As much as I love the rush of high-octane multiplayer action of games like Call of Duty, there’s no denying the fun and enjoyment that is to be had when playing a great single-player campaign game. In fact, long before I started playing multiplayer, these were the only kinds of games I played.
Recently, I got the chance to scratch that single-player itch once again with a game that I’ve had my eye on for quite some time. It sat on my Steam wishlist for a while but finally I got to sit down and explore the floating city of Columbia in the masterpiece known as Bioshock: Infinite.
2K Games have released many of my favorite games in the past, like the Borderlands series, so I was not surprised to see people giving another one of their games such high praise but, is it really all that it’s cracked up to be? I love a good single-player story, so I had to find out for myself.
Bioshock: Infinite is the third game in the overall franchise but its story is separated from the first 2 games which was a good thing since I’ve never played any of the games in the franchise and wouldn’t be too lost trying to figure what was going on. So without further ado, let me tell you all about my adventures playing Bioshock: Infinite.
So, What’s It All About?
Bioshock: Infinite is set over 100 years ago in 1912 in the fictional floating city of Columbia. Technology is very simple with a strong steampunk aesthetic and the Americans that inhabit Columbia clearly still have an issue with people of color. You play as Booker Dewitt, a down-on-his-luck gambler making his way to Columbia to try and to erase his debt.
In exchange for relief from his financial strain, Booker is tasked with rescuing a woman named Elizabeth and this forms the overall premise for the plot. The intro only gives you a brief tour of the city before the classic first-person action kicks off and you start blasting your way through the streets of Columbia.
All the classic weapon variants are here, including machine guns, shotguns, sniper rifles, and RPG’s but only 2 of them can be equipped at any time. Weapons and ammo can be picked up off the ground, scavenged from dead enemies, or found in crates, bins, and boxes that are scattered throughout the city.
Guns aren’t the only tool you have at your disposal. Booker can also use special abilities known as ‘Vigor‘ that allows you to stun enemies, do damage to enemies, and give you control over enemy turrets. Just like your guns, they can be quipped 2 at a time but you’re free to choose from the ones you’ve unlocked at any time.
Rounding off your arsenal is a melee weapon called a ‘Sky Hook’. Throughout the floating city of Columbia is a railway-like transportation system called the Sky-Line that Booker can use to maneuver around any corner of the city that it is available, thanks to the Sky Hook. It also doubles as a handy skull-basher as well.
So, What’s Good About It?
From the moment we’re first introduced to the city of Columbia, you can tell that a lot of effort has gone into building this world and the overall aesthetic of its design. While it runs on technology that seems way too advanced for its time, I honestly could believe in a place like this existing.
Those first few minutes of walking might have been a bit tedious to some but I couldn’t help but stop and take in all the sights on offer and engage with the vibe of the early nineteenth century. There’s even an acapella quartet that comes by on one of the platforms and I couldn’t help but stop and listen. It does a lot to try and immerse you and I commend it.
The combat is pretty basic with the guns feeling no different than most of the generic shooters out there but I did like having the Vigors at my disposal since it did open up a few different options when deciding on the best way to dispatch enemies.
Elizabeth also makes for a fairly useful A.I. companion and does quite a lot to help aid you on your journey without getting in the way. There were plenty of moments where I was saved from death because Elizabeth was able to find a spare med-kit lying around and that’s a game mechanic I can get used to.
So, What’s Bad About It?
This is where I start to disagree with a lot of the praise that this game has received since it was first released. When it comes to single-player games, nothing matters more to me than the overall story and plot because it’s the one aspect of the game that I expect to keep me engaged above all else.
Bioshock: Infinite has a story that asks a lot of deep and thought-provoking questions but ultimately doesn’t give the player any depth the harder you try to look into it and find all these answers. I’m no stranger to the concept of meta-physics but the way it is portrayed in this game is a confusing and plot-hole ridden mess.
We see our heroes hopping between different realities but it’s never clearly stated whether or not they’re traveling through time as well or just the space that they’re in. At one point, Elizabeth opens a new reality that looks like Paris in the ’70s, which means that her powers are way too strong and the way they’re used makes no sense.
Things just seem to happen in this story without any real indication as to why things are happening. Every character seems to have motivations that conflict with the rules that have been established by the world and I struggled to make the deep emotional connection that the game wants you to make to feel moved by the plot twist at the end.
All that twist did was force me to back and follow the story a little better to make sure that I heard and understood everything because, when I got to the end credits, it felt like there was a lot that I had missed and that I wasn’t paying enough attention.
Is It Worth Playing?
If you’re looking for a story-driven single-player experience then this is about as average as you can get. I feel like a lot of people are shocked by the ending so much so that they believe it’s a masterfully written piece. But, when I looked further into the story to try and understand it better, I found a hollow tale was far from complete. It’s boring.
The combat is decent, however, and I never felt like it was too much of a challenge as long as I spent every moment of every fight hugging the vending machine so that I could stay replenished on ammo which seemed to run out way faster than I could manage. I played this game on Hard and it was a satisfying challenge to overcome.
Would definitely recommend playing it.
Have you played Bioshock: Infinite? How did you feel about the single-player story? Let me know in the comments section below.