Bioshock Infinite Reaches for the Sky


Courtesy of Devin Jones “A beautiful display of the graphic capabilities of the Unreal Engine. After leaving the church, you are greeted by the vibrant colors of gorgeous Columbia.”

Bioshock Infinite is the long awaited addition to the award winning Bioshock series by 2K games, which is known for its horrifying themes, gruesome storylines, and terrifying characters. 2K Games have established themselves as a powerhouse of good storytelling because of their ability to put forth thought provoking situations of religious controversy and government collapse. The first two Bioshock games were both based in the fictional city of Rapture, an underwater city where anarchists and religious fanatics run rampant. But with the release of Bioshock Infinite, 2K leaves behind the dark, wet tunnels of Rapture, and thrusts the player into a completely new world full of possibilities. They put the player in the world of Columbia.

Columbia is a flying city built by the United States to make a statement to the rest of the world. That statement is: “We are better than you. We have more advanced technology. We are the best.” A technological marvel, Columbia soars high in the sky using technology developed by Lutece, a scientist that plays a crucial role in Bioshock Infinite’s story. However, everything is not as it appears in Columbia. American flags wave proudly in the wind, statues of great american figures glint in the bright sunlight, posters of a man named Comstock plaster the walls, and the city’s inhabitants appear to be perfectly happy. But there is something more sinister lurking below the surface of Columbia, and it certainly isn’t Rapture.

Comstock, the lead antagonist in Bioshock Infinite, has implemented himself as a prophet to the people of Columbia and they worship him like a god. When the player first enters Columbia, they are dumped off in a church made in the honor of Comstock and the deceased U.S. presidents, who are also viewed as gods by the people of Columbia. The player sees statues of Comstock, lit by the eerie glow of candles, and priests wading through the thigh-high water in white robes, heads bowed in prayer;The player hears the preacher as he speaks the holy words of the founding fathers and the hummings of the nearby priests. As the player nears a circle of priests and is offered a baptism in exchange for entrance to the city, it becomes apparent how passionate the people of Columbia are with their religion, as is demonstrated in other various parts of the story. From seeing a man rambling about George Washington in the street to fighting with a cult that worships John Wilkes Booth that vaguely resembles the Klu Klux Klan, 2K games paints a frightening picture of how religion can be blown out of proportion.

But Bioshock Infinite isn’t completely about defeating Comstock or even about uncovering the secrets of Columbia. It is all about Elizabeth, a mysterious girl that is imprisoned in a tower and guarded by a giant mechanical bird named the Songbird. Booker DeWitt, the main character in Bioshock Infinite, has been sent on a mission to rescue Elizabeth from her tower and bring her back to New York City, no matter the cost. Elizabeth has been locked away in a tower for her entire life, nothing but a living specimen for Comstock’s scientists to study. Elizabeth was born with a unique ability to open up “tears” in the fabric of the universe, allowing her to travel to different dimensions, times, and places in the blink of an eye. This makes Elizabeth very valuable and very dangerous, which is why she plays such a major role in the combat aspect of Bioshock Infinite. While in combat, Elizabeth can open up tears, allowing the player to take advantage of items that she brings in from another dimension. But no matter how many tears that Elizabeth opens up, there is still an army of Comstock’s religious followers there to stop her at every turn. From there, it is up to how the player interacts with the environment and the various moral choices that are presented.

Similar to the other Bioshock games, Bioshock Infinite features its trademark decision system to determine how certain events play out. One such event occurs shortly after Booker DeWitt enters Columbia, where he wins a raffle at a fair that is going on in the honor of Comstock. For his prize, Booker is presented with an interracial couple and given the choice between throwing a baseball at them or throwing it at the Master of Ceremonies. Choices like these have a distinct effect upon the route that the player goes down in the future and is always sure to come with a set of benefits and drawbacks, making the player really think about the consequences of their actions.

All in all, Bioshock Infinite is a very clever game that is filled with thought provoking topics, brilliantly developed characters, and a fantastic combat system that keeps the player guessing every step throughout the beautiful and terrifying city of Columbia. 2K Games has certainly outdone themselves with their latest installment into the Bioshock series, earning it a solid 5 out of 5 Suns. There is only one thing left to question: Where will 2K take us next? Bioshock Infinite certainly makes it clear that it could be anywhere.