Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bioshock Infinite: First Impressions

Yesterday E grabbed Bioshock Infinite for me and I have been playing up a storm while he gets ready for a conference and I decide to be completely antisocial for the weekend. I am a few hours into gameplay and thought I would give my first impressions and do a nice tidy review later once I have beaten the game (which may take a while as I still have not finished Dragon Age II or Mass Effect3 yet...what can I say I get distracted very easily, plus I do most of my gaming at E’s and not my own place). Now I will say I loved the first Bioshock. Story amazing, gameplay not so much, but for someone who had yet to discover her love for shooters it was a nice small intro to them. The second Bioshock had better game mechanics, but the story suffered. I am still on the fence when it comes to Infinite. Don’t worry I won’t spoil too much here as I am only a few hours into the game.

When you begin the game you discover your name is Dewitt, a former Pinkerton who has far too much debt and you are sent to retrieve a girl named Elizabeth from Columbia. But instead of going down to the sea like Rapture, you are sent to the clouds. And Columbia is absolutely gorgeous the moment you walk out into the sunshine. Citizens say hello, kids play in the streets and shops are left unattended with an honor system expectation. I listened to a barbershop quartet and played some games at the fair. And that is when you start noticing that for all the sunshine, flowers and hummingbirds, that there is something seriously wrong with Columbia. It begins with the bits of conversation as you pass by couples on the park bench, the propaganda lining the streets and then the fair itself. Who is it that I am shooting at exactly. And why are 8 year olds smoking for goodness sake?

And this is where Infinite reigns, in the atmosphere. It is the tale of Utopia gone horribly wrong just as Rapture was. So while yes Columbia is not gloomy with its makeshift bays, gondolas, theme parks and is not at all what you think it is. Then again we all know this going into the game if we have played the others. I love the whole idea of this steampunk city in the clouds. Seriously it is absolutely beautiful. Which is nice considering how much I detest most of the people that reside in Columbia. So I ignored most of them and just went exploring. And you do a whole lot of it. I don’t think I got my first weapon until almost an hour worth of gameplay (although this could be because I looked at every nook and cranny, listened to all of the conversations and just sat there admiring in awe at the beauty of it all). Exploring was dandy. I had fun, but you know something is up the moment you discover that choosing #77 is a bad idea. But still I go listen to the band and join the good citizens in what looks like a fun lottery that everyone is really excited to take part in. Why not? Except that I choose #77 in my softball and the good citizens of Columbia are sad that they don’t get to stone the nice interracial couple, but I do. Ummm...yeah. No. I think I would rather stone the announcer and everyone else in town instead.

There is something rotten in Columbia and everything begins to show the rot and ruin. This is not a nice place for all of its beauty and I love that. Columbia is what has happened if the South had seceded to the sky, a place where slavery is still alive, children become soldiers and heroes of the nation include John Wilkes Booth. It is clear that I will not recommend this game for everyone especially if you are easily offended.

Game controls are like the other games. You have a gun in one hand (you can switch between two equipped weapons) which can range from a pistol to a scattergun and then you have your magic (now called a vigor instead of a plasmid). EVE is gone instead you have SALTS which fill up your magic bar. I like some of the new powers which include Murder of Crows (sends a bunch of crows to stun an enemy, though rarely kills them), Shock Jockey (a paralyzing electric bolt) and Possession. Elizabeth is with you for most of your journey and she isn’t annoying. I don’t have to watch her every move to make sure she doesn’t die and she comes in quite handy when you are low on ammo or salts during a battle. Plus she does some other stuff later on in the game which can be extremely useful.

I really love how they handle Elizabeth. When not in battle she looks at things on her own, comments on her surroundings and or sits down in a chair as she waits for you. I like her character and that makes up for the semi boring gameplay. I am playing on medium and thus far I have died a couple of times, but there is not much of a setback as she just revives you as if nothing has really happened. Just like the other games you will be drawn in by the setting and the story and less about the actual game play and combat.

I still find it absolutely hilarious that I can raid enemy dead bodies and eat the piece of cake that they apparently had hidden in their pocket or eat the yummy piece of fruit off of the dead body that is being surrounded by cockroaches. E likes the bench hotdogs, garbage cakes, and cotton candy off of corpses the best but it takes you out of the game when you are raiding trashcans and hidden corners for life giving food. It makes me giggle every time.

So far though I really do like the game. Heard the ending is a bit ridiculous, but I have been hearing that about Mass Effect 3 for some time now and I still play the crap out of that game and some day may actually finish it. Is it the best game in decades? Jury is still out but I am having a hell of a time seeing where the game will take me.

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