BioShock Infinite has a finite amount of choices, yet all of them scream of potential. Could BioShock Infinite reach the great heights of the original game? And what’s any of it got to do with Granny Smith? Robbie Palmer explains all.
There’s an exceedingly large amount of rotting fruit throughout the world of BioShock Infinite. Perhaps not an infinite amount, but you could say it’s there to symbolise the world of Columbia: vivid in colour, perfectly sculpted – yet tainted with a tinge of decay. BioShock Infinite probably won’t cause projectile vomiting or make you hate life, but it’s sure to leave a similarly strong impact on your inner soul, without the stomach cramps.
BioShock Infinite features professional ‘handsome devil’ US agent Booker DeWitt looking to rescue a damsel in distress named Elizabeth. Columbia is home to fascist policies of imperialism, and institutionalised racism lurks throughout, betraying the city’s attempts to portray itself as a 1912 American dreamland.
Elizabeth is the key feature in BioShock Infinite’s arsenal of attributes – possibly even more-so than dodgy fruit. Elizabeth is a believable, endearing character, someone with seemingly just as much presence as Alyx from Half Life 2. She’s also reminiscent of The Walking Dead’s Clementine, evoking an amazingly genuine persona and giving you reason to emotionally invest in the person you’ve been tasked to safeguard.
Fear not, however, as this isn’t just an incredibly lengthy escort mission, as Elizabeth’s capable of wielding unfathomable power. She can spawn turrets and new routes using portals known as ‘tears’. She’s also able to salvage weapons, ammo and equipment found throughout Columbia.
The visceral treat BioShock Infinite offers is impeccable. As you ascend into the new bizarre world, you discover the brightly-lit and blue-skied Columbia is very deliberately the antithesis to the dark, desolate world of Rapture. The predominantly healthy, happy citizens of Columbia are a distinct contrast to the loitering citizens of the first game. At first, this society is seemingly living the ‘American dream’, prompted by a clever paradise-like introduction to Columbia, but it’s soon clear there’s a dirty underbelly.
Rotten to the core
Businesses continue and people casually stroll through city streets, as even in Columbia the commercial world is thriving and ubiquitous. BioShock Infinite hints that you’re not the vocal point of Columbia, adding to the belief that the world is alive, breathing. Whilst your actions feel like they impact Columbia, there’s an even stronger feeling that you are part of a larger plan.
Audio diaries return to BioShock, adding to enrich the world surrounding you. They still hold the certain charm that the first game evoked, with some brilliant voice acting aiding the first-rate writing. Looting items is as viable as it was in Rapture, yet whilst she didn’t acknowledge it during my time in Columbia, the judgmental eyes of Elizabeth are enough to shun thievery.
It’s the little touches like this – Elizabeth’s glances, living shadows of the world still communicating through technology, rotten fruit immediately letting you know something isn’t quite right – that help paint Columbia as a world in turmoil, its scars evident to all once the thick layer of concealer is mopped aside.
BioShock Infinite’s combat is almost a duplicate of the original game. Your left arm is dedicated to your powers, whilst the right is for your standard arsenal. As with the previous BioShock games, the combat isn’t the main focus of the experience, and it may be the weakest link as weapons feel lacklustre in their impact. The biggest addition to combat is BioShock Infinite’s varied landscape, as it encourages use of all the weapons at your disposal. The grappling hook, a new melee weapon used to travel across Columbia’s rail system, features brutal execution moves.
Toward the end of my brief tour of Columbia, many questions had been raised. Who are the people that hired me to save Elizabeth? Who is the real Booker DeWitt? And who exactly is the deranged cult superior Father Comstock, who’s bidders want me dead? It’s this continual hint of the unknown encapsulated within an innovative landscape that hasn’t been achieved since BioShock 1. Questions will arise whether some mechanics are enough to carry the game to the end, but Irrational’s latest fantasy dreamworld is an experience I won’t be hesitant to return to come March.
BioShock Infinite, from Irrational Games and 2k Games, is due out March 26th for PS3, 360, and PC.