Rainy Days and BioShock Infinite Reviews Never Get Me Down

I should change the title to read "snowy days," since that's what it's doing here -- thanks a bunch, spring! -- but let there be BioShock Infinite reviews!

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Irrational Games

I should change the title to read “snowy days,” since that’s what it’s doing here — thanks a bunch, spring! — but let there be BioShock Infinite reviews! They’re popping up everywhere, with Irrational’s new socio-political-shooter (SPS?) hitting stores tomorrow. Can you believe it’s been five-and-a-half years since we first chased (but mostly ran from) Rapture’s hulking golems in deep-sea diving suits?

I’d love to tell you about BioShock Infinite, except I’ve run into a little problem: It’s making me sick. Don’t worry, I don’t think it’s some broader problem with the game, which I’ve been working through on my PC (it runs perfectly — and looks breathtaking — on an Intel Core i5 system with an Nvidia GTX 670 at 1920 x 1080 and the detail needle buried). I’m pretty sure it’s just me. I’m usually okay with first-person games, but for whatever reason — perhaps a tidal shift in my synaptic pathways, my plugged-up sinuses and ears, or that I’ve been sick the past week with what friends and family are calling “the crud” — I can only play for half an hour a pop before my stomach abandons ship. I’m going to try one of the console versions tomorrow, fingers crossed.

In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for what the world’s saying about Irrational’s opus…

Former TIME scribe Evan Narcisse has the most powerful piece at Kotaku. Evan writes the sort of game reviews I prefer: smart, politically aware, pointed, theory-informed and blissfully flavor-text-free. He also doesn’t shy from exploring the game’s brutal-playground-within-politicized-narrative-snow-globe design:

It’s easy to dismiss those people floating in the fractured mirror Americas that we disagree with. They’re wrong; we’re right. Who cares why they are the way they are? But BioShock Infinite asks us to consider that very question and gives an answer that mixes hope with bitterness, wonder with despair and allegory with history. The game doesn’t offer any advice about how to make everyone get along better but it makes a powerful argument for owning– and owning up to–all of our collective past.

Andrew Fitch has an interesting read over at EGM (or Electronic Gaming Monthly, or EGMNOW, or — oh whatever, I give up), calling the game’s sky-city, Columbia, “the most intriguing, fascinating setting I’ve ever set foot in as a player.” He gives the game full marks (it’s so far getting those from just about everyone).

To the casual observer, BioShock Infinite may look like just another game starring a scowling, testosterone-infused hero cocking a shotgun at onrushing enemy hordes. But just like Irrational’s 2007 trip through an undersea Objectivist paradise gone mad, this is far more than a simple first-person shooter; the experience will make players think, inspire them to explore, and leave them emotionally spent by the time it’s all over. With BioShock Infinite, Ken Levine cements his status as one of gaming’s elite creative minds.

And for “best review title” (so far), you have to hand it to Destructoid’s Jim Sterling: “Now this is Cloud gaming.”

As a game, BioShock Infinite has its successes and its falterings consistent with any suitably complex piece of interactive entertainment. As a story, as an exercise in drawing the player into a believable and relevant world, as proof of exactly what a videogame can mean to a person …

Well, I already said it. BioShock Infinite is damn near perfect.

If you want something that’s mildly — and I stress mildly — critical of the game, Steve Burns’ piece at Videogamer.com is probably the boldest going, daring to write stuff like, “There’s a worrying lack of urgency or danger to it all” and “There’s also a lack of diversity to the environments themselves” and “The combat itself also suffers from monotony via overuse.” (I know, scandalous!)

And yet, despite all this BioShock Infinite might just be one of the most compelling games of this generation. For all its flaws, it has an odd power, an insistence that players find out how the story concludes … The finale is sure to be debated for years to come – in both positive and negative senses, but the end of the game is merely the beginning of a cycle: I wanted to play it all over again, despite its flaws. If that’s not a recommendation I don’t know what is.

I promise to weigh in once my stomach lets me.

Also: The launch trailer’s just out — worth watching for Nico Vega’s “Fury Oh Fury” alone.