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June 28, 2013

BioShock Infinite Review (REMIX)



Shocking, absolutely shocking.

(Special thanks to ZIG for helping me out a lot during the writing of this review!)

Name: BioShock Infinite

Release Date: March 2013

Genre: First Person Shooter-Adventure

Developed By: Irrational Games

Reviewed By: Kyle van Rensburg

Game Site: www.bioshockinfinite.com


Intro:


Booker DeWitt is sent to a mysterious flying city known as Columbia, in order to find a woman by the name of Elizabeth and bring her back.

He encounters the city's inhabitants, who are *slightly* unhinged and worship a man know as Father Comstock, a psuedo-Christian "prophet" with a deadly agenda.....

Together, Booker and Elizabeth have to fight their way out of the city, in the midst of a "99% vs the 1%" war. Time is running short, but they are more determined then ever after Booker discovers that Elizabeth has mind-bending powers that could change the world around them for the better.

Or for the worse.....

Areas of Concern:


Violence:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

General Violence:

Having now played the game in the fullest, the violence level generally stays the same, but please note that when you play it, the game is very brutal.

In fact, and this may sound loony, but a few times during the game I felt physically sick watching the constant displays of brutal violence. 

This is NOT for sensitive gamers.

--Enemies can be shot, we see blood spraying and staining the environment, and cries of pain are heard. With heavier weapons, you can blow heads and limbs off, with arterial sprays of blood.

You can also use rocket launchers and grenades to kill enemies, resulting in dismemberments and blood sprays.

--You can also use a three pronged hook glove to kill enemies, with neck breakings and stabbings being shown, some of which are gory with the enemies' eyes becoming bloody. You can also slice the enemies using the hook, blood spurting out. You can pick up the enemies, jamming their heads between one of the hooks, which spins and decapitates them, blood spraying all over the screen.

A few times when you slice, limbs and heads can be severed, with arterial blood sprays being shown.

--You can use "Vigors" to kill enemies: they can be set on fire, we hear lots of screaming and we see them flail around. 

-Another Vigor is the ability to summon crows: We see them swarm enemies, who scream and become bloody, and eventually collapse dead.

-The Possession Vigor takes control of machines and enemies so that they become your allies. After the effect has worn off, the enemies commit suicide, either by shooting or hitting themselves in the head, with blood spraying. 

--We see a few bloodied dead bodies, blood staining the environment, and blood pools where people have been injured/killed. We also see a few enemies with burnt faces and their skulls show through, with some tattered skin.

Storyline Violence: 

--A man uses a glove with three prong hooks to slice off another man's face: We see him shove the man's face against it, a lot of blood sprays, and the glove is impaled in the man's face. This happens quickly.

--When your character consumes any of the Vigors, we see him go through a violent transformation, with his hands burning off with flames, bone and bloody flesh being shown, and he screams horribly, until his hands become whole again, or his hands crack and we see the bloody flesh underneath, his hands get crystal growths and electricity comes out of them, or boils form on his hands, showing the bloody flesh underneath, until it goes away and he becomes whole once again.

--We see a man sitting in a chair with a lot of blood on the floor and a few bloody tools. His face is very bruised and grotesque, and his clothes are bloodied. He was obviously tortured to death.

--A man is shot in the head, with blood splattering on a window. The woman who shot him smears the blood on her face. Later on, a woman stabs another woman through the chest with a pair of scissors. Blood flows out and stains her shirt, and she collapses dead in a pool of blood.

--A man grabs another man and hits his head against a water basin with blood splattering, and drowns him in the small amount of water.

--We see the scalped heads of a few people pasted on a block of wood: You see their hair and bloody scalps, but not the rest of their heads.

--We hear a man talk about cutting a boy's leg off, and we see a bloody trap.
 

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

--The Devil's Kiss Vigor bottle has the figure of a topless woman on it, but without much detail.

--A man talks about a guy who was "bedding down with the local colour", and he says that he hopes the man who sent him to find another woman doesn't expect him to stuff (something) into her.

--A sign which says "Hall of Heroes" is rearranged to say: "Hall of Wh***s", and we also see the female statue above it has been spray painted on the breasts to make mock nipples.

--A man mentions that the "Seed of the Prophet" should have been left to dry on the bedsheets, and later on a woman talks about a man being rendered sterile and how sexual reproduction de-emphasises the characteristics of the parents.

--A woman calls another woman a w**re, who assures her that her "sexual interest" in the accusing woman's husband is non-existent.

--A man asks if you are looking for a "port in the storm", presumably a homosexual advance.

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

Infrequent Moderate Language: Uses of S**t, W**re, B**ch, B**t**d, P**s, H**l, and D**n.

--God and Jesus' name are used in vain. 

Racial Slurs: Several racial slurs towards all ethnic groups, too many to list here. Uses of g**k, in**ns, ch**k, and cr**ker.

Spiritual Content:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

--The very first line of dialogue in the game is a woman asking a man if he is afraid of God. He says: "No. But I'm afraid of you."

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction." Proverbs 1:7

--The whole game setting takes place in a giant floating city built around religious extremism. A lot of angel statues and religious imagery are shown, and the citizens and villains are "Christian" in a sense. They also seem to revere the founders of America as God-like, and pray to them often. The leader of the citizens is a man called Father Comstock, who they call their "Prophet".

One part takes place in a church built in his honour, and he replaces Jesus as their object of worship. You arrive at a place where a group of people appear to be praying, and a preacher talks about how great the Prophet is and about the "Sodom" beneath them.

You are then forcibly baptized by the preacher, who baptizes you in the name of the Founders, (of America) the name of the Prophet, and the name of Lord. He then declares you "born again"

"Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help." Psalms 146:3


--There are several more spiritual and "Christian" references uttered during the game like "Ascension", "Hallelujah", and a few pseudo Biblical references to a Messiah and God. But most of the time they worship and revere their Prophet, who they say will lead them into a New Eden. We see a few of them praying and mentioning a sword, a scroll, and a key.

A lot of references to baptism, being born again, and the rapture.

--You can gain supernatural abilities from "Vigors", which are chemical drinks your character consumse. The game is unclear how these Vigors came about.

The abilities you acquire are levitation, fire, crow swarms, and possession, in which you possess objects and people so that they are on your side. It appears as if a ghostly woman takes control of them, but this is very unclear on whether or not it's an actual spirit or just there for the "cool".

The woman who gives you the bottle for the possession vigor remarks: "With one whisper, they are all ears...." It's never clarified if she is talking about spirits or if this is just a remark.

Decide for yourself.

--We enter a building. and see that it has a checkerboard floor, and a few people dressed in a way resembling the Freemasons, but with pointed hoods. They seem to be celebrating the Prophet. They also mention that they are worshiping a sword, a raven, and a coffin.

--We briefly see a Buddha statue, and a woman comments on what he represents. A woman is seen standing in front of it with her hands in the praying position, and she says that she was asking him to give her husband back.

"Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God." Leviticus 26:1

--In the game, there are "Tears", which lead to alternate universes and timelines. One enemy, a Siren, is a woman who was cloned using the Tears, and she looks ghostly and brings dead enemies back to life. This is taking advantage of the parallel universes, and it's mentioned that she exists across time, being both alive and dead, so it's not "Spiritual" per se, but sure appears that way.

Oh, and she makes some strange screeching noises, which doesn't help matters.

"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:" Hebrews 9:27

--The following symbols appear in the game:

-A picture of a woman in Greek armour bearing angel wings. (No female angels were ever mentioned in the Bible. They were all described as masculine.)

-Five point star. (Satanic symbol. Very commonly used.)

-The Heart. (Sexual symbol.)

-The Devil with a red face and horns. The Vigor associated with this, the Devil's Breath, sometimes has a price tag of $666 to replenish it. This was obviously a joke on the side of the developers.

-Lightning bolt. (Lucifer falling from heaven.)

-Eye of Lucifer/One eye symbol. 

-In a Chinese exhibit, we see some dragons. (False gods, represents Satan in the book of Revelation.)

-Ram's head. Used as an emblem for "Charge", has a lightning bolt on it's forehead. Dubious if this was deliberate or not. (Ram's head is often associated with satanism or African witchcraft.)

-Spirals. (Sun symbol.) 

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

--You can consume alcoholic beverages: doing so blurs your vision, but replenishes your health.

--We see an advertisement that shows children smoking a cigarette brand specifically intended for minors. 


Discrimination:

--The game itself does not condone racism, but the citizens of Columbia are shown to be very racist and quite a few racial slurs are uttered. We also hear a lot of nasty jokes directed towards black and non-white people, and towards white people as well.

Once again, the game itself definitely is not racist, but the fictional people in the game are.

Scary Stuff:

--The game is fairly creepy at certain stages, but it's more tense than scary. The atmosphere is unsettling, and there are a few intense sequences where your character and his companion are in peril.

Morality:

Abysmal Bad So-so Okay Good Very Good

Your character kills a lot of people during the course of the game, but he does so (mostly) in self-defense. The villain and secondary villains are shown to have their own agendas in mind, and are willing to do anything to fulfill them. 

Review of Game:


So, after playing through this game, how does it hold up?

Gameplay:


The gameplay is simply amazingly designed: Fluid, deep, challenging, yet very streamlined, all at the same time.

The usual gunplay makes an appearance here, but with a twist: Vigors.

Vigors are special abilities, sort of like "spells", if you want to put it that way, which can be used to devastate enemies.

Devastate enemies in ways like summoning a swarm of crows to pick apart foes, making them vulnerable to your bullets. Or Possession, which if upgraded, can turn a hapless mook to your side for a short period of time.

Then you have Shock Jockey, which you can use to zap stronger enemies and unload your weapon of choice into them whilst they are defenseless for a few brief moments.

Elements like these could have made the game overpowered, but that's where Salts come in: Salts power the Vigors, and after they are depleted, you are left with the plain old silver fire-spitter to defend yourself with.

The game by itself is all fine and dandy, but the introduction of Elizabeth helps elevate it even more.

Rest assured, this is one sidekick you won't have to babysit. Elizabeth can take care of herself, even supply you with ammo and Salts to plow through enemy lines with.

She won't fire at enemies though, so you're on your own. This is not a bad thing, however, since that would have stolen most of your fun.

All in all, the gameplay adds up to make a fun, challenging, yet refreshingly simple game experience.

Story:


BioShock Infinite features one of the finest stories told this year, right alongside The Last of Us, even though I personally believe the latter won out.

The most compelling piece of the story is the relationship between Booker and Elizabeth.

The dynamic between them is one I won't spoil, but let's just say that like the aforementioned The Last of Us, there are a lot of conflicts and emotional scars which come to light.

Now, I initially complained about the complete 180 the ending took in the plain version of this review, but after much soul-searching and claptrap, I'm thankful they had the guts to make such an astonishingly ambitious climax.

I'm not the biggest fan of the ending, that I'll say, because it actually feels like it's not complex enough. It could have blown my mind a lot more, but it just gave me a headache.

Still, such risk-taking should be commended, and with that, we were given one of the finest games of this generation.

AudioVisual:


This game sets itself apart from the rest of the pack by having a unique art style, as opposed to complete photo-realism.

That's not to say there's no eye candy here and there. The colour palette of the game deliciously stood out on my computer with it's super-awesome 1920x1080 LED monitor and excellently.......great GTX 650 Ti.

The "retro" design of the game, mixing steam-punk with early 20th century aesthetics, is breathtaking to say the least.

So, what I'm saying is that, this game is indeed amazing, providing that you can tolerate the content.

Quality Verdict: Amazing (A+)



I was surprised to find that after reading up about this game, the depiction of violence courted some controversy. I guess that people are finally now getting fed up with sensational violence and demanding better stories.

Is the violence ban-worthy? That's up to you, but it's actually the usual for shooters these days. I assume that it went against the game's message or something like that, which I actually agree with.

Violence should get less of a lip-licking portrayal, and more of an upsetting, cold, and emotionally engaging depiction.

As for the spiritual content, well, the game itself is not clearly spiritual when it comes to the Vigors and Siren enemy, and the portrayal of people following a false prophet is actually something I agree with, so I can excuse the prayers towards the false prophet. 

There is one minor instance of a woman praying to Buddha, so I'm still unclear on whether or not that should be a big issue. People praying to a false prophet, and one person praying to a false god? Pretty much the same thing. Keep this in mind if you consider purchasing this game.

At the end of the day, everybody will have a huge argument about the religion in this game, when we forget, our beliefs aren't based on religion, but on a relationship with Jesus. You can argue the fine print on that, saying that it's still religion, but I don't care.

"Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." 2 Corinthians 3:6

But wait, we're supposed to condemn this game! And I shall do so, sending forth the fire from hell and burning it at the stake!!!!

.....by giving it a Mature Gamers Only.

ReMix Conclusion:

So now that you've gone through this review again, why did I choose said verdict? And why do I stand by it?

Because I fully agree with the message. It features one of the best depictions of pseudo-Christian sects and cults in movies, books, games, you name it.

I also changed a lot of my own views on fantasy material in fiction after this review, and decided that it's ultimately up to the individual to ask the Holy Spirit and decide for themselves what their verdict is on the select game.

We all get that one work of art which challenges our preconceptions, our ideals, our judgements. BioShock Infinite was one such work of art. And work of art, it was. I can say that it is a video game which changed my life, albeit not in an earth shattering way, but still, it caused a change.

And for that, I hope that it goes down the halls of time as one of the greatest ever. And God willing, may this review be there as well in our all time best.
  
Verdict: (17+)

Mature Gamers Only (MA)

(For Strong Spiritual References justified by context, and Gory Violence.)

Outro:

Original Outro:

Phew, this may have been the most difficult game for me to review thus far. I had a lot of conflicts over what to rate it and if it's a good decision for gamers to play it.

But I hope that this review informed you, and that you enjoyed the read. I will see you guys next Wednesday if all goes well, so tune in then! 

ReMix:

So, how do you guys like that?

Please note that this won't happen every Friday. This was more of a concept show-off. The next ReMix Review will be posted on a Saturday. Stay tuned for updates when the next review will get an Extreme Makeover, right here, on KVR Gaming! 

Writer Bio:

Kyle van Rensburg is the Editor-in-Chief of KVR Gaming. He likes cookies.