The third installment in the BioShock franchise is the work of Ken Levine and Irrational Games, a studio he co-founded.

Bioshock Infinite

Platform: PC

Developer: 2K Games

Rating out of 10: 9.5

I’m not a fan of the Bioshock series. I haven't liked them at all and part of me wanted Bioshock Infinite to be a failure. But given what is on offer in the game, there is simply no chance of that.

Sure, there are a couple things I could be really harsh about – perhaps some of the textures have issues now and then and the AI might behave strangely at times, but throughout an entire playthrough of the game you will find that these things happen probably three or four times. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to play a game where I struggle to find things that are wrong.

To be blunt, the artstyle, concepts and themes don’t appeal to me at all. But in a strange sort of way, I found that after I gave it a chance, I instantly fell in love with it. Bioshock Infinite is a blend of a brilliant storyline mixed with fantasy visuals that depict a floating city atop the clouds. It’s truly a marvel to observe while moving around the gorgeous city. Things look real in a funny sort of way and players will be hard-pressed to find a game that is more involving.

The action kicks off almost instantly as you make your way towards Columbia, the floating city.

It's set in the year 1912 and players are tasked, as the main protagonist, Booker DeWitt, to find a young woman known as Elizabeth. Elizabeth has been held captive in Columbia for some time and in a brilliant escape, both characters are chased by two different factions in the city. Players will use a combination of weapons, gear and psychokinetic powers known as Vigors that will help them along the way.

At the time of the game, there is a lot of American politics that surface about the people who live in Columbia, being seen as the “pure American” race who strive for control and peace while the Vox Populi, the rebel force, reflect something of an underground movement. All in all, corruption, politics and power all play a big part in Bioshock Infinite and if you can get pulled into it, you will struggle to escape.

The grappling hook (Skyhook) makes for some really unique opportunities in the game and will allow players to experience the freedom of being in what is almost an open sandbox without suffering many of the restrictions that can plague a game like this.

Previous issues that arose for me in other Bioshock games, such as the lack of space in the underwater city of Rapture, are no longer existent in Columbia as the open-air city helps a lot and provides for more strategic combat. Something I found truly awesome was the help which you receive along the way by Elizabeth. She is an AI controlled partner that travels alongside with you and helps you out. She will often pick up coins for you and sometimes throw you some much needed ammo she finds along the way. She is never in the way or obstructive but is able to journey along with you and make you feel like you have a genuine friend amidst the chaos.

Another unique combat technique employed by the developers is Elizabeth’s ability to open ‘rips’ in time which allow you to bring a new and fresh idea to each firefight. The Vigors in game allow you to turn each battle into an advantage for yourself provided you have enough salt (almost like Mana). There are a number of them that are potent and others that allow you to be a sneaky, battle-hardened master.

Not only do they range from Fire to Electricity, you also get things like Bucking Bronco which is like a jet of air that blasts people off their feet. There is also the ability to take control of robotic sentries and guards alike that will help you out in each and every battle. The combat is quick, fast-paced and truly engaging as every fight becomes a struggle. I’ve not once been in a situation in Bioshock Infinite where I didn’t feel like “oh not another group of inept guards” and I’m not quite sure how the development team got that right.

Character development was obviously something essential for Irrational Games and it’s been a brilliant effort by them. Players will relate to characters so quickly because they are memorable and you instantly gain some form of boiling hatred for the antagonist, which is rare in most games. The city bustles in the clouds as townsfolk move around the plaza and the birds and bees float around freely. The game has a truly fantastic setting and has a genuine sense of realism, despite it being a floating city.

The trick with Bioshock Infinite is that the story will grip you almost instantly and you will find yourself so invested that you want to push for the ending because you are concerned about the world and the characters. The twist at the end is nothing short of amazing, as it was in the first Bioshock.

It kind of gives you the feeling that you got when you first watched the movie Saw and watched at the end as the old man in the centre of the room stood up. It’s something that you will be able to talk to your friends about for a long time, not only because of the brilliant story but because of the influencing factors that are put in front of you. There is a heap of sexism, racism and religion that gets thrown at you in the game, but at the end, it doesn’t really matter because you are in an amazing world with its own issues and I think that’s exactly what Irrational Games intended.

If there is one complaint I can make about Bioshock Infinite is that the game almost drags during the middle because there is just so much action throughout. Is it fair to assume that the game needs to slow down at some point? Sure. Was it intended? Who knows? A full playthrough of the game will set you back about 10 hours, more if you have a penchant for exploration. There are many Voxaphone recordings to snag as well as other collectibles that could easily warrant a second play.

I think it’s safe to assume that gamers should add Bioshock Infinite to their collection of games, regardless of whether or not you are a Bioshock fan. This has to be a huge contender for game of the year because it’s simply amazing. There are very few faults and the developers have been able to build a fantastic world and support it with believable characters. The game is action-packed and fast-paced and will often get emotional reactions out of you. - Do Gaming