Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thoughts On... Bioshock Infinite

Hey there.  I am finally getting around to posting my thoughts on Bioshock Infinite.  After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, finally we got to play the game.  The game is beautiful.  The game is awesome.  The game lived up to MY expectations.  I purchased the Songbird Edition of the game and when the kids saw it, they asked that they get to watch me play the game.  lol  My older two kids (14 and 11) have seen me play through Bioshock 1 and 2 and they wanted to know how the next installment would play out.  I promised them they could, but it proved costly on my end.  There were many nights where I itched to play but couldn't because the kids were asleep. lol  Anyways, after finishing the game, I knew I had to give some insights, but before I do, be warned!  THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS POST!  If you have not finished the game and plan to, do not read below!  Go and finish and then come back.  Trust me, you'll get more insight from this post AFTER finishing the game.  Also, keep in mind that this is NOT a review.  This post is simply my thoughts on the game.  I did write a review for Dragonblogger.com and you can check that review out here.  Now, my thoughts on Bioshock Infinite.

Bioshock Infinite is beautiful.  Really, the visuals on this game border art status.  It's one of the first things that really stands out from the get go.  I also love how the first half of the game seems to have this heavenly glow around everything. It falls in perfectly with the religious overtones.  It's almost as if you've ascended to heaven when you ascend to Columbia.  Then there is a shift... as you progress through the game, the visuals get darker, they get grimier, they get to Rapture type levels and it pulls it off well.  Despite Columbia being a city in the sky, Bioshock Infinite does an outstanding job on creating a tense atmosphere with well done color schemes and detailed scenery.

Aside from the story (more on that later), I really loved the new weapon upgrade system.  Thruoghout Bioshock Infinite, you'll come across many weapons and each one has 4 upgrades to it.  In previous Bioshock games, you had to find a Power to the People booth and select a single upgrade for one of your weapons.  Not so here.  You can simply purchase upgrades at an Armory Booth.  Each weapon can have up to 4 upgrades.  I thought this was freakin' awesome.  Instead of having to be extremely selective, I simply upgraded the weapons I used the most.  I was able to easily max out my shotgun, machine gun and RPG weapons.  But there is a caveat to this method.  When ammo is scarce or the weapon is not available, you will be stuck with an underpowered weapon against some pretty tough foes.  I loved this aspect of Bioshock Infinite.  It adds a strategic element that was missing in the previous Bioshock games.  And if you're one of those guys that wants to upgrade everything, forget it.  You simply do not obtain enough money to do it so YOU WILL have to pick your upgrades wisely.
Ahhhhhh!  The HandyMan!
The battle system is pretty damn fluid.  As with the previous Bioshock games, you can use vigors (plasmids) and salts (eve) to power them.  I was able to strike with a vigor, blast away with a gun, jump on a sky hook, and hit em again!  All without missing a beat.  I'll admit that when I saw the sky hook in action during one of the many trailers, I was worried that the action would be difficult to control or it would be played off as a gimmick.   That is definitely not the case.  When you are first introduced to the skyrails, it felt like it would be daunting, but shortly thereafter, Bioshock Infinite will place you in the middle of a skyrail heavy battle.  I LOVED THAT!  No holding your hand.  No walking you though it.  You're in the middle of a dog fight and you best better learn what you're doing real quick.  As a gamer, I tend to learn on the fly.  I don't read the intruction books anymore and instead of reading about how to do something, I want to give it a try and figure it out.  That battle in on the rails taught me how to ride efficiently, how to aim while on it, how  to attack, how to defend, how to get my ass out of harms way and best of all, it gave me the tools needed to succeed later in the game.

I wondered what, if any, foes would be the equivalent of a Big Daddy in Bioshock Infinite.  You soon come to realize that the HandyMan would take on that role.  The Big Daddy worked in Bioshock for 2 reasons.  1) They were tough enemies that roamed the halls of Rapture and 2) the confined spaces of Rapture made a battle with a Big Daddy epic.  You had to act quickly and move quickly to get the upper hand.  In Bioshock Infinite, the HandyMan is quick to manuever and quicker to attack.  Luckily, those battles usually take place outside so you can manuveur through sky hooks to avoid being cornered by the HandyMan.  But you know what...  the HandyMan can still give chase.  He, too, can jump on sky rails and hooks to get to you.  This created a different kind of tension than that of a Big Daddy battle.  Where as you went all in, no hold barred, match up with a Big Daddy, you can't run and you can't hide from a HandyMan.  The more distance you try to put yourself between the HandyMan, the faster he seems to move.  Either way, it's a tense battle and it's a shame that there were not more of them in the game.  I would have loved to see the HandyMan evolve as you progress through the game the way the Big Daddy did.  The Big Daddy went something from a bull rusher with a drill to a more difficult one that had a RPG AND a drill.  It would have been great to see the HandyMan take on an evolution similar to that.
If the Songbird could take down an air ship... imagine what it could do to Booker!
THE SONGBIRD!  The songbird is an awesome beast.  If I have any gripe, and I do mean ANY, it would be that the songbird was not used enough!  The Songbird is supposed to be guardian of Elizabeth and can be summoned by playing a song.  There were some tense moments in the game where it felt like a showdown with the Songbird would be inevitable, but that battle never materialized.  Then the only extended action that the Songbird did see was an ally during the final battle of the game.  Though it was a tough as nails battle, I couldn't help but think that in the end, I would need to take down the Songbird to really truly be able to escape Columbia with Elizabeth.  A battle to the death against the guardian for the freedom of Elizabeth!  Sounsd like a pretty damn captivating battle to me, no?  But...that wasn't the case and that was disappointing.  But that doesn't mean the story was disappointing!

Now, on to Elizabeth.  When I heard that Bioshock Infinte would have a non playable character (NPC) "escort" Booker during the game, I thought that it would a bad move and the game would be some sort of escort missionesque game.  First off, Bioshock Infinite is NOT an escort mission type game.  Actually, it's far from it.  When you obtain Elizabeth, the game clearly tells you that she can take care of herself during battle.  Elizabeth will revolutionize how NPC will be used going forward.  During battles, she will stay out of the way as best she can and she will come across items to help Booker during the battle.  Maybe she'll come across Salts, Health, Ammo, or a weapon.  Once she can open tears, she can aid in a battle by opening tears containig an environmental hazard, a manned turret and other allies, some cover for Booker, or some hooks to avoid ground battle.  Either way, Elizabeth is like an angel, providing you with ever so needed help right when you feel like the enemy has the upper hand.  And the best part?  It's integrated perfectly during the battle.  You hear Elizabeth call out to Booker, the "press X" prompt comes up and if you press it, Elizabeth will toss the item to you and you carry on.  If you want a challenge, you can decided NOT to press X and carry on with your battle.  Be warned though, I realized that Elizabeth seems to find the items that you need.  If you are low on health and salts, she's more likely to provide you with health than with anything else.  Also, if Elizabeth is trying to toss you an item, it's because you are getting your ass handed to you.  lmao!  It's as simple as that.  Take the help.  Trust me.  You're going to need it!
See the thimble on her pinky?  Yeah... there's  story behind that too!
As mentioned earlier, I played the game while the kids were up so that they can follow the story.  When I finished the game, they were excited.  They wondered outloud of Rapture would be mentioned, if a Big Daddy or Little Sister would be referenced.  When Elizabeth opens a tear and we end up in Rapture, my daughter yelled to my son, "I TOLD YOU THEY WERE GOING TO EXPLAIN RAPTURE!"  lol  That brought a smile to my face.  I too, wondered what they were doing in Rapture.  Elizabeth stated that she wanted to "show" Booker something.  No friends, they do not explain Rapture, but Elizabeth does explain the possibilities of endless outcomes for the endless choices that we make.  Hence the name, Bioshock Infinite.  With the siphon destroyed and the Songbird eliminated, Elizabeth calmly states that she can now see every possibility and every possible outcome of any and all decisions made and that there is always "a lighthouse, a man, and a city."  Intriguing, no?  After entering a few lighthouses and seeing what is behind each one, we come to the realization that Elizabeth is actually Anna, Booker's daughter.

I love it when the title of the game fits into the story line.  I tried to look think of how it could tie in before I played the game and I couldn't really find a connection that satisfied me.  But this was perfect.  If there are multiple universes where we live out every decision and non decision in a seperate universe, you are bound to find one with the outcome that you want.  It can get pretty complicated when you start to think about it too much, but it definitely fit the bill.  The mechanics of multiple universes or the theory Parallel Universes are well into play in the game.  The Lutece's are the same person, but from different universes.  Comstock and Booker... the same person from different universes.  Even when you die in the game, you see Elizabeth picking you up and you continue your game.  To me, knowing how the game ends, feels like Elizabeth went through a tear, picked up another Booker that made the same decision up until the point where you died.  Makes sense, right?  It got pretty heavy at the end, folks.  In one universe, Booker accepted a baptism and "washed away his sins" and then took the name Zachary Comstock.  With his newfound "enlightenment", he went on to create the floating city of Columbia.  In another universe, Booker refused the baptism and decided to live with his sins.  This is the Booker that we play as.  Well... ONE of the Booker's at least.  It's an intriguing aspect and theory and I believe that Bioshock Infinite did an excellent job at tying it all together.
Infinite doors, infinte outcomes, infinite possibilites...
Bioshock Infinite is a great game and if you're one of those people that live dangerously and read up on spoilers before getting the game, get the game.  lol  It's that damn good.  I didn't even mention the DLC that is coming and the 1999 Mode of the game.  Real quickly, 1999 Mode is for the hardcore gamer.  Less money, less ammo, more enemies, and smarter AI.  It's a real challenge to get through the 1999 Mode and I'm still battling through it.  If you have played and passed this game, tell me, what you did you think of it?  What worked for you and what didn't work for you?  Did it meet your expectations?  And lastly... what did you think of the ending?  Let's hear it friends.  Later!

2 comments:

Sorry can't read the post. I am hoping I win the contest, and I do not want to spoil the game!

i haven't played this game yet....but it is definitely the best game ever made (after half life 2)

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