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Salt and Vigor
Written by Josh Schilling
I couldn’t wait for Bioshock Infinite to be released, and I realized that in feeling that way, there was a huge chance for some serious disappointment. After I was about half-way through, I was hearing from other gamers about how great this game was and I couldn’t bring myself to jump on the bandwagon. It was undoubtedly good, that’s for sure, but I was convinced that my recently completed Tomb Raider experience was better. It was all about expectations. Tomb Raider was a surprise for me, while I demanded that Bioshock Infinite fulfill each and every one of my lofty dreams of gaming perfection.
It seems like there’s always a city and a man in the Bioshock games, and that’s what you are, and that’s where you go. It is the year 1912, and you begin the story by literally launching yourself up to Columbia, a city in the sky, and from there you must find Elizabeth, a girl with mysterious powers, and bring her back to New York City. It all seems simple in the idealistically pure Columbia, but this is not a deserted wreck of a city like Rapture from the original Bioshock. Columbia is relatively thriving under the leadership of Zachary Comstock and the sense of peace and harmony threaten to overwhelm you, but your preconceived notions fall one by one as the layers of the city are uncovered, and the dark heart is slowly revealed as your conflicts and the killings begin. “Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt,” you are told repeatedly, and that, in the end, is what you must do.
The gameplay in Bioshock Infinite is solid all the way around. The AI is mostly “I”, and some of the fights are truly challenging. Innovative aspects such as the sky rails that allow you to skirt along, roller-coaster style, throughout a conflict, or the tears that Elizabeth can open that reveal strategic additions to large battles, add an innovative touch to the first-person genre. You can also choose from a litany of firearms, and the familiar, plasmid-like Vigors that magically enhance you can be used in many different ways. As nice as these things are, and as wonderful and jaw-dropping as the setting can be at times, it all pales in comparison to the truly ground-breaking story.
As I stated before, I was only half-way through Bioshock Infinite when I was under the impression that Tomb Raider was a better game. Then I finished Bioshock Infinite, and my opinions switched dramatically. The journey through the story is what sets this game apart from just about any game I have ever played. It is bold in its choice of subjects and it is eye-opening in the twists and turns that it leads you. Even if you guess some of the mysteries that it reveals, the way this game puts the pieces together to complete the heavy narrative leaves you wanting to learn more about what you just experienced. I ended up playing through this game three times, and each time I was still trying to squeeze all of the information that I could from every corner of every room. It is rare for a game to have such an impact on a player, and it is even rarer to have a game surpass such lofty expectations.
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