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New Times / Commentary

The following article was posted on April 17th, 2013, in the New Times - Volume 27, Issue 38 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 27, Issue 38

Geek Out: Infinitely better

Bioshock Infinite is first in line for Game of the Year

BY NICHOLAS WALTER

If you’ve read Geek Out for any length of time, you’ll know by now that I’m, to put it mildly, a picky SOB when it comes to games. That said, there’s nothing whatsoever to be picky about when it comes to Bioshock Infinite.

Set in an alternate-reality 1912 amid the floating city of Columbia, Infinite is the perfect combination of writing and story, eye candy, emotional depth, gameplay, and sheer visceral enjoyment.

Playing as former Pinkerton and war veteran Booker DeWitt, you’re on a mission to wipe clear your debts by escorting a young woman from Columbia to New York. Booker isn’t exactly what you’d call a likeable protagonist at first, but as the game progresses you’ll find yourself sympathizing more and more with him, thanks in no small part to his relationship with Elizabeth.

Oh, Elizabeth. Infinite is, after all, one gigantic escort mission, and at no point does Elizabeth ever make it suck.

Unlike other games requiring you to escort a companion (I’m looking at you, Ico*), Infinite’s Elizabeth, in short, kicks ass. She never once required babysitting and is actually handy in combat—tossing you ammo and health during fights.

And then there’s Columbia itself, where the game takes place. A floating city in the clouds built as a testament to American greatness, Columbia is going to take your breath away.

Sure you could just blast your way through the game with your arsenal of traditional firearms, but where’s the fun in that? Shocking people, brutally gutting them with your Sky-Hook, distracting them with crows—the possibilities for mayhem are, well, not infinite, but pleasingly varied.

Ah, the Sky-Hook: part grappling hook for quick (and spectacular) transport throughout Columbia’s network of Skylines, and part melee weapon, the Sky-Hook is going to make you grin like a fool more than once.

At no point does Infinite ever succumb to sequel(treequel?)itis. The only thing that could be said about it is that it’s almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a rebranding of the original Bioshock reskinned for a city in the clouds. But you know what? Even if it were a shot-for-shot remake of the original Bioshock that just happened to take place in a floating city, it would still be building on one of the most seminal FPS games of all time.** That’s the closest I’ll come to criticism; this game is that good.

The writing, character depth, spectacular visuals, and mind-bending trips through alternate realities all combine to make Bioshock Infinite an easy contender for Game of the Year.

Whether you get it on console or PC, do yourself a favor and pick it up now. You won’t be disappointed to have this one in your collection.

* “But ... ,” you may say, “didn’t Ico come out 12 years ago?” Shut up. She was still a miserable escortee.

** Hyperbolicious? Absolutely.

Contributor Nicholas Walter has a newfound respect for escort missions. Send him your ideas for games you think are better than Infinite via Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach at aschwellenbach@newtimesslo.com