PS3 Reviews: Bioshock Infinite Review

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Bioshock Infinite Review

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Graphics:

 

9.5

Gameplay:

 

9.8

Sound:

 

9.7

Control:

 

9.3

Replay Value:

 

9.5

Overall Rating:       9.6

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

2K Games

Developer:

Irrational Games

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Action/RPG

Release Date:

March 26, 2013

Heading into the release of Bioshock Infinite, I had my reservations. The game had been delayed a few times, there were plenty of documented internal shake-ups at developer Irrational Games, and the current industry trend of speeding up and dumbing down was concerning. Dead Space 3 and Crysis 3 both suffered from the latter issue, by the way. I still had faith in Irrational boss Ken Levine and I still loved Bioshock. But what if…? Oh, it was just too depressing to consider but given the evidence, I had to consider.

Thankfully, blissfully, my reservations were not justified. Bioshock Infinite is one of the best games you will ever play, this generation or any other generation. Those who know me – and know that I haven’t even handed out a 9 or higher in 2013 until now – understand the importance of that statement.

Although it’s true that a monster PC will provide you with the single most amazing view of the expansive, colorful, ingeniously designed city of Columbia, the console version remains spectacular. Previous entries in the series didn’t have this much richness, detail or depth of hue and shade. The design is absolutely second-to-none and the character creation for allies, NPCs and enemies is some of the most accomplished I’ve ever seen. The scope and breadth of your environment always takes your breath away and this compelling virtual world is always, always enlivening and invigorating. It’s just a wonderfully fantastical vision.

The audio is excellent as well, as we’re continually treated to crisp, resounding special effects, a diverse and beautifully implemented score, and top-tier voice performances. Bioshock has always thrived on atmosphere and ambiance and the latest iteration is certainly no exception, as the combination of the highly detailed visual presentation and amazing sound orchestration leads to a heady experience. The sounds of a diseased city are intoxicating. The voices, the background effects, the horrific sounds generated by particularly intimidating foes; it’s all amazing. Super high production values the whole way ‘round and my only caveat is a very minor audio balancing issue.

You play as Booker, who at the start of his harrowing yet singular adventure is fired straight up into the sky, where he arrives at Columbia. The setting is 1912 but as fans of the series know, the themes involve a sort of futuristic past; i.e., it’s based on a very slanted, dystopian piece of American history. Obviously, this is why we have a metropolis floating among the clouds in the year 1912, where you see the Columbian flag flying everywhere, along with architectural and environmental examples of the United States around the turn of the 20th century. And clearly, despite the technological advances, all is not well in what was once an ideal world.

Racial tensions have erupted as those whose skin is not of the “correct” color are shunned and even enslaved by the control-oriented government. But that’s hardly the only difficult and controversial topic you will encounter in this politically charged game. There are mystical and even philosophical puzzles to figure out, such as the brand on Booker’s hand. This brand doesn’t go over well in Columbia, as it’s believed to be the mark of the false messiah. Hence, right from the start, you are not welcome in the city, and you’re immediately labeled a menace to good society. Your only option is to run but again, that’s only the surface of this multilayered storyline.

For instance, while you start your adventure on the run, you reasonably begin to experience that which all ostracized individuals begin to feel: You start to get sick and tired of running and you begin to harbor ideas that center on vengeance. But isn’t that merely lowering yourself to the level of your oppressors? It’s yet another intriguing literary branch that keeps you thinking and immersed throughout the entirety of this extremely well-told story. It doesn’t help that Father Comstock, a total religious nut and self-proclaimed prophet, runs the show. If Comstock reminds franchise followers of Rapture’s Andrew Ryan, that’s because the two antagonists are similar.

Then things get even more interesting when you happen upon your AI partner for the game, the much-publicized Elizabeth. She has otherworldly abilities and she begins to develop a complicated relationship with Booker, who she assists in a variety of ways. In addition to prompting questions about the main character, Elizabeth generates a whole new slew of questions: What’s the deal with her ability to open up rips in the space-time continuum? What are we looking at when she does that? The mystery surrounding Elizabeth is great, as is her appreciated assistance. Don’t think for a second this feels like “Adventures in Babysitting,” because that’s really not accurate. And thank God for that because I loathe babysitting in games.

Technically, this game is a first-person shooter that features role-playing elements. And granted, I will say that Bioshock Infinite moves faster and features more all-out firefights than either of the previous two entries, and that could be an example of “faster and dumber.” I have to wonder if that is indeed why such sequences exist in greater number. That being said, they’re so ridiculously well done and the combat is always so enticing that you really don’t care. You only care about succeeding by experimenting with your increasingly bad-ass powers called Vigors. These are essentially the Plasmids of the past and they’re the equivalent of magic skills.

Electricity is always fun, as it can weaken enemies and even allow you to charge into them at supernatural speed. But as you might expect, given the variety of Vigors available, combining these crazy abilities is the crux of the gameplay’s depth. It’s just so satisfying to combine two of your favorite Vigor skills and watch the ensuing fallout on the battlefield. Speaking of the battlefield and the surrounding environment, you often travel by way of the Skyline railway system that connects most of Columbia. Using a hook to fly along those rails sounds potentially problematic but in truth, this is a beautifully implemented mechanic and lots of fun to boot.

Elizabeth plays a very large role. She can help out by giving you a health pack, or she can access those space-time rips and grab hovering security turrets. It works really well and as I said above, Elizabeth isn’t one of those annoying partners that gets underfoot all the time. In fact, she’s almost never in the way; she directs you, unlocks doors, and can be extremely helpful during tense combat situations. You definitely need her, too, because when you die, she revives you. But unlike most games where there is virtually no penalty for death, you definitely don’t want to die often here. When you do, enemies get a little health back and you lose some money.

The control is almost perfect and there are only a few small snafus to talk about. I have yet to see the flawless AI partner system, for instance. This is about as close as we’re going to get (before the next generation gets here, anyway) and that’s amazingly impressive, but it isn’t perfect. It is actually possible to accidentally leave Elizabeth behind during certain situations, which can cause problems. But I think you really have to try to do this; it only happened when I was going out of my way to try to break the game. It’s just one of those things most critics do, you know. Using the Skyline isn’t 100%, either, as jumping off and leaping on doesn’t always feel exactly right. I also think it's just a tad overdone.

One of the best parts of Bioshock has always been the diligence with which you must tackle these quests. You have to patiently scavenge corpses for money and items because nothing is especially cheap. You also have to make crucial decisions concerning the advancement of your character; you may regret acting rashly toward the end of the game. And because of this, this production resists the “faster and dumber” trend. Think about it— There may be more action-packed segments but you still have to approach the entire adventure with the same tact, strategy and attention you did before. Running and gunning is a bad idea and that’s good.

It’s your environment that will grab you from the outset and never let go. The story works to keep you emotionally invested in the unfolding of the narrative, and the evolving bond between Booker and Elizabeth is a great addition to the main plot. No matter where you go or what you do, you’re amazed at your dystopian surroundings. Good games keep you coming back for more, but truly elite titles make you dream about your actions in these highly involving and believable worlds. You don’t just play them for the sake of playing; you play them because they touch most every important aspect of entertainment, from the visual to the auditory to the literary.

Bioshock Infinite is an immensely creative triumph. At various times during this adventure, you will experience completely different emotions and you will face distinctly different situations. In addition to this fantastic variety and diversity, you get a story that is mysterious and satisfying on all counts. Factor in rock solid control, unbelievable design from top to bottom, the joy of powerful experimentation, and an unparalleled atmosphere, and you’ve got one mammoth achievement. The AI isn’t entirely perfect and the Skyline system doesn’t always work flawlessly but these are minor complaints. If you haven’t already guessed— Play it. Now. Not later…now.

The Good: Highly detailed, very alluring visual presentation. Great effects and voice acting. Overall, a beautiful, amazingly immersive atmosphere. Top-notch control. Excellent story and pacing. Awesome powers encourage you to experiment. AI ally is possibly the best ever. The spiritual core of Bioshock is maintained.

The Bad: Skyline control isn’t perfect. A few very minor miscues.

The Ugly: “This game is so ridiculously mind-blowing, the word ‘ugly’ ceases to exist.”

3/25/2013 Ben Dutka

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Comments (36 posts)

Kryten1029a
Monday, March 25, 2013 @ 11:02:02 PM
Reply

The ultimate songbird edition will be mine shortly. It's good to hear that I'll have a treat waiting for me.

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xenris
Monday, March 25, 2013 @ 11:05:27 PM
Reply

This game seems to have lived up to the expectations. I'm very excited to pick this up tomorrow. Great review.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, March 25, 2013 @ 11:11:41 PM
Reply

I'm glad Elizabeth works well because I could honestly look at her all day. I've got my UPS tracking number! Woah, I actually feel a bit excited. There's a rarity.

Is there any way to buy the season pass separate? I've only seen the bundle.

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bigrailer19
Monday, March 25, 2013 @ 11:19:16 PM

Gamestop has the season pass and strategy guide for the price of the season pass. My buddy had to tell me that after he found out.

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Kryten1029a
Monday, March 25, 2013 @ 11:35:34 PM

You have to get the game, strategy guide and season pass together to get the special price. It's $20 off if you get them at the same time which pretty much gives you the season pass free. You CAN buy the season pass separately, however.

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Jed
Monday, March 25, 2013 @ 11:15:02 PM
Reply

Wow. I was not expecting such a good review for this game. I knew it would be good, but it just seems like it blew your mind Ben.

I was going to wait a while before I got this game, but now I think I'll be picking it up much sooner. Great review.

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Temjin001
Monday, March 25, 2013 @ 11:31:50 PM
Reply

Looks like a champ.

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H0TSHELLZ
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 12:19:22 AM
Reply

I got it, but ill be playing the first two Bioshocks 1st since i skipped the series.

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AcHiLLiA
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 12:28:00 AM
Reply

Somebody else gave this a solid 10, forgot who but a 9.6 is already a great score. To bad I won't be getting this game for a while since I have a backlog.

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Killa Tequilla
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 12:39:49 AM
Reply

I got the Songbird Edition. I was at the midnight release, ONLY, I repeat, ONLY because I was near my local gamestop. I will not open the box at all however, I will buy a different copy to play with instead. Who knows how much the Songbird Edition will be worth down the line.

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 1:30:59 AM

Its gotta be rare for games to be worth any amount. Hopefully theirs a short supply and you can make some money! Good luck!

Or perhaps youd rather just keep it. Either way, thats a sweet edition.

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 3/26/2013 1:31:59 AM

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Deano34249
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 1:42:26 AM
Reply

Could any of you recommend a solid pair of gaming headphones for the ps3?

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___________
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 4:45:10 AM

beyerdynamic MMX300.
just got mine today coincidentally.
sound freaking amazing, so much better than the astro, tritton, sennheiser, $ony, crap out there!

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 12:04:48 PM

Just get the PS3 headphones.
They are wireless
Battery life is excellent and charge quickly
The sound quality is on par with the $250 wired sets, like turtle beach and tritton
The 7.1 surround sound emulation is actually really good, but even with it off the surround capabilities are superb
And they are affordable, wal mart has had them as low as $79.99

I bought a pair of the turtle beach headphones and they were good no doubt, in fact I loved them, but the wires really frustrated me. I had to have the old rca cables for the ps3, then all the wores for the headphones to plug in via usb and it was a tangled mess all the time. So I returned them for a wireless set. After doing research it appeared that the PS3 headphones were getting just as good of reviews as the expensive headphones for fractions of the price. I bought them and they are nothing short of amazing. I dont even use my surround sound anymore, I always game with the headphones on.

Plus ive heard a lot of horror stories about the warranties and customer service, and just lack of longevity quality from other brands, where here if anything ever did happen you know how Sony supports their products based on the Playstation brand so...

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AcHiLLiA
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 1:02:24 PM

Dang, all HDTVS should have a headphone jack Is there any adapters out there of some sort? so u don't have to pay xtra for headphones because I already have some skullcandy earbuds I want to use on the big screen.

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 1:09:52 PM

Achillterivus-

Im sure there is something. Thats kind of how some of the wired sets work. They have an adaptor for the headphone jack that accepts the rca cables for your ps3. Your problem would be getting the PS3 to recognize them. As some wired sets also plug in via usb. So im not sure how you would get them to work.

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booze925
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 2:11:25 AM
Reply

Why do I have to be broke this week...

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Dukemz_UK
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 3:55:06 AM

Because u spent it on booze, again! :-D

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booze925
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 1:30:07 PM

You sir, are a winner :)

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Dukemz_UK
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 3:56:04 AM
Reply

Great review. My interest is perked. Gonna get this.

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___________
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 4:49:38 AM
Reply

stupid songbird sitting there teasing me i can hear it!
little disappointed in the songbird edition to be honest, the statue feels a bit cheap and the rest it comes with is a art book, weapon upgrade, soundtrack, insy bitsy tiny keyring of a crow and that camera man thingy seen in the trailers.
is that all!?
no steelbook or special case to separate you from the peasants who bought the standard game.
no bag or useful collectible utensil.
no making of video.
disappointed, i really thought they would of packed some really cool items in there!

oh well, proof is in the pudding so i wish the freaking install would hurry the ^%$# up!
so cant wait to bite into this, and find infinites new version of would you kindly......

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Beamboom
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 8:55:38 AM
Reply

Oh yes. I just gotta finish Crysis 3 then it's CHRISTMAS TIME. Infinite is one game I've waited and waited for.

GOTY came early this year?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 10:18:03 AM

Possibly. I'd say only GTAV has a legitimate shot at outstripping it, unless Killzone: Shadow Fall is is silly amazing or something.

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 12:07:31 PM

Ummm, The Last of Us?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 3:31:14 PM

Oh yeah, forgot about that one. :)

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pyro117
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 1:29:21 PM
Reply

I frequently visit the site and read the articles, but rarely comment. I do have one big question - what if you didn't like Bioshock 1 or 2? They are solid games but the gameplay didn't resonate with me. Will I like Infinite or is it just more of the same?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 3:32:27 PM

Well, it depends on what you didn't like about the gameplay. Bioshock Infinite is a little faster with more FPS action, but the core of the gameplay remains; i.e., the combination of magic-like abilities and weapons, and really no way to run and gun. Like a fast-paced action/RPG, really.

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pyro117
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 @ 9:09:29 AM

Thanks for the reply Ben. It is hard for me to describe why I didn't like Bioshock 1 or 2. The main reason was the gameplay I guess. After reading a lot of comments and some reviews, it seems I tried to play those games as too much of a shooter and not enough of using the "magic" in the game. I am having a hard time wanting to play this game in fear that I will just be disappointed again. I do play a lot of RPGs but once I have a gun in my hand, all I think about is using it.

WOW, was that a its me not you excuse? Anyway, that is really how it is - lol.

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CygnusTC
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 4:38:12 PM
Reply

No mention of how the PS MOVE works?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 4:51:13 PM

Sorry, I didn't try it.

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ulsterscot
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 9:10:44 PM
Reply

Can someone who has the game please answer me this - does it have a controls option to swap aim/shoot from L1/R1 to L2/R2?

Most games these days give this option (except for crappy EA)

If not then I will get it for my PC

thanks

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LaasYaNir
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 @ 11:22:34 AM

Of course it does.

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riptide8
Thursday, March 28, 2013 @ 12:18:14 PM
Reply

It is very rare that collectors editions ever make you money. The only time I came out ahead was for demons souls 49.00 made me 150.00.
Dont plan on it.

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WakkoWarner
Thursday, March 28, 2013 @ 4:00:43 PM
Reply

Not impressed. Rented the game and then saw the lame screen for the Unreal Engine. Why are they using such an antiquated engine for these new games?? I can't play any Unreal Engine game for more than 10 minutes without getting a splitting headache.

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DIsmael85
Sunday, March 31, 2013 @ 1:31:29 AM
Reply

This game was absolutely amazing. Irrational has made yet another gem. This and the original Bioshock are hands down the two of their best. I'm glad I am alive to have experience such a beautiful game.

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Teddie9
Sunday, March 31, 2013 @ 5:37:12 PM
Reply

I have exams until April 24, but once I move back home >.> IT WILL BE MINE.

...god I'm excited...

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