When we talk about a game world, few companies do it better than Irrational Games. Ken Levine and his team are out to design more than just a location. The environments they design captivate an audience by offering every aspect of a living and breathing existence. BioShock Infinite‘s Colombia, is no exception. Months of time have been meticulously devoted to each area and our preview gave us the wonderful opportunity to experience the game’s breathtaking opening first-hand. Without spoiling anything, I can happily say that they have out-done themselves yet again.
When I first arrived in Colombia, the city was impossible not to fall in love with. Even a jaded game reviewer, like myself, was in awe of the level of detail in everything you see. Once you’re done staring at the floating city blocks moving around you, the perfectly designed buildings and all the quirky residents that reside within it, you could almost convince yourself that this place is a vision of an ideal world. But as with every Utopian environment, the cracks begin to show almost immediately.
As the preview continued, ugliness began to rear its head. Tones of racial superiority and a fear-fueled government regime show themselves blatantly on the walls and via scenarios you find yourself dealing with. Control becomes increasingly dangerous and within the first hour, Infinite offers its first brilliant insights into retelling early American culture. This is made all the more obvious as you stumble into a town fair, where one small action forces your character to make the impossible choice of exposing your alien nature or harming an innocent black girl. This moment is one of many shocking and powerful scenes that you are forced to confront as you continue. BioShock Infinite is more than just an adventure. It is everything I play contemporary games for – it’s out to make a statement. Not only is it infinitely entertaining, but encourages you to think as well.
As I continued on, our hero is introduced to Elizabeth – the story’s companion – and within minutes of interaction, you begin to develop bonds with her. Elizabeth is a strong-willed, smart character and oddly works well as a counter to Dewitt’s gung-ho nature. Her character does not start out as a fighter and her development is an interesting and well written arc. Taking on the idea of an AI driven buddy is considered an industry no-no, but Irrational are always up for a challenge and have managed to implement Elizabeth’s support in a really unique way.
Instead of involving herself in gunplay, your new-found-friend will duck from fighting and scavenge ammo and health instead, which you can call for at any time. When you are out of combat, she will also often stumble upon money to pass on, adding an interesting bond between the characters, which will no doubt strengthen as the game progresses.
From a technical point of view, BioShock Infinite is everything you would expect it to be. Combat is fluid and robust, giving you new skills and weapons at a pace that allows you to experiment comfortably. The game does still use the auto re-spawn system that irked some gamers last time, but deaths do cost you a considerable amount of coin for the privilege, leaving some sense of reason for thinking combat through a little better.
As a whole, BioShock Infinite is shaping up to be a hard title to beat for game of the year. The game combines amazing storytelling, great gameplay and a brilliant musical score, then tops it all off by offering a deep and cutting insight on a socially questionable time in history. Ticking all of these categories makes it one of my most anticipated titles for a very long time. Whether you’re a series fan or checking out the franchise for the first time, Infinite will give you an experience rarely offered within the industry. Just do yourself a favor and buy this game.
BioShock Infinite is currently set to hit stores on 26th March for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
What do you think of BioShock Infinite so far? A classic in the making or a disappointment waiting to happen? Let us know in the comments below!