Video game: Bioshock Infinite

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 April, 2013, 4:21pm

Bioshock Infinite

Irrational Games

The first Bioshock was an instant classic, breaking free from the first-person shooter mould by focusing as much on its original sci-fi story and imaginative steampunk visuals as its exciting gameplay. Similar things can be said about the second in the series, Bioshock 2.

If there's ever an exhibit to be brought forth in the trial against the erosion of video-game originality, Bioshock Infinite is a prime example. The game reconfigures all that's great about the first entry and has added so few new features that it practically stands as a mirrored counterpart. The developers have even packaged the original Bioshock as a freebie, so you can do your own comparison.

Here's a little help: airborne city versus subaquatic city, hardened hero Booker versus hardened hero Jack, evil religious prophet versus evil business magnate, tonic boosts versus injected boosts, shooting people versus shooting people.

It's the latter that will bring in the fans and for a game where the principal objective is to shoot lots and lots of people, Infinite succeeds.

Frenetic combat sequences see the player wielding early 20th-century hardware and there's a definite sense of joy in haphazardly destroying enemies with dated technology in one hand and superpowers in the other.

Added to this is the most important new feature, Elizabeth, your reality-warping damsel-turned-sidekick. Much of her help comes through mere scavenging but it's infinitely better than the dreaded "escort mission".

And here's where the game will win some acclaim: a storyline that throws you into its complex, almost beautiful world. It's true that by doing without cutscenes and focusing on a good old-fashioned yarn, we as players are more involved - but that doesn't mean our actions determine the proceedings.

For people who actually want to "play" games these days, the problem stems from the industry itself. Games producers have become like a factory line that churns out streams of high-quality shooters, changing storylines while keeping gameplay the same. The shooter aspects are enjoyable - but you've seen it all before.

We might have expected more out of Bioshock Infinite, but we can't say we didn't have fun.

Pavan Shamdasani