their own abilities and weaknesses, from the Columbian police force to large ‘Big Daddy’ equivalent robots called ‘Handy-Men’. These Handy-Men are incredibly difficult to beat. A bullet to the large bald head won’t even scratch one of these enemies; instead, you must aim for the weak spot, its visible beating heart (if its gigantic hands don’t get in the way). The amount of life these foes have isn’t even what makes them hard, it’s their speed which make them tough to boot. They can jump at you from over 100 feet away and almost kill you before you have even seen one coming. In order to beat tough enemies such as these, you will need to use ‘Sky-Lines,’ rollercoaster like tracks that you can jump on to travel from one place to another in seconds. There is no greater feeling than beating a tough enemy or horde of smaller enemies using all of the abilities and weapons at your disposal without taking a hit. You may even pause for a second to take in what you have just accomplished saying to yourself ‘that was awesome’.
For the first time in a Bioshock game, I enjoyed using all of the weapons. In previous titles I have stuck with the ‘Drill Arm’ or trusty ‘Wrench’, but I have fallen in love with these new weapons. They are all incredibly accurate from a long range even without aiming down the sights, which is great because R3 doesn’t quite feel right when used in quick succession, and L1 is taken up by the Vigors (although these can be changed if you wish). The sniper rifle was possibly my favourite weapon; sniper rifle fans will be pleased to know that Infinite contains many large open areas where a sniper can do their thing. Only two weapons can be held at any one time, allowing you to quickly switch between weapons without the need to cycle through weapons that you you never use, or pause the game to bring up a weapon wheel which, let’s face it, sucks. Another nice new feature is how you collect ammo separately to weapons, meaning that you can stock up on ammo for a weapon you don’t have ready for when you do eventually pick one up.
Comical yet slightly scary vending machines have made a comeback in Bioshock Infinite, granting upgrades to weapons and Vigors as well as health/Salt supplies. Money or ‘Silver Eagles’ can be collected and spent as you wish, but throughout the entire game you may only find the cash to upgrade a handful of guns and Vigors, so choose wisely. A new addition to the series is the clothes abilities. You may find and equip 4 sets of clothing at once, each granting an extra ability such as quicker reloading, 3x melee range, and 50% extra critical hit damage. Lock picks can also be found allowing you to enter areas containing extra goodies, with the help of Elizabeth of course.
Elizabeth is a great character and Bioshock Infinite would be a very different game without her not only in the story, but also in combat. Many video games have failed to create the idea of intelligent NPC’s (Reviving Rico over and over again in Killzone 2 immediately comes to mind). Luckily, you don’t need to worry about her: she does her own thing and never needs help. When low on ammunition or health or even Salts, she will call out and, with a simple tap of the square button, will throw you whatever it is you need. She will also throw you some Silver Eagles when she finds them, normally when short on cash and near a vending machine. If you run out of health and black out, you can see her helping you up as you regain consciousness.
The graphics in Infinite are astonishingly beautiful. You could take a screenshot at almost any point in the game and it would look incredible. It’s great being able to go from a peaceful city street at sunset, to a dark blood-coated basement without feeling like you are playing an entirely different game. It all fits. And best of all, the dark spooky areas feel just like the original Bioshock. Irrational Games have even brought back the horror element in later sections of the game; two new enemy types are introduced in a prison like area. Many look-a-likes stand about in their pyjamas wearing creepy elderly man masks, whilst a person with a light for a face looks about the room. If the light sees you, all of the docile OAP’s come running at you with pipes and bats. Just like old times with the psychopaths and all.
Despite being completely different to the original Bioshock, it is also very similar; the audio tapes, the 1950’s music and the scavenging of every single box, barrel and bin. It’s nice to see elements from the older games making an appearance in Infinite and bringing with them the atmosphere that got me so interested in the first place. Irrational Games have done such a good job in making you and Elizabeth feel like a team; battles are actually easier and more fun with her by your side, and I can’t say I have experienced anything quite like it before. The story is more mind-bending than any film I have seen in recent years and certainly any game. It needs playing through again for me to fully understand it myself. If you’re reading this review because you have never played a Bioshock title before or didn’t like the previous games but like the look of this one, then please, go play it. I am certain you won’t be disappointed.