- Developer: Ghost Story Games (formerly Irrational Games)
- Publisher: 2K Games
- Release Date: 29/05/2020
- Price: £15.99 / $19.99
- Review copy provided by 2K Games
Introducing: Bioshock Infinite Nintendo Switch review
Bioshock Infinite is the third and final entry in the Bioshock series and what a swansong it is. Drawing from the first and second entries in the series, Infinite not only refined game mechanics, it refreshed them too and introduced new ideas. While they might not necessarily have always paid off, they did modernise the somewhat dated gameplay of the inaugural offerings, all of which while throwing a curveball by entirely changing the aesthetic of Bioshock Infinite, in relation to its predecessors. Does Bioshock Infinite transcend its previous iterations or bite of more than it can chew? Find out, as Nintendad goes full 2K20 and discovers the cloud (city of Columbia).
Elizabethan Love Stories
Bioshock Infinite initiates with our perennial protagonist, Booker Dewitt approaching a lighthouse. Bring us the girl, wipe away the debt. Unlike in Bioshock Remastered, which sees you venture underground when entering the lighthouse, in Infinite, you instead take an upward trajectory and after a brief cinematic, arrive in the city in the clouds, Columbia, with the task of rescuing Elizabeth and bringing her back to wipe out your debt with the Pinkerators. The most striking change in Bioshock Infinite is the setting and its subsequent aesthetic.
While Bioshock 1 and 2 took place underwater in the city of Rapture, Infinite is set high in the sky, in the cloud city of Columbia. With this new location comes a new look – the moody neon visuals switched for a steampunk/cel-shaded style. Everything is lighter and appears more cheerful. Looks, however, can be deceiving and Bioshock Infinite is as dark and twisted as previous entries in the series. Once again, the woven tale is intricate, yet dissected through time. There are twists, turns and red-herrings along the way. But, the constant throughout is that due to the way in which the story plays out, you come to genuinely care about Booker and Elizabeth and as such, want to protect them.
While you solely control Booker, Elizabeth is ever present. You would be forgiven for thinking that this would prove problematic, and protecting her would be troublesome, but this simply isn’t the case. If anything, her presence aids you, as she is often popping up with ammo, salts or health packs, which can prove incredibly convenient in the heat of battle. Speaking of controls, the buttons have been entirely altered for Infinite, meaning that they differentiate wildly from the the previous titles in the series. This can be changed in the options, with legacy controls set to default, and checking out the options is usually something I always do before starting a game for review. Unfortunately, and perhaps unprofessionally, I was so wrapped up in the Bioshock Collection that I didn’t on this occasion. What can I say? I’m an IRL splicer, and my Eve is Bioshock.
Surprisingly, enemies decide to completely ignore Elizabeth during fractious combat moments. Either that, or they simply can’t see her loosely hiding behind that crate. To further cement her role as best companion EVER (take that Fi) Elizabeth can manipulate tears in reality and pull equipment from other realms. These items range from health packs to weapons to gun turrets.
Early on in the game’s narrative, you receive a claw-like device which makes a rather delightful melee weapon. It also serves a dual purpose and allows Booker to traverse the Skyrails of Columbia, a brand new way of quickly getting around and accessing hard to reach areas. While a novel concept, the endgame was particularly hindered by an over-reliance on the game’s newest feature. Had it been used more sparingly in a more focused way, it would have been a fantastic way to mix up the pacing of Bioshock Infinite. Unfortunately, over usage of it led me to grow irked by it more than anything by the time credits rolled.
There’s always a lighthouse, there’s always a man
Included with Bioshock Infinite is all the DLC from the original season pass. This is made up of three parts, the arena battle mode and two episodic, story-driven pieces. What they do wonderfully is provide some fan service as you get to experience Rapture before it fell, when it was a thriving utopia. The set up is quite brilliant too. You resume your role as Booker DeWitt, private investigator. One afternoon, a woman – Elizabeth, obviously – barges into your office and offers you a case. While it doesn’t further the story content from the main game exceptionally, it does provide fascinating insight into all things Rapture. It’s also really refreshing to revisit Rapture in the Infinite engine, skyhook (grabby thing!!) and all. It’s not overly long, a couple of hours at best per piece, and as such, simply bulks out the overall experience without burning you out too much.
Ragtime is the best time!!
As per usual in a Bioshock title, the sound design is once again spectacular in Bioshock Infinite and as such a good pair of headphones are recommended. The music really is special in this game and it combines reworked classics with original tunes to great effect. If you ever heed any single piece of advice that I give you, show this title’s sound team the respect that they deserve and appreciate every facet of the music and sound effects. There’s also a lot of dialogue with Elizabeth, although there is the option for subtitles this time around, which was certainly appreciated.
As with the previous Bioshock titles on the collection, the Switch port is faultless. Bioshock Infinite runs without a hitch in both docked and handheld and really does feel like a title that Nintendo’s hybrid was made for. Playing in short bursts on the go complements the new chapter system perfectly too. In the previous Bioshock outings, you could save anywhere. This time around, the game utilises an auto save system that kicks in at the beginning of a chapter. Admittedly, the chapters are short, with all 40 running in at around 10 hours. However, popping the Nintendo Switch into sleep mode means that you can jump in and out as you see fit.
This is in no way a criticism though, the pacing is perfect and Bioshock Infinite hurtles towards its stunning conclusion in the blink of an eye, albeit the most wonderfully nuanced blink of an eye imaginable.
Bioshock Infinite builds on what made the first two titles nearly perfect and almost took it home. Some overreliance on gimmicks towards the end of the title unfortunately stopped this modern classic from scoring perfectly, however it must be commended for getting so much right. This is a must play title.
- A masterful narrative, delivered in stunning fashion
- Modern FPS touches
- New aesthetic
- DLC delivers fantastic fan service
- Perfectly paced
- Overuse of the sky hook mechanic
- New button mapping befuddling (moreso after playing through all titles back to back)
Bioshock Infinite is nearly a perfect game, and certainly demanding of your attention on Nintendo Switch.