The circle, unbroken.

bioshock infinite

(SPOILER ALERT: PERSONAL HIGHLIGHT AT THE BOTTOM CONTAINS MASSIVE END SPOILER)

Placing in GOTY list: third, 2013|Watch a Cullen Plays LIVE live stream of BioShock Infinite right now here

I’m gonna mention a point I brought up when I gave BioShock Infinite my third spot in my GOTY list, so forgive me for reusing it. I loved BioShock Infinite a lot more than BioShock 1 or 2. Controversial, I know. Don’t get me wrong, the original BioShock (or what I’ve played of it, I’ve still to finish it after I got stuck at one point) is a bloody amazing game and Rapture is such a brilliant environment to explore.

But here’s the thing. I love Columbia a lot more than I do Rapture. Besides how well crafted it is or how beautiful it looks from above once you ascend from the clouds as Booker DeWitt heads from via that lighthouse, there’s a, for me anyways, kind of Disneyland feeling when you first see it once you’re out of the church anyways. Before things start going tits up, it’s the closest thing to seeing a kind of paradise.

A lot has been said of BioShock Infinite since its release. Given a ton of praise on the eve of its launch in reviews, it now seems to have gone through the GTA IV effect (as aptly pointed out here) – great praise from critics, but labeled a disappointment by gamers.

Guess what? I loved Grand Theft Auto IV, a lot. And I loved BioShock Infinite. Say what you will about it, but I loved it. A lot? That’s hard to say, I’ve not played it seven times to completion yet compared to GTA IV, but I know I enjoyed it a lot. Besides how lovingly made Columbia was, Infinite had a fantastic set of characters I really enjoyed: Troy Baker’s turn as Booker DeWitt was brilliant to see throughout.

And then there was the pairing of the Lutece Twins – and likewise, the performances of Oliver Vaquer and Jennifer Hale – who are one of the most intriguing pair of characters in a game not just this year, but perhaps from any game that came from the last generation of consoles.

But of course, Elizabeth has to be mentioned. There’s a charm in her that I mentioned back in April that I couldn’t put my finger on my back then. I still can’t now, but she is one of the best characters I’ve seen in a game ever. I’ve since retreated back from my view that she’s the best NPC companion ever, but she’s one of the best characters I’ve encountered this generation. A lot of that has to do with the chemistry between Courtnee Draper and Baker and how well done said partnership between the two is.

I’ve not even mentioned Songbird, by the way.

I’m not saying BioShock Infinite is perfect, though: much as I enjoyed the story, there are also times where it can just completely go over your head, for one. There’s also the three-part boss fight with the ghost of Elizabeth’s mother that actually nearly had me throwing my controller at the wall (and I was playing on normal). And there’s the gameplay itself that, while enjoyable, felt basic and maybe even a touch predictable.

But at the same time, BioShock Infinite is still a shooter that at least tries to break the norms of a traditional shooter and tries something different within a genre that is filled with so many space marine/military shooters as of these past few years. A fascinating, incredibly made world to explore – both before its downfall and whilst in the midst of its ruins – its themes of racism, politics and religion with a fascinating set of characters to boot and brilliant setpieces.

Flawed, yes, but then GTA IV was flawed too. I loved that to kingdom come that it became one of my favourite games ever. BioShock Infinite is flawed, but no less deserving of my love. It dared to be bold in an otherwise predictable genre. And bold is good. Very good, in fact.

Highlight: That scene in Rapture towards the end. You know the one.

More Game of the Generation articles will be arriving throughout the day up until 9pm GMT with the Game of the Generation. Find the full list so far here, with special and honourable mentions going live on the list along with the GOTG at 9pm.

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