Bioshock Infinite Review

Bioshock:Infinite review

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The review is based on the PC version of the game.

Bioshock Infinite is a first person shooter developed by Irrational games, published by 2K and released for the PS3, XBox360 and PC (and apparently Mac, but it won't run really properly on anything except Hackintoshes anyway...). It uses Unreal 3, along a lot of other stuff (including, apparently, MoCap). The game uses steam as its method of enforcing DRM.

Graphics & Aesthetics

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The aesthetics of the game are nice. They aren't realistic, so not everyone will like them, but they complement the story and look good even when the graphical settings are put on low. On the graphics front, Infinite isn't really touching new ground, but it looks really nice. It might age well, depending on how the next years of game development turn out. System Shock 2 still looks nice (except some of the enemies, obviously) if you force the highest possible SSAA and Anisotropic settings, so we can never know in advance.
The animation quality is mostly good. Which comes as no surprise, considering it's mostly MoCap. What is animated though, is always fluid and never draws you out of the experience.

Sound Design & Voice Acting

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Sound design is good throughout, and the voice acting is really neat. Not much to say here, except maybe that Elizabeth's repeated lines when lock picking and throwing you ammo and health sound rather out of place in some parts of the story. None of the voice acted lines get annoying and, with the exception of Elizabeth's lines, aren't repeated often.

The "shooting" part of "FPS"

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Bioshock Infinite has by no means bad combat, it's just that combat and story contrast so much that it's virtually impossible for any combat sequence to not draw you out of the experience. The combat sequences are fun though, and mostly well designed. Except when the bullet-spongy handymen come into play. Thanks to the system that lets you latch onto rails that strangely always run in circles, the combat keeps a fast pace and when things start to go wrong, you can just ride the rails and get somewhere safer. Safer for the next few seconds, that is.

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Most weapons feel reasonably good to shoot with (nothing as good as the pistol from TR2013 though), but both weapons and their upgrades are generally weak sauce.

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Coming back from Bioshock 1: Plasmids Vigors. Strange only that they've managed to remove all the side effects. They liven up the combat a bit, but are mostly a bit unimaginative and partly even do the same thing. To top that, to cast Vigors you need salts, which are never particularly hard to find, but get drained incredibly fast.

One thing that should be mentioned ,though, is the tutorial, otherwise known as the bit at the beginning with the market stalls. It's completely optional and comes across as believable. On top of that, there actually is a reason for doing the tutorials - you get some money to boot.

Enemy variety is good, but not overwhelming. The game (just like the previous Shocks) suffers from the problem that there are a lot of filler enemies and a couple very hard ones with basically nothing in between. Bosses are mostly interesting, but there's a bit near the end where you have to fight the same ghost 3 times, which is even more annoying given the stupid amounts of health the damn thing has.

After rescuing Elizabeth, she can open "tears" for you, which give you various different weapons, health packs, turrets and a lot of other useful stuff. They're useful and mostly serve the gameplay well, though they do kind of give away where there's going to be combat and where there isn't going to be any.

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Weapons are fairly standard, too: Pistol-Revolver-AR-ARmod-BurstAR-Shotgun-RPG-Grenade Launcher-Modded Grenade Launcher-Sniper Rifle. Upgrades are bland as well: +n% damage, -n% recoil, +n% magazine size, and the occasional special upgrade. What has to be said though is that the weapons are fairly balanced and that by the last upgrade the Pistol does more damage per second than the volley gun (grenade launcher). Another thing to mention is the stupid 2-weapon limit. In a game like this, where the weapons are bland anyway, you might as well let us use all of them, or even just 4. That way, I could carry some guns just for the heck of it. In this case, however, I ended up using only a Pistol/Volley Gun combination (I hate the machine gun, and a pistol mag of 27 is good enough for me).
There's gear you can acquire throughout the course of the game, but it always randomises up something for you each time you open a gear container. Which can lead to hilarious situations where you won't find any of a specific object, like for example pants. But it can also end up being ridiculously overpowered. I, for example, had a ridiculous combination that gave me +50% magazine size, health whenever I killed an enemy, melee kills that set enemies on fire and a chance that I wouldn't have to reload upon emptying my clip.
Infinite's approach to health is that it doesn't regenerate, but instead you get an incredibly weak shield that regenerates incredibly slowly.

Level Design

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The level design is overall quite neat, with a lot of freedom and possibilities of using all those lock picks you found (chances are you'll be sitting on a lock pick stockpile by the end of the game though). Most of the levels give you a rather clear line of direction and show you exactly where you need to go, while still leaving you to explore them. There's lots of stuff to find, and a lot of interesting exposition is told through the level design and audio logs that can only be found in very strange places indeed.
How the city floats is never adequately explained (it is explained by Elizabeth at one point, but I didn't really understand it).

Story

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This is Bioshock:Infinite's strongest point. The story is original, and well told. There's just the problem that its impact is diminished by the fighting sequences (which the game practically locks you into until you've murdered EVERYTHING). In the course of the game, DeWitt practically kills the populace of a small city, all the while pretending to be the good guy.
A thing that should maybe be mentioned is the whole alternate reality business: it can get really confusing really fast. And at the end of the game, it might confuse you even more. The whole alternate reality thing is strangely still interesting even after having gotten resolved and not overused as a story device.
There aren't many characters involved in the story, but they're all fleshed out quite nicely / oblivious by design (

). None of the characters are boring, and all of them are useful to the plot.
At its most basic, the plot boils down to this: find plot device, guard plot device, capture fleeing plot device, do crazy stuff to achieve unachievable goal, recapture plot device, kill baddie, story gets resolved.
The ending is really good, it's unconventional, and it's certainly something to talk about for hours on end.
One good thing to be noted: NO QTEs. Finally game developers got the message... I hope other ones did, too.

At point of writing, I could not find any modification to remove the two weapon limit.
Another thing to note is that if you wish to play on the highest difficulty setting directly, you can do so by entering the Konami code on the title screen: up,up,down,down,left,right,left,right,enter,escape. To get an FOV of 90, change the FOV slider setting from 15% to 28.5% in the UserOptions.ini file in MyDocuments/My Games/Bioshock Infinite/XGame/. If you'd rather prefer an FOV of 100 like me, set it to 48.6% instead and move the slider up to the maximum.

Bottom Line...

The game is very good, but it doesn't come without its faults. If you can overlook the dissonance between combat and story and are prepared to overlook/like the 2 weapon limit, then you'll like this game a lot. If you don't, you'll like it less, but you'll still like it, be assured. I don't know if it's game of the year material, but it certainly is my game of the first half of 2013. We'll see if anything can beat it. Hopefully, there'll be something. I wouldn't count on that, though: go buy it. Either right now or wait until it goes on sale (if you're on a budget or don't enjoy FPS/FP games very much).

If you really needed me to give it a score, I'd give it a 9 out of 10 on a scale that goes from 1 to 10. It does things well, just not well or different enough to be considered a 10/10 game.

Other reviews from me:



EDIT 2013/09/10: Did away with all the spelling mistakes.

Good review.

After first hearing Yathzee talking about the problem with enemy balance, I wasn't exactly sure what he was talking about. After playing through the first Bioshock game again after going through Infinite, I can actually see what you and him are talking about.

With the first game, you have a bunch of splicers that are fairly easy to kill, and then you have the Big Daddies which which have a ton of health and require either a lot of ammo or creative approaches to deal with them. And I guess the same could be said of Infinite's enemies.

I also agree on the tutorial. I loved the way they handled it in this game. :)

 

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