Infinite is an incredible feat of storytelling, which keeps you guessing right until the end
Infinite is much more combat-focused than the original Bioshock – you spend much of the game fighting either Columbia’s police force or the Vox Populi revolutionaries, but occasionally Columbia’s mechanised Patriot soldiers and towering Handymen make an appearance. Neither have the same impact as your first run-in with a Big Daddy, but they suit the setting and prove quite the challenge in a fire fight. You’ll need to take advantage of Skylines, interconnecting rails that join buildings together, to get the advantage – it can feel like a roller coaster at first, but you’ll soon be using them to switch between platforms, get to higher ground and retreat when low on health.
Elizabeth’s abilities are central to the plot, but also come in handy during gameplay
Columbia itself is beautifully realised, with gorgeous lighting effects and a signature art style that has to be seen in motion to be truly appreciated. We could run it on maximum details on a modest gaming PC – the ‘god ray; sun shaft effects look fantastic when surveying the city’s expansive vistas, and are well worth turning on.
As well as seeing it first hand, much of Columbia’s backstory is told through the ‘Voxophone’ recordings hidden throughout each level. Although you don’t need them to complete the game, they flesh out a huge amount of the story so we would recommend grabbing as many as you can on your first play through, rather than saving them for a second. Expect something like ten hours of gameplay if you’re in a hurry, but more if you take the time to explore each area and find all the hidden items.
Skylines let you travel between platforms, but also provide an advantage in combat
When you do reach Infinite’s conclusion, you’re in for a treat – if the “Would you Kindly” moment that unravels towards the final third of the original Bioshock had you surprised, be prepared to lift your jaw off the floor when Columbia’s puzzle pieces all come together. It’s one of the finest bits of storytelling we’ve ever experienced in a game, and one that will see you jump straight back in for a second playthrough.
Despite our praises for the plot, the game isn’t perfect. Although Plasmids made sense in the context of Andrew Ryan’s Rapture, the presence of Vigors in Columbia never felt truly explained. The signature Skyline rails are somewhat underused too; looking back at Infinite’s original E3 gameplay trailer, they appear to have been scaled down significantly and only come into play in a few key battles. There’s also a point about two-thirds in, where you have to open three story-related tears before proceeding, which felt like unnecessary padding, but we’re prepared to overlook it purely because it meant spending that little bit more time exploring Columbia’s streets.
The beautifully realised city, incredibly emotive characters and simply stunning plot don’t just make Bioshock Infinite a worthy sequel – it excels the original and takes the genre onto a whole new level. It’s a masterpiece of storytelling, which everyone should experience.