Bioshock Infinite - PS3

Release Date:

26 March 2013

Viewing UK:

Also on USA.


BioShock Infinite is the third installment in the acclaimed BioShock franchise. Playing as Booker DeWitt, you zip from one location to another while fending off adversaries using standard weapons and unique abilities called Vigors. A mysterious antagonist threatens your life, and it is up to you to change your fate. Upgrade your arsenal as you explore this unique new world developed by Ken Levine. Enjoy tight and familiar combat, gorgeous visuals, and a memorable world filled with danger at every corner. And then, unravel the elaborate and stunning plot by journeying with Elizabeth, who is your unlikely companion in this strange world gone awry, in order to reach the staggering climax that culminates Booker‘s emotional journey.

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Although it does not follow directly on from the two earlier BioShock titles, BioShock Infinite does contain material conceptually and thematically similar.

The setting for the story North America around 1912 mostly and most of the story's action takes place in the city of Columbia, a city floating in the air and whose name is the personification of American maternalism. This contrasts with the setting of the earlier titles whose action was mostly confined to the city of Rapture which was underwater. The city of Columbia was founded as a Nativist visionary ideal and is governed by a body called The Founders a who are a Nativist and Elitist political grouping. The Vox Populi. or the voice of the people, as the name suggests are a populist movement who support the poor and downcast but are regarded by the Founders as a subversive revolutionary movement. As expected the two sides are in conflict and this forms an important part of the plot.

The other problem that the city faces, and perhaps more interesting from a gaming point of view, is the tearing of the space and time continuum leading to momentary but meaningful glimpses relative to and suggestive of other eras.

That sets out the basic background to the plot which leaves much detail to be filled in. The story, though not too complicated, relies a great deal on the interaction of the very different character within it. The story is full of references to historic and political events and symbolism but that is not really of interest to anyone except professional reviewers who will no doubt be happy to enlighten us all. The main gist of the story is the rescue by the character Booker DeWitt of the character Elizabeth. However, there is much greater depth and meaning woven around this simple story and the characters themselves and their backgrounds are detailed and more complex than the story itself.

The player takes the part of the hero of the story, Booker DeWitt. He is a one time Pinkerton National Detective Agency investigator who was thrown out of the agency for his over indulgence in drink and gambling, but who now works as an independent investigator. Elizabeth is a highly educated young lady who has been held against her will for most of her life in Columbia. She is under the control of the game's AI and has the ability to manipulate to some degree the fabric of space and time. Her being rescued results in her and Dewitt being hunted by both of Columbia's warring political factions.

The other main characters are:-

Father Zachary Hale Comstock, a religious fanatic and founder of Colunbia and hence the Founders. He is the anyi hero or chief bad guy. To complicate things a little he is, or at least claims to be, Elizabeth's father as the result of the miraculous seven day pregnancy of his wife.

Daisy Fitzroy is the leader of the revolutionary Vox Populi and is the servant of Comstock. She is an African American who came to Columbia to start a new life, but given that her political allegiance is the opposite to that of her employer, this would seem to be a pretty unwise move.

Robert and Rosalind Lutece, mistakenly thought to be twins but who turn out be two sides of the same persona, appear at frequent intervals throughout the story and are behind some of the city's technology, but are mostly in a sort of unrealized quantum state. They sort of are and then they sort of aren't.

Then we have Cornelius Slate a former soldier and fighting comrade of DeWitt and one time adherent of Comstock, who, on becoming aware of Comstock's underhand dealings, went over to Vox Populi.

There are also many and various enemies in the shape of hard hitting heavies with names like the Handymen, so called because of their gigantic hands made for throwing things, including their enemies, over long distances. Others are the Boys of Silence, the Motorized Patriots and the Siren, each imaginatively designed and with powerful abilities.

But of course all this is of little worth if the game does not play well or the graphic and audio presentation is poor. So how does it pan out?

As with previous BioShock titles it is a first person shooter with some degree of role playing, a wise choice given the popularity of the earlier games. DeWitt moves around Columbia mostly on foot or using a grappling hook and rope. The main arterial routes which connect the city's main buildings are composed of a system called the Skyline which is a futuristic type rail line in the sky. He is limited to carrying only two weapons at any one time, but these can consist of many different wisely chosen combinations.

Greater powers such as those of telekinesis and controlled use of electricity can be obtained by collecting 'vigors' found in various locations of Columbia. These are attacking abilities and strengths but defensive and damage limiting capabilities are also on offer. Both rely on collection, purchase or other upgrade methods for their accumulation and again require a conscious choice of combination to optimize their effectiveness for a particular task. Once Elizabeth has been rescued her time warping abilities can be used to open up access to ammunition, health packs and the like, not forgetting the all important Salt on which 'Vigors' rely.

Following the general trend of serious gaming the year by year improvement of graphical presentation on the visual presentation of BioShock Infinite is outstanding in all aspects. The background and incidental music are equal in quality to the graphics, the voice acting being particularly well suited to the overall atmosphere.

BioShock fans will certainly buy the game on the strength of previous titles alone, and newcomers, after playing Infinite will want to take a look at earlier BioShock games.

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