So i finished Bioshock Infinite recently, and wow. Just wow. Easily one of the best games I’ve ever played. For those who aren’t big on video games, or for those who are gamers but are currently living in a makeshift bomb shelter because you put toasted marshmallows on pizza one time and loved it, and didn’t want to live in a society that frowned on your lifestyle, here’s a synopsis [spoiler free]
It’s 1912 and you play as Booker DeWitt, former Pinkterton (hired-muscle) and all around cool name havin’ guy. You’re also crazy in debt when a mysterious stranger offers you a deal. See, this crazy religious despot, Zachary Comstock, stumbled on some rad technology and used it to create Columbia, a massive old-timey floating city in the sky, suspended by rockets and balloons and whatnot. You need to head up there, grab Elizabeth, a girl Zachary is holding captive, and bring her back. Debts wiped away, no questions asked.
And if you think that sounds insane, things really start to go off the rails (in an awesome way) once you discover what’s going on, who Elizabeth really is, and the secrets of Columbia. The game deals with a lot of adult material; themes of racism, sexism, religious zealotry, and jingoism. Isms for everybody!
The game is great, the story is amazing, but my favorite part was the music. Not only is the soundtrack fantastic, but music gets used in some of the most phenomenal and clever ways I’ve ever heard in a triple-A game before. And the best part is that I can’t really give you too many examples, because that would be spoiler territory. The music is actually a part of the narrative, and if you’re planning on playing this, I’d really be screwing you over by telling you this stuff in advance.
Ok, I’ll give you an early example; if you’ve read reviews of the game a lot of people mentioned this one, so maybe it’s not so awful. Soon after starting the game, you run into these guys:
This literally the first game I’ve ever heard barbershop in, which is amazing in itself. It sounds gorgeous, so that’s two. But the best thing about it is the song they’re singing; that’s “God Only Knows.” By the Beach Boys. Well, it’s supposed to be 1912, remember? So how is that possible?
The great thing about that (and many other musical touches in the game) is that you can walk right by them and think “Oh, that’s nice,” but if you’re paying attention, they feed into the mystery of what’s happening and make the game world even richer. I would slap the Queen of England right in the mouth for a chance to write for a game like this.
My favorite song in the game is an old spiritual from 1907; “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” It pops up several times during the game, and it draws the themes of the story together really well, while being used in a very different context than the original religious meaning. My favorite usage was a brief moment between Booker, Elizabeth, and a guitar. It occurs in between hectic gunfights, and reminds you there’s a lot more going on here than a typical shooter. And it’s even performed by the real actors, with Courtnee Draper (Elizabeth) singing and Troy Baker (Booker) on guitar!
I did a piano rendition of the full version of the song used in this game, with some “1912” piano embellishments, so that’s what I’ve got for you this week. Everyone who plays games regularly hasn’t shut the hell up about Bioshock Infinite since it came out (myself included) but if you’re somehow on the fence, you really should check it out.