When you start messing with space, time, and/or alternate universes is when my head starts to hurt. So many things can be going on that you desperately try to grasp every detail and make sense of it all. Bioshock: Infinite however does a nice job slowly piecing everything together, giving out small doses, keeping the plot mysterious yet interesting, instead of giving out one massive helping of convoluted story telling. It was hard to put the controller down because I needed to know what was happening yet. The pacing created intense feelings and when the game was concluding, the climax was a big payoff.
The story itself is told through the eyes of the main protagonist, Booker DeWitt, as he is sent to this magical floating city that sits high above the clouds in the year 1912. You don't really know much, but you are sent here to repay a debt that this drunken, gambling war vet has accumulated. He must retrieve this girl who is locked up in a towering statue and bring her back to New York. Elizabeth is her name and owns some interesting powers that allows her to peak into other worlds, or go in them entirely. But, of course, nothing goes as smoothly as one would hope. The villain of the game is the "prophet" Comstock who sees everything. He has used these vision to assist him in building the floating city of Columbia, and warn him the false Sheppard (Booker) who will lead his lamb (Elizabeth) astray. Comstock is one evil bastard that abuses his "power" as a means to exploit the people of Columbia. This might seem like a world you want to live in, but you will quickly find out that things aren't so peaceful.
While the story can hold its own, the gameplay compliments it even further creating some fun and addictive moments. You have your standard weapons that shoot bullets, but you also are given some interesting powers that is a staple to Bioshock games. There are 8 Vigors in total and each unique, can be used 2 ways, and is a blast to use them in a combination. Bronco (which sends your enemies hovering in mid air) combined with Charge (send you flying towards your enemy) is a hilarious combo that knocks your enemy into oblivion and is useful against tougher guys to kill...just knock them off the map.
There is also a lot of upgradable stats, just be sure to have lots of cash because they are expensive. All the Vigors and Weapons can be upgraded making them more powerful/useful. Your Health, Shield, and Vigor Meter can be upgraded as well by locating something call Infusions. You can only choose one at a time so think wisely. You can also find Gear throughout the game, and they help you with gaining health from kills, adding extra damage, and so on. You can equip 4 at a time.
Elizabeth herself becomes quite handy as she proves she isn't just some damsel in distress. Being locked up for so long has given her time to read about culture, history, and lock picking. Her lock picking skills comes in handy as it will grant access into area that hold useful items. She will also assist you in battle bringing you health, or salts. She can even open up tears in an alternate universe bringing in objects that may make you time in battle easier or solve a puzzle. She's a great sidekick that doesn't just add to the story, but to the gameplay as well.
As for the combat and gunplay, I felt it could've been a bit might tighter but nothing to gripe about. I did wish they came up with some more interesting weapons as most of them are something you can find in a standard FPS, some creativity would have been nice. I also heard some rumblings about how you can only hold 2 weapons at a time, and although it never bothered me, I can see why it could be a problem to some. You spend your money upgrading these weapons but in the end might have to discard them for whatever reason.
And due to the nature of the city, traveling from station to station involves these sky lines. In the beginning of the game you get this claw that can attach to hooks and sky lines. Riding on these rails creates some fast paced, thrilling action. They can provide a means of escape during tough times, or a way to get the upper hand.
As I mentioned with the story having a nice pace, I feel the game entirely has a nice pace. Columbia is a beautiful city that is pretty big and encourages exploration. Even if you decided to go off the main path and opt for a detour, you are rewarded with upgrades, or voxophones that may hold some important information pertaining to the plot, maybe some cash laying around, or some food to eat to gain health (I ate a potato out of a toilet bowl).
As you explore, you find the city has some scenic moments that really look impressive with it's popping colors, believable time periods, and nice art design. From a distance it looks really pretty, but up close, not so much. For this era of consoles, this is not one of the prettiest games I've seen. A lot of shapes retain their polygonal shapes as you can see spherical objects with sharp edges, and textures really looked flat. It felt like they got a bit lazy and didn't smooth things out. On the technical side of things it didn't get much better. Frequent momentary freezes when the game was loading, or autosaving, and a quite of bit of screen tearing (although became less noticeable as the game went on). Their efforts might have went more to the story and gameplay, which isn't a bad thing.
The audio and soundtrack do pick up some of the slack as when you first arrived to Columbia, the sound of euphoria and peace rang from my TV. Then you are hit with what sounds like a choir singing in a church...such a calming effect. From beginning to end it all sounded great, it even brought some noticeable tunes from past generations and put an early 1900's spin on it. Voice Acting is great as Troy Baker becomes to establish himself as one of the best in the industry, and Courtnee Draper does a great job as Elizabeth.
I was never a big fan of the Bioshock series as I quickly lost interest in the first game, but I had to give the game a shot, especially when it was free for PS+ members. It would have been a disservice to myself it I passed up a game that was so critically acclaimed by most. I am very pleased with my experience as I was treated to a great story, atmosphere, and an overall fun game. After I finished the game, I quickly wanted to do it all over again, in 1999 mode.