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Review: Bioshock Infinite

I saw the credits roll on Bioshock Infinite just before midnight on April 3.  As I write this that was almost a week ago, and I still haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.  I can tell you all about Columbia, the city in the sky that Bioshock Infinite takes place in.  I can describe to you the main street, covered in excess in American flags and filled with people from the early 1900’s.  People who seem decent, at first, until you start to notice the dark underside of the city.  The overt, socially accepted racism.  The slave labor.  The twisted religious zealotry that runs rampant.  Propaganda being directed at all ages, even the very young, which delivers a sinister message.

bioshock_infinite_oct22-screen01-3But in spite of all of this, there’s still a beauty to the city itself.  Buildings gleam in the seemingly never ending sunlight.  The bluest skies imaginable roll outward in all directions filled with the softest, fluffiest clouds you’ve ever seen.  There’s even a recreated beach where people lounge in their period-appropriate full length swimwear.  Some even dance on the pier to music that seems not-quite-right, but unless you listen closely you may never put your finger on just why.  Because you see, Columbia is also a very detailed city.  If you thought Rapture was overflowing with small touches that made the city seem alive, you haven’t seen anything yet.  Every square inch of the world is so dense with details that you will feel compelled to seek them all out, marveling over every little touch.

Bioshock-Infinite-bilde-4However, if you think the city is the main attraction like it was in Bioshock 1&2 you’re in for a surprise.  The real star of this show is Elizabeth, a quiet and somewhat naive girl that you instantly feel compelled to protect, tho you’re not sure why.  But make no mistake, under her soft spoken demeanor lies a very strong willed woman who will not hesitate to stand up for what she believes is right.  She and Booker – your character in this tale – carry out some very spirited discussions during the game.  For you see, you are no longer a silent protagonist.  You are a fully developed, fleshed-out character with motivations that are sometimes at odds with what Elizabeth wants.  And tho your goal may seem straight forward at first, the longer you travel through the twisted city of Columbia the more you realize that not everything is as it seems.

BioshockInfinite6Bioshock Infinite is a first person shooter by the strictest definition of the term.  You play in first person.  You do shoot.  You also explore, interact, experience, feel and most bizarrely empathize with the characters you meet.  There are elements to the game that are very much like the games that came before, and there are other elements that are completely different.  And every single one of them has a specific reason for being.  Nothing happens by accident.  This is possibly the most deliberate game you will play all year.  Bioshock Infinite is like a perfectly made clock, every little gear spinning in its place to create the whole – a perfectly functioning piece of art.  This game is as close to that mark of perfection as I have seen any reach.

This is not just a game, it is an experience.  It tells a story as rich and engrossing as any movie or tv show I have seen, and holds its own with the works of fiction I have read.  It is very thought provoking, but even better, it is emotion provoking.  It deserves to be experienced.

Will the circle be unbroken?

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