Year of release: March 26, 2013

BioShock was a breakout hit from a visionary developer who wanted to change the way we look at games by bringing powerful storytelling to gaming.

Ken Levine, brought us into a whole new dark world that featured powerful elements of history, politics and uncomfortable questions about our own humanity. Not to mention that players got to storm around a world full of characters driven mad with power while shooting fireballs and electricity out of their hands. The ability to balance a great story and fun gameplay is a rare mix that BioShock successfully pulled off. Irrational Games began BioShock Infinite’s development as soon as it finished the original BioShock.

Ken Levine, its creator, said that it didn’t want players to think of BioShock universe as one place or time.

“I think the one thing that Infinite is intended to demonstrate is that BioShock doesn’t mean a particular place. It means a lot of other things. We knew we basically had to start from scratch in a lot of areas but it still had to be a BioShock game. And that was a real interesting challenge.”

BioShock Infinite is, at its core, a first person shooter with many adventure and role-playing elements. Saying that, it doesn’t play like any other first person shooter you’ve experienced nor does it fit easily into these other play categories. Its story is one about the how the smallest decisions can lead to huge consequences later down the line in an utopian society slowly crushing itself under the weight of its own heady morals. The story is full of decisions that the player has no way of knowing if the consequences will leave them the “good guy” or the “bad guy” and ultimately asked the question if either can really exist. Infinite’s story happens directly to the player.

There are no third-person cut scenes to take players out of the main character, Booker’s, view of things. It pushes the player into an uncomfortable role of a man battling demons that slowly become more and more horrifying. Booker starts as an innocent pawn and becomes the architect of a world’s demise. The story begins will the private investigator Booker is charged with finding a girl in exchange for wiping away the debt he owes with gruesome scenes illustrating the consequences of failure.

It asks the question: What is salvation and what are the dangers of building a perfect, just society? From the moment that the player is birthed into Columbia, ever detail of game, from the dancing hummingbirds in the garden, to the race rally in the park, is damn near perfect

He’s quickly found out as being the bad-seed in a perfect world and forced for join a rebel group, the Vox Populi, and raid the hidden corners of a massive city floating in the clouds. Throughout the game with the critical eye of Elizabeth, a mysterious girl, trapped in a tower who has the power to manipulate tears in time-space, Booker begins to see that he’s not the man he thought he was. The player must face Booker’s reality that he is a murder, a war criminal, and asks if faith or religion should allow us the clear away these sins. All this culminates in an ending that will leave you shocked and wowed that won’t pull its talons out of you mind for days.

The gameplay of BioShock Infinite sits somewhere between a first-person shooter and an adventure game. Players will use recognizable guns and bombs in one hand but will balance that power with “Vigors” that allow them to launch fireballs, crush enemies and launch swarming attacks. All these can be chained together to create critical killing blows allowing Booker to wipe a battlefield clear in moments. The maps are built around a rail system that connects the floating cities together and players will need to use a Skyhook to ride the rails using them as a strategic vantage to drop attacks on enemies or lure them into gruesome melee killing blows.

Elizabeth also plays a part in battle by throwing booker ammo and health when he needs it and also by using her ability to manipulate tears in space, to pull-in objects to help Booker. When the player is getting shot-up in battle and needs to hunker down Elizabeth is right there by Booker’s side, hiding in cover, flinching at the bullets flying by your heads giving a sense that the player and Elizabeth are really in it together. One of the most shocking things about Infinite is the enemies Booker will face.

The highly stylized bad guys perfectly capture the feeling of the city. The most memorable of these being the George Washington automatons, wheels spinning and chain-gun spitting fire but with a happy revolutionary song playing with patriotic flags trailing behind. It’s a near-perfect metaphor for what the world of Columbia is, an incredibly self confident slave state. Another memorable character is the Handy Man, hulking brutes that were once terminally ill patients who were given a choice: death, or a life of slavery in as a metal beast. So as slaves they try to kill Booker all the while begging to stop, there is something deeply disturbing in being pummeled to death by a creature pleading you to stop hurting them.

One reason Bioshock Infinite has succeeded in being such a compelling game is that while gameplay is fun and challenging all the rewards are in the story telling. There are no real boss battles here; players are not driven to reach a high-level of experience points. But they will face epic, ever-changing battles that will lead them into a confrontation with Booker’s own demons. As the story unfolds the player becomes an unwilling hand in the destruction of not only himself but of an entire world, through the madness of extremism and the perils of forgiveness. Infinite is one of the best games of the last five years because it brings together seemingly unrelated content and an ambitious, complicated and controversial story and somehow manages to pull it off for a mind-blowing ending.

It asks the question: What is salvation and what are the dangers of building a perfect, just society? From the moment that the player is birthed into Columbia, ever detail of game, from the dancing hummingbirds in the garden, to the race rally in the park, is damn near perfect