“BioShock” changes the nature of gaming

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Susan Altman, Staff Writer

They are often blamed for being one of the main causes behind the dissolution of United States culture. Others merely view them as simple-minded fun. However, much like the other, more respected forms of entertainment, video games have developers seeking to revolutionize their field by releasing unique works.

In 2007, “BioShock” was released: it featured an intricate setting, which involved a dystopian society based upon a corrupted form of the ideals of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.” The complex plot, memorable characters, and fast-paced gameplay astounded audiences. Yet the “BioShock” experience did not end there. A direct sequel, “BioShock 2,” was released in 2010, but the most recent supplement came out just late last month: “BioShock Infinite,” which is a worthy addition to the hallowed series.

While the original “BioShock” occurred in a poorly-lit and enclosed underwater city in the 1960s, the events of “BioShock Infinite” take place on the other side of the spectrum: in a bright and wondrous city in the sky in 1912, Columbia. The main character, Booker DeWitt, is a man haunted by his past and his debts. To clear these debts, he is provided the task of traveling to Columbia—which he had never heard of—and finding a specific girl to bring back to New York City.

Upon first arriving in Columbia, DeWitt is forced to undergo a baptism in order to enter the actual city, as it is a society formed around a strong dedication to Christianity, led by a man claiming himself to be a prophet. Afterwards, DeWitt is welcomed into the city, which appears to be a utopia: couples are dancing to music, children are playing in the streets, and everything appears to be ideal.

However, there are murmurings that all is not well. Townspeople are warned about the existence of the “False Prophet,” who can be recognized by the initials “A.D.” on his hand: which DeWitt, for reasons unknown, has engraved upon his skin.

DeWitt is able to blend into the peaceful crowd for a while, and even attends a carnival. While at the carnival, he wins a raffle, which involves throwing a baseball. In the midst of throwing it, the mark on his hand is discovered, which brings chaos to his search.

From that point forward, DeWitt is forced to fight his way through the city in order to reach the girl. Upon reaching the isolated area where she lives, he can quickly tell why she is so desired, as she has magnificent abilities related to controlling “tears” in time. Escaping with the girl is also not easy, as Columbia holds many obstacles and secrets…

While “BioShock Infinite” is a first-person shooter, it is very accommodating to even non-gamers. The easiest mode allows anyone to advance in the plot without issue. However, it may not be for everyone. It features up-close acts of tremendous violence, often committed by the character the player is controlling. It also draws some of its influences upon some of the more negative aspects of United States history, and includes controversial views regarding race and religion.

“BioShock Infinite” is the rare type of video game which demonstrates the true capabilities of the often criticized format of entertainment. Every aspect of Columbia is a delight to explore, the gameplay is addictive, and the screenplay is far better than the majority of today’s  Hollywood movies.