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May 31st, 2013, 06:16
I finished this game a couple of days ago. No DLC (none is available yet). It's hard to even call it a shooter/RPG hybrid as the character development is bare bones at best - but it sure is a heck of a shooter. Total playing time was 20 hours.

Was, Wasn't, Won't Be

Bioshock Infinite was delayed quite a few times. That will often end up translating to half-finished changes and bad balance showing up in the final product but, thankfully, that didn't happen with this game.

It did result in some big changes from what you may have seen in the early videos, though. The mood of the game is right on but all the mechanics you saw with Booker and Elizabeth working together are completely gone. All Elizabeth does herself is occasionally pass you ammo/health/mana/money. She'll open up tears that can bring things like health packs or friendly turrets to your aid but she will only do those when you specifically tell her to do so.

Life in the Clouds

As I've come to expect from Bioshock games, the atmosphere is very well done. The whole city-in-the-clouds thing gets a bit lost sometimes when you spend a lot of time in a big building but the outdoor parts do a pretty good job of it. If the first chapter had done it any better I think I would have gotten a nosebleed!

The graphics were done very well, both technically and artistically. My only qualm there would be that some of the backdrops seemed a bit more like distant paintings than real objects. I'll blame the consoles for that instead of Irrational. Animations were mostly good except when Elizabeth would do her running animation while moving at a walking speed. Oh, and characters over-do the facial animations sometimes. When you first start talking with Elizabeth, she seems like a character out of some kids' Pixar movie. She gets back to more sane acting pretty quickly, thank goodness.

The music was possibly the best I've ever heard in a video game. Seriously. The ambient music was very well done (and certainly added to the above-mentioned atmosphere). The period music was great fun. "Will the Circle be Unbroken," which gets played quite often, fits the story incredibly well. And here's something you won't see often… a spoiler when describing the music!

Spoiler


The actual shooting is pretty good. The spells (I forget what they were called in this Bioshock) and different weapon types add a good bit of variety to the combat. For whatever reason, you're stuck with just two weapons at once. What I found fun was to use a weapon until I got the achievement for it then switch to something else. That keept the variety going.

You also get to pick your gear… such as it is. You get a hat, a shirt, a pair of pants, and shoes - each with magical powers. Some of those are pretty strong and can change how you fight. You can never actually see what you're wearing, though. This gear choice plus alterations you can make to your spells is about it for RPG features. (You can upgrade weapons, too, but that just makes the weapons better, it doesn't really change how you fight with them.)

Have you been Saved?

The save system is absolutely atrocious. I wasn't at all happy with Borderlands 2's system but at least that game would let you save your progress if not your position. Bioshock Infinite just has a straight-up autosave system. When you ask to leave the game it tells you the time it decided to save for you and tells you flat out that you'll lose everything you've done since then. I had a couple of times where I was really wanting to quit but hadn't been allowed to save for over half an hour!

Worse yet, it's not quite telling the truth. It does save some things, though I'm not real sure what. I found this out when I went into a bar then, after about five minutes of poking around, I suddenly got attacked by everyone in the bar. I really didn't want to kill all those otherwise-nice folk and the game had saved when I walked in so I restarted from the last checkpoint. Everyone was still mad at me after the game reloaded and some of my ravens were still flying around! Blah.

The Religion Controversy

I've got no idea what the fuss was about with all these reports about how the game might be offensive to Christians. Uhh, no. The prophet Comstock may have started as a Baptist but he's clearly running a personality/nationalism cult. You'll find statues of saint Washington, saint Jefferson, and of course Comstock himself all over but good luck finding a single cross.

To Infinity & Beyond

The story is really good stuff. It gets a tad muddled about two thirds of the way through but it's an excellent story overall.

Then there's the ending. Wow. It's mind bending, beautiful, poignant, and thought provoking. It actually kept me up at night trying to figure out exactly what happened. After much theorizing and re-playing the final battle so I could see the ending again, I think I've figured most of it out.

Overall I would definitely recommend this game. The save system is awful but the atmosphere, music, and above all the ending wipe away that deficit. Just be sure to keep an eye on the clock and start watching for the auto-save indicator about half an hour before quitting time.
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