Friday, March 11, 2016

Review #309: Bioshock Infinite - The Complete Edition

 Get the girl and clear the debt.
 Bioshock Infinite was kind of a big deal when it came out, as big, if not bigger, than the original Bioshock at its time. And... I kinda can't see why.

 You play as Booker DeWitt, a man swimming in debt due to gambling, who is offered a deal he can't refuse: Get the girl and wipe away the debt. And so Booker embarks towards the city of Columbia, a dystopia flying over the skies, where not everything is as it seems(It is a dystopia after all). Previous Bioshock games had had mute heroes, but very memorable villains. These time around, we have memorable heroes and supporting cast, but not much in the way of villains, not in the traditional sense anyways. For starters, Booker actually speaks, although he is a bit of a generic gruff guy that's just trying to do his job, but then there's Elizabeth, the girl in question, who will accompany you throughout most of the game. She's alright. I will concede that she is fairly expressive, the big eyes do help, but I wouldn't go as far as to call her a memorable character. As far as the rest of the characters go, it's pretty much Bioshock: You'll hear about all these important figures, be it heroes or villains, on audiologs until you finally meet them, just as in the previous games. The game also has a quirky sense of humor that pops up every now and then, just as in the previous games. It also has 'arc words', just as in the previous games(Bioshock 1 actually). To be honest, while the plot twist is entirely different, in many ways it felt like another take on Bioshock 1, even the setting is similar in its differences(It's a bit of an opposite to Rapture). Plus, the story is kinda... kinda plain and somewhat dull until the last stretch of the game, which, mind you, is totally worth it to follow all the way to the end.
 With a gun in your right hand, and a Plasmid... erm, 'Vigor', on your left, you'll go on your way through a somewhat linear path. Just as in the previous games. There's no longer passive skills to equip, but rather 'clothes', five pieces in all, which can grant you different bonuses. You also carry a regenerative shield now, which is kinda nice since you can't carry health packs any more. Oh, and you can only carry two weapons, but in an ironic twist of fate, ammo is way more plentiful this time around, since most enemies are armed, so if you run out of ammo, just swap one of your guns or wait for Elizabeth to pass you another clip. Oh, yeah, Elizabeth comes along for the ride, and she's not a burden since enemies just ignore her, and while she won't attack them, she will give you health packs, salt('mana') packs, ammo clips or even money every now and then. Remember how Bioshock 1 had a few horror elements? They are all gone now, all of your opposition and run-of-the-mill soldiers. And there's a ton of them at every turn of a corner. There's no tension, no fear, no nothing as you know a shootout is coming as soon as you arrive to the next open area.

 There's a new gameplay element in the form of 'Skylines', rails that lie above ground onto which you can use your melee weapon to hook on to. Rails felt like a gimmick to me, they are frequent, but not too frequent, and they double as both defensive and offensive tools. Once hooked, you can traverse them at fast speeds to avoid damage, but you can also drop down from them onto enemies and deal massive damage, if not outright kill them.  Oh, and when outside of combat, you'll sometimes have to use them to go to different places in Columbia. Not that there's a lot of to do besides going towards your objective, that said ,there are a few sidequests, and exploration often yields rewards in the form of Infusion tonics that can be used to upgrade your shield, health or salt reserves. And just as in the previos games, you'll scavenge for food to heal yourself and money to buy upgrades for your Vigors and guns.
 It seems like I'm giving the game a lot of hell for being 'more of the same', but I'm not. I mean, the game was so well received that I was expecting something revolutionary, but all I got was... more of the same. The same kind of writing, the same kind of environment, the same story structure(Even if it plays out in vastly different ways), the same kind of gameplay.... it almost felt like 'another take on Bioshock 1'. And mind you, when you are a game like Bioshock, being 'more of the same' is actually a good thing, it's just that I was expecting something game-changing.

 The Complete Edition includes all the DLC. Some which is just baffling, as it starts you off with 5 free infusion tonics and 2 entire pairs of clothing. Why? Why are you giving free stuff, and very useful stuff at that, just for preordering the game? That's just wrong. Then there's the 'Clash in the Clouds', which I didn't care for, that is an arena-based DLC, where you must survive wave after wave of enemy, having a small respite in between waves to prepare. You get to unlock art, but... eh, it's just an arena. Lastly, there's 'Burial at Sea 1' and 'Burial at Sea 2'. I loved Burial at Sea 1, it's a throwback to Bioshock 1, with returning plasmids and returning weapons. It's relatively harder than the main game, since ammo is more limited, and it delves deeper into Booker and Elizabeth. Kinda. Burial at Sea 2 pits you as Elizabeth, and while it offers a whole lot more story, with a few bits that actually contradict Bioshock 2, it was a bit more dull, since for whatever reason Elizabeth isn't as good as combat as Booker, so she has to rely on stealth. It's much slower paced as well, but it does give new insight on some of the NPCs from Infinite. Both of them are really good, but part 1 was more up my alley.
 I liked Bioshock Infinite, I had fun with Bioshock Infinite, but to call it slightly underwhelming is an understatement. It feels like something I have played before, like it's got little more to offer than its plot twist. And I must insist, even if I felt disappointed, the game is not bad by any means, Bioshock's gameplay is really good, so even if its more of the same, it's still welcome.
 8.0 out of 10

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