Xbox 360 Review: Bioshock Infinite

Would you kindly save Columbia and Elizabeth?

The original BioShock introduced the underwater city of Rapture and provided a story to an FPS the likes that Call of Duty and Halo can only dream of. The sequel had its moments but was ultimately disappointing, so Infinite abandons the watery realm and ascends to the skies…
You play as Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton agent who is tasked with finding a girl called Elizabeth to pay off his mysterious debts. The search takes him to the sky city of Columbia which is full of airships, sunny beaches, amusement parks and of course, plenty of dreary areas. Elizabeth is protected by the puzzling Songbird and has special powers where she can bring things from different places and times into specific areas, pick locks and throw Booker resources like cash and salt in battle.

Those who have played the previous BioShock games will feel right at home in terms of the controls, Vigors replace Plasmids and Gear replaces Tonics while Salt will let you use your Vigors in combat, which can do anything from setting a murder of crows on your foes or to hypnotise them to kill their allies and commit suicide afterwards. Elizabeth isn’t at any danger either, so you aren’t always trying to protect her like you would expect, which is a huge relief.

Booker also uses a Skyhook to get around Columbia’ s sky rails, which is a bit trippy at first and feels like you’re on a rollercoaster ride, but it soon becomes second nature as you hook across the city and leap at foes from the rails. Booker can also bury the hook in their skulls if need be, which is always handy. The story itself is gripping, full of surprises and is ultimately a rewarding one that made me replay the game again just to take it all in.
There are plenty of collectables like audio logs, upgrades to find and telescopes and kinectoscopes to look through, I did use the brilliant Bradygames Signature Series guide to locate them all, as many are hidden in elusive places and it has illustrated maps, strategies for battles and tips for the rather difficult 1999 Mode which is set to Hardcore and will give you a Game Over screen if you should die, whilst in the other modes if you die you just resurrect near to where you were. Think of 1999 Mode as the Brass Balls of the original BioShock.

In terms of difficulty though, Infinite isn’t that hard as you long as you have the abilities to outstand the fights that come your way. There were times where I felt even overpowered for the battles I faced, but it doesn’t take away from the game’s great setting, combat and powerful storytelling that outperforms any game that came before it. It’s easy to say a game could be a contender for Game of the Year, but in Infinite’s case it’s easy to say it could crowned the winner.

Visually, the game is stunning. Columbia is a beautiful city and feels more real than Rapture ever did. The residents wont all attack you like the Splicers did either, giving you a chance to explore it more without waiting to be ambushed. The character models are amazing too, but it’s Elizabeth that steals the show in all presentation methods. Voice-acting is brilliant as you would expect and the music is a mixture of old-new that the series is known for, in other words brilliant.

The Verdict

Abandoning Rapture for the Skies of Columbia was a big risk for BioShock Infinite and Irrational Games, but it’s one that has really paid off. Its story is gripping from start to finish, the locations are breathtaking, the characters are truly memorable, the combat is fluid and there’s no multiplayer to draw focus away from the main game. It’s probably the best I’ve played in the past few years and I can’t wait to see what they do next with the series.