Nearly seven years ago, we reviewed the PC & PS3 release of Bioshock Infinite. While there were a few niggles with the game, we saw it as a great entry into an already classic series. Now the game (along with the entire Bioshock collection) has been ported to the Nintendo Switch, so let’s see how it looks and plays in 2020!
Here is the story summary for Bioshock Infinite:
The game is set in the year 1912 and follows its protagonist, former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt, who is sent to the airborne city of Columbia to find a young woman, Elizabeth, who has been held captive there for most of her life. Though Booker rescues Elizabeth, the two become involved with the city’s warring factions: the nativist and elite Founders that rule Columbia and strive to keep its privileges for White Americans, and the Vox Populi, underground rebels representing the underclass of the city. During this conflict, Booker learns that Elizabeth possesses strange powers to manipulate “Tears” in the space-time continuum that ravage Columbia, and soon discovers her to be central to the city’s dark secrets.
While I have played Bioshock several times over the years as it appeared across PC, Mac, and eventually iOS platforms, and I’ve also replayed the sequel several times, I hadn’t played Bioshock Infinite in several years. I was excited to return to the amazing world of Columbia as Booker Dewitt and rescue Elizabeth once again.
Graphics: Columbia is a gorgeous city in the clouds, full of floating interconnected platforms and people dressed in their 1912 finest, and of course, terrifying monsters and weapons and vigors (basically magic). Back in 2013, the game was demanding when I played it on PC but rewarded top hardware with an incredible visual experience.
Fast forward to today, and I found the Switch version to offer excellent visuals equal to my memory of the PC game. Unlike Bioshock 1 & 2, where even the remastered versions are starting to feel increasingly dated, Bioshock Infinite feels modern and immersive. Everything is crisp and cleanly rendered, and it doesn’t suffer from issues with draw distance or pop-in that so many graphically intense PC ports experience. I once again fell in love with the world of Columbia and the great cast of characters I encountered throughout the game.
Performance: All ports are not created equal, and even a game from 2002 can look and play terribly on the Nintendo Switch (looking at you, Jedi Knight II!). Fortunately, Bioshock Infinite played great from start to finish without framerate hiccups or any noticeable slowdowns. I was able to turn and aim and get around the world without a problem, and never felt that a fight or jump was more challenging due to the hardware limits than the game itself.
Gameplay: Bioshock Infinite is a first-person shooter with some lite role-playing elements. The story and structure are mostly linear, with a few choices in how you approach certain things. This gives you more of an immersive feeling – but make no mistake that it is an action shooter at its core.
Along the way, there are some puzzles to solve, the need to figure out how to traverse an area, and occasions where just shooting alone isn’t enough. Throughout most of the game, you have Elizabeth at your side, aiding in combat and providing helpful hints and items. She remains one of my favorite non-playable characters in a shooter game (in the original review, we shared the “Best Disney Princess Ever” meme).
Controls: At this point, most people understand that describing the controls for a first-person shooter on the Switch comes with an “X for a Switch game” disclaimer. While I love playing shooters on the Switch and pretty much all of them work better than any other shooter on any other handheld platform – none are as good as playing on the PC.
This remains true for Bioshock Infinite – but it is an excellent port with solid controls that never led me to feel frustrated or to die from the inability to take aim or move properly. My one complaint is that they didn’t implement the gyroscopic aiming controls, even though the same company released the Borderlands ports WITH gyro controls on literally the exact same day. I can only hope that they are patch in later – but even without them, the game is very playable and satisfying.
Conclusions: we loved Bioshock Infinite back in 2013, and it remains an excellent game with compelling gameplay and an intriguing story and narrative design in 2020. For $20 by itself, you get a couple of dozen hours or more of thrilling gameplay, and for $50 total, you can grab the entire Bioshock trilogy and enjoy some of the finest story-based shooters of the past two decades.
Source: Personal Purchase
What I Like: excellent visuals, great performance, fantastical Columbia setting, the story, intuitive control scheme, many hidden items/unlockables, a variety of play styles and difficulty levels increases replay value to high level
What Needs Improvement: no multiplayer mode, no gyroscopic controls.