BioShock Infinite Review: A Gleaming City of Unrealized Potential
Still, I don’t think the ending and the plot quite make sense without making a few leaps (and I still struggle to really buy that twist, much less parse the mechanical logic that should make much of it work). Like Columbia itself, Infinite is often a fractured experience — polished on the surface, but belying the fact that that surface is often a veneer. The truth of Infinite is that Irrational Games and Ken Levine seem to be in love with BioShock such that they were content to remake the game almost beat-for-beat in many respects. A line of dialogue in Infinite actually relates this: The elements are reshuffled, but the core remains the same.
Like Columbia itself, BioShock Infinite straddles more than one world: sometimes transcendent, often tedious. It’s a game about characters choosing to lie to themselves and create the narrative they wish their lives followed, rather than succumb to reality. That’s the story of the game itself, too, as Infinite often acts as though it’s deeper, more groundbreaking, more willing to be relevant to the world of the player and strong enough to comment on that world, than it is.
Sometimes BioShock Infinite moves up the spectrum toward incredible, but often that experience doesn’t extend beyond the surface; the potential energy often fails to become kinetic; the narrative the game spins for itself often serves to hide the more mundane truth.
- Yet another often amazing setting, beautifully realized
- Columbia serves to allow Irrational Games to attack some tough topics, like racism
- Good pacing and great development of the mystery of the game’s plot
- Story itself unfolds and interweaves very well; often deep and intriguing
- Elizabeth is a delightful companion, both in terms of story and gameplay mechanics
- Skyline rollercoaster system is the highlight of the game’s combat; gunplay is polished, vigors are pretty fun
- Tear system also offers some fun variations on various encounters
- The conclusion might have some plot holes, but it’s at least the most satisfying ending to a game in quite some time
- PC version is gorgeous, with lots of graphical options and support
- Columbia starts to feel more like a ride at Disneyland or a movie set than an actual place before long
- Moment-to-moment gameplay grows monotonous: lots of looting things for no reason, lots of repetitive fights
- Enemies feel cut-and-pasted directly from the six-year-old setting of Rapture
- Vigor system is too close to that of Plasmids from BioShock, and lacks a justification in the setting of Columbia
- The game’s villains aren’t really strong antagonists or especially interesting
- Most encounters grow frustrating and are too similar; Skylines and tears add a lot of dynamic options but battles seem to outlast their novelty
- Ending “twist” is hard to buy into
- The entire game feels like it doesn’t live up to the potential it consistently suggests
Final Score: 80/100
Game Front employs a 100-point scale when reviewing games to be as accurate about the experience as possible. Read the full rundown of what our review scores mean.