“Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt.” This is your instruction as former Detective Booker DeWitt, the protagonist of BioShock Infinite. Ken Levine, the creative director and co-founder behind Irrational Games is the man behind this amazing work of art and the original BioShock: the very first title in the series, which was released back in 2007. It was hailed as a masterpiece of its time, and is still considered groundbreaking for its beautiful graphics, immersive environment, and the bountiful options offered to players for approaching gameplay events. It came during a time of lackluster and disappointing video games, forcing competing publishers to bring more to the table. And, just like its predecessor, BioShock Infinite brings glorious amounts of innovative material; once again raising the bar and increasing the gaming audience’s expectations.
The titles share similar thematic elements, while diverging wonderfully in other areas. Where the original BioShock was based in the underwater city known as Rapture, BioShock Infinite takes place in the expansive cloud city, Columbia. Andrew Ryan, the man behind Rapture, rejects all things religion and stoutly believes in Capitalism. Contrastingly, Zachary Hale Comstock is the leader of the Founders, the intensely nationalist political party of Columbia. These two overzealous men rigidly believe in their own respective narrow ideologies. Anyone who demonstrates even a semblance of opposing anything about their views end up labeled national threats, whose presence endangers the survival of both men’s private utopian cities.
The game is beautiful–no other word can as perfectly describe this game’s impressive graphics. The game is beautiful–no other word can as perfectly describe this game’s impressive graphics. Every pixel is full of intense color that, when combined together, bursts in richness. The extraordinary amount of thought and detail behind every aspect of every frame brings the player deeper into the game’s environment. Ken Levine and his team have striven to make the game’s setting as realistic as possible. They do just that with intricacies like the lifelike moving shadows cast by rain running along windowpanes. It is in the way Columbia’s citizens act near your presence that makes you feel they are almost human and not just NPCs (non-playable characters). Even the way Booker DeWitt sits in a chair is authentic.
Irrational Games have managed to make the gamer feel they really are a part of Columbia and its surroundings. You can turn on sinks and faucets, turn off radios, or play in one of many games at Columbia’s Fair. The developers have also mentioned they wanted to know how often the average human blinks, and used this in a code that presets how often NPCs blink per second. What’s more is these NPCs don’t just stare at you should you stare at them. They become disinterested and go back to what they were originally doing. It really makes you feel that you are interacting with breathing flesh and not just 3D animations. Moreover, the gritty audio heard throughout the game brings you back to the time period in which the game was set in. Nothing can beat the ethereal, a Capella rendition of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Will the Circle be Unbroken” that is heard during one of the beginning areas of the game and is part of the game’s OST.
Elizabeth, the girl whom you must save, also adds to this immersive aspect without stealing anything away. She aids you in battle by throwing you health pots and ammo, and also gives you advice. She interacts with the environment while waiting for you to finish tasks and objectives. Courtnee Draper, the voice behind Elizabeth, is one of the reasons why this character is so full of life and invigorating as an almost-sidekick in your grand quest. You don’t notice that she’s there, but without her, the game would be lacking.
The game is not without its flaws. The biggest disappointment is the game’s auto-saving feature. Players can no longer save whenever they want or revert to older saved versions of the game. There are auto-save locations throughout the game and you must play up until such points or face losing your progress since. Moreover, when moving closer to anything with a textured pattern, you will notice blurry pixels and that disorient the player from the rest of the lush environment. Columbia’s citizens also eerily have the same faces, albeit a few different hairstyles here and there. Could this possibly hint at clones, implying Columbia’s Father Comstock ever present firm grasp on his city’s citizens? Possibly, but it is most likely a game defect. Regardless, these are just tiny setbacks and don’t change the overall effect the environment has on the ambiance it seeks to create.
Moreover, the political propaganda and other media is superb. You will hear several devout religious folk saying things like, “Our prophet fills our lungs with water so that we may better love the air” and “By the sword, the key, and the scroll, amen.” The key is what the Founder, Benjamin Franklin, offers to its citizens, while Thomas Jefferson offers a scroll, and George Washington offers a knife. After playing for awhile, you will realize that these 3 are important symbols within the game. Sometimes, propaganda within the game is even controversial. For example, take a look at a screenshot below:
How’s that for a play on current politics?
By transcending boundaries and boldly incorporating contentious material, BioShock Infinite does what other games fail to do. There is a real complexity to the game with a multitude of depth that demands players to think creatively and thoughtfully about the different elements at play. And with an unheard of 96 rating on metacritic for the PC version (http://www.metacritic.com/