Just as with the first Bioshock, Infinite was announced probably way sooner than it should have been and this hype train has been rolling for quite some time. At this point, some people are starting to doubt Infinite. After all, how many games of late that have been in development for a while have been any good? I’m here to tell you that even though Aliens: Colonial Marines was terrible and even Bioshock 2 was a bit disappointing, you should be excited for Bioshock Infinite’s release next month.
Irrational has yet to steer us wrong
Even though most considered Bioshock 2 a disappointment, Irrational Games didn’t make it. Let’s take a look at the list of games Irrational has actually developed themselves: System Shock 2, Freedom Force, Tribes: Vengeance, Freedom Force Vs. The Third Reich, SWAT 4 and it’s expansion, and Bioshock. Not a single game they’ve made has been met with negative reviews. Their track record is spectacular. How many times have you heard someone mention System Shock 2? It’s one of those classic games that people can’t help but continue to talk about.
Ken Levine and his team at Irrational Games have given us quality title after quality title, why would that stop now? Yes, Bioshock Infinite has been delayed a few times, but think of how many times Rockstar’s games are delayed and is that indicative of a bad product? It has been five and a half years since Bioshock and Infinite is not a game that was shelved and worked on in between projects, Irrational has been pouring their unique style of awesome into thos game and that should be stoking a colossal game boner by now.
Bioshock, Half-Life, Dead Space, all are fantastic games with silent protagonists, but as the medium continues to grow and plots become more essential, the silent protagonist is more of a fossil than an immersive tool. Booker DeWitt is our entry into the world of Bioshock Infinite. Being a character with a background, motivations and a voice adds so much to a plot that it’s surprising how many silent protagonists still remain. While Bioshock may have worked because of the lack of clear motivations for the character, it’s hard to argue that Gordon Freeman never responding to anyone that talks to him isn’t strange.
Booker is a former Pinkerton, which if you remember your history lesson, means he was once a hired scab that broke up unions and instigated all sorts of trouble. He’s not a good person and after the death of his wife and child during birth, he receives the mission to rescue Elizabeth from Colombia from someone who says they will erase his gambling debts. What did we know about Jack going in? Playing as Booker shifts the view on the world to that of someone just trying to do their job. Whether or not he will change throughout the story (probably) is yet to be seen, but it already lends so much more to the weight of the narrative.
Rapture was an incredible place to explore, there’s not denying that. That’s why Bioshock 2 exists. Exploring Andrew Ryan’s destroyed underwater dream was something completely new and while Colombia follows a very similar formula, the surrounding situations make it a very different environment. Colombia was a symbol of America’s might, now run rampant (I know, symbolism, right?). Colombia isn’t just a floating city either, it is a floating city with a clear propulsion system, a plethora of zeppelins and an awesome system of travel. Bathyspheres made sense in Rapture and the Sky-Line system suits Colombia perfectly. Who doesn’t want to ride the rails?
When we came to Rapture, it was a city in ruins. The battles had already happened and beyond a few souls, the population was a drugged out shell of their former selves. When Booker arrives at Colombia, the city is still in the middle of the war tearing it apart. The Founders fight for American idealism and suppression of the poor and nonwhite, while the Vox Populi fight for equality, but with marxist ideals. This isn’t about control, it’s about to conflicting ideologies all wanting to use Elizabeth to their own gain. You’re not fighting through a mess, Booker is caught in the middle of a war and it looks like it’s going to be incredible to play through.
The Songbird and other enemies
Bioshock had Big Daddies, Little Sisters and Splicers. While Big Daddies became one of the most iconic game enemies, Infinite stands to introduce the Songbird, the Handyman, the Crow, the Siren, the Boy of Silence and Motorized Patriots along with the standard, gun toting humans. The new enemy types are so much more varied and unique than what the first had to offer. The Handyman alone would be a good stand-in for the Big Daddy. Their hulking mass looks like a thrill to fight and they buff other enemies around them.
I’m really excited to fight mechanized versions of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other presidents. It is such a ridiculous concept that seems terrifying in practice. It isn’t just increasing the enemy variety either, the depth of the variety is the real key. The time Irrational has spent shows the enemy and environment diversity. Combat scenarios stand to be one of the best parts of Infinite and I can’t wait to use my powers and weapons against everything the game can throw at me. I just hope that the inevitable Songbird showdown is as good as it deserves to be. We don’t need another repeat of the final boss of Bioshock.
Mixing Up the Formula
I loved the interplay between the guns and plasmids in Bioshock. It was a fantastic system that they took full advantage of throughout the game. Vigors and Nostrums take the place of the Plasmids and Tonics of the first game, and that’s a good thing. Video games benefit by shaking up the formula. It may not be as fun in the end as the previous system, but it could also be better and I, for one, would always prefer that developers take a chance rather than play it safe. I like the new, permanent nature of the Vigors and Nostrums. We are always told that modern games are about choice and this is moving further in that direction. These new powers seem significantly different and not just a retread of old plasmids as well.
Mixing the new powers with the larger, outdoor environments, encounters with a higher number of enemies and scenarios that have you zipping between enemies on the Sky-Rail, Bioshock Infinite seems to really be mixing up the formula while still keeping the same feeling that we love from the franchise. I want to be able to snipe enemies in a Bioshock game. I want to use the Sky-Rail. I want to fear the Songbird. Everything I see about this game only makes me want to play it more. This looks to be Bioshock brought to the next level and I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Bioshock Infinite looks to be everything I loved about Bioshock and then more. While I loved that the original’s plot was also a commentary on the action that the player takes in games, even if there isn’t some crazy meta twist in Infinite, I’m just excited to see Booker’s story unfold. We may be in the middle of an information overload about Infinite, but that shouldn’t deter you from playing the game. We get it, it looks amazing, stop telling us that and give us the game. I know I’ll be exploring the bowls of Colombia on March 25th and I hope you are as well.