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    Bioshock: Infinite Review - Xbox 360 - By INTY



    Ever since I started hearing about this game, I was massively sceptical about it. That scepticism didn't change at all throughout the build up to the games release either. Between what appeared to be a game that didn't really belong in the franchise it was named to be in and consequently had a lot to live up to because of it’s inclusion in said series as well as being a game that had sold out for more modern, less intriguing themes and design choices, I was thinking this game was going to be an underwhelming mess. Now, I've got a detailed analysis here of my findings of the game, to show you just exactly how wrong I was back then. Please note-as always, I've played the Xbox 360 console version of this title, so please be aware that there may be differences varying on the platform you're playing it on.

    Writing, themes and overall Aesthetic.

    Now, before I get into Infinite’s specifics for this section of the review, I will say that this review will be free of spoilers for Bioshock 2 and the original as this game really doesn't link to them. It's very similar in mechanics and themes, but primarily this one distances itself from the world the original games situated themselves in, namely in that you are no longer in the Underwater City of Rapture for one thing. Yes, you are now in fact in the floating city of Columbia. See what they did there? You play as new comer to the series Booker DeWitt as he searches the city for a specific girl, looking to get her out of there and bring her to a mysterious benefactor to repay a debt.

    The characters themselves, as you'd expect for a Bioshock game are all memorable and well structured. Oddly enough, the player actually talks this time around. Whereas Jack and Delta were mutes, Booker has vocal Chords…and he damn well uses them, commenting on damn near anything he sees. When you eventually encounter the secondary character Elizabeth, Bookers tired, humourless personality does well to compliment hers, as she's had, I suppose you could say a sheltered life, and is fascinated by all of the things in Columbia while he tries to break her out. There's a good, present relationship between these two. It's mature and doesn't go down the generic Hollywood romance route of 'Hey I just met you, and this is crazy' etc. which also boosts the sections of the game where she's present with you. All of the other characters are very competent and add a lot of intrigue and colouring to the world and are mainly explained and fleshed out in the games Voxophones (Audio Diaries). On that note, story-telling and background information is still very much explained through exploration-mainly Voxophones, which very much stimulates the world in a more organic, subtle way-and of course ties in to the exploration facet of the game.

    All right Bioshock Infinite’s overall story I'm afraid isn't one I can really talk about in any detail at all. You pretty much go into this game with the vague knowledge that I've mentioned above, but past that, everything that happens is pretty much an unexpected turn and twist. Even in the first hour of the game a theme that was kept quiet popped up. I will say that these are well-executed of course, but I won't say for certain that there are any loose ends-I simply haven't noticed any myself. Yeah though, this is one of those stories that is very element heavy. A lot of twists, things to try and throw you off of the actual goings-on while also subtly hinting you to it and a lot of intricacy in regards to how they interweave. Past that, I really can’t tell you much about the overall plot.

    What I can go into detail on are some of the themes though. The Bioshock games have always had a certain personality to them. This one is no exception, though fairly similar-you can expect about the same thing. The world of Bioshock 2 and the original are based in a world inspired by the 1960’s. Lots of Propaganda posters inspired by that time period, older music tracks playing, and old fashioned architecture. Bioshock Infinite creates a similar world but themed around the early 1900’s instead. The game is specifically set in the year 1912 if you're wondering. So yes, you can expect a world placed further back in time, slightly more simple in its surroundings and very intentionally themed around its respective time period.


    The elephant that's always been in the Bioshock games rooms.

    So yeah this has always been a bit of an issue with the Bioshock games. They intentionally theme themselves around their respective time periods and heavily so, and yet you've got things like the above character running around. While its design is hardly as advanced looking as say Nanosuit 2.0, the fact of the matter is they still didn't have this back in that time period. Do I necessarily view this as problem for Infinite? Technically I do, but it wasn't something that bothered me personally. What it can serve to do though is break the world it tries to set itself in, so don't go into the game definitely expecting a world frozen in the time period of 1912. Expect a world influenced by those themes, with a bit of steam-punk advancements here and there. Bare that in mind. I'd like to say more about the world of Columbia, but I can't. Rest assured though that it does create a very impacting nature for the world and an atmosphere that is rarely found in gaming these days, simply due to most writers not being willing to tackle the controversial and complex themes that it does. Also I quickly want to touch up on something in regards to that. This game is extremely guilty of renaming mechanics. Plasmids are now Vigors-essentially the same thing but there as a throw-away more than as a mechanic that ties in to the writing, Audio Diaries are Voxophones and Gene Tonics are now clothing. I’ll explain that later.

    As for the games aesthetic Bioshock Infinite is by far the best-looking game in the series. It takes the fantastic Steam-Punk/inspired by the older time period design scheme that the original games had and also has some really great fidelity this time around. In terms of textures the Bioshock games have never really looked great. They've always looked a bit faded, blurry and have had some awful textures. This one does a much better job. Texture quality is good across the board, the game appropriately switches between bright and dark-and on that note has a beautiful colour pallet, and everything just generally speaking pops.


    This is generally one of the most of the most beautiful settings I've seen in a game.

    I'll quickly touch on this too. You might notice the above scene looks very bright? Yes it is, whereas the other games were generally speaking very dark. This is an uncomfortable part for me because, similar to the Dead Space series, I don't understand where people come from when they value this series on its horror elements. Dead Space 1 certainly was for the first few hours, but Bioshock I only saw as a horror for the first sequences. Past that it had an exemplary, chilling atmosphere above that of Dead Spaces, but as far as a horror series go I don't see it. You shouldn't expect anything of the sort from this-though there are 1 or 2 jump scares. This is more akin to an action movie really, and it fully accepts itself as such, not attempting to have the aesthetic of a horror game, and not attempting any shoe-horned horror elements. As for the music, it's of a qood quality though as far as its exclusive sound-track goes (tracks made for the game) they're in the same boat as Dead spaces sound-track. I said in that review that they're of a good quality and add to the atmosphere, but you won't find anything that goes in your play-list. As always though the usages of older songs is very quaint and of course add to the world. Here's an example of one such track, but please don't go to the actual Youtube page as many of the comments contain critical game spoilers.



    Gameplay

    Now, I actually feel a bit awkward with this review. The strength behind this game is very much the writing and for obvious reasons, I've not been able to go in to terrible detail on that. The game-play unfortunately though, while being competent is riddled with problems and mechanically is a down-grade from the original Bioshock games.

    We'll start off with the character capabilities and then the mechanics that flesh combat and the world of the game out a bit. First of all the character and his limitations. The biggest issue for me ultimately that really stifled the experience was that your character moves at the speed of a man who's had a knife shoved through his ankle. Now in the previous instalments of the series, you were never exactly fast but those games tried to invoke a sense of claustrophobia in the tight, horrific, ruined society of Rapture. This game is trying to be a bit more actiony, so its main character moving as though he's running against a conveyor belt-even when you're so called 'running'-really slows the pace of combat down with no benefit.

    I also regret to report that gun-play isn't too satisfying and has an unfortunate limitation. The majority of the weapons aren't too convincing and don't require much skill to use. You've got some like the Shotgun which make a really convincing crack when you fire it, but the majority of them sound a bit like cat-guns, very tinny and the guns don't require any skill to use, featuring no recoil management. You fire the gun, and then either you'll be looking in the exact same place, or the gun will move back down to where you were aiming practically instantly. I'd say it's about on par with the gun-play with the previous Bioshock games in that regard, how ever it doesn't have the interesting weapon variety behind it to at least pick it up. No Crossbows, Chemical Throwers or Rivet Guns, you can pretty much expect the weapons you'd find in a Modern Military Shooter. Also disapointingly there are no alternate ammo types this time around. This is a big shame as that feature to the previous games served to help with the lack of enemy variety, and here would helped to make the guns more interesting.

    And then there's the limitation. You can only have two weapons at a time. God, ****ing damn it I'm sick of this one. This serves no beneficial purpose to the game, as there's no warning as to what enemies you're going to encounter in the next sequence to be able to potentially manage your arsenal with. Based on that, there's no reason behind limiting what weapons the player can have at a time, and depending on how irrelevant your arsenal is to a specific sequence it can bring its entire quality down. For instance, in the sequence that introduced the Sniper Rifle, there was one Sniper that, very much should have been taken out with that gun and a few other people on the ground with you. It's obvious what they wanted you to do there. Now these soldiers dropped close range weapons, but considering they just introduced a Sniper, you'd have thought they'd focus on long-range combat for a few sequences right? In the immediate next sequence, I got rushed in a small room by four guys with shotguns. That sequence played extremely awkwardly because I didn't have indication as to what I was going to be expecting with my limitation and so was not prepared weapon-wise.

    Now this is a Bioshock game outside of Rapture. I'm betting you're wondering about Plasmids? They're in the game, but, they're called Vigors now. There are 8 in total that you unlock throughout the game (unless you're not exploring and miss them) and they're all pretty diverse, offering different effects to combat that would very much match a specific play-style. And I would say the same for guns, were it not for the fact that the weapons system in this very much encourages you to drop what you've got if it's low on ammo for another weapon on the ground. Back to Vigors though, they also have an unfortunate problem. They run on an energy, Salts now (?), not Eve like in the previous games and they seem to deplete pretty quickly, which isn't good. You don't have a form of replenishing them on the fly in this game like you did with the previous games, so how quickly it runs out is a big issue generally speaking. You've not got as much freedom to play around with Vigors because of this. On that note, you no longer have stackable mobile Health kits or Eve Syringes. You either have to find them through out the map or buy a top-up from a vending machine. There are three of these by the way, one for ammo, health and salts, one for Vigor upgrades and one for Weapon Upgrades.

    A new addition to Infinite though is that your character has a Borderlands-esque shield now. It has energy which depletes as you consistently take damage and it regenerates while you're not doing. Make of that what you will, i'm impartial to its involvement here but an issue it certainly does have is this happens to the screen whenever it entirely depletes or starts to regenerate.


    This isn't as badly as it can obscure your vision, it can be much worse.

    Thankfully the next paragraph isn't the report of a negative facet of the game, in that Gene Tonics…clothing and Infusions…work fine. Infusions are fairly-straight forward, they can increase your Health, shield and Vigor energy-your choice, when you find one. As for Gear you have 4 slots-a Hat, a Shirt, Trousers and Boots. If you find a piece of clothing that applies to a slot, you can equip it and benefit from the bonuses. Both are mainly found through exploration and are much more rare than the stuff you’ll find in bins. Now, you could argue that these bonuses are very situational, to a point of honestly being useless to begin with, but as it goes on you can find better and better clothing-but you can't wear multiple items in the same slot, this isn't T.F.2.

    So! Guns aren't that great, vigors you can't make much use of and you're very limited. Sounds pretty weak at this point but thankfully, there is one new mechanic introduced. A new mechanic that I absolutely loved, steals the show for me in the game-play department honestly is the Skylines mechanic. In some areas of the game there are Skylines. They’re sort of like a mono-rail, that you can jump up and attach to, moving across them while being able to fire your gun one-handed as momentum pushes you along, giving a real feeling of speed as you moving down slopes and slow down up them. Enemies also use these, leading to some extremely interesting fights where you can be chasing someone down on the rail, gunning someone down from above, or actually jumping onto an enemy from above. These aren't in every sequence, but when they are they are extremely fun to use.

    The other new mechanic is 'tears'. This is an interesting one in which Elizabeth, when you find her in the game, can start to open 'tears' for you, from which you can spawn supplies like weapons or health kits and salt vials, allies to fight for you, decoys and even environmental Hazards. You can do some interesting things with these and they add a reasonable tactical element to certain fights, all though it would be good if there was a limit to how much you could do it per sequence.

    And finally, enemies. There have never been many enemies in Bioshock games-not that I'm really justifying this. You've got your general mob enemies, guns or melee weapons that aren't too interesting to fight, more or less easy enemies for you to play around with, and then you have the 'heavy-hitters' which are much more interesting to fight. These enemies are very much play-things, nothing worth recommending the game on-but they are functional. The A.I never does anything terrible and like I say, the occasional heavy-hitters are interesting when they appear. I'll also quickly mention that there's no variation of a Research Camera in this game so don’t expect to be taking any close up shots of these new enemies any time soon.

    And now for the game-play that fleshes the world out. I'll start off with the main thing, exploration. This is heavily encouraged in the Bioshock games, and easy to do. Generally speaking there are multiple lootable objects in pretty much every room you'll come across, infact I’d go as far as to say it’s rare to find a room that is empty. Trashcans, crates, purses, barrels or sofa cushions and you'll find something. Now this could effect your decision on what difficulty you decide to choose as on Normal, the one I played on, I can tell you, you are left with a high abundance of everything just through looking around. Now I was extremely thorough with my exploration but never the less I was in a situation where I had…probably 10 times the amount of money I needed, more than enough ammo and an amount of lock-picks that I never got to use. I’ll get into that later-but if you're on a harder setting, your supplies should be drained more healthily.

    Past lootable objects though Elizabeth also has the ability to lock-pick doors and safes with a certain number of lock-picks which you find through out the world and rarely from vending machines to open certain doors with goodies behind them. Elizabeth also has an ability to find supplies for you, from ammunition, to health, to salts and to coins. This is again, something that could be considered a bit of an issue. She seems to do this when ever you directly need them, for instance, if your gun's a bit low on ammo, she'll toss you some, same for health and salts. Pretty much when ever you've used a Vending Machine, she'll have a coin to toss to you. In this sense you can perhaps rely a bit too much on this mechanic, I know I did for a while. This is to try and further bolster the relationship between the two characters and also to give her A.I some life, but it can be problematic. Also I would like to comment on her A.I. I really appreciate her as an A.I honestly, as you don't have to worry about her in combat. As I said in my Dead Space 3 review, I'm sure you've all experienced a fair share of games where you've had to protect some crappy A.I in a game and it's gone horribly wrong for you.

    Back to exploration though, Voxophones, Infusions, Gear and the general loot all really encourage exploration and mass looting and not only benefit you in a game experience, but also add to the world in the case of Voxophones. Kinetoscopes and Telescopes are also new attractions in this but as far as their value goes I don't think they're too valuable, Kinetoscopes tend to be pretty dull and don't add that much to the world. As well as this there are some minor side-missions…which honestly as the game went on I think the developers forgot about. There are 5 in total, I checked…and, that just seems a bit odd considering the length of the game. Nothing too complex here, you'll be given a vague direction from finding a Voxophone or a certain scripting on the wall, hinting for you to go to a certain location for a reward.

    As for level design, Infinite's structured to be a bit more linear than the previous ones. There's an overall straight-forward A-B path, with rooms and areas connecting to it for you to check for supplies, and other goodies. Levels are well-built for specific combat sequences, varying in high to low grounds, usually with elements around the specific locations that suit the height and the specifications of the area. One issue I do have though are some sequences are extremely linear to being of a point where you run through a corridor you've just been through while the place explodes around you. One sequences at the very beginning of the game in particular bothered me, because-don't get me wrong, a lot of effort went into making this area. There's a lot of stuff here, from carnival attractions, shooting games, people having genuine discussions on the side-lines, to Barber-shop Quartets singing songs on a floating ship. But the sequence goes on for a bit too long. It's good to have these sequences to flesh out the world, as the world and the writing truly speaking is the best part of this game. But, it is also a game, and some of these sequences-there are a few, just last too long.



    Now, really I do feel dirty for giving the game a 7. Don't get me wrong. But when I look at all of the issues in the game-play, giving it an 8 feels far too generous. And then I look at the writing and the story and think 7's too harsh! You know what though, this is why I ****ing hate number based rating systems for reviews. They're stupid, inflexible and poor representatives.

    What matters-is that I do really recommend this game to you. While the game-play isn't anything particularly special, being merely competent with a few polishes of brilliance here and there, the writing is utterly phenomenal, and I would recommend it on that alone. It's one of the most well-written, best presented and ultimately most well-achieved stories to ever be written in a game. I can say that, through out all of the years of gaming history, it's one of the best achievements in writing out there to date. That's definitely something you should check out, especially considering the game-play isn't awful to the point of distraction or a constant lack of enjoyment, it simply doesn't even pale in comparison to the quality of the writing, or on that note to the quality of game-play of its predecessors. If you're someone like me, who respects gaming as an art-form, and despises the theory of games being a joke in regards to the capability of them being able to translate a great story, you'll definitely-DEFINITELY enjoy this. The game has an interesting world, interesting ideas and a phenomenal story. Definitely a recommendation.

    -INTY
    Last edited by Vault Hunter; 04-10-2013 at 12:14 PM.

  2. #2
    Disciplinary. INTY's Avatar
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    -ALSO, please don't use this thread as a place to discuss the specifications of the plot, please use the oficial thread here
    http://www.gamesforum.com/general-ga...-thread-51502/

    EDIT:...Also you know? I forgot about just how much was removed from the original games mechanically for this one. I went through about 4 edits of this review with Hannah because I'd forgot about how much was remove, but it seems I also forgot about hacking. You have a Plasmid that allows you to possess machines, but you can no longer hack things like Security Cameras, or Safes or Turrets, no mini-game like that in this
    Last edited by INTY; 14-04-2013 at 03:59 AM.

    Oh **** the color from the sig doesn't match the new layout any more.
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  3. #3
    I love games with a good story. For that reason Bioshock Infinite is a great game.

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    Disciplinary. INTY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zlatko View Post
    good story=great game.
    *squirms uncomfortably*
    Nyeugh...
    Argh-I'll avoid commenting on it.

    Oh **** the color from the sig doesn't match the new layout any more.
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    Uh-Oh ...Spaghetti-o's Fink000's Avatar
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    Ive been on the edge about getting this game. Great review BTW. UHHHH screw it, i'll go order it now.

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    Disciplinary. INTY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fink000 View Post
    Ive been on the edge about getting this game. Great review BTW. UHHHH screw it, i'll go order it now.
    If you're a huge buff for good stories, story-telling and a person who appreciates twists, you won't regret it ^^

    Oh **** the color from the sig doesn't match the new layout any more.
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    Undercover lover Jenesix's Avatar
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    nice review.

    I agree with the 7-10. For me the game world was glorious and the open combat arena / areas with the skylines for traversing was some of the most fun i'd had in a first person shooter in a very long time.

    The world was great, story was interesting (for the most part) and graphics and art direction we much like the originals, different and very appealing. My issues though were with the core shooter mechanics as there were a lot of samey guns and the actual gunplay wasn't that great. The 'vigors' also just felt like an after thought and were not as exciting or useful in my opinion as some of the Plasmids in Bioshock 1+2. They didn't really have a point or back story they just seemed to be in the game because it was a Bioshock title, seemed a little....odd. This coupled with fairly clunky movements and character speed created issues that really hindered my overall enjoyment of the game unfortunately. Maybe in the narrow halls of Rapture this seemed less of a problem but in a beautifully crafted open world it was a real shame and shone through as a glaring weakness which was a real shame.

    No spoilers but for me the 'twist' while interesting looking back on it, didn't really make up for the peculiar and somewhat abrupt ending for me....was fairly disappointed.

    Must say though, Booker Dewitt was a great character and I loved the voice acting as well as Elizabeth in this game. It really opened up the story for me and kept me invested to the end despite flaws in some of the core gameplay. Really is a testament to the writers and voice actors and sets a benchmark in presentation and NPC character development.
    Last edited by Jenesix; 30-04-2013 at 11:10 AM.

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    Disciplinary. INTY's Avatar
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    You know? With all the brain-dead reviewers saying nonsense like 'if you give this anything but a 10, you're stupid', I was expecting a backlash for this review. Glad to see that wasn't the case at all ^^, particularly refreshing to see someone who was as like-minded as me on the game Jen

    Oh **** the color from the sig doesn't match the new layout any more.
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  9. #9
    Prosecuting with style Vyse the Legend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenesix View Post
    No spoilers but for me the 'twist' while interesting looking back on it, didn't really make up for the peculiar and somewhat abrupt ending for me....was fairly disappointed.
    I think that largely comes down to most people not understanding the ending, or at least seeing how all the parts of the puzzle fit together, from the Luteces, to the understanding of the timeline, etc.

    I'd fit into that mold myself, because it took me a period of reading comments and the like regarding the ending, to understood what the heck was going on, because when those credits were rolling I just felt somewhat lost, and that confusion did somewhat tarnish the ending as a result.

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    Undercover lover Jenesix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by INTY View Post
    You know? With all the brain-dead reviewers saying nonsense like 'if you give this anything but a 10, you're stupid', I was expecting a backlash for this review. Glad to see that wasn't the case at all ^^, particularly refreshing to see someone who was as like-minded as me on the game Jen
    No I completely agree with your whole review, i always take magazine or online reviews (outside of here) with a pinch of salt and mainly only read them to find out things i want confirming before i make my own choice about if I will purchase or not. For example, rough single player campaign length, multiplayer modes and a outline of any glaring issues or positive highlights to look out for. The game was good, but not in the same way Bioshock 1 was good if you know what I mean.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vyse the Legend View Post
    I'd fit into that mold myself, because it took me a period of reading comments and the like regarding the ending, to understood what the heck was going on, because when those credits were rolling I just felt somewhat lost, and that confusion did somewhat tarnish the ending as a result.
    I had to do the same thing, I dunno I just didn't enjoy it. Much like Mass effect 3 ending it just sort of left me a bit deflated about the whole series.

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