About three or four months ago, BioShock Infinite was quite possibly doomed.
And then they played it and now suddenly everything’s rosy. Yep, the game really is as good as it looks.
Granted, the game isn’t out of the woods yet: It just got delayed a month to a very busy March for bug squashing and polish. That said, Kotaku has posted a preview of it that borders on the rapturous, The Escapist loves it, and the general opinion is, so far, it’s awesome.
It’s certainly going to be controversial. Ken Levine’s take on American exceptionalism always promised to be forum flamebait, but the previews all state something surprising: The game is tackling racism head-on. As in, a lot of the NPCs you run into are, by modern standards, hood-wearin’ cross-burnin’ jerkbags. As in, you can actually see them be racist to Black people, and there’s a statue glorifying John Wilkes Booth, among other “nativist” propaganda.
This is historically accurate as far as the racism goes, considering the game is set in 1912, and a black guy kicking a white guy’s ass in the boxing ring caused race riots across the country just two years prior. But considering how often games avoid talking about race even when the issue is sitting right there staring them in the face (Far Cry 3 springs to mind), that takes a fairly enormous pair.
As far as the actual plot, apparently in the first five minutes you run into a barbershop quartet performing “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys. So, yeah, something is really wrong in Columbia, beyond the whole “populated by racist douchebags” thing.
Oh, and the game itself is a lot of fun as well: BioShock but with substantial tweaks and useful additions like the ability to lay a trap with your plasmids.
But we have to admit: It’s the plot we’re looking forward to as much as the gameplay. BioShock was as close as modern commercial games get to art in terms of the story, discussing free will in gameplay while simultaneously offering a political message. It looks like Levine wants to try it again, and we can’t wait to see it.