Allow me to start by saying that this article is as spoiler free as possible. Although I donít detail any plot twist or narrative direction, itís still better to go into Bioshock Infinite completely blind. So do that! If youíre happy to read a bit about it before you do, then enjoy:
Many of my gaming mates mark down Half Life 2
as a landmark in gaming history. They consider it a step up in artistic flair, storytelling and character representation for not only the genre, but the medium.
The truth is, when Half Life 2
was released in 2004 I wasnít massively into gaming. Iíd taken a few years away from it to focus on my drinking and general acting like a bellend. It took me a few years and an Xbox 360 to realise that I could do all three at the same time.
By then it was too late. Iíd missed out on the buzz, I had already played games that were either inspired by or directly lifted form Half Life 2
. The impact that game had on so many was completely lost on me.
I finally completed Half Life 2
last year and although it had been an enjoyable experience, it wasnít a life-changing one. It wouldnít be, would it?
So Half Life 2
has become one of my biggest gaming regrets. I felt as though I missed out one something big. Itís a game Iíve read articles about, spoken about with friends down the pub and on podcasts, but I can never raise the same emotions as the writers or friends.
Thatís why Iím so happy that I was able to play Bioshock Infinite
alongside everyone else.
I nearly missed out on this one too. I had played a fair few hours of Bioshock
. In fact Iíd played the opening about four times over but the games fizzled out for me. I never clicked with the combat and the story lost me pretty early on.
Iíd played a few hours of Bioshock 2
but felt completely out of the loop and it never really grabbed me. So Infinite
wasnít even on my radar.
That was until I listened to Episode 55
of my favourite gaming podcast ĎChet and Jonís Reassuringly Finite Gaming Playlistí. Towards the end, one of the hosts - Jon Denton - talks so passionately about Bioshock Infinite
that I was forced to sit up and take notice.
So much so that I went out and bought it that day. So this is my official thank you to that podcast. Because Bioshock Infinite
is one of my favourite games of all time.
As the credits rolled my jaw was on the floor. When reviewing and discussing games itís easy to pull it apart and focus on elements that can be compared to every other game in its genre. For me this steps so far beyond that, that it would be a little too cynical to review it in a normal way.
What I want to do hear is try and explain why I feel so strongly about this game and why itíll stay with me for a long time.
Thereís no getting away from the initial pull of Bioshock Infinite
. It looks good, it introduces you to a curious new world that youíve never experienced before and as you take your first steps in Columbia you feel like a complete outsider.
As gamers we have been introduced to new worlds constantly. Some try to tap into surroundings that youíre used to, others try and pull you out of that completely. Itís the work on the details that makes either attempt successful.
Rockstar are incredible at making you feel at home, even when their games are set in the Wild West America circa 1911
. Their representation of the Western Border States were detailed to mimic every wild west film I had ever seen. From bustling bars filled with outlaws and prostitutes to dusty roads littered with con men. Despite being born 73 years after the game is set, I felt right at home.
Irrational Games, on the other hand, handles the opposite side of the coin with unbelievable precision. From the moment I walked out into the city of Columbia, I was cautious. at its heart Bioshock Infinite
is a first-person shooter, but the world I was walking around in seemed completely peaceful.
Residents tipped their hats, said ďHelloĒ and happily chatted away about a fair that was taking place that day. It puts your back up knowing that youíre going to have to enter combat at some point and that will probably involve upsetting the locals.
In fact itís at least half an hour before things start getting hairy and the moment it does, the utopia youíve witnessed crumbles in an instant. The twist is quick, itís powerful and hits home at a point where you really donít expect it to.