Bioshock Infinite ReviewGuest_Jim_* - April 16, 2013
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They say 'a picture is worth a thousand words,' but I'm not going to spend that much time talking about the graphics. Of course you can check out the screen shots throughout this review, but if you want to get the best idea of what the graphics are like, you should find a trailer or gameplay footage to preview.
The first comment I want to make about the graphics is a weird one. As you explore Columbia and its inhabitants, you will very likely notice how easy it is to count the edges to their models. This actually makes the game look years old, but once you turn your eyes away from the objects and onto the environment, you will see what modern game engines can do. Sunlight diffuses through clouds, flares off of surfaces, and streaks in through windows as beautiful beams. It is quite awe-inspiring.
Dated on the one hand and awe-inspiring on the other… like I said, this is a weird comment on the graphics. Because of the wonderful environmental effects and the fact that, in an action game, you generally do not go around trying to count vertices, I would not say it detracts from the experience or immersion. However, the blood splatter and fires are something you will see quite a bit of and definitely could look better.
Through all of the game I noticed only one graphical glitch, which is entirely forgivable, and one body-physics glitch. The physics glitch had a killed enemy hanging in the air, with head and one arm freaking out, spinning around. The forgivable graphics was another dead enemy that fell such that her head was pushed forward by a wall. This caused her neck to literally break away from her body.
Of course, a graphics section would not be complete without mentioning the settings I was running as well as my specifications. I was using the Ultra preset in a borderless window at 2048x1152, my monitor's native resolution. The day before Infinite released, nVidia released a new driver with optimizations for it that I did install. Here are my system specs:
- Processor: AMD Phenom II 720 BE, 4-core, @3.40GHz (17.0x200)
- Cooling: Corsair H50 with Push-pull Akasa 120mm fans
- Motherboard: ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO 785G
- Memory: Corsair Dominator 2x2 GB and G.Skill Ripjaws 2x4 GB (12 GB total) @ 1600MHZ 9-10-9-28
- GPU: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB (825/1650/1950)
- Hard Drive: 1 x Western Digital Caviar Black 750 GB SATA
- Power Supply: Corsair 750TX
- OS: Windows 7- Home Premium 64-bit
Infinite comes with a benchmarking tool that is actually really cool, in a nerdy way, but I will come back to that tool shortly.
Even though my computer is not overly powerful, I was able to play Infinite at comfortably high frame rates. I was not measuring it during gameplay, but I would estimate it between 40 and 60 FPS, depending on what was on-screen. Occasionally the frame rate dropped lower, but this was only during particularly intense moments, and quickly rose again. At times I did notice what might have been some stuttering, but likely any stuttering will be worked out through further driver optimization. Also I want to share that I had read about some people having severe performance problems with nVidia graphics cards, but did not experience any.
What makes the benchmarking tool cool in a nerdy way? Instead of processing the data and just presenting you with an average framerate, it saves all of the data to a CSV file you can open up and examine yourself, by scene. While average FPS is good to know, other values such as minimum, maximum, and standard deviation can also be valuable, as they can tell you how much the framerate fluctuates. Instead of boring you with all of those numbers from when I ran the benchmark though, I'll just give you what I got, overall: the average FPS was 46.4 and deviated by 11.5 FPS, which means most of the time the benchmark ran between 34.9 and 57.9 frames per second.
A 20 FPS spread is not particularly good, but then the benchmark at times looks like a tech demo for Unreal Engine 3 (the game's engine), so that kind of variance is not unexpected.
The audio was quite good throughout, filled with music that made me want to watch some classic movies, where I first heard the same song, or something similar. At one point in Columbia, you even come across a barbershop quartet singing! Perhaps I have peculiar tastes in music for my age, but I found it all enjoyable.
Sound effects were definitely satisfying, or terrifying, depending on what they are accompanied by in the gameplay. One thing I noticed and found interesting was the voice work for the antagonist, Zachary Comstock. Occasionally while he speaks over the PA system, a filter is applied, causing his voice to drop in pitch and resonate more. I did not find any explanation for this within the game.
Overall, I felt the voice work was very good. The only sad thing about it was the only average facial animations associated with the words. Such animation is hard to do, but some games still do it better.