Thursday, 9 May 2013

Bioshock Infinite: My (current) Game of the Year

I'm one of those people who consider video games to be an art form. Sure, you have your generic, bland, and mindless shooters (*cough*callofduty*cough*) but I never said all video games are art. It's no different than how not every book published or every song recorded is a work of art.

And it's a lot harder to have a video game that is a work of art. Because unlike a book where you can create a world and fill it with characters with your limitless imagination, a programmer has to use whatever tools he has to create a world and convince you for a moment that it's real. Story writers have to conjure convincing and engaging dialogue, stories with believable characters. But right now what we're left at is a movie. And so the final step is making the the entire experience interactive and enjoyable to play through.

And I believe Bioshock: Infinite does this extremely well in a fashion that has not been seen in years.

So nice to see colours as opposed to bland greys and browns.

The Bioshock series is known for creating entire cities from long gone eras. The original Bioshock rendered an entire dystopian city under the Atlantic ocean with decor, weapons, and music from the 1960s. Bioshock Infinite went in the opposite direction, recreating a floating American state sometime during 1912. I'm just going to say it now, Colombia is beautiful.

You play as a man named Booker DeWitt. Suffering from rampant alcohol and gambling problems for the last number of years he owes a lot of money to a lot of bad people. Without any options left, he is forced to go to the floating city of Columbia with a single objective: "Bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt".

As nice as Colombia may appear, there is a lot of blatant racism (which makes sense given the era) and a lot of religious fanaticism for the leader of Colombia, Father Comstock. In fact, the girl you're attempting to kidnap is Comstock's daughter, Elizabeth.

Feisty one.

Elizabeth actually doesn't mind being "kidnapped" as she's been locked away in a tower for most of her life and she escorts you throughout most of the game. And here's where the game really shines. Elizabeth's AI makes her more than just an escort, and she responds and acts like someone who has spent her entire life isolated.

In most other games, your AI companions stand around and do nothing. They move when you move and go when you go. You leave Elizabeth alone, and she'll run off to look at something, make a comment about what you're doing (e.g. getting mad at me for going into the woman's bathroom), or go sit down and rest for a bit. And her body language and facial expressions change to fit the mood. She'll scowl and fold her arms at me, frown and fiddle with her hands, etc. etc..

I know some of you might not think that this is all that amazing, but to have an AI companion who is actually interesting and engages the protagonist and environment is quite a bit step for video games. She responds in real time, in unique ways as opposed to ham-handed scripted cut scenes. Most of the times we got a bland piece of cardboard that was boring at best and annoying at worst.

About as interesting as well.

If there's one complaint I have to make about Bioshock Infinite it's that the gameplay is a bit weaker compared to the other Bioshock games. The weapons and abilities didn't really stick out for me. It's also a bit overly violent at times, I mean, yeah I can kill a person OR I can turn his face into a piece of mush. It's excessive.

Actually, if Elizabeth catches you turning a man's face into pulp she'll respond with something like "Oh my god" or "Ugh" and I actually felt bad. It got to the point where I felt so bad for distressing my AI companion that I stopped with the overkill. There was even a scene where I could draw my weapon and make a mess OR stay calm and proceed as normal. I knew the former would probably bother Elizabeth and so acted on the latter option and got stabbed in the hand by bad people for my stupidity.

And I'm not the only person who has gotten attached to this fictional character and has had their decisions swayed based on what would make Elizabeth happy. I feel that the writers did a great job fleshing out a relationship between Booker and Elizabeth and it shows. The story is also very well done and it had an ending that stuck with me.

That's also a rarity, the number of games where I finish and go "whoa" can be counted one 1 hand. Most of the time it's generic, mundane, and predictable cliches. Not Bioshock: Infinite. I did not see this ending coming. In fact, it turns out I missed A LOT of little details hidden in the game. Everything is important and everything has significance, you just don't notice it the first time around.

 Even this song has some importance.

So yeah, Bioshock: Infinite isn't perfect, especially the boss fights, those were terrible. But they did more right than wrong. In a sea of bland shooting games with boring/stupid stories and unmemorable characters, Bioshock: Infinite sticks out. With a colourful and unique world, and doing things we had never successfully seen with AI characters before (Alyx Vance doesn't count, most people hated her) I think this game should be praised for being adventurous.

I highly recommend it. Even if eating hotdogs out of trashcans seems a bit silly. And yes, that is a song by Fears for Tears, written in 1985. What's it doing in 1912 you may ask?

Well I could tell you, but that would spoil the game wouldn't it?


  1. Haven't played Bioshock before but I like games with some good graphics! I don't think I would overkill with that AI, I get way too attached to my characters and helpers....

  2. I've not played any of the Bioshock games, they just don't seem like my kind of games, but I appreciate a good video game like a good piece of art. I can say that yeah it's pretty remarkable they have such an interactive AI like that. I don't think I've really seen an AI who reacts that much to the world and player around them.

  3. God damn, this is one post I don't dare read. I haven't played it and I don't want to hear ANYTHING at all..

    However the grey text on black highlight doesn't seem to be working as anti-spoilers. Might want to take a look.

  4. I haven't played a game in about fifteen years :) but I do love the ones in which you build cities.

  5. I can't wait to play this one, I loved the first two games but I always wait for a price drop.

  6. Sounds like one well thought out game indeed, I agree as well they are an art form, besides the same old rehashes like Call of shit lol

  7. This actually sounds so good man, to be honest better than I thought it was when I seen about it, actually seems like the kind of thing I would adore, I think I'll get it after I've completed Hitman.

  8. I am not into video games but they seem like they have gotten a lot more interesting than Nintendo in the early 90s, when my brother was little and playing them.

  9. It's fascinating to me how far video games have come. I agree that they can be considered art.

  10. I wanna try Bioshock Infinite but I don't normally have enough time to sit down and play a lot of video games anymore. How long is the game? If I ever get two days off in a row I might try and play it then.

  11. I need to ask my sons about this one. I haven't treated them to a video game in a long time. Thanks for the recommendation.

  12. I remember getting all jazzed when 'Pong' came to Woolworth's. Good God, where did the time go?

  13. I have absolutely no idea about games and such but I seriously appreciate the detail and backstories given to such things! Take care

  14. I want to play now but I am so behind on my other games. Damn life getting in the way.

  15. Hello! Oh...excuse me for this comment...but I hate any of games...All games are very big enemy of human heart...There is no any game in my computer which i uploaded from interenet...

  16. The graphics and design in some games are just amazing. I think it's an art form for sure.

  17. I like this game too, I didn't have enough time to play it though, I'm at the beginning

  18. I respect your piece of work, appreciate it for all the informative content .

  19. what a nice animation....! how to do animated?
    Analog Dome Camera