Friday, March 29, 2013

Shatterblog!: Bioshock Infinite Review

As you probably guessed from my first impression post, I really like Bioshock Infinite and as a result I tore through it a bit. Therefore despite my very recent post on the subject I will write this full review while the game is still brand new and a review might actually be a relevant deciding factor in people's buying decisions.




Bioshock Infinite is amazing. There is simply no denying it. With reviews rarely below a 9.5 on PC from even the most negative reviewers, there is very little I can say about this game that hasn't been said. The best I can offer is my thorough and honest opinion on what may be one of the best games to come out this year. 

First and foremost is the world. As I mentioned, I never finished the first Bioshock. However, I wandered around in Rapture a fair amount before calling it quits and found the world to be utterly amazing. Perhaps it is just my preference when it comes to certain elements, but I find Columbia to be even more engrossing. I love how dark and spooky and broody Rapture is, don't get me wrong, but Columbia is just spectacular. I love the city in the clouds, it lends itself to spectacular visuals and a brighter color pallet. Usually I prefer darker scenery, but Columbia is sort of refreshing. It's a horrible dystopia (a word that Google seems not to recognize) but it looks so lovely and shiny. That doesn't get portrayed all the time. Also, something that was present to a lesser extent in Rapture: Propaganda. I love it. Fictional or historical, I just find it fascinating. Columbia is rife with it, full of religious imagery and hyper-negative portrayals of certain races. Adding to my glee are collectible "kinetiscopes" that mostly show short silent films with blaring patriotic music telling us how wonderful the Prophet is. The Hall of Heroes level early on allows us to walk through the history of the Prophet and his "victories" at Wounded Knee and in quelling a Chinese uprising. These are absolutely fantastic in a disgusting kind of way, with Native Americans portrayed as savage devils and Chinese as evil scheming monsters. Always there's a big statue of the Prophet, being heroic and surrounded by American flags. The deification of the Founding Fathers is also fascinating. Motorized Patriot enemies with Washington's face are pretty cool. Generally the world is just engrossing and I intend another playthrough or two just to explore every nook and cranny of the city (not to mention finding and listening to all the Voxaphones to get the achievement and fully understand all the story). 

Which brings me to my next point, the story. I will keep this short and avoid any spoilers at all, but I will say that the story is amazing, and after seeing the ending and looking back everything is shown in a whole new light. My second playthrough should be amazing in that regard. Generally all the mysteries that are set up get well and truly explained. The only thing I would change is to give more information about the history of the Songbird, which is a cool looking and fascinating creature. The characters are all interesting and generally three-dimensional, with the voice acting playing a large part in that. All the voice work was amazing, with very few bad deliveries of lines. On a related note, the dialogue is well-written all around. 

Arguably the most important factor of a game is the gameplay (although there are games where I have put excellent story over mediocre gameplay- looking at you Enslaved: Odyssey to the West). Naturally Bioshock Infinite doesn't falter one bit. With a thrilling combination of guns, powers, and sky-hook bashing, combat is fun and fresh every encounter. One of the first things I noticed was the addition of iron sights to every gun it makes sense for. I love iron sights, and while some of my favorite games (Left 4 Dead, Halo) do not include iron sights, I tend to enjoy games more if I can look down the barrel of my gun. Another fantastic joy I discovered early on: executions with the skyhook. They are hugely satisfying, including animations like snapping someone's neck with the rotating hooks or fully popping off their head (complete with a blood-splattered screen effect). I spent a lot of the beginning, easier part of the game executing everybody. While this is fun it's good that this isn't possible throughout the whole game. There is a good variety of guns, with the majority being well-designed and properly balanced. Some incredibly minor complaints include the shotguns having slightly too long a range and the Burstgun, a 3-shot burst rifle (usually one of my very favorite weapons) is practically worthless. I found myself favoring the carbine and hand cannon, but I used all the guns enough to experience them and earn the associated achievements. Next up for discussion are the Vigors, Columbia's answer for Plasmids. They are all fun although it is very easy to pick favorites. There are a variety of fun effects like throwing fire, shooting water, lightning hands, and siccing murderous crows on the enemy, among a few others. My favorite part of these might be the combinations. For example, if an enemy is being pecked by crows and you hit them with lightning, the crows become electrified. There are 8 Vigors and 8 possible combo-effects, which are a lot of fun to experiment with. I found all of the Vigors to be cool and useful, with none seeming useless or underpowered. Some are more Salt (mana) efficient than others, but none seem over-priced for the effect. All Vigors have some kind of secondary effect. Most of them allow you to set a trap on the ground, but some are much more fun. For example one of my favorite Vigors is Undertow, which shoots blasts of water. If the button is held down, however, it allows you to grab and drag an enemy (or 3 if you buy the upgrade) to your position. This being Columbia, I had great fun dragging and then water-blasting people off the edges of the world. One of my favorite things about the Vigors is how cool it makes your hand look. Whatever effect you are using is shown by your hand. Lightning has shock crystals, Undertow has water and weird bubbles. They're fantastic. 

It is important to specifically mention that Elizabeth, your near constant companion through the game, does not turn the game into an escort quest. Enemies do not target her, she does not take damage or die or get lost. She faithfully tags along, in no way handicapping you. In fact, she is quite helpful. She tosses ammo, health, or Salts to you in combat. She can open tears in the world that bring in gear or mechanical allies or add cover to the map. She also finds coins and tosses them to you while wandering around. This is helpful, but it is sort of annoying at times. 

All my complaints can be summed up in a short paragraph. On Medium difficulty, I never had issues with ammo or money. The game wasn't super easy, but resource management was a non-issue. I personally didn't mind, but some might. Health, ammo, and salts can be bought for next to nothing from frequent vending machines. However, this is addressed in 1999 mode, unlocked after beating the game (or if you put in the Konami code!). This mode is much harder than normal, with about 50% damage dealt and 200% damage taken, as well as removing Aim Assist and the navigational functions. Additionally, respawning costs $100 and if you don't have the cash you have to start the game over. One achievement is to beat the game on 1999 with no purchases from the Dollar Bill vending machine. Those looking for a challenge should try this.

Overall the game is just amazing. There's very little to complain about and the story is fantastic. I can't recommend this lovely title highly enough. 9.75/10

2 comments:

  1. My friend said that Elizabeth was like Alyx Vance only cuter

    ReplyDelete

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