Bioshock Infinite surpasses original

By Glenn Battishill

“Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt” is the simple message that launches players into the world of “Bioshock Infinite,” the new game by critically acclaimed studio, Irrational Games.

The player assumes the role of Booker DeWitt, a man with a bloody history in debt to the wrong people, tasked with journeying to the air-city Columbia to bring back Elizabeth, a girl with mysterious powers.

The story plays out in an alternate version of 1912 where Columbia represents the ideas of American exceptionalism.

The original “Bioshock” enthralled players in the underwater city of Rapture and it’s corrupted objectivist’s views, telling the back-story of the city’s downfall in forgotten audio logs and dialogue. The game received critical praise and is considered to be one of the best stories ever told in a video game.

“Infinite” does not disappoint. The world of Columbia is drenched in backstory and symbolism, leaving a vast adventure for the player to discover.

At a glance, the sun-drenched city of Columbia is a paradise; the shops operate on “the honor system,” children play in the street and the entire city celebrates the local fair with a friendly lottery.

Things take a turn soon after leaving DeWitt’s mission spiraling out of control.

Combat plays a big part of the game, just like in previous games in the series, but feels much more fluid here. Previous games allowed you to harness fantastically powers through “plasmids” and DNA manipulation and “Infinite” allows similar but more primitive powers to be used by drinking “vigors.” The gunplay hasn’t changed much since “Bioshock 2” but the weapons variety and restrictions have created a new environment for players.

A new item appearing in “Infinite” is the Skyhook, serving as both a melee weapon and a mode of transportation via Columbia’s sky rail network. This is easily one of the games best new features; the battles involving the skyhook are fantastic and among the game’s most fun and frantic.

Beyond the combat and story, one feature stands head and shoulders above the rest: Elizabeth herself.

Locked in a tower since her birth with only her books and her guardian, the massive Songbird, for company Elizabeth’s interactions with Booker are wonderfully written and beautifully performed by voice actress, Courtnee Draper. Elizabeth quickly establishes herself as one of the best female video game protagonists ever, not because of her powers or acting but because despite the fact that the game is essentially a massive escort mission; Elizabeth never gets in your way during a firefight, she doesn’t continually get kidnapped and need to be rescued. The game makes the wonderfully clear during your first major firefight after meeting her. She ducks behind cover, tosses you ammunition and warns you of tough enemy types approaching.

In a medium filled to the brim with damsels in distress, poorly characterized women, and a generally misogynistic portrayal of females it is genuinely refreshing to see a strong, well written and frankly, awesome, character like Elizabeth.

“Bioshock Infinite” is a deep and immersive experience for available Xbox 360, PS3 and PC and is easily the best game released this year so far.