Graphics:
9.5
Gameplay:
9.8
Sound:
9.7
Control:
9.3
Replay Value:
9.5
Overall Rating:
9.6
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Publisher:
2K Games
Developer:
Irrational Games
Number Of Players:
1
Genre:
Action/RPG
Release Date:
March 26, 2013


Heading into the release of Bioshock Infinite , I had my reservations. The game had been delayed a few times, there were plenty of documented internal shake-ups at developer Irrational Games, and the current industry trend of speeding up and dumbing down was concerning. Dead Space 3 and Crysis 3 both suffered from the latter issue, by the way. I still had faith in Irrational boss Ken Levine and I still loved Bioshock . But what if…? Oh, it was just too depressing to consider but given the evidence, I had to consider.

Thankfully, blissfully, my reservations were not justified. Bioshock Infinite is one of the best games you will ever play, this generation or any other generation. Those who know me – and know that I haven’t even handed out a 9 or higher in 2013 until now – understand the importance of that statement.

Although it’s true that a monster PC will provide you with the single most amazing view of the expansive, colorful, ingeniously designed city of Columbia, the console version remains spectacular. Previous entries in the series didn’t have this much richness, detail or depth of hue and shade. The design is absolutely second-to-none and the character creation for allies, NPCs and enemies is some of the most accomplished I’ve ever seen. The scope and breadth of your environment always takes your breath away and this compelling virtual world is always, always enlivening and invigorating. It’s just a wonderfully fantastical vision.

The audio is excellent as well, as we’re continually treated to crisp, resounding special effects, a diverse and beautifully implemented score, and top-tier voice performances. Bioshock has always thrived on atmosphere and ambiance and the latest iteration is certainly no exception, as the combination of the highly detailed visual presentation and amazing sound orchestration leads to a heady experience. The sounds of a diseased city are intoxicating. The voices, the background effects, the horrific sounds generated by particularly intimidating foes; it’s all amazing. Super high production values the whole way ‘round and my only caveat is a very minor audio balancing issue.

You play as Booker, who at the start of his harrowing yet singular adventure is fired straight up into the sky, where he arrives at Columbia. The setting is 1912 but as fans of the series know, the themes involve a sort of futuristic past; i.e., it’s based on a very slanted, dystopian piece of American history. Obviously, this is why we have a metropolis floating among the clouds in the year 1912, where you see the Columbian flag flying everywhere, along with architectural and environmental examples of the United States around the turn of the 20th century. And clearly, despite the technological advances, all is not well in what was once an ideal world.

Racial tensions have erupted as those whose skin is not of the “correct” color are shunned and even enslaved by the control-oriented government. But that’s hardly the only difficult and controversial topic you will encounter in this politically charged game. There are mystical and even philosophical puzzles to figure out, such as the brand on Booker’s hand. This brand doesn’t go over well in Columbia, as it’s believed to be the mark of the false messiah. Hence, right from the start, you are not welcome in the city, and you’re immediately labeled a menace to good society. Your only option is to run but again, that’s only the surface of this multilayered storyline.