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April 19, 2013
Bioshock Infinite - PS3 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
26/3/20132K Games2K GamesIrrational Games1None
Media HDD Install Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Columbia - a city in the skies.
The original Bioshock was a sleeper hit for Irrational Games and 2K, generating massive sales and receiving a ton of plaudits from critics. The sequel didn’t generate the same buzz however, and sales are still hovering at around half of the original. When Bioshock Infinite was delayed not once, not twice, but three times, there were legitimate worries that the third game in the series might be in some trouble. Now that we’ve spent some time with the game we can assure you that this is definitely not the case. Bioshock Infinite is epic in every sense of the word and is an early contender for Game of the Year honours.

Set in an alternate reality 1912, you play as Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton and disenchanted war hero whose life has descended into drinking and gambling. As often happens in to characters like this, a run of bad luck sees DeWitt owing money to ‘the kind of people you don’t want to owe money to’. They offer him a deal – ‘Bring us the girl and cancel the debt’. It’s an offer too good to refuse and without any further information DeWitt sets off to find her.

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Characer design in Bioshock Infinite is superb.
Unlike the previous Bioshock games that were set in the underwater city of Rapture, Infinite is set in Columbia, a city in the sky. When DeWitt first arrives, Columbia looks like paradise – beautiful blue skies, pristine living areas and happy people are all around him. The city was founded by Father Comstock, a self-proclaimed prophet, who remains the unquestioned political leader of Columbia. Throughout Columbia there are statues of the benevolent leader, as well as Kinetoscopes that play movies of some key moments in Columbia’s history.

By watching these movies and listening to locals DeWitt realizes that all Columbia is not the paradise it first appears. There is a resistance forming, known as the ‘Vox Populi’, that seek to overthrow Father Comstock. DeWitt is only interested in finding Elizabeth (‘the girl’), but when a scar on his hand puts him on the wrong side of Columbia’s police force he is drawn deeper into the war between the Vox Populi and Father Comstock.

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The city of Columbia looks superb.
Bioshock Infinite, of course, is a shooting game, and DeWitt has an ever-expanding range of weapons at his disposal. You start off with the lowly pistol, but before long you’ll find machine guns, shotguns, a carbine rifle, a sniper rifle, volley guns and an RPG among others. New weapons are spaced out through the chapters initially, slowly improving your arsenal as the enemies grow tougher. You can only carry two weapons at a time meaning you’ll have to make some tough choices at times – do you want the machine gun which has a large bullet supply, or would you prefer the high-powered volley gun instead?

You’re not limited to just weapons – as you progress through the game you’ll find and unlock ‘vigors’ which, like plasmids in the previous games, grant you special powers. There are eight vigors altogether, and each has a pair of functions. The first function is directly fired at an enemy to, among other things, stun them, do damage or throw them into the air. Their second function is a trap that you throw at the ground and lure enemies into. Traps use more salt (which powers vigors) but their tactical use more than makes up for it.

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Being attacked by several enemies.
Like weapons you can have two vigors equipped at any time (these can be changed on the fly by accessing the vigor list by holding down L2). Some vigors have combination attacks when used on the same target, for example, using possession on an enemy will usually have them use their guns on other enemies, but if you hit a possessed enemy with Devil’s Kiss, a fire based vigor, the possessed enemy will also spread fire onto nearby enemies.

Weapons and vigors can be upgraded at vending machines found throughout Columbia. As far as vigors go the upgrades do things like reduce the amount of salt required to use them, increase their damage or expand their area of effect or duration. Weapon upgrades can increase damage output or clip size, shorten the reload time or reduce recoil. Money, while not hard to come by, is in relatively short supply so pick and choose your upgrades wisely – there is no chance you’ll be able to pgrade everything on a single playthrough.

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Elizabeth is a memorable game character.
Columbia is made up of many floating areas that are not all directly connected; at ground level at least. Which is to say there are plenty of sky-lines around, sky-lines that Dewitt can use to move between otherwise unconnected areas. You gain access to sky-lines early on when you pluck a nasty-looking hook off the arm of a dead enemy. The hook is magnetized, allowing you to jump great distances to connect to the sky-lines.

Traveling the sky-lines is extremely simple, all you have to do is hold forward on the analog stick to go faster, or pull it back to slow down. Sky-lines go in both directions and you can reverse your direction by hitting the circle button. It’s possible to target enemies while on sky-lines, though hitting them while moving at high-speed is challenging. Luckily they find it just as hard to hit you. Sky-lines can be used strategically to access higher areas, giving you a better view of battlefields and the enemies within. They also provide a nice break from regular action.

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Religious themes play a large part in the game.
For much of the game you are joined by Elizabeth, the girl DeWitt has been sent to rescue. Despite being an NPC Elizabeth plays a key role in almost every aspect of the game. She’s central to the story, not only because DeWitt and Father Comstock both want her, but because she alone offers a softer, compassionate edge to the otherwise brutal action. The dialog back and forth between Elizabeth and DeWitt is near-constant, at least in between fights, and it offers great insights into both people. The relationship (not romantic) that develops between them adds much to the overall experience.

Elizabeth won’t just follow you blindly; instead she’s determined to help. She does this in a number of ways, not least of which is to find money, health, ammo and salts for you, which she can deliver at any time, including during battles. A number of times when my health got low Elizabeth threw me a health pack that was the difference between life and death. She can also open locked doors if you have the requisite number of lockpicks and solve low-level ciphers, both of which grant you access to items you have no other way of attaining.

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The world is on fire...
If that was all Elizabeth did she would still be one of the most useful NPCs in gaming history, but she is also capable of one last ability, that is calling in objects through ‘tears’ found around Columbia. The kind of things she can bring through include weapons, health packs, allied enemies and freight hooks that give you access to otherwise out of reach areas. These tears are conveniently located at the site of battles, and using them effectively is often key to your success or failure.

Unlike just about every game I’ve ever played, I had to sit here and think long and hard to come up with any issues with Bioshock Infinite. In the end the only gripe I have is that you can’t save the game yourself, instead you must rely on auto-saves. This also means you can’t have multiple games underway at the same time.

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The game world always looks stunning.
One other thing and this isn’t an issue, I’m just putting it out there, I’d have loved if there was some form of New Game+. As mentioned earlier there is next to no chance you’ll be able to by everything on a single playthrough, so being able to bring your upgraded weapons and vigors through to a new game would have been sweet. Especially seeing as Infinite more or less demands multiple playthroughs.

Visually Bioshock Infinite is impressive both technically and artistically. On a technical level it’s great to see that there is no screen-tearing, only a minor amount of slowdown (which coincides with the game saving or entering a new area) and great lighting throughout.

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Colombia hides plenty of secrets.
At an artistic level Columbia is a wonderfully realized location, one that immerses you in the experience more deeply than almost any other game on the market. They’ve nailed the feel of early 1900s through architecture, clothing, and even simple things like the park benches, telescopes and wire bins throughout Columbia. The church scene on your arrival at Columbia is worthy of special mention, as it is truly beautiful. Elizabeth might look a bit odd in the screenshots – she did to me before I started playing - but her mannerisms, behavior and appearance all suit the game so well that it’s hard to imagine her any differently now. In fact Elizabeth all but steals the show in the end.

It’s not just the visuals that help immerse you so thoroughly in the game, but the audio too. The music, which features a lot of piano (and reminded me of the movie ‘The Sting’), and the odd barbershop tune, really suits the game. The delivery of dialog between DeWitt and Elizabeth is truly first-rate – right up there with Drake and company. I also loved a few of the enemies, particularly the Handyman, a human-machine hybrid who screams with pain almost whenever he moves. The projector-sound of the kinetoscopes is also extremely authentic, and the music that accompanies them, so reminiscent of the music that accompanied silent films back in the day, sets the scene as well as any game has.

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Bioshock Infinite is a visually impressive game.
Bioshock Infinite is a truly wonderful game. The shooting component, while not revolutionary, is fast-paced, accurate and adrenaline-pumping. However it is the complete package – the wonderful setting, Elizabeth; one of the best videogame characters ever created, the amazing story and just how immersive the whole game is – that makes Bioshock Infinite stand out from the crowd. It’s a genuine contender for Game of the Year status already, and one I can’t wait to get back to. Bioshock Infinite is a master-class in gaming and one you should definitely make time to play.

Review By: Mike Allison

GRAPHICSTechnically and artistically impressive, this is the complete package.
SOUNDUp there with the best and totally immersive. All characters, but most notably Elizabeth and DeWitt are acted superbly throughout.
GAMEPLAYIn some ways it’s just a (very good) shooter, but the beautiful world, fantastic characters and top-notch audio suck you in so deeply that the result is something much more.
VALUEIt’s a long game with no shortage of collectibles and a story that demands at least two playthroughs.
OVERALLI haven’t been sucked into a game this much since… ever. Bioshock Infinite is truly wonderful game that deserves a home in your collection.

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