The Trouble With Columbia

Prior to its release I was looking forward to Bioshock Infinite, but I periodically forgot about it and did not really follow much news regarding it. I am a fan of the first two Bioshock games and thought that this game would probably be pretty good, following suit. These days I get excited about games that cater to the fan-girl in me or games that have interesting stories, ones with unique twists or an effort to make unoriginal twists tantalizing. I have to say Irrational delivered in terms of stories and twists with Infinite. Columbia fascinated me more than than the story. Not only was it interesting to see the mechanics and dynamics of a city in the sky represented in a game, but the style was unique.

On my first play-through of the game, I kept stopping to stare around and take in the world around me. Part of that was so as not to miss anything, in terms of interesting elements or items, the other part was because I felt like it was what was the right to play. This is a floating city in the sky, a medley of wonderful architecture, beautiful sights and a despite the underlying corruption, a happy place. Sometimes I would go back and forth on a zip-line looking all around me, just for the sake off it. Ah, the zip line rides are great fun aren’t they?
Now the story of Bioshock seems to both verge off and amalgamate together throughout, but when it comes to the setting for all this, Columbia seems to fade. Columbia as a city takes a step back in importance.

The ending manages to push much of it to the background and in order to keep up you need to focus on the revelations of the end, not really trying during your first run to congregate the various pieces of plot that came before. Columbia somewhat loses it’s beauty as the game progresses, when night takes over and the city begins to burn from Vox Populi rebellions and Comstock followers going wild. There are of course many innocents fleeing or staying stagnant in fear as well. Columbia becomes a battle zone and the luxury of stopping to take in and admire the city as the sun gleams across it diminishes towards the end.

In terms of voxphones, they help to flesh out the mentality of the Columbians even more, though I would have liked to find more that were related to Rosalind Lutece and her brother, who also had a hand in most of her inventions.

Certain simple elements of the story and the population of Columbia make for curious pondering. For one, God fearing folks indulging in Vigors? Columbia was founded by a prophet who had a vision from an angel. The people pray to him, the Founding Fathers and to God. Yet they don’t seem to fussed by these magical elixirs that give you powers, that in reality back in the good ol’ days would deem you a witch or warlock. Even though the accompanying tutorial videos featuring these Vigors are repellents against devils, some are quite macabre and gory. You have one that sends a flock of crows to peck humans apart and then of course there’s the Devils Kiss, you drink the energy drink of the devil and get to throw flame balls everywhere. This would make for an interesting episode of Touched by an Angel.

There’s a sad case of not using the ideals of sword, scroll and key much after the prologue. Hearing citizens talk about people they know with lines like “he’s strong in the key, but weak in the scroll if you know what I mean” is interesting and unique, but as the story progresses you rarely come across much mention of it. Also if Columbia wishes to secede  from the United States why do they worship 3 founding fathers?


I wonder as well, especially during my replay what exactly is up with the Songbird? It can take down airships simply by smashing it’s body into them but it can’t take certain shallow enough depths of water, without succumbing to eye-cracking pressure. When Booker and Elizabeth fall from the zip-line as they flee Monument Tower they drop into a fake beach side ‘ocean’. Which in reality isn’t that deep, yet the Songbird reacts as if it were way deep down in the ocean where oh I don’t know…a city like Rapture may be found.

Columbia is a city unlike any other in the world, not just because it exists in the heavens. With the leap of faith it takes Comstocks flock to believe in his prophecies and to move to a dangerous new home, comes the added stretches of belief the Columbians must settle into, when there is a giant metal bird that swoops the city, when men have been turned into Handymen monsters and when turrets exist beside pillars. Columbia may be the utopia Comstock promised them, but it’s rife with discontent and false veils.

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