Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bioshock: Infinite - First Impressions

Hey all, so last night I went to the launch event for Bioshock: Infinite, my impressions and photos of that will come tomorrow (power went down and been a crazy day at work so not been able to post what I wanted) but I did play for about half an hour last night and here are my first impressions (as written at the behest of a friend Jason).

After the obligatory 20 minutes running updates and registering DLC codes (one of which I'm not even sure if it worked at all since I can't see how to link the Facebook account to the DLC in game but I'll deal with that tomorrow) I got in to the game. Even before starting the game, the title screen which randomly plays a song showed what I'm in store for, the first song ...was Saint James Infirmary Blues. Second was another period song, they are on their game here (and I can't wait to listen to the sound track tomorrow).

Immediately on starting I'm struck by the protagonist Booker Dewitt, in Bioshock you are silent but for the introduction and when you transform later in the game. There is no dialogue from your nameless character.  Bioshock 2 is much the same but with Infinite there's an internal monologue and you very quickly build a rapport with the character. This is a brilliant stroke that at once makes it more personal (the silent protagonist is an artifact of technology that some turned in to a style choice).

We have another cryptic and imagery laden introduction sequence that is far more interactive than the first two games. We move through the environment and learn the basics of this world we have been thrust in to. Where The first two dealt with Libertarianism, Objectivism and Communism this deals with Exceptionalism of America and the Evangelical faiths. There is a distinct parallel between Comstock's faith and that of the Mormons the real life American born religion. It's interesting if it's simply something I'm interested to see if it's intentional or me just reading in at an early time int he story but one thing is for sure the use of era religious music is a great touch. The original Will The Circle Be Unbroken prior to the Carter family's rewrite of the tune was a nice touch (despite the uneducated internet rabble-rouser complaints about the removal of God it was a return to ORIGINAL period version).

After leaving the starting area I'm greeted with an amazing spectacle, they are certainly pushing the consoles to their limit. I wish I had got it on PC but c'est la vie, it's still stunning on the PS3. Having seen all versions now it's clear the PC is the best platform by far but the PS3 outstrips the Xbox for this.  The flare and lighting engine is clearly more powerful on the PS3 but of course this and the water effects (as well as aliasing) are far superior on the PC.  Where Bioshock and Bioshock 2 were set in the Stygian abyss of the oceanic trenches, this is set in the glorious heavens and where the first two painted in desolation and shadow, darkness and death this game pains in beauty and light, glory and life. It's stunning, the city is vibrant with citizens going about their daily lives not splicers immediately intent on killing you. The city teems with people living their day and the light, the glorious light, it's truly amazing how they've used the soft glow and the defuse lighting to create a truly magical realm. Once again the setting is the "third character" in the room but this time they are a welcoming one (at least at this point) who quite soon it's made obvious holds a dark side. A simple flash forward/back which I think we'll see more about soon showed us an ominous portent.

Okay, for a quick "first impression" it's a bit long but I was truly stunned. I got to the fair and didn't start using the "Vigours" (Plasmids of this game) yet but hopefully have some time tomorrow (edit: nope I didn't). All I know is I'm going to have to caffine it up Tuesday (edit: yes I did) that's for sure. I think this is my next play to completion game. Absolutely outstanding, even after 30 minutes I know everyone should pick this up.

~ Matt Ardill

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