‘Bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt.’
This is the mantra of Bioshock Infinite, and one which seems to set the stage of the game as one of a simple ‘go get girl, kill bad guy, win’ plotline. The fact is, even before much of the storyline is given away, and before it turns into an utter rollercoaster of twists and insane physics-bending escapades, it’s clear that Infinite is something special. The first half hour is enough; after continuing the Bioshock tradition of journeying to a new world by means of a mysterious lighthouse, just wandering round the turn-of-the-century floating city of Columbia is an experience I found on par with exploring Fallout 3’s Megaton – you’ll have to trust that’s high praise from me.
While it’s not long before Infinite narrows down to a more linear shooter (though, of course with Bioshock’s trademark selection of biotic powers fired by your left hand), it remains ever-conscious of its unique setting. The range of weapons, while not massively inventive, still gives a good feeling of contemporaneousness, but perhaps more importantly the world is rich with stories to be told.
Walk into a house and see the remains of an attempted murder, rootle around in an old laboratory and listen to the audio logs of the scientists responsible for making an entire city float above the clouds. It’s a grand achievement, and the main storyline is as deep as you like it – the more you investigate, the more you’ll find, and the more the grand puzzle the world presents comes together.
The game’s certainly picked up plenty of hype for its ending, and in this case it’s certainly justified. Having already presented a bit of a mindblowing gear-shift half way through, the last twenty minutes not only do justice to the masterful ending of Bioshock 1 but also wholly raise the bar. It’s fallacious to say that storytelling has ‘never’ been this good in video games, but I’d happily say it’s ‘rarely’ this fantastic. As well as being redemptive and careful to tie in beautifully with the previous titles, it also offers enough space in its lore for alternate theories and plenty of little easter eggs to read about that you might have missed.
There are some that would claim Infinite would have worked better as a movie, that it’s more urgent to tell a tale than present a game to beat. While I don’t think that’s strictly true, it’s important to be aware that Infinite’s quality is not in rejuvenating the first-person shooter genre. It’s fun, certainly, but you’ll only be getting half the experience if you’re playing this with the volume low and not paying attention to dialogues and soaking in the world of Columbia. However, if you come prepared for what Bioshock Infinite will give you, be ready for a phenomenal ride.
Release: 26th March 2013
Platform: PS3 (tested), Xbox360, PC and soon to be MAC
Rated: PEGI 18+