Review – Bioshock Infinite (Switch)

Talking about Bioshock Infinite is like talking about a son. This has been one of my favorite games of all time ever since it first came out in 2013. To this day, it’s one of my favorite stories ever presented in a video game. It has one of the most fantastic and mind-shattering plot twists I have ever seen. That says a lot, considering it’s a sequel to freaking Bioshock, arguably the game with the greatest plot twist in the medium’s history.

I’m not going to lie, I was worried about this particular Switch port. I was massively disappointed with the Switch version of Bioshock, so I was already expecting the same for Infinite. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. I’m not going to argue how and why, I’m just going to rejoice.

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Beach Boys acapella. That will never get old.

I could spend all day talking about the philosophies behind Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite. It doesn’t get old to compare how those games are so similar to each other, yet so completely different at the same time. I love how Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite are polar opposites in terms of tone and setting, yet still revolve around failed utopias, class struggle, and madmen with a god complex screwing up everything for everybody. I love how Rapture was a claustrophobic hell located at the bottom of the ocean, while Infinite‘s Columbia was an open heaven-like city located in the sky. I’ll stop before I get too excited. Let’s just talk about Bioshock Infinite and its excellent debut on a Nintendo console.

Bioshock Infinite is one of the very few action-packed shooters in which its first hour or so of gameplay features absolutely no shooting at all, and that’s not a bad thing. Upon arriving at the heavenly city of Columbia, you’re given the freedom to explore the city at your leisure. You can partake in a few carnival games, talk to some seemingly friendly citizens, and even listen to a barbershop quartette perform an acapella version of the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows“. You won’t even mind the fact that the first hour is extremely calm for a Bioshock game. Once the action kicks in, it won’t stop until the end of the damn game.

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Skyhook strike!

Whereas Bioshock is more of a shooter with survival horror elements and a huge emphasis on managing resources, Bioshock Infinite is a lot more open and focused on swashbuckling action. You’ll run from one side of the battlefield to the other with the amazing Sky-Hook system. Ammo is less scarce, as you can loot a more resources from dead enemies than in Bioshock. Items are also way less expensive in here, due to the fact that you cannot hack vending terminals this time around. The implementation of a Halo-esque shield system might sound like Infinite is trying too hard to resemble more modern shooters, but don’t worry, its combat still feels like good old Bioshock… but better…

And then there’s Elizabeth, who is the heart and soul of this entire game. She might be initially labeled as a damsel in distress, but she acts more like an extremely helpful ally rather than a simple escort mission. Unlike Ashley from Resident Evil 4, Elizabeth is someone who’s actively helping you during combat. She does so by creating objects in the battlefield where you can gain cover, or by searching for items and throwing them to you, such as health or ammo. Even better, is that she does this more often than not during the times you need the most aid. It also helps that her character is extremely well written and animated, as well as perfectly voiced by Courtnee Draper.

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Luke, je suis ton père!

The gameplay isn’t hampered that much by the joycons. Sure, the game plays a lot better with a Pro Controller, but you’re most likely buying this version for the perks of portability. Given the game’s slightly slower, albeit much more intense pace, Bioshock Infinite‘s gameplay has been successfully ported to the Switch. Especially when you consider the bigger emphasis on strategic combat, as well as the amount of ways you can use your vigors and Elizabeth’s special abilities. The main question now is finding out if the game still looks and performs as well as it used to.

The answer is: YES! I was so scared the game would end up performing as badly as the Switch version of Bioshock. However, for reasons beyond my comprehension, this looks and performs much better than most ports of Infinite out there. The fantastic lighting effects and the vivd color palette were left intact, and the framerate manages to remain stable during intense combat sections, albeit locked at 30fps. As previously mentioned, Infinite‘s slightly slower pace makes the reduced framerate a lot more bearable.

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Oh yeah, I almost forgot, this is still a stupidly violent shooter at the end of the day…

You can notice some slight compromises if you play the game in docked mode, but they’re not that noticeable, nor are they deal-breakers in any way. The water reflection effects have been slightly reduced and the NPCs look a bit less detailed than before. There are also a few instances in which the quality of some textures have been minimized a bit. That’s basically it. In portable mode, these issues, if you can even call them that, are even harder to notice.

Besides the main game, this Switch version of Bioshock Infinite also includes the Clash in the Clouds DLC, as well as the excellent (albeit borderline nonsensical plot-wise) Burial at Sea expansion. This is a fantastic amount of bang for your buck. Not only are you getting a phenomenal port of one of the best games of all time on a portable system, but you’re getting it with every single previously released piece of content.

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Name a better sidekick than Elizabeth. I’ll wait.

The Switch port of Bioshock might have been a disappointment, but I’m glad they didn’t botch the port of Bioshock Infinite. This game still looks as gorgeous as it used to when it first came out seven years ago, and it’s still one hell of an emotional and entertaining ride from beginning to end. Being arguably the best first-person shooter available on the Switch (let’s see how Doom Eternal will fare in this kind of hardware), this is a no-brainer if you’re looking for a quality shooter for the system. Or a quality game in general. You know what? Just grab it. It’s a classic and it deserves another playthrough.

 

Graphics: 9.5

There are some graphical compromises, most noticeably regarding reflections and NPCs, but this is still a gorgeous game that hasn’t aged a bit.

Gameplay: 8.5

Given how the game’s pace is a bit slower and a bit more strategic than the original Bioshock, Infinite‘s gameplay plays better on the joycons that expected. Although, it’s still a much better experience if you own a Pro Controller.

Sound: 10

Between the fantastic soundtrack comprised of 1910’s recreations of more modern pop tunes and Troy Baker’s best performance of all time, there isn’t a single thing I can say about Bioshock Infinite‘s sound design other than the fact that it’s perfect.

Fun Factor: 10

Bioshock Infinite runs incredibly well on the Switch, with less compromises than the Bioshock port. It also features all previously released DLC, meaning that this version of the game offers an astonishing amount of bang for your buck.

Final Verdict: 9.5

Bioshock Infinite is available now on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

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