My thoughts on Bioshock Infinite

Indebted to the wrong people, with his life on the line, veteran of the U.S. Cavalry and now hired gun, Booker DeWitt has only one opportunity to wipe his slate clean. He must rescue Elizabeth, a mysterious girl imprisoned since childhood and locked up in the flying city of Columbia.

Infinite opens with our typical gritty gun for hire Booker DeWitt being transported to Columbia, a city that is seemingly paradise itself. The player is drawn into a world filled with pastel colours, laughing children and joyful citizens for the first 10 or so minutes, but it doesn’t take long before the gear shifts a notch and Columbia’s truest colour is shown.

And it’s blood, lots of it.

Much like Rapture in the original game, lots of care and attention has been poured into Columbia to really bring the city to life. Audio logs make their present felt once again, this time in the form of Voxphones and Kinetoscopes – which give a brief, few second snapshots into aspects of Columbian society and culture. I really admire the developers for not shying away from the period history (1912) but displaying the harsher side – the poverty and racism that existed at the time.

Within the city, Booker’s sole  motivation is to rescue a girl named Elizabeth and bring her to New York as a way of repaying his gambling debts. It soon becomes apparent, however, that there is far more at stake within Columbia  and together they must uncover the sinister secrets it hides. Both Booker and Elizabeth are wonderfully characterized and the chemistry between them strikes a natural balance.

Elizabeth is by and large my favourite character. It’s so rare to see a fully-rounded and fleshed out female character in any medium and rarer still in video games. Despite the box art strongly depicting Booker Dewitt, this is without a doubt her story and her game. Her characterisation grows as her almost child-like, innocence is shattered by being suddenly plunged into an adult world with terrible situations and terrible consequences. Given she is 16 years of age, it’s a nice representation of her leaving behind her childhood and stepping into adulthood.

Booker is pretty interesting too. I was a little skeptic about having a voiced protagonist, but this was needlessly so. He’s the typical gruff, gravely gun-for-hire, but as the player learns more about him, there are moments when he seems to express regret for his past misdeeds and genuine sympathy for Elizabeth’s situation.

The game-play mechanics are mostly similar to that of the original, but the use of skylines to sail around the battlefield and using Elizabeth’s strange powers to warp in turrets, health and weapons adds something to the mix and allows the player to strategically plan their way around.

All in all, it’s a terrific game even if my “review” doesn’t seem to do it justice. On the surface, Columbia may appear to be a bright and shinning city, but it sure hell ain’t as innocent as it seems.