Bioshock Infinite: Wor(l)ds Are Not Enough

My review of Bioshock Infinite is up at Slant.

There’s a great philosophical dissent (which I disagree with) over here at The Gameological Society, and a fantastic video review by Adam Sessler that illustrates what words–especially only 800 of them–cannot always manage to express. My overall takeaway is that Infinite, like Bioshock before it, is an FPS that’s set in a museum, so that while the thrust of the game is dictated by shooting enemies (be it with left-handed powers or right-handed guns), there’s plenty of atmospheric learning to be done. In fact much of the story is conveyed through overheard snippets of conversation, either the things that your AI-controlled companion Elizabeth blurts out (often in horror) or the recorded history of Columbia, hidden in kinetoscope kiosks and Voxophone audio recordings. You can play this simply as a run-and-gun, but even the average gamer will be compelled to stop and think about some of the situations, and to feel sympathy for some of the more fleshed out “villains,” even if the game–at heart–is really just about telling the oldest story in the world, in which the hero, Booker, rescues the princess, Elizabeth, from the castle. In other words, the scenery is what matters most, and while the fundamental shooting hasn’t changed much from the original, the more vertical environments (with the rail-gliding sequences) and rift-opening gimmick keep the game fluid, challenging, and above all else, interesting. I was never bored, even when simply wandering through the streets of Columbia.

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