Bioshock Infinite: Gruesome Behind a Charming Face

Bioshock Infinite has been one of this year’s most popular releases, garnering a following of fan promoting a positive reception when the title launched on Windows and select consoles earlier this year. Today, the Mac joins those platforms in offering Bioshock Infinite and it’s our turn to take a look at what it has to offer.

Bioshock Infinite continues the Bioshock series with a fresh new storyline, centred around the fictional floating city of Columbia and its strong political and religions themes. It’s an FPS so combat will naturally come as events unravel but a system of vigors mixes things up with unique interruption.


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Entry to Columbia

After a short intro sequence setting up the brief backstory to the game’s events, the religions themes in Bioshock Infinite are immediately forced upon with the player being ushered into a literal digital baptism before they can proceed to the city. For a game that doesn’t advertise itself as a religious thriller, the early induction into this strong religious backstory can be harrowing but it’s not long until you’re out into the bright atmosphere of Columbia.

Columbia offers a beautiful setting to the events of Bioshock Infinite.

Columbia offers a beautiful setting to the events of Bioshock Infinite.

Columbia is a beautifully designed city in the clouds, floating a population that seems universally happy and content. It resembles an early 1900s America, filled with classic designs and architectures. With a simple directive, the game offers the standard chance to explore your surroundings without interrupting combat, allowing you to enjoy the delights that Columbia has to offer. Mini-games that resemble carnival games allow you to earn some early currency and the slow-paced introduction offers a pleasant first few steps.

Bioshock Infinite's sinister story doesn't take time to break the delight of Columbia's design.

Bioshock Infinite’s sinister story doesn’t take time to break the delight of Columbia’s design.

It’s not long before the dark undertones of Columbia’s culture once again present themselves, however. The authorities show off gruesome melee weapons to each other, allowing for quick and painful executions with little rationing of blood, a raffle offers the winner a chance to pelt a tortured mixed race couple with a baseball and signage in the city promotes the hunt for a character referred to as the False Shepherd — one depicted with a strikingly similar mark on their hand as your character’s. The contrast between the city’s initial charming exterior and its much darker soul provide an enticing atmosphere unlike the majority of “the world’s gone to hell anyways” shooters.

Vigors and Executions

The story of Bioshock Infinite sees you locate a girl named Elizabeth and help her escape the city, all while trying to make some nominal effort against the city’s extreme religious overtones and racial injustice. Of course, this isn’t an easy process and combat is a common occurrence throughout the entire game. You begin armed with simple weaponry and Columbia’s own flagship melee weapon — used to perform effective and gore-filled executions when it’s time isn’t taken up hanging onto a system of rails that let you navigate the game world — but new weaponry becomes available as you progress.

Bullet-based combat is often interrupted with the use of unique vigors.

Bullet-based combat is often interrupted with the use of unique vigors.

Bioshock Infinite distinguishes itself from other FPS with its own unique, fantasy perks and enemies. A variety of vigors provide unique power-ups during combat, such as taking possession of an enemy turret or setting a murder of crows on a crowd of opponents, which are fuelled by the salts gained from scavenging for items around the maps. There’s a pleasing simplicity to the inventory-less Bioshock Infinite; you can’t stockpile health packs or extra salts for use later, so making decisions is more meaningful without the ability to pause and replenish supplies.

Bioshock Infinite doesn't let you stockpile resources for later, so exploring the environment for support is a must.

Bioshock Infinite doesn’t let you stockpile resources for later, so exploring the environment for support is a must.

When you have the AI-controlled Elizabeth following, she’ll offer her own unique contribution to your combat efforts. Elizabeth can spawn in assistance in the form of additional cover and auxiliary support like turrets, adding another dynamic to combat that doesn’t require you to run across the map to accept a care package.

Final Thoughts

Bioshock Infinite is a fun game with a striking atmosphere you won’t soon forget. Set in a fantasy rendition of classical America, the title offers a refreshing break from the military and sci-fi cliches that dominate the genre. The early exposure to extreme religion can be intense and the time-sensitive choice at whether to throw a baseball in acceptance of Columbia’s racism will question your moral instincts. However, Bioshock Infinite offers a fairly non-repetitive combat system immersed in a world designed with immense care to the intrinsic detail that defines its literal award-winning atmosphere.

You can pick up Bioshock Infinite through the Mac App Store or Steam. If you already own the game for Windows on Steam, the Mac version should unlock for free. The Clash in the Clouds DLC will be available for purchase on Steam from September 12th.


Summary

One of the hottest games of the year that's finally come to the Mac, Bioshock Infinite puts you in control of Booker DeWitt, attempting to rescue Elizabeth from the subtly-dark floating city of Columbia.

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