Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Above Us Only Sky

When the curtain finally falls on this current generation of consoles and we look back for the first time, what will we remember? 

Whenever I consider this, one image consistently springs to mind – My head bursting through the ocean surface, fuel and debris ablaze on the waves around me.
That was the opening of Bioshock in 2007 and even six years on, it still stands as one of the most stunning images I’ve seen in a game. 
It was inevitable then, than the only game that could hope to reach those heights again, would also have Bioshock in the title.

Bioshock Infinite is set in 1912 in Columbia – a floating city. The player takes on the role of Booker Dewitt, a man tasked with rescuing Elizabeth, a young woman held captive in the city. Facing two warring factions – the founders of Columbia and a band of rebels known as the Vox Populi – Booker must escape with Elizabeth and along the way will learn of the powers she possesses and the back story behind this city, its creators and Elizabeth’s captivity. 

The game was released in March to glowing reviews, many of them 10/10, but since then, some sites have picked at those perfect scores and tried to find fault. Games journalists – because they are professional critics who invariably hate the industry they’re a part of – often seem embarrassed by high scores. I just want to take them to one side, put a comforting hand on their shoulders and tell them it’s ok to love something. 

Not that their comments are without merit. The combat mechanics in Bioshock Infinite – while entertainingly chaotic and unpredictable – are for the most part standard shooter fair and for those who like their games challenging, you will only find a few sequences to really test you. People better informed than I could dig further and unearth other areas of Infinite that don’t live up to the review scores, but that’s they’re business. For me - from the story to the graphics, from the soundtrack to the characters - I found the game a staggering experience not easily forgotten.

And what a sight for sore eyes it is. The production values on this game are phenomenal with amazing detail, stunning environments and sights to just gawp at at every turn. One of the downsides of the first Bioshock was that Rapture was already a broken city and you never got to see how it used to be. In Columbia, you get to see Rome before the fall. The world Irrational games has created is so good that at times you’ll get annoyed when its residents attack you, because you simply want to be left alone to wander around and soak it all in. 

The “Can videogames be considered art?” argument continues to rage, but those who believe they can, will surely be holding the Bioshock games aloft as proof.

Bioshock Infinite is a piece of art. Ken Levine and the developers at Irrational Games have woven together a tapestry of story, action and sheer spectacle that few can hope to match. 

When the history of the first person shooter is written – nay – when the history of games is written; they will ask us: Where were you when Bioshock Infinite happened?

I for one will be able to smile a knowing smile and reply: I was there.

No comments:

Post a Comment