When gamers were first introduced to “BioShock” in 2007, they were greeted with an instant classic. A failed underwater utopia with dark hallways and creepy inhabitants, the atmosphere of BioShock’s city of Rapture was one of the reasons it was so successful. In “BioShock Infinite,” there is a new city floating in the sky, and its name is Columbia.
The protagonist, Booker DeWitt, is shot up into the sky, where he will see Columbia in all its glory for the first time. And how glorious it is. A stark contrast to the murky depths of Rapture, Columbia is a bright, blue-skied, and cheery city, at least on the surface. It truly feels alive. There are parade floats, barbershop quartets, picnics, balloons, and even hummingbirds throughout the city. There are usually people everywhere, whereas the only encounters in Rapture would be an occasional addict or Big Sister trying to kill you.
Underneath the charming exterior, however, is a sinister world laced with murder and a serious case of racial superiority. Entering rooms filled with pictures of Abraham Lincoln with devil horns and even monuments of John Wilkes Booth are shocking at first, especially considering the appearance of the city, but it becomes commonplace as the true identity of what Columbia is unfolds.
The people of the city worship a man that goes by the name of Prophet Comstock, who has a cult-like following for his racist teachings. Booker is tasked with saving Elizabeth, a mysterious girl with magical powers. She is being used by the prophet before he rescues her, but she is not the typical annoying damsel-in-distress. She helps Booker throughout the game by picking locks and throwing money and supplies to him.
Elizabeth is a welcome addition to the carry-overs from previous “BioShock” games. Booker can use Vigors, which essentially work the same as Plasmids from “BioShock.” These drinkable power-ups give Booker limited powers, such as fire or summoning crows on enemies. The normal arsenal of firearms, such as shotguns and pistols, give the same retro feel as the previous entries. A welcome weapon/tool is the sky-hook. This enables Booker to ride rails in the sky, but also acts as an interesting, yet effective, melee weapon. This mix of old and new keeps the gameplay fresh, yet familiar.
Equal parts beautiful and disturbing, “BioShock Infinite” is an intoxicating adventure that every gamer needs to experience.