BioShock: Infinite – Clouds of Columbia

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It’s is quite different than the other Bioshock games because of what’s excluded. Gone is the city of Rapture. Gone is Jack, the protagonist. Gone is Andrew Ryan, the main villain in Rapture. Gone are Big Daddies and the Little Sisters. What’s new is the city of Columbia in the year 1912, a city that seceded from the United States because of its ideals and superiority.

While Rapture was a city underwater, Columbia is a city floating on top of the clouds and is beautiful on the outside, ugly on the inside. It is a gorgeously rendered, lively city with townsfolk realistically having fun at a local fair, children playing with each other, birds chirping, and lots of propaganda. The propaganda is what shows the ugly side of Columbia: racism, extreme views based on religion, and very nationalistic beliefs. It promotes white supremacy in ways that would remind people of America’s ugly past and degrades working class people. Most shooters do not do such a great job in rendering a city so well with great art direction. It feels so brilliantly directed that it feels like it was directed by an experienced movie director.

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The protagonist is Booker DeWitt, a private eye who has a shady and a mysterious past. His job is to find a girl named Elizabeth, who is in the possession of a gigantic bird known as Songbird. Throughout the story, you will frequently hear the quote “wipe away the debt.” This seems to relate to DeWitt’s purpose of finding Elizabeth. The game gets better after finding Elizabeth, as she is free from the Songbird and tries to help DeWitt in more ways than one. He is up against Zachary Comstock, who is known as the prophet of Columbia. He is the Andrew Ryan of Columbia and frequently calls DeWitt a “false shepherd.” He influences the citizens to hate and stop DeWitt in any way possible.

Columbia is a more open setting than Rapture, so it’s not as linear as the first two Bioshock games. The weapons, vigors, and related upgrades largely work the same as the weapons, plasmids and related upgrades in Rapture, but with different names. Vigors work like plasmids, but they require you to drink from well-designed bottles to obtain those powers. You will have to learn how to use vigors strategically during battles with the local police, the rebellious people of Columbia, and Comstock’s large, magical enemies. The wide open districts in Columbia mean that combat feels like it is in wide open arenas. What is part of some of these districts is the skylines, tracks that look like roller coasters allowing you to use your Skyhook, a mechanical gauntlet that can be used to melee some enemies, but is not useful against the more powerful enemies. The Skyhook is also good for navigating to rooftops and other hard to reach areas. You can also use the skylines to drop down and knock out enemies instantly.

“Who are you?”
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The larger enemies in the game are quite interesting, including a motorized patriot. The motorized patriot is an imitation of former U.S. president George Washington. The patriot carries a crank gun, a Gatling gun that can tear you to shreds in seconds. Another large enemy is the Handyman, a pumped up version of the Big Daddy with a lot of height. Some vigors work well against some enemies, but other enemies are immune to them. One vigor, the murder of crows, throws a group of crows at an enemy in its radius, causing lots of distractions and allows you to fire at them with conventional firearms without retaliation for several seconds. However, there are some enemies that are immune to the murder of crows. I remember fighting a Zealot, a Comstock supporter who carries a coffin on his back and can turn into crows to defend himself. I realized that he was immune to the murder of crows, so I had to turn to other vigors such as shock jockey or the devil’s kiss while being careful with my salt level. Salt works like eve did in the previous Bioshock games. In essence, you have to know each enemy’s strengths and weaknesses against vigors.

Elizabeth is a blessing during combat. She doesn’t get in your way and can help replenish ammo, health, and salts in the heat of battle. Her AI is surprisingly superb, as she knows exactly when to stay away from you. She may get in your way when you are trying to walk through a doorway, but that is nothing more than an annoyance. She can help open tears so that you can access weapons, ammo, turrets, and a motorized patriot. You can open a tear of a motorized patriot to shoot it out with a motorized patriot who is trying to bring you down. Tears appear to be alternate grey looking worlds that can be only opened by her. The tears are crucial to survival and sometimes lead to alternate worlds. It looks to me like tears make the story contrived since they seem to always favor you when you are in a desperate combat situation. Therefore, the combats with the tears seem staged, but that’s only a minor complaint.

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The ending of the story seems to include a lot of emotion and drama that some people may not even understand it fully. However, the graphics are rendered beautifully. The DLCs are a continuation of Bioshock Infinite and include Burial at Sea: Episode 1 and Episode 2. They bring you back to the city of Rapture and get into the connection between the city of Rapture and the city of Columbia. It also touches upon the connection between Comstock and Ryan. I recommend playing Episode 1 before playing Episode 2. I think Episode 2 has a better plot than Episode 1 and tells a better story about Rapture and its connections to Columbia. Interestingly, you will play Elizabeth in Episode 2, as it explains Elizabeth’s complex life in both Rapture and Columbia. It also emphasizes stealth for Elizabeth, who seems to be too weak for combat against Rapture’s splicers and Columbia’s Vox Populi.

Bioshock Infinite is a fabulous game in terms of gameplay and art direction. The combat is definitely worth your participation as it requires lots of strategy with conventional firearms and various vigors against Comstock’s diverse citizenry. I highly recommend this superb game to any gamer.

My Score: 9.5 / 10

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