First of all – I apologize for being so absent for so long! It’s been the final semester at University, but now it’s coming to an end I have more time to write things for here! And I have quite a few articles in the pipeline, so keep your eyes peeled!
My first returning article though, has to be on Bioshock Infinite. Now I haven’t finished it, so I can’t comment on whether the end point is any good, but I am a decent way through. The game is based on a guy, Booker, who lands on a city in the sky, Columbia, in order to find an interesting girl named Elizabeth for some guys he is in debt to.
This is one addictive game. From the very beginning, the intrigue over the city in the sky, and Elizabeth’s story, carries you from one level to the next. In fact, the whole game seems to be created in a way that demands you keep playing. The quests in general are fairly short, and so you instantly get wrapped up in the “just one more” mindset that stops you putting it away. This is also helped by the handy quest arrow, meaning you can get straight to where you need to be if you felt like it, and the fact that when you die you just pop up back where you were – minus a few pennies.
The dialogue between Booker and Elizabeth as you traverse Columbia keeps enough actual information away from you to force you to continue to find out more about her. Especially as she is the highlight of the game. Her character design is beautiful and her animation makes you fully believe her characterisation – her look fits her voice, and this altogether fits the way she interacts. She is not an annoying AI character, in fact she is rarely in the way and her health packs in particular are handy life savers. Although I may have liked her to do slightly more than lean on walls and reveal cover, that you could find elsewhere. But we’ll come to that later.
Then there are the visuals. The game as a whole is stunning, and the way the whole theme of the game is weaved together makes it beautiful to look at. You really feel like you are seeing this whole new world for the first time like Booker is, and the contrast of this to the gunfights and violence makes an interesting clash, but one that works.
Overall, this game runs a very clever ship. It is a delight to play, and as I say – addictive. But there are problems underneath. The gameplay makes you turn a blind eye to the crux of the game itself – and all it’s lacking. The fighting is repetitive, but the volume of the battles and the change of scenery means you do not realise this. The battles basically revolve, mainly, around plowing enemies with bullets until you either kill them all or die enough times to eventually work your way through them. There is skill involved with the small fry, hiding behind boxes or up balconies and using your vigours (special Booker powers) to help you. But the problem comes with the big fry, like the Patriot robots. These guys basically run like Terminators, coming at you relentlessly with a crank gun, and this is not fun. Handymen and the Firemen work in a similar way – relentlessly pounding you in an unescapably. This creates lack of tactics, where the only thing you can do is fill them with bullets point blank and see who dies first. Which, in most cases, is Booker – but then you just resurrect and continue where you left off.
This in general is the main problem with Infinite. The lack of tactics and thinking things through design wise becomes noticeable the further you get. The skyrail, which sounds like a key game component, basically acts like little more than an elevator taking you from A to B. The vigours, whilst fun and interesting, get to a point where you forget to use them as plowing the bullets is easier. Elizabeth’s tear ability is fascinating and so very intriguing, but is next to useless most of the time, even though you continue to use it. It is not carried into the gameplay the way you initially hope it will. All in all the game makes you lazy.
But it is still immensely addictive and even now I cannot wait to get back on it, and to eventually play the first games in the series. The story alone is strong enough to carry you through, especially paired with the visuals, and the characterisation makes you turn a blind eye to the battle gameplay itself. Well played, Bioshock, well played. I take my hat off to you.