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Bioshock Infinite: The Verdict

By Stuart Andrews

Reviewed:

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  • Editors choice
Bioshock Infinite

Summary

Our Score:

9

The trick to fighting is combining Vigors with conventional weaponry, and finding the mix that works best for the situation in hand. As in Bioshock it's not about just shooting, but about using the environment and the game's rich toolbox to dispatch your enemies in the most effective or spectacular ways. Enemy AI still doesn't feel too sophisticated, with predictable movements and sudden rush attacks, but the game makes up for it by throwing plenty on the screen at once, and making each one require a different mix of tactics.

Bioshock Infinite

On normal and medium difficulty levels the game is satisfying without being fiercely challenging. While Columbia doesn't have Rapture's Vita chambers, Infinite has its own means of getting you back on your feet without taking you out of the game. More hardcore players have a hard mode and an unlockable 1999 mode which strip away any aids and punish failure more severely.

Bioshock Infinite: About A Girl

Were this all there was to Infinite, we might be experiencing a spot of deja vu. Infinite has its own weird location and its own eccentric cast, its own period style, its own vending machines and its own political and theoretical positions to attack, but were it not for one thing it would feel much like a bigger, more expansive version of the first game. In fact, you might argue it’s inferior. Stealth approaches are practically impossible, and while there are some great characters, none quite hit the iconic status of the Big Daddy and Little Sister combo.

Bioshock Infinite

That thing is the girl, Elizabeth. She's the crux on which the whole plot moves, and on which the whole game operates. She's not the first AI companion in a game - remember Half Life 2: Episode One's Alex, Enslaved's Trip and the 2008 Prince of Persia reboot's Elika - but she's the first to work completely on both a gameplay and narrative level. Elizabeth isn't a girl to be constantly rescued, escorted or even romanced. In fact, you might say she rescues you.

She's a constant presence through most of the game, slowly filling in the story and building its big emotional beats. In combat she's a real help, throwing you health, salts and ammunition just when you seem to need them most. She's artfully designed and beautifully animated, and convincingly scared, repulsed, angry and heartbroken. Infinite doesn’t need any 'would you kindly'. All the motivation you need is up there on the screen.

Bioshock Infinite: Tears and Triumphs

Elizabeth's other big plus is her skill at working tears - rips in the space/time continuum that lead to alternate realities. These not only build into the over-arching plot, but work their way into the combat mechanics; target a handy tear and Elizabeth can pull in ammo caches, automated turrets or cover to cower behind.

Bioshock Infinite

Most of all, though, Elizabeth anchors the story. Infinite has an incredibly ambitious narrative, pulling in elements of science-fiction, metaphysics, class struggle, religion and American myth, but while it's complex, fascinating and unpredictable, it could also have been rather cold. Elizabeth grounds it emotionally, making you not just want to see what happens next, but to make sure that it all comes out alright. You might not see where it's heading at first, but by the time the game reaches its storming final hours, you'll be hooked. Gaming just doesn't get more enthralling than this.

Verdict

Strip the game back to its raw features and Bioshock Infinite might not seem like a big step on from the original, but the new setting is magnificent, the story is complex and powerful, and Elizabeth is the most brilliantly devised computer controlled co-star yet. Most importantly, Infinite is an incredible experience, and one that every gamer ought to go through, connect with and enjoy. Like its predecessor, this is one of the era’s most essential games.

Read more: Best games of 2013

Overall Score

9

Nosgoth1979

March 27, 2013, 5:27 pm

Bioshock Infinite sounds amazing; it might be one of those rare games I actually buy, but unfortunately my budget is stretched pretty thin. Luckily though I have a subscription to Blockbuster @Home from DISH! Trying out the numerous different services we release is one of my favorite things about working for DISH, and I’ve had Blockbuster @Home since it came out. I’m grateful for this service in particular because before I got it, I’d end up purchasing all the games I wanted to play. That gets far too expensive though, especially considering I rarely play through a game more than once. Now though, since I rent my games through Blockbuster @Home, with its flat-monthly rate (as an alternative to buying all of them at sixty bucks a piece), I can play the games I want without emptying out my checking account!

Borkr

March 27, 2013, 7:51 pm

Nice ad.

Borkr

March 27, 2013, 7:55 pm

Bioshock Infinite is getting some very good reviews and currently averaging 95% at Metacritic. I'm wondering why you only (!) gave the game 9/10. The failure to quite match the original is the only clue I'm getting?

Well Spoken Waffle

March 28, 2013, 8:24 am

Makes me wish more and more Bioshock 2 just didn't happen...

Gavin Martin

March 28, 2013, 10:51 am

I'm about 5 hours in....but about half of that has been wandering around looking at stuff thinking 'wow!'...this isn't a game, it's a work of interactive art. As a single-player gaming experience it's worth every penny of the asking price IMO. I loved Dishonored, but this feels like a league above even that. Call of Duty Modern Warfare Black Ops 27? No thanks EA, I'm sticking with this! Admittedly it might not have the best combat mechanics in the world, but as an all round experience it's hard to find fault so far.

Stuart Andrews

March 29, 2013, 5:18 pm

Hi Logi_N. I actually spent a lot of time struggling with the score. It's not so much the failure to match the original - which had its own flaws - as the fact that it's so similar to Bioshock, and that this means the gameplay - while great - isn't always 100% satisfying. At the same time, it's a magnificent piece of work, and in some ways one that deserves the full 10/10 treatment. One problem for those reviewing the game is that you leave it on an incredible high, but that can mask some of the mild disappointments of the game earlier on. If I was rating it on the last two hours it would be a 10/10, but there are chunks in the middle where I would have placed it more in the 8/10 category. At the end, the score is just a number. What I hope is that people will read the review, play the game, and just have the same fantastic experience I did. SA.

Tony blair

March 30, 2013, 4:15 pm

It's a good game all in all but,I feel like i was wanting more from it after playing bioshock 1,2 it wasen't really all that different...

Gavin Martin

March 31, 2013, 4:04 pm

I haven't finished yet, nearly there I think....I don't think it has the best shooting mechanics of any game, or the best RPG elements....but the story and the overall gaming experience is superb (they actually make you care & want to keep going just to find out what happens, not just to unlock the next weapon or power etc). If you just want a non-stop on-the rails action shooter it's probably not the best bet. Worth every penny of the asking price to me though!

Peter

April 1, 2013, 7:35 am

Black Ops from EA? It's like a slap in the EA's face LOL
Still,totally getting the Infinie :)

Gavin Martin

April 2, 2013, 10:29 am

My bad, but you get my point. This game has a lot more depth than some of the big franchises that are churned out every year with 5 hour on-the-rails SP campaigns. It's nice to have an intriguing story that pulls you in.

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