Games of 2013: BioShock Infinite

Video games. It seems like we spend way more time talking about them than playing them. How did this happen? When? A large part of the whole ‘being passionate about games’ thing is the stupid product lust – the ‘hype train’. You can’t escape it. You can’t fight it. You know it makes zero sense, but you hop on board regardless. ALL ABOARD.

Next stop – mild disappointment?

Who knows, who can tell? All this week I’m going to take a quick look at the games I’m most excited about in 2013. Feel free to get talking about the hype trains you’re currently aboard!

First up – mainly because it’s so tantalisingly close to release – BioShock Infinite.

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In a sense it is impossible for BioShock to have the same impact as its predecessor: the shock of discovery, the twists, the feeling of playing something with genuine thematic depth. With BioShock Infinite these are things we’ve come to expect and almost demand. It’s not going to be a pleasant surprise. If BioShock Infinite delivers, which I’m sure it will, it may be tricky for Irrational Games to truly blow the bloody doors off.

That said, from what I’ve seen so far, Irrational has tried to reinvent that shock of the new by remaining in the same universe, but flipping our expectations topsy turvy – both literally and figuratively. Instead of being underwater, we’re in the sky. Instead of heading head first into a hellish dystopia, we’re heading skywards into what initially appears to be some kind of cultish utopia. If such a thing could ever exist.

But the only worry — as far as I can see — is that even when BioShock Infinite does divert from the ideas and mechanics of its predecessor, it does so in direct opposition to them, and therefore never truly seems to escape from the shadow of BioShock. The only way it will, I suspect, is by being a truly fantastic video game.

That seems like a terribly banal and obvious thing to say, but if the original BioShock had any flaws it was monotony. As a ‘shooter’ BioShock was perfectly serviceable, great even. But after its atmospheric opening, the encounters struggled to maintain that vibe, and the game did sag in the middle.

It was simply a lack of variety but BioShock Infinite, from the six hours I’ve played, does a far better job of pacing the experience, and simply has more toys to play with in terms of mechanics. The Sky-Lines dotted around the environment are the best example of this: like controllable roller coasters you’re simultaneously on rails, but retain just enough interactivity to feel unsafe, to feel like you can’t quite put down the controller or shut your brain off. It’s a brilliant way to break up the general combat, and it looks spectacular.

What intrigues me most, however, is Elizabeth, and the role she’ll play as players delve further into the game. The 'tears' she opens up, in mechanical terms, appear to work strategically in combat and introduce a slight puzzle element. She can manipulate the environment to your advantage and that adds a new layer to combat.

It’s super interesting, but for some strange reason I’m far more interested in Elizabeth’s impact on the story itself. The first six hours alluded to some serious time-travelling, mind bending, history altering shit — almost like a semi-decent episode of Lost if you can imagine that!

Yep, that’s correct. For the first time in recent memory, I’m genuinely excited about a story in a video game. Crazy right?


Comments

    That's crazy Mark. You're crazy. Get off the damn road!

    I am riding this train

    And laughing the whole way to the last stop

    So keen!

    Songbird Edition GET AT ME!

      i'm so disappointed I missed on the the Songbird Edition. The statue looks really sweet.

        The statue looks super sweet man, can't wait

        You really missed out

        Still, like $162.00 :/

    I don't expect the twists to have the same impact, but one of the things I love about games is the sense of discovery. That can be replicated pretty effectively, merely by creating a new deep place to discover.

    I read a super spoiler in regard to Elizabeth's character, and - oh boy - I hope it's true.

    First time in a long time that a spoiler has made me even more excited to get my hands on the final product.

    Having played the earlier Bioshocks, I'm really looking forward to this. But I have to admit that I'm a bit immune to stories - let me Esc over the story so I can keep showing off my mad skills. My attention span doesn't last long enough to

    This'll be my Bioshock game, I can't wait.

    I'm hoping enough dudes preorder on Steam so I can get XCOM for free, too.

    Cultish Utopia? That's America in a nutshell :P

    Can't wait to play it :D

    I dont expect it to wow me like bioshock

    I do hope it has an interesting world and an egaing story/gameplay...if its like Dishonoured I'll be happy

    No, it won't blow the doors off, but it's not an original IP or property, so it's handicapped in that regard.
    However, it does seem to have an open approach to gameplay that allows for creative fights and an interesting story then it can still be fun and engaging, and that's what will make it a good game.

    I'm not very hyped about this to be honest.. I did enjoy the first Bioshock and played a bit of Bioshock 2. To me, the first played like a really good action/horror game, the setting really made that game for me. Rapture was both claustrophobic and dark & foreboding. I agree with Mark that it did sag a bit and drifted into corridor shooter territory, but the plasmid abilities did help keep combat interesting and Big Daddy encounters were cool.

    Now I haven't really been following much about Bioshock Infinite (just seen some gameplay vids) but that horror element doesn't seem to be there. The character models look kind of cartoony to me (reminds me a bit of TF2) and that zipline mechanic looks a bit silly. It just doesn't look as immersive as the first one but I do like to be surprised and still look forward to this coming out, Might wait for a few reviews to come out first though.

    Question: As this is in the same universe as Bioshock 1 and 2, are there any connections to this game? I'm wondering if I should play Bioshock 2 before this.

    Last edited 11/03/13 3:33 pm

    I hope this game turns out to be really good, otherwise i'll be waiting for the $10 Steam sale at Christmas time. Just hoping Levine hasnt made an ass of himself again...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPMiqDqkWn8

    Once again, the original Bioshock had a theme. It did not have "thematic depth", except in the sense of a pun involving it being underwater. There is a difference between saying (as Bioshock did), "Hey, did you know Ayn Rand is a thing?" and (as Bioshock did not) providing actual commentary on objectivism.

    Which is not to knock Bioshock; it still had more going on in this regard than most games. But it's wrong to suggest that it provided anything more meaty to think about than who, exactly, names a child Ayn.

    The hype train I'm riding is The Last of US express, because that looks amazing.

    This looks good, but I'll be waiting till midyear to get it (if the reviews are good), I only ever rented the first Bioshock and this one looks streets ahead of that game where you were essentially roaming through a city full of zombie things listening to a guy on a radio, this new one seems much more engaging!

    As for other hype, I'm hyped for Tomb Raider (but again, midyear) and then Splinter Cell Blacklist and GTA V oh and Watch Dogs and (if it comes out this year) Metal Gear Ground Zeroes

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