There has been a good amount of hype around 2K Games’ BioShock Infinite, and with very good reason. The game received numerous accolades at last year’s E3, and the early previews have been met with an avalanche of praise.
I recently had the chance to get some hands on time with BioShock Infinite, playing through the first few hours. My initial reaction is that the game is looking top-notch and will no doubt please the fan base and series newcomers as well.
The game, set in 1912, begins with players, cast in the role of Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt, being tasked with investigating the gravity-defying city of Columbia to rescue a young lady named Elizabeth by any means necessary. Without giving away any plot spoilers, it isn’t long before you are fighting for your life, wondering what the heck is going on and why you and Elizabeth are key to restoring order to the hell raised by your unwelcome presence.
The game feels reminiscent of previous BioShock games, but with a full graphics overhaul and a greater variety of weaponry added to your arsenal, it doesn’t feel as much like a clone as you would expect. In fact any link between the franchise predecessors is not immediately apparent.
The game’s combat feels nicely balanced. Early on you are able to lay waste to almost anyone and anything that gets in your way, including the local constabulary as well as a few annoying turrets. But the early feeling of invincible quickly gives way and you will feel death’s cold embrace at almost any stumble. Luckily frequent checkpoints make such inevitable disasters more bearable.
What did strike me was the frenetic pace, which sets you up for a rollercoaster ride that never seems to relent. BioShock Infinite is faster, much faster, than its predecessors. Enemies come thick and fast and often from multiple levels.
Throughout the time I had on the game the action never ceased, from high speed adrenaline filled Sky-line and giant zeppelin episodes through to running and gunning through the mile high streets. The game isn’t all about action though; there is plenty of suspense and mystery, which only heightens your desire to complete the story.
Being set in the sky and ultimately not under water gives the impression of being open world (but still remaining linear). The compelling story has, as you would expect, plenty of twists and the Steampunk environment creates an authentic atmosphere of the era – complete with racial tension and bigotry that is disturbingly presented.
Any fans of the BioShock series will quickly feel at home with the controls. It is by no means a clone but you will understand the mechanics very quickly, from the user interface through to the godlike powers you receive (called ‘Vigors’) from potions that you find lying around.
The relationship between DeWitt and Elizabeth is what drives the narrative in BioShock Infinite. It quickly became obvious that she is the key to your survival and the bond between to two lead characters, as well as Elizabeth’s mysterious powers, allow you to accomplish tasks that neither could achieve alone.
I was delighted that I got to spend time with BioShock Infinite, and only wished it could have gone on longer. It’s pretty clear that Irrational Games have crafted something truly extraordinary here. Even after two hours with the game, I know that I’ve just barely scratched the surface, and I cannot wait to see more.
BioShock Infinite launches March 29th.