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Bioshock: Infinite

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Bioshock: Infinite

Postby pjbogart » Mon Apr 08, 2013 11:02 pm

I put off buying this game as I don't really play shooters anymore and it's in the Redbox for $2/day so I thought I'd give it a test drive before plopping down $60 for it. I didn't play any of the other Bioshock games, so I'm not really too familiar with the storyline, but the reviews (almost universally stellar) make it sound like this game is something of a reboot, so perhaps the previous games aren't necessary.

First impressions: shooter games kind of suck on xbox. I still buy PC games on occasion, but I like the convenience and easy updates of the xbox, and my TV is 50 inches so despite a bit of resolution loss, the games tend to be more epic on the TV. Still, it's easier to aim with a mouse than a thumbstick so I think if I buy this one it will be for PC.

The game is very bright and glossy. It's certainly not a dungeon crawler, which is what I tend to prefer, but it also doesn't feel like your typical shooter. It's story driven, with strong political overtones and then morphs into a rather odd update of Castle Wolfenstein, except the Nazis (drink!) are Americans and the Jews are an odd caricature of African Americans. The reviews make the game sound very open for exploration, but it's still pretty linear, as are virtually all FPS games, and I find this very irritating, especially after spending so much time in Skyrim.

Shoot the bad guys, search all containers, pick up all loot, rinse, repeat. I suspect that two hours isn't nearly enough time to really appreciate Bioshock: Infinite, but my first impressions usually turn out right and a game that mesmerizes me from the start usually pulls me all the way to the end. Bioshock is not mesmerizing. I've got the day off tomorrow and only work a half day on Thursday, so I think I'll keep this game for a few days and see if it sticks, but at the moment I'm thinking I would have been happier with the new Tomb Raider, which is also getting stellar reviews.

And Skyrim just released an update that raises the level cap, which means I can go back to playing that for free, which is pretty tempting considering that it's probably one of the best games I've ever played.
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Re: Bioshock: Infinite

Postby pjbogart » Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:26 pm

Just finished Bioshock: Infinite and first off I'd like to apologize for the tepid initial review. The game was actually a pretty amazing journey. Very few FPS games have this rich of a storyline, and most of the ones that do stack up as classics, such as Half-life or FarCry.

I never really got comfortable with the xbox FPS controls, and if you're contemplating picking up the title, I think I'd opt for the PC version, though the environments are so well done I think the xbox version has some merits, if for no other reason than your television is probably bigger than your PC monitor. Overall, though, especially in some of the tougher battles, I really wish I could have used a mouse to aim, especially when I was getting bounced around by baddies with grenade launchers so I couldn't get a shot off before I was disoriented and forced to restart my aiming.

I played the game on the easiest mode, which I usually do if I'm looking for adventure over challenge and never once had to reload a saved game, so that says something about the ease of play. Your sidekick can resurrect you, so even though the game is checkpoint saved, you likely won't need to utilize the checkpoints except when you quit for the day and start up the next. And I only died three times throughout the game anyway, so I'd call it a pretty easy game overall. Six days start to finish and only one of them was my day off, so I'd say about 20-25 hours total time to finish.

The story is really stellar, but I won't spoil it for anyone that wants to get the gist but still enjoy the adventure. Essentially, you need to rescue a young woman who is imprisoned by a malevolent "prophet" who has seceded from the US after the Civil War. "Columbia", an anachronistic floating city, is run by authoritarian theocrats who suppress minority populations (African Americans and Irish, mainly). The young woman, Elizabeth, becomes something of sidekick, though she leaves all of the fighting to you. For much of the journey she's a useful companion, helping you with supplies, cutscenes to move the story along and general companionship (you can tell when you've cleared out the baddies because Elizabeth begins waltzing around after they're all defeated). There's also a strange romantic element to it, though she looks like a 12 year-old with a rather large bust, but it's a video game, so whatever.

If you're afraid that the politics will overpower the story, rest assured that there's plenty more to Bioshock: Infinite than the race relations aspect. Love and loss, time travel and existentialism are all pretty dominant themes, so there's a lot to enjoy, and a plethora of Easter eggs that are very much meant to be found (one dimensional gateway, called a "tear" played some Cindi Lauper for me).

And one of the most intriguing parts of the game was a prolonged ending, one that you play through without any fighting to try to tie up the loose ends of the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed Bioshock: Infinite, though if I had to offer one criticism, it was that I had to spend far too much time wandering around checking every container, every dead body, every cash register, etc. More action, more story, less looting. Perhaps if I had played on a harder difficulty the looting would have seemed more rewarding, but as it was it just seemed like wasted time.

I'd give it 9 out of 10, and I'm pretty tough to please.
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