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In BioShock, your nameless character dived thousands of leagues under the sea to an abandoned underwater city once ruled by capitalism and science. Here, in BioShock Infinite, you’re shot skywards to a heavily-populated floating North American state, governed by cult religion and superstition. Rather than solving the mystery of an already-destroyed wonderworld, in BioShock Infinite you participate in events that could lead to its destruction.
For as visually stunning and serene Columbia is when you arrive, there exists a dark side to its governance. Civilians who first visit the floating world are required to undertake some form of baptism to accept the word of the kingdom’s ‘Prophet’ - a bearded chap who claims to see the future, called Father Comstock. As you’d expect, because of his powers he is revered throughout the land - save for a pocket of resistance fighters known as the Vox Populi.
As private investigator Booker Dewitt, you end up arriving at Columbia via rocket-powered lighthouse (don’t ask) to complete an as-yet unexplained ‘job’. This job involves finding Comstock’s daughter, Elizabeth, and escaping with her alive. As Booker experiences frequent flashbacks throughout the course of the game, you start to understand the ‘debt’ he has to repay and why he isn’t necessarily keen on doing the job in the first place.
Gameplay (particularly combat) still relies on a combination of aggressive and tactical abilities (Plasmids now come in the form of Vigors) along with traditional gunplay. Various vending machines are peppered throughout Columbia that offer upgrades as well as health packs and salts (which are needed to perform Vigors).
BioShock Infinite improves on its predecessor by taking advantage of the vast open space that Columbia offers. Battle arenas and set-pieces are multi-tiered, with enemies appearing at various heights to ensure that you stay on your toes. To get around quickly and efficiently, Dewitt has a tool called the Skyhook which allows him to cling onto floating rails and move along them at great speed.
Elizabeth, on the other hand, adds a new dimension to an otherwise solitary gameplay experience. She offers virtual companionship inbetween battles as any NPC buddy would, but she isn’t completely useless - she can find ammo, health, money and other items whilst you’re shooting at enemies, and can also pick locks when you’re stuck in a room.
Elizabeth can also aid you in battle through the use of Tears. With her strange, almost psychic powers, she can open a ‘window’ to another dimension or time space, resulting in the placement of helpful environments or objects that normally would not be in Columbia. There are offensive and defensive Tears that you can use, although only one Tear can be made at any one time.
BioShock Infinite might have taken the tested series formula and transferred it to the clouds, but it's far more than a retread of old ground.
Released to Buy:
26 March 2013
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