An Unbroken Circle of Epic Awesomeness

April 2013 Prof. Cassandra Lobiesk

Ever since Bioshock sent me on a glorified adventure in the dystopic world of Rapture, I've been hooked. So it is no surprise that the minute I saw that Irrational Games (and Ken Levine, really) was working on a "new" Bioshock, I went about following the progress and ran into the first teaser trailer of what was going to be Bioshock Infinite. That was over a year ago.

Numerous release dates, promos, marketing ploys, and trailers later, Bioshock Infinite finally hit stores late March, and I have to say, the staff at Irrational Games has delivered what is another mind-numbingly beautiful world with a complex storyline.

Now, because I'm a sucker for awesome game quotes (and the fact that the game itself opens with a quote), here's my Bioshock Infinite review, chock-full of quote dividers for my categories: story, character development, world building, gameplay, and music and graphics.

Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt.

Where the original Bioshock brought the player to a technological city under the sea, Bioshock Infinite chose instead to take to the skies. It is 1912, and Booker DeWitt, the main protagonist, is tasked with a mission to bring the girl Elizabeth back to New York. In order for him to get to the tower where she's kept prisoner, Booker must brave the travel through Columbia, a floating city run by a technology far more advanced than the time period entails.

While Columbia is a beautiful city in its own right--I mean, who wouldn't want to live among the clouds?--it is by no means a stroll in the park for our swashbuckling protagonist. Upon arrival into Columbia, Booker is immediately branded the "False Shepherd," a figure that threatens the very core of the air city. As a result, Columbia's leader, Zachary Hale Comstock, warns his people against the crimes of the False Shepherd, resulting in quite the militaristic mess, because now, not only does Booker have to make it to Elizabeth's tower, he must do so amidst the brutal attacks of soldiers, Handymen, and Patriots. And, if that wasn't bad enough, there is the Songbird to contend with as well (and trust me, if you've seen the Songbird, you don't want to mess with it).

And did I mention that when Booker finally does retrieve Elizabeth, it turns out that the girl is more than what she seems? Yeah, that's not even a spoiler yet. Believe me when I say the plot gets crazier later on.

Just 'cause a city flies don't mean it ain't got its fair share of fools.

As Ken Levine pointed out in his interviews, Bioshock Infinite is largely character-driven. Throughout the story, there is a vast amount of character interaction with Booker and those who help or hinder him, as well as an exploration in the relationship between Booker and Elizabeth, and Elizabeth and Comstock. Now, it isn't 1912 without its fair share of contemporary stereotypes, some that the major and secondary characters play magnificently.

You have the evangelical Zachary Comstock, the capitalist Jeremiah Fink, the revolutionary Daisy Fitzroy and her Vox Populi, and the scientific geniuses Rosalind and Robert Lutece. Yet while it is obvious what kind of character roles these people play, the further the player goes into the game, the further the characters go beyond their cardboard cut-out stereotypes. So whether you love or hate them, there is no denying how well-written these Columbians are.

The same coin. A different perspective.

Now, a lot more things are involved in the game's story than just the plot and the characters. There is also the world to think about, and a lot more work has been invested upon the backdrop of the story. Like Bioshock's city of Rapture, Columbia is riddles with numerous puzzles and items, among them are audio recordings called Voxophones, where players are able to unravel character motivations, histories, and subplots. There are the little black and white slideshows scattered around the World's Fair-esque, industrial atmosphere. There are the Vigors, the equivalent to Bioshock's ADAMs (magical ability). And, of course, there are the different areas that show the innovation within the city, including the skylines, the airships, and the floating city itself.

Murder of Crows: Proven Deterrent Against Hooligans

Bioshock Infinite is a first-person shooter, which means everything is seen through the eyes of the main character. Throughout the game, the player has to adapt to numerous settings and conditions, some of which even include high-speed skyline movement while attempting to take down opponents. Vigors also play prominent roles as far as powers go, for they prove quite useful in distracting and slowing foes down (a personal favorite Vigor has to be Bucking Bronco and Murder of Crows, just saying...).

I will also say this once. Elizabeth is, hands down, one of the most useful sidekicks of all gaming sidekick history. No joke. This girl can take care of herself as well as assists Booker in providing health, salts (the game's "mana" resource), ammo, and, yes, even money. Needless to say Elizabeth is probably one of my absolute favorite characters in the game, well, save only that of the Lutece presence.

There's a better home awaitin', in the sky, in the sky.

True to the historical time period(s), the music is splendid and matches the mood of each scene. There aren't very many games that inspire me musically, and fortunately, Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite are one of those games that make me clamoring for the soundtrack. Most of the music are, of course, renditions of old songs that invoke the particular time period. Others invoke battle, or are used to create dramatic settings. And there must have been at least three different versions of "Will the Circle be Unbroken" circulating around the game--all of which were phenomenally performed, by the way.

Of course, this would be the part where I also talk about the fabulous graphics. However, one look at the pictures would be all you need to know about how amazing Bioshock Infinite looks. I swear, the minute Booker arrived at Columbia, my breath was already taken away (I'm sure Booker's was...never mind that his breathlessness was probably due to him being shot up into the clouds...).

So yes, in the spirit of the Luteces, play, played, will play. Bioshock Infinite did not disappoint. In fact, I'm gearing up to go frolic in both Rapture and Columbia the next time I hit the PS3.

Game: Bioshock Infinite
Released: March 2013
Genre: First-person shooter
Developer: Irrational Games
ESRB Rating: M for Mature (for dark themes and violence, so not good for the kiddies!)