Bioshock: Infinite - Review (PC)

Ah, Bioshock. I got into the series a little late, having gotten hold of the first game about 2 years after it was originally released. I had no idea what I’d been missing.

Bioshock was a beautiful, fast-paced, action-packed first-person survival-horror game (that’s a lot of hyphens!) with a story that could rival Hollywood’s finest. That being said, I never played the second game in the series, Bioshock 2. During my playthrough of the first Bioshock, Bioshock: Infinite was announced. I had seen screenshots of the second game, but it looked near-identical to the first. Infinite, however, was on a completely different plane of existence (quite literally, as it would turn out). I decided to skip Bioshock 2 since Infinite supposedly had no, or very little, connections to the upcoming Infinite.
The game was announced nearly 3 years before it was actually released, with multiple delays plaguing its development. Finally, in March of 2013, we finally got our hands on it. So how is it? Bioshock: Infinite is a great game, but there are some things that knock it down several notches from what I was expecting.

PC vs. Console:
Before I go into this, and just to let it be known what I’m using to do these PC reviews, these are my system’s basic specs –
Intel – i7 2600 3.4ghz Quad-core
32g RAM
Nvidia Geforce GTX 680 w/4gig of dedicated VRAM.
For the most part, Bioshock: Infinite is the same on all platforms: gorgeous. The only notable differences are better resolution overall and on textures for the PC. All the great lighting effects are present across all systems and everything runs at a smooth and consistent 60fps. There was some slight stuttering whenever the game would load something new, but Nvidia released new drivers shortly after release which eliminates this problem.


Story: 10/10
Just like the original Bioshock, Infinite’s story is what makes the game truly shine. Taking place in an alternate version of 1912, you play the role of Booker Dewitt, a man tasked with finding a girl (Elizabeth) who is being held captive in a city above the clouds called Columbia. It becomes immediately apparent that something is slightly “off” about the city. The patrons appear to be religious fanatics and not to mention, racists. As Booker eventually meets up with Elizabeth, he finds that she has been held captive for most of her life and contains some kind of strange power which the leader of Columbia, a man named Comstock, wants to harness.
The story gets stranger and stranger as you progress and more and more is revealed about what Elizabeth’s true role actually is and how Booker connects to it. Since the story is such a mystery and one that absolutely must be experienced, it’s really hard for me to talk about without spoiling it. Just trust me, the story is why you should own the game.
I will comment on the ending, however. I’ve been seeing a lot of people complaining about it online and how it wasn’t very well thought out, or that it didn’t make any sense. These people are, quite simply, stupid. The ending makes total sense, but you have to pay attention to every detail of the story leading up to it. Personally, I think the ending was brilliant.

"You truly belong with us here among the clouds."
Visuals: 8/10
The graphics are good, don’t get me wrong, but they were only “jaw-dropping” 3 years ago when Infinite was originally announced. Now, the graphics are just standard compared to everything else, which is not a bad thing at all. What sets this game apart from others is its art style. With the setting of the early 20th century, the developers took extreme love and care when it came to replicating the feel of the era. Based on the architecture of the 1893 World’s Fair, the game has a pretty distinct steam punk vibe in its presentation, something that was also present in the original Bioshock. Columbia absolutely bustles with life. All of its citizens go about their business independently and seem as though they’re actually alive. No detail was spared in the visuals while making Columbia look and feel like a living, breathing world.

Sound: 10/10
Excellent. As far as sound effects and immersion go, Infinite excels. All of Columbia’s citizens converse with one another in a natural way, enemies’ location can be determined from the echoes of their voices, and weapons sound authentic.
It’s the music that really lends itself well to the overall game design. Infinite uses its music to tell story and offer clues as to what is actually going on within the screwed up world Booker finds himself in. Several classic songs are redone in a way that makes you think, “How is this song from the 1970s being played in 1912?!” Word of advice: Pay attention to things like that, as they’re vitally important to figuring out the mystery.

...but gameplay-wise, this is all she's really good for.
You actually grow to care for Elizabeth...
Gameplay: 7/10
Here’s where the game loses several points. As you’ll see from the final score at the bottom of this review, I’m probably going to get scoffed at and flamed pretty harshly, but just like any other review, these are just opinions. Everybody’s got one. Everybody else just happened to review it with scores of 9 or 10.
The gameplay of Bioshock: Infinite is pretty bland. There’s really no difference between this one and the original, with the exception of skylines and Elizabeth. Skylines allow Booker to hook onto them and ride a virtual rollercoaster from place to place more quickly. While this idea is neat, and pretty necessary to the game’s plot, it’s really just a form of quick movement. In all fairness though, it’s pretty cool to watch. Elizabeth is your A.I. partner through about 90% of the game. She replenishes you with weapons and money and, fortunately, takes care of herself during combat, leaving you free of worrying about her getting killed.
While from a gameplay perspective, she’s kind of unnecessary (except for lock-picking, which could have easily been adapted into Booker’s abilities), but her being with you makes you truly care about her wellbeing in a way not seen since Telltale Game’s The Walking Dead adventure game last year.
Everything else is just standard, first-person gameplay. You have gunplay, a special power, ammo to pick up or buy… you know, pretty standard nowadays. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I just expected more from a game that had been in development for so long. But, as the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and the original Bioshock accomplished these things extremely well.

It's pretty, but it's literature. Not a game.

Bioshock: infinite is a great game, I just hoped for a slightly more innovative experience versus the original Bioshock. But if you’re looking to experience a highly detailed world that immerses you into its story with solid (though standard) gameplay mechanics, then Bioshock: Infinite is definitely worth your $60. Personally, I would suggest waiting until the price comes down to around $40 or so. I highly recommend a playthrough of Infinite, but only if you’re craving an extremely well done story and don’t care so much about the next “fun game.”

Final Score: 7.5/10

Now flame away!
Screenshots courtesy of The Inner Dorkdom