Review by BigReed

"Same series, different perspective"

The Good:
Interesting and engaging storytelling, surprisingly good pacing, simple and easy to understand narrative, large selection of weapons, powers make a return in the form of “salts”, available on PlayStation Plus

The Bad:
While it attempts to tie itself in to the Bioshock series, Infinite feels more like a new IP, “Bioshock” is forced into the game, powers are not really given a reason to exist

In this review I will discuss the story a bit, but I will not give away any major spoilers

Bioshock has finally returned to its rightful developer, Irrational Games, and is a fun, interesting, and engaging experience that rounds out a pretty eventful 7th generation of consoles. Infinite makes an appearance, for free, on the PlayStation Plus platform, and gives gamers another great reason to continue playing their older console. While Infinite is incredibly engaging, and has great character development mixed with easy to follow storytelling, it also feels like the Bioshock name was slapped on an original idea. The characters, themes, locations, and thought provoking explanations feel almost nothing like the original trip to Rapture. Still, Bioshock Infinite is a game worth sinking some time into, but the end of the experience feels too much like a salesman trying to convince a reluctant buyer that their product is similar enough to serve the previous products purpose.

A city underwater…how about a city in the sky?

The overall premise of Infinite is somewhat sarcastically like the idea of Rapture. In the original Bioshock, Rapture was a haven for those sick and tired of Governments, and also the rules that society places on everyone. This led to horrifying medical procedures that resulted in the genetic alteration of its inhabitants, and the eventual break-down of the newly formed city. With this premise, the idea of companies creating different injections that alter the human body made sense. If real life society decided to remove all rules that protected everyone, or basically barred ethics in any way, people would attempt whatever they desired. Want to light your enemies on fire with your hands? Sure, why not? Rapture stood, or floated in the sea, as a beacon for those who were tired of the Government taking and enforcing rules. Finally, an escape for those who wish to live freely. Well, take a way rules, and people will do as they please. People will always want to push the envelope, to gain more than they had before.

Infinite takes place, go figure, in the sky. A safe haven for those who wish to…well, the game never really explains it in the way that the original did. This is where Infinite starts to feel like its own experience. The game has unique characters, and focuses much more on religion and politics, at least in a stated manor, than Bioshock attempted to. In Infinite, the powers, or salts, are never really explained. Considering that they are thrown at the player almost immediately up starting the game, it seems a bit odd that such a huge part of the series would just be accepted. If it were Rapture, then no explanation would be necessary because of the previous titles, but since we have a new location, I felt that the game should have explained how these power came about. From this point on, the game just continues to further itself more and more from the series, and sloppily attempts to tie it all in near the end. The overall ideas are interesting regardless, and I wish the game would have focused on the story at hand, rather than finding a way to ensure the branding of the title.

Same coin, different perspective

Bioshock Infinite's approach to storytelling reminds me of the movie Inception for multiple reasons. Both pieces take what could have been an overly complicated, and difficult to explain concept, but “dumb down” the explanation, and with a single phrase, make it incredibly easy for the player to follow. When I say “dumb down”, I do not mean that in a negative capacity in any way. In fact, because this approach was taken, the player is never confused, tricked, or just plainly not given any formal explanation. Alan Wake comes to mind with a story, and even conclusion, which made no sense for the player. The real issue with Infinite's story lies with the idea that this title somehow belongs in the Bioshock universe. Like explained earlier, I felt that this portion of the game was forced, and with all the new elements, many of which stood fine on their own, this game could have easily been a new IP. New IPs are a huge gamble for publishers however, so this generation saw more focus on successful projects, and less big companies taking chances. I am not aware of any information that proves that Bioshock Infinite was a business choice, but I find it hard to believe that Infinite, and its characters and story, started out as a Bioshock title from day one. If it did, I felt that it should have blended together much better than it actually did. “Same coin, different perspective”, is a phrase that sums up everything perfectly, and continues with the theme of simplistic storytelling. The conclusion of Infinite is engaging until the final frames, but the enjoyment comes from the character development rather than the overall story.

Shooting controls that are unique for the wrong reasons

Like so many other popular titles of the 7th generation, Bioshock Infinite is a first person shooter. Since the shooting genre was pretty much revolutionized this past generation, and so many gameplay elements are now essentially mandatory, it is a bit disappointing as you learn a different style of control for a shooter. There is nothing close to being game breaking about the controls, but for instance, aiming down the sights is done by clicking the right analog stick, rather than pressing L1 or L2. Some of the options for the controls are changeable within the menus, but overall, the way the player maneuvers the characters feels a bit outdated. Since the powers, which include damage dealing, crowd control, and space creation, are also another form of attacking enemies, the shoulder buttons felt crowded. The dualshock 3 never really felt reliable when it comes to shooters, but Mass Effect 2 did a fine job mixing comfortable shooting controls, and also adding similar powers to the L2 and R2 buttons. This control scheme however, adds to the list of elements that make Bioshock Infinite more of a story based game, rather than just another run of the mill shooter.

Recommendation: Buy it

Bioshock Infinite can be viewed in two different manors. The first way of looking at it, is as a standard Bioshock title. One that maintains close to the series in multiple ways, but also deviates in such a way that creates the feeling that this could have possibly been a new IP. The other way of viewing and judging Infinite, is looking at it as a title that very loosely ties itself to the series, but feels more like a new experience. I feel like the latter is the better mindset for enjoying the game. Bioshock Infinite is one of the last great games of the 7th generation, and PlayStation Plus users have a chance to play the game for free. Even if you decide to pay for it, Infinite is still worth experiencing, and does a nice job of telling an interesting story, all while offering a quick tempo that keeps things engaging.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 02/12/14

Game Release: BioShock Infinite (US, 03/26/13)

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