LOCK-ON WITH PETE HOGAN: EXCLSUIVE TO RONTHINK
BIOSHOCK fans rejoice! The game you know and love is back and back big time. BIOSHOCK INFINITE is a winner. Even better, it’s now it’s available at a reduced price. See “Editor’s Note” below for more info.
BIOSHOCK is one of the greatest first person shooters of all time. BIOSHOCK 2 had a big shoes to fill and wasn’t as great as the original. Still, the sequel avoided the dreaded sophomore slump of most game franchises by delivering a satisfying experience. BIOSHOCK INFINITE takes everything that was great about the original and multiplies it by a 1000!
The third chapter in the BIOSHOCK saga is set in 1912 in Columbia, a floating city launched by the US government to promote “American values.” The city was soon turned into a twisted religious utopia by it's founder Zachary Comstock after he claimed he received a prophecy about the future and began referring to himself as "The Prophet". You play as Booker Dewitt, a private investigator from New York City with a checkered past. He is transported to the floating city with one mission: "Bring us the girl, Wipe away the debt."
The girl in question is Elizabeth. She also happens to be Comstock’s daughter. He refers to her as "The Lamb" and has kept her captive in the city for most of her life. Comstock claims she is the savior of the city and, by confining her to it, he will keep her safe from a “false shepherd” who wants to kidnap her and bring about the downfall of Columbia. Elizabeth has the ability to open tears in reality, each of which lead to an alternate universe. This “super power” becomes a crucial factor in the game play.
After rescuing Elizabeth from her prison, Booker intends to return her to New York City. Of course, things don't go as planned and the pair soon find themselves in the midst of a civil war for control of the city. To avoid any major spoilers, this is as much of the story as I’m willing to give away. Unlike the protagonist from the first game, Booker has a voice. His conversations with Elizabeth reveal more snippets of back story as you play the game.
The city of Columbia is the real star here. Unlike the dark and dreary underwater city of Rapture from the first two games, Columbia is an expansive, multi-level metropolis that is a joy to behold and explore. It's upper levels are a colorful “steam punk meets Main Street USA” confection, complete with bright marquees on shops and barber shop quartets. The lower levels range from a factory to a shantytown.
I spent my first hour or so with the game just exploring the city; watching the citizens go about their lives and listening to their conversations. It is during this exploration phase that you soon realize Columbia is anything but a utopia.
Statues of the Founding Fathers litter the city. Here they are worshipped as saints and referred to as "Father Washington, Father Franklin,” etc. There is also a healthy dose of racial segregation and prejudice hanging in the air but it is crucial to the story and is not handled in an offensive way.
BIOSHOCK fans will be able to jump right in and have no problem with the combat. It remains unchanged from the original. Plasmids are replaced by Vigors but function in essentially the same way (tonics you drink that give you special powers). There are more weapons to chose from in this game, everything from pistols to machine guns, but it’s all pretty standard stuff. The vending machines from the original game are also back. You can use them to buy ammo, health kits etc. They’ve used the same sound effects and voices for the machines from the original game, a nice touch.
The one addition(and its a great one) is the skyhook. You use it to connect to the skyline, a roller coaster-like track that connects sections of the city to one another. You can also use the skyhook as a melee weapon, breaking people's necks with ease and, in some instances, decapitating them. Still, it’s all done without being overly gory. New players will find the combat easy to learn and a lot of fun.
Elizabeth is essentially your AI sidekick throughout the game, opening tears in reality and pulling in ammo, med kits and cover for you to use during combat. You'll find all of this essential as the battles in this game are fierce! Even playing on medium difficulty, I found myself close to death quite often and in need of her help. An even bigger plus: Elizabeth can take care of herself. There is never the added burden of having to make sure she stays alive while you beat back the next enemy. The interactions between Booker and Elizabeth are a great addition to the game and there is a pretty big twist at the end that I didn't see coming.
If you loved the original BIOSHOCK, you won’t be disappointed with BIOSHOCK INFINITE. If you’re new to to the franchise, I have no doubt you’ll find this game a blast to play. Even better, the first two installments cover a separate story so there’s no need to play them first. Give BIOSHOCK INFINITE a spin and let me know what you think!
CLICK HERE for the Machinima-exclusive “Beast of America” BIOSHOCK INFINITE trailer.
PETE HOGAN IS AKA SKUNKAPE30 ON XBOX LIVE.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The price of BIOSHOCK INFINITE has been reduced drastically since it was first released in March at a $59.99 price point. It is currently available used for under $30 and new for under $40 on both Xbox 360 and PS3 platforms. The price of a new version of the game has fluctuated quite a bit on Amazon in the past week. It’s been as low as $29.99 and might be worth tracking on a Wish List for a few days before you buy if you want to save a few extra bucks. Click icons below to order.