With over 20 hours of game play in, I feel that I can confidently review what I consider the best game I’ve played since 2013 started, and might very well be the best game I play all year. I won’t spoil anyone with the ending, but I will say that it lives up to Ken Levine’s high standards of making your head spin for a little while after it’s revealed.
The visuals are beautiful, but what will blow you away is the vastness that Columbia presents you with. Everything is incredibly detailed and textured, and it’s perfect. This is the opposite of Rapture. The spaces are not tight and the ceilings are not low. The lights are not dim; the view from the windows are not a deep ocean. It is all sky and sun and clouds and the feeling that the city might never end. And then you get to the patriotism. Columbia is Super America. Columbia is the World’s Fair on steroids. Columbia is chock full of the prejudice and racism that one would find in early 19th century America.
Your main enemy, Zachary Hale Comstock, is an charismatic man full of prophecies that predict your coming. And then there’s a little Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey series of events. Elizabeth, an amazing character and one of the best AIs in existence right now, can tear into the time-space continuum of Columbia, if you hadn’t seen that from the multiple previews. She provides you with items when you need them, for the most part, and she’s a character you don’t have to worry about. There’s no protecting Elizabeth in combat, there’s only sticking close to her when you’re low on this or that because chances are she’ll be throwing you what you need. If you don’t love her by the end of the game, you have no heart. Or you just don’t like BioShock and you’re playing it because someone is forcing you to.
The combat is typical for a FPS. The melee weapon is a mode of transportation and vicious killer, when you get the prompts. You can switch between two guns, which you’ll find lying around. There is no keeping them in your inventory. I didn’t like this at first, but you learn to strategize with what you have around and if you really like one particular weapon, it’s pretty easy to keep it stocked with ammo with the multitude of vending machines around. The machines come in three varieties: weapon upgrades, vigor upgrades, items and ammos. Money is not hard to find, but it does get spread thin if complete everything when it comes to upgrades.
The vigors (the plasmids of the flying city) are fairly helpful, which are powered by Salts. Most of them are offensive, with a couple for defense. The new thing they included in this game is a magnetic over shield for your body, since you don’t carry around any health packs. It recharges after a short time if damaged and if you’re good, there’s no reason to lose health during a battle. Scattered around the game are Infusions which you apply to your health bar, shield bar, or salts bar.
As of right now I’m on my second play through, and I’m having just as much fun with a new found understanding of some of the more cryptic things I find. Not only is this game amazingly rendered, and well worth the wait, the characters are voiced so well and you won’t be able to find a game with better overall productions values than this. If you’re not an extreme BioShock than you’ll probably still enjoy it as just a good game, but if you are a super fan, you should be pleased. (No play through of the original BioShock/Rapture experience necessary.)
I have no complaints, only praise. And my Songbird statue is pretty cool.
[Screenshots from http://www.bioshockinfinite.com/home]