“There’s always a lighthouse. There’s always a man. There’s always a city.”
1912. In order to make things right, a man named Booker DeWitt must go against all odds to bring a girl back to the collectors unharmed. Piece of cake, right? Perhaps at first, but things get mighty interesting once Booker reaches the floating city of Columbia. Needless to say, it doesn’t take long for everything to go to Hell.
The original BioShock and BioShock 2 hold a special place in my heart. I was so happy when BioShock (once an Xbox exclusive) finally came to the PlayStation 3 and I was able to explore the city of Rapture for the first time. BioShock is one of my top 5 favorite games of all-time; maybe even top 3. My original plan was to check out the “Minerva’s Den” DLC for BioShock 2. Apparently, BioShock 2 and all of its DLC has been removed from pretty much every digital store, but 2K has claimed they’ll be restored soon. Thus, I decided to move on to BioShock Infinite. A BioShock game that doesn’t take place in Rapture? Preposterous! How will this turn out? Read on to find out…
Booker arrives to the sound of choirs singing and people laughing. The sun is shining. Columbia seems like a happy place, but it wouldn’t be much of a game if that were true. The truth is that the people of Columbia follow a false prophet named Father Comstock. They believe he will lead them to the new Eden. Has believing in false prophets ever had a positive turnout?
One problem I had with the game is that there seems to only be maybe two or three varieties of civilians in Columbia. Everyone looks the same. Then I started to realize that it’s on purpose. There’s almost no one of color in Columbia; it’s all whites, and a few minorities as workers. The Prophet is intent on making sure White reigns supreme. Sky Nazis. White Skypremacists. Call them what you will. It’s racist as hell, but it’s also 1912. Slavery was abolished, but those rules don’t apply off the ground. Only Comstock’s rules apply in Columbia.
Bioshock’s charm has always been it’s respect for art, culture, music, and film in history, whether it’s the bold Art Deco style Rapture featured in the first two BioShock titles, or the turn of the century World’s Fair (with a major focus on industrialization) vibe in Infinite. Infinite features music, art styles, and concepts that make sense existing around the early 1900’s. One featured song, “Goodnight Irene” was presumed to have originated between the 1880’s and 1908, so it fits perfectly. Some other songs, such as “Makin’ Whoppee” and a babershop quartet version of The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” are anachronistically featured, but they’re featured in a way which makes them truly belong within the world of Columbia and BioShock Infinite in general. The songs that seem to “jump out of time” make sense much later in the game once Elizabeth’s abilities are displayed.
Elizabeth’s special ability allows her to open alternate dimensions, called “Tears”. These demensions alter many things in the game. Things may appear to be the same on the other side, but they’re not. This allows Elizabeth to forsee infinite possibilities; infinite doorways.
Vigors are Booker’s source of powers in Infinite. Essentially, they’re the original Plasmids. Instead of using Eve, these powers use Salts. They’re also consumed instead of injected. The latest toy, the Sky-Hook, allows Booker to traverse around on the Sky-Line, giving combat a much more unique and open feeling. The combat opportunities are increased once Elizabeth is able to use her powers to open alternate dimensions, which bring in different objects such as turrets, health packs, and hook hatches. Add in vigors and weapons, and there’s plenty of variety.
The majority of enemies in Infinite are human. They’re angry folks, but nowhere near as crazy as Splicers. There are some robotic enemies, such as the Motorized Patriot (modeled after George Washington) and the Handyman. There’s also the Founders, who are a group of Vigor-powered enemies. The strangest enemy in the game, the Boys of Silence, appears in an alternate version of Comstock House near the end of the game. Acting as a security alarm in Comstock House, the Boys of Silence lets out a loud scream when it detects an enemy. Then, it sends brainwashed men dressed up as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson after you. This is a real creepy part of the game that brought me back to the original BioShock. The most interesting enemy is the Songbird. The Songbird is the original Big Daddy (until Burial at Sea proves otherwise), and protects Elizabeth in her tower. Unfortunately, there aren’t any real battles against the Songbird, and that may have been neat to see. Although, there is only one Songbird. There are multiple Big Daddies.
I’ll always welcome an opportunity to return to Rapture. Burial at Sea takes place in Rapture on New Year’s Eve 1958; the eve before the original BioShock begins. It’s a film-noir detective story told by a very different Booker and Elizabeth. Perhaps it’s told through one of Elizabeth’s infinite dimensions? This is our first glimpse of Rapture thriving as a city before the New Year’s Eve Riots. Things are going well, and people are happily living their lives. Or at least that’s how it appears from the beginning. However, there are rumors about that plans are already very much in motion by Atlas to go to war with Andrew Ryan and take over Rapture. Thus, the New Year’s Eve Riots. What the citizens of Rapture don’t know is that they’ll all soon be turned into splicers, or worse, dead. Rapture is never what it seems at first glance. If it seems too good to be true, chances are, it is. Episode 1 is good old-fashioned BioShock through and through. The only thing missing is a melee wrench. Throughout my entire original BioShock playthrough, I used the combination of an electro-bolt and a wrench to the face for pretty much every enemy. Works like a charm. A return to Rapture wouldn’t be complete with a Big Daddy battle. Episode 2 is played from Elizabeth’s perspective, and it relies heavily on stealth as opposed to going in guns blazing. This is a change that I’m fine with, but I’d still prefer to have a wrench.
Troy Baker and Courtnee Draper offered exquisite voicework as Booker and Elizabeth, which ultimately aided in the success of BioShock Infinite. These two really pour their hearts into their work, and it shows. You can’t help but feel for these characters.
Infinite may not take place in Rapture (not until the DLC, anyway), but since it’s rooted in the same universe, it feels and plays just like it should. It’s very much a BioShock game, in every sense of the word. I used to believe that Rapture was the only world in which BioShock could exist. “A flying city in the clouds? How is this BioShock?” That was, of course, until I actually played the game. BioShock Infinite deserves every ounce of the title as the other two games. Infinite is BioShock to the t; all the way. Columbia is no different than Rapture. They’re both breathtaking cities from a different time. The founders that made these places possible will always remain in my memory. Ryan, Fontaine, Lamb, Tenenbaum, Comstock, Fink. The list goes on and on. These idealists and founders did great things. Many of them did terrible things, and they did them for the good of the city, not necessarily for the good of the people. They were crazy and their ideals were crazy. But, of course, you’d certainly have to be crazy to build cities under the water and above the clouds. These cities were more than just permanent vacations, they were a means of escaping life (above and below) and creating a new one. I’m just sad it’s all over. I’ve played everything there is to play in the BioShock universe. As of now, there aren’t any new BioShock games accounced, but I know that there are plans to continue the series. These games are far too popular to stop now. I wonder, what would a new BioShock game entail? Rapture is destroyed in BioShock 2, and Infinite and the Burial at Sea DLC allowed for the stories to intertwine and come full-circle to a solid conclusion. I would never have imagined that Columbia and Rapture were connected to the extent that they were (and in more ways than one!). I had a few unanswered questions over the years after playing BioShock and BioShock II, and the Burial at Sea episodes helped to fill in some, if not all of the gaps. Here’s hoping that a new BioShock isn’t too far away. If you’ve never experienced a BioShock game in your life, you’re in for some real treats. Who knows? They may just become your favorite games.