Bioshock Infinite ReviewGuest_Jim_* - April 16, 2013
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Like the games before it, Bioshock Infinite is a story-driven, FPS-Action game. (Really the only times you get a chance to forget the story are during the action scenes.) You are able to carry two weapons at a time, pick up what your enemies drop, and utilize Vigors, the Infinite equivalent to Plasmids. Vigors give you the ability to throw fireballs and lightning (not at the same time), summon a murder of crows to attack your enemies, possess some enemies, absorb incoming bullets into an orb that you can hurl at your enemies, and more. There are eight Vigors in total, and if you do not explore the game world, you may miss some of them. The equivalent to Eve that powers the Vigors is Salt.
A rather useful feature of Vigors is that they each have two actions; instant and delayed. For example, the Vigor for launching crows at your enemy can be charged up to drop a nest on the ground. When enemies approach it, the crows erupt from the eggs and attack them. These traps and other charged abilities consume more Salt. Oh, and usefully, the different Vigors add marks to the Salt gauge, indicating how many uses you have for the abilities, as each Vigor uses different amounts.
While there are certainly more equivalencies between the games, it is the differences that are the most memorable. For one, you are no longer able to save when you want; it is all auto-saved. It is worth noting though that when you die you do respawn instead of reload at a checkpoint, so dead enemies stay dead, though living ones regain some health. Also, the respawn points I used were relatively close to the battles, so it does not take long to return to the action.
Another important departure from the previous games is that you no longer collect health packs to be applied during combat. Instead you have a regenerating shield that must first be broken before your non-regenerating health takes any hits. This system does have the effect of simplifying combat, to a degree, because you no longer have to strategize when to pop a health pack. However, as you cannot regain your health arbitrarily, you will want to take advantage of cover and be as quick and efficient in killing as you can be.
When you do find yourself running low on health, Salt, or ammunition, there is a decent chance Elizabeth will call out to you that she has something for you. With the press of a button you will receive a health or Salt vial, or an entirely new weapon with a filled clip, ready to fire. This happens in almost real-time during battles, so enemies keep moving while the item is thrown and caught. However, it did appear the enemies could not damage you during the perhaps second-long event. Oh, and in case you were worried, she does not need your help in combat. The game is not one giant escort mission.
Outside of combat, Elizabeth will point out things to be picked up and toss you money she has 'collected.' (Insert joke about how only in a fictitious-Utopian city will a woman provide a man with money.) Among the items she points out are lock picks, which she uses to access areas and safes upon your request. Once you indicate you want a lock picked, she will simply run over and pick it; no mini-game involved.
Something shown in the trailers is the Skyhook. This is a handy tool for not only tearing off faces but also catching Skylines and freight hooks. Unfortunately, as the game is relatively linear, the Skylines exist just to get from point A to point B, so you will not be crossing Columbia via hand-held rollercoaster. These features are useful for more than movement though as you can leap from them onto enemies. Depending on the enemy, you could kill it with one hit. Depending on the gear you have applied, you may also be able to take out multiple enemies, which was quite satisfying.
Gear in Infinite is the replacement for the Gene Tonics of the other games, as they passively give you special abilities. One of these abilities is to emit a wave of fire when you leap from a Skyline or freight hook to the ground; an ability you can use to eliminate a group of enemies. Another piece of gear increases the clip size of all your weapons, while yet another gives you a chance of electrocuting enemies when they hit you. I am not sure how many pieces of gear there are, but they each have interesting abilities that will prove useful.
One topic some people like to bring up when discussing a video game is enemy variability. Well, don't worry, there are various enemies in this game from Iron Patriots with Gatling guns to hulking Handymen, and the usual humanoid cannon fodder. Also there is a segment with reanimated corpses and a ghost. Then there is the segment where enemies change color and start using fairly different weapons. (Naturally you can wield these weapons as well.)
Despite the variety of enemies, the difficulty of the game never seemed that bad. Of course I was only playing on normal, and I did die a few times, but it never felt especially easy or horrendously hard. There are very challenging moments, but I found myself getting better each time I attempted them. The game is definitely well balanced… at least on normal.
The game world of Infinite is quite large, but being a linear game, I never really had the impulse to return to areas I had already cleared. Fortunately it is possible to replay specific chapters, which should ease any later exploration. Also helping with exploration is the navigation system. You do not have a map but, as in Bioshock 2 (I can't remember if Bioshock had the same mechanic) you can push a button and have an arrow appear, directing you where to go. Obviously this is useful for finding the correct path to take to proceed, but also for finding the alternative paths to explore.
I completed the game with some exploration and plenty of collectibles still to find in approximately 10 hours and 45 minutes. While not particularly lengthy, the game is as long as the story is, with action added into it. There is definitely some replay-ability as completing the game unlocks '1999 Mode,' which is meant to replicate the challenge and balance of games of that era. Also there are collectibles to find that further uncover the history of Columbia.