Shalthis Esports Debuts

With the recruitment of a winning 2s team in Rocket League, Shalthis Esports is now alive and actively recruiting!

Founded by Rocket League shoutcaster Steve “Shalthis” Perry, SES is one of the first esports organizations to sign a doubles team specifically. In light of the NBC Tournament, SES will appear there, in the weekly Gfinity event, and continue to win at the regular FACEIT tournaments.

Shalthis Esports is still looking to sign several teams, including League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, and a Rocket League 3s team, just to name a few.

SES is a North American esports org which means it may run into difficulty against some of the European and Asian teams in certain esports which have been dominated by those teams.

What sort of impact will Shalthis Esports have? Only time will tell.

GKick Review: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Activision Blizzard | Activision Blizzard | PC, iOS, Android | Free-to-Play

Hearthstone is a free-to-play digital card game from Blizzard Entertainment, the same company behind World of Warcraft, Diablo, StarCraft, and Overwatch. Hearthstone is centered around, features characters, and settings from the Warcraft universe. While there are microtransactions to obtain card packs, unlock various Adventure modes, and obtain new heroes, the game does not require any money up-front and between missions and Arena mode, money only has to be spent on Adventures, which are optional. Continue reading “GKick Review: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft”

ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2 Grand Finals – Fnatic vs. Natus Vincere

It was a long and difficult road for both Fnatic and Natus Vincere in Season 2 of the ESL ESEA Pro League, but ultimately both teams would secure places in the grand finals following four days of some of the stiffest CS:GO competition with 8 of Europe and North America‚Äôs best teams. But after a final series that was just as action-packed as the entire season, it would be Fnatic who would capture the championship for the second time in a row. Continue reading “ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2 Grand Finals – Fnatic vs. Natus Vincere”

GKick Hardware Review: Pi Dock-It Pro for iPad

pidockitEver since I bought an iPad – my first tablet – a few weeks ago, I’ve basically been inseperable from it. The fact that I sold my laptop a while ago made my need for a more powerful portable form of entertainment than my phone a priority. Sure, I had a 3DS, but sometimes you need a bit more. But with that said, I was interested in getting a bit more functionality out of my iPad, and when I was approached with the opportunity to review the Pi Dock-It Pro, I figured “Why not?”

For the last few weeks, I’ve been using a pretty simple leather case which was light and had a few notches so I could display it at different angles. It was nice, but of course I would run into situations where the iPad would just flop over one way or the other. Upon loading my iPad into the Pi Dock-It Pro, I quickly learned a few key things:

It was much heavier, it was much nicer, and it was just as versatile – if not moreso.

Starting at the top, the Pi Dock-It Pro is a molded plastic case with a Bluetooth keyboard attachment. The case includes a dock that the iPad clips into which also swivels so that the case can display the iPad like a laptop or like a proper tablet. It’s very fancy, even if twisting the iPad around in it’s case is a bit awkward and clunky.

The fact that the iPad settles and clips into it’s place is also a wee bit unsettling. There are only a few small clips that hold my iPad secure, so making sure I close it up properly is key. The case is by no means meant to absorb much in the way of impact, so while it might survive a tumble from the nightstand to a carpeted floor, don’t expect any miracles if you lose it from your hands onto a tile or asphalt floor.

As for the weight, it’s significantly more than the first case I had, but there’s no surprise there. A simple leather case will absolutely weigh less than a hard plastic shell case with a built-in keyboard. A worthwhile sacrifice, however, as the functionality of the case in most areas is stellar.

Starting with the key feature – the keyboard. The layout of the keyboard is very familiar with a row of buttons that allow you access to the iPad’s normal features, such as brightness, volume, the Home button, and even things like cut, copy, paste, and a quick Lock button. The keys are also quite nice and springy, so hopefully they last throughout repeat use. But, end of the day, it works like a charm and feels great to type on it. In fact, I’ve typed this entire review on the Pi Dock-It Pro keyboard. It’s that good.

As for the functions of the case itself, I already mentioned the unsteady but secure clip-in process for the iPad itself. There are also adequate cut outs for headphones and a low-profile 30-pin cord. If you have one of the older, larger 30-pin cables, then it won’t fit right in the current setup, but some sacrifices must be made.

The function of maneuvering the case is pretty smooth, but spotty. The case doesn’t open like a laptop would, but slides out and then up. This isn’t a big deal and gives the iPad some lovely stability and no concerns over a standard laptop-style hinge that could wear out over time. However, this does mean that there is nothing to stop it from falling forward except for your fingers. Clearly, this is more for desktop usage, or at least very safe usage any other place.

Rotating the iPad around to display as a tablet in the case is a little awkward. While unfolded, the iPad has to be swiveled around, but it very easily clips against either the stopper in the back or rakes over the keyboard keys. Fortunately, it’s not so bad that I think the keys will be damaged, but it’s worth noting. Additionally, it charges through a provided micro USB cable, so finding a spare power outlet isn’t required.

Finally, let’s talk value. Currently, the case retails for anywhere between $130 to $160 dollars US, which puts it right on-par with many other cases that feature built-in keyboards. The cost is a bit high, but the construction of the case makes up for it. Its very well built and fits the iPad snugly. However, it should be said that the case is only compatible with iPad 2, 3 and 4. The iPad Air will not fit in this case, nor (obviously) the iPad Mini. But, when all is said and done, it’s actually a very nice option for a case with a lot of versatility and use, and the construction is very sturdy even if it has a few areas that feel strange.


GKick Review: Little Inferno

Little Inferno | Available Now | PC, WiiU
Publisher: Tomorrow Corporation | Developer: Tomorrow Corporation

If you’re looking to get your fix of pyromania but you aren’t allowed to go near matches or lighters, then Little Inferno should provide you with the answer. A sandbox-style puzzler, Little Inferno puts you in possession of a “Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace”, where you are free to experiment (and burn) a wide variety of items, some of which have unusual and exciting effects. The game also features a plotline which causes the game to take an interesting – but unusual – turn, though the majority of the game – and fun – is found in burning things.

The aesthetic of the game is really charming, despite the fact that you’re setting so many things on fire, and the involvement of “Sugar Plumps”, your quirky next door neighbor, adds a nice touch of character to an interactive fireplace game.

However, at it’s core, Little Inferno is a puzzle game. You’re presented with a catalog full of hundreds of different items to burn, as well as a checklist of various “combos” to unlock. The combos you’re presented with have clever little names which force you to search your catalogs for theme-appropriate items to burn together to check them off the list. The further you go in buying, burning, and buying more items, the more of the story you’ll experience.

The best part about the game, however, is the lack of things like a timer or scoreboard or any sort of pressing objective. If you’re feeling up to just hanging out and burn things to experiment with what they do, how they burn, and how they interact with other items, you can do it without any restriction. And as you burn, you get more money, to buy more things, and the cycle repeats itself ad infinitum. But that’s not a bad thing, really.

The entire aesthetic of the game is endearing and charming to it’s very core, and that goes beyond the visual elements, but they make up a bit part of it. The art style is cartoony, but has that realistic flavor of color and light to it which makes it seem a little bit more than just a toon art style. Additionally, the fire effect has been given a great deal of care, which is good considering it makes up 99% of the game experience.

There isn’t a whole lot to say in the way of audio for the game. A lot of the sound effects are clean, simple, but fit the overall aesthetic of the game like a glove. The sound of burning, exploding, breaking, and more are all equally well done. It’s one of those games without things in the way of voice acting to get in the way of a good, enjoyable experience.

Let’s face it, folks, burning stuff is fun. Some of us don’t do it simply because it’s dangerous and we don’t really have a wide variety of things to burn. But even from a perspective of just sitting in front of the fireplace, how nice is it to just see and hear the crackle of the flame and the wood glow red? It’s beautifully destructive in its own special way, and Little Inferno gives you the freedom to experience that all without the risk of burning yourself or your house to the ground! Honestly, though, it is very fun for a good amount of time.

REPLAY VALUE: While you may not spend hours and hours every day finding new things to burn, what Little Inferno does have to offer is a really unique puzzle experience all framed behind a very interesting mechanic. While I can’t say that you’ll get 100 hours of replay value out of it, you’ll easily get your money’s worth if you enjoy being a little clever and creative.

It honestly doesn’t get much easier than Little Inferno when it comes to gameplay. You click and drag, or you just click. You open your catalog, you order items, you drag them into the fireplace, you drag the fire in, you just… click. And it’s super easy. The honest gameplay comes in figuring out the puzzles, and even that mechanic is really easy. There’s really nothing much to say as far as how it all goes because you just get lost in the excitement of the game.

Little Inferno is an inexpensive, fun, interesting character of a game. It floats between cartoony in it’s presentation, but still has a pretty realistic fire effect. All in all, it’s well worth dropping a little bit of money into and enjoying the fire mechanic and even the mild puzzling if you want to.


GKick Review: Hotline Miami

Hotline Miami | Available Now | PC, PS3, PSVita
Publisher: Devolver Digital | Developer: Dennaton Games

One of the hottest indie games in years, Hotline Miami came as a force by delivering a high-speed, twitchy, brutal action game. You play as a masked assassin for hire, designed to tackle various tasks that are set forth at the top of each mission. Taking place in the late 1980s, your task is to get your mission objectives, head to the target, and clean house – often in the most dirty way possible.

The game features a top-down perspective and a low-bit pixel art style, but that doesn’t take the edge off of the violence of the game. It is a very violent game, full of pixelated blood splashing, caved in heads, and more, so it’s not a game for the squeamish. You, playing the part of the anonymous protagonist, will run through a variety of levels and use everything from silent to not-so-silent weaponry to eliminate your opposition, but the real test of the game comes in with timing and navigating levels to perfection. Maybe you need to charge into a room to knock out an enemy with the door behind him, grab his bat, and crush his buddy’s head with it before he notices you.

But that’s pretty tame for some of the levels you need to counter. It gets extremely challenging, and restarting becomes par for the course as you continue to surge forward. Despite the frustration, it can be extremely fun and rewarding to clear a stage and complete objectives. And if you’re feeling particularly worthless, check out the speedrunners as they blow through the game with little problem.

Visually, the game has a pleasing art style, despite it being a little “low-def” for this generation of graphics. It is an indie game in all sense of the word, and some of the design shows it, but it doesn’t take anything away from the experience. In fact, it creates a visual style very distinct to itself and identifiable, almost in the same vein as a game like Minecraft would. At the end of the day, that’s the best part about it, and it certainly is worth overlooking if graphics are that big of a deal to you.

When it comes to the sounds of Hotline Miami, little compares to it’s stellar soundtrack. The music fits the time period and adds that twist to be unique and very distinct to the game. Other audio effects are simple and fairly universal, with other sounds thrown in to enhance the experience. There’s no voiceover, but frankly I wouldn’t want there to be.

The fun you get out of Hotline Miami directly relates to how much you enjoy challenging action games, because it will put you to the test from stage one. If you’re eager to be fast and efficient, you’ll get a lot of entertainment out of the game, but if you frustrate easily, you really should pass.

To be honest, the game’s story mode is a bit short, but it’s a healthy length for an indie game. The biggest part of “replay” will come out of restarting your game over and over and over as you try to get through the challenging stages. But at the end, there isn’t a whole lot to keep going on, unless you’re looking to shave seconds off of your stage times. Fast runs and high scores are the name of the game.

Hotline Miami handles very smoothly, though it does take a bit of getting used to. Using the mouse to pick up and attack with weapons while moving around with the keyboard allows for some very twitchy responses, even despite the naturally floaty movement of the main character. The interaction of the world with the characters in it, as well as the alertness of the other enemies to your presence when you’re seen or heard, can really throw you for a loop.

At the end of the day, Hotline Miami is a brutally fun but unforgiving title that demands the best out of you, but it’s casual enough to keep you entertained for as little or as much time as you want to give it. If you’re extra competitive, the speedrunning scene is always looking for brave souls willing to pursue world record times. But even if not, it’s an affordable game that is well worth every penny, and a frequent part of the Steam Sales, so don’t pass it up.


GKick Review: The Stanley Parable

the-stanley-parableFACT SHEET
The Stanley Parable | Available Now
PC | Publisher: Galactic Cafe | Developer: Galactic Cafe

Admist the regular release of AAA titles, high budget games, and next-gen graphics, occasionally a little gem of a title sparkles it’s way through. We saw this back in 2007, when Valve released The Orange Box, featuring two major titles in Half-Life 2 Episode One and Team Fortress 2, but also with a little unusual game called Portal. As we all know, Portal turned out to be far more than a tech demo and gave one of the most entertaining experiences gaming has ever seen. The Stanley Parable is the kind of game that, while not like Portal in the sense that it is a puzzle game or anything of the sort, delivers a narrative-driven experience that – quite frankly – is something everyone should experience.

Created as a Source engine mod back in 2011, the game’s developer Davey Wreden set out to create a storytelling experience within a game world. The stand-alone version featured here is an HD remake of the original mod featuring a plethora of changes and additions. The game is not a traditional game, but it’s also not a typical narrative experience. Some narrative-driven titles such as Gone Home or Dear Esther are essentially experiences for the player to explore, and The Stanley Parable at least has that much in common. There are no true gameplay elements to this, no puzzles to solve or enemies to shoot or anything like that. But alongside the narrative delivery of Kevan Brighting, the experience is unlike anything else.

While it’s a challenging thing to review this game without spoilers, I think I can pull it off. The Stanley Parable is a game about choice, both the choice you think you have and the choice you actually don’t have. You play the part of Stanley at what would seemingly be a normal day at the office, but it turns out to be anything but. After venturing from your office, you’ll encounter dozens of twists, turns, and a massive amount of potential “endings”. However, the game never truly ends, it just restarts and you take it all over from there. It’s simple, it’s complex, it’s full of surprises, and it’s one of the most worthwhile purchases I made on Steam in the last year.

GKick Review: WWE 2K14

wwe-2k14FACT SHEET:
WWE 2K14 | Available Now
Xbox 360, PS3 | Publisher: 2K Games | Developer: Yuke’s, Visual Concepts

In the pantheon of annual sports title releases, the concept is usually the same: a new roster here, a few mechanics changed here, slightly polished graphics increase, and maybe a new mode or two, all available for full retail price year after year after year. I’d like to say that WWE 2K14 breaks that mold with a re-envisioning of the franchise that has been long overdue, now that the series is in the hands of 2K Games… but I can’t. While this isn’t a big surprise – nor is it actually a huge minus – it’s still a flaw.

In the wake of THQ’s bankruptsy and the acquisition of the WWE license by 2K Games, most of us expected that the game would probably follow the standard design of WWE titles of the last few years, and we were right. Our hopes are certainly very high for WWE 2K15, in that maybe the 2K influence will shine brightly then, but for now we’ll have to take the game on face value. And frankly, it’s good. It’s good, fun, and full of new and interesting things.

WWE 2K14 features the standards of it’s yearly release schedule: an updated roster including the latest WWE superstars, titles, feuds, logos, and more. The visual fidelity of the game has seen a slight increase, but nothing substantial. Going from WWE 13 to 2K14 is not a huge change, with a few exceptions. The biggest differences between last year’s title and this year’s are the new modes. Taking the place of the “Attitude Era” mode of last year is “30 Years of WrestleMania”, a large mode that allows players to fight through the past 29 WrestleManias and features over 45 matches from the big event’s history. From Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III to Bret Hart vs Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX all the way to CM Punk vs Undertaker and John Cena vs The Rock at WrestleMania 29. It’s a huge mode, but not without issue.

Additionally, the game includes a new “Streak” mode, where you can both attempt to Defeat or Defend the Streak by playing as – or against – the Undertaker, whose legendary 21-0 WrestleMania streak is one of the most impressive things going in wrestling today. In Defend the Streak mode, you play as the Undertaker in a match very much like the “Slobberknocker” style of the past, fighting an endless wave of superstars one at a time until you’re defeated. It’s fun, challenging in it’s own way, and finding a balance between using special moves to finish off certain opponents makes it a neat little experience. Alternatively, in Defeat the Streak mode, you choose a superstar to go one-on-one with the Dead Man himself within THQ’s custom WrestleMania XXX arena. In this match, Undertaker is no slouch and can dish out huge punishment, recover from near-finish, and is extremely difficult to beat. Think Legendary difficulty with all the sliders turned way up and all of your sliders turned way down. It’s a huge challenge.

The game also includes the typical list of features: dozens of match types such as Hell in a Cell, Ladder Match, Inferno, and so on. Also WWE Universe mode is back with minor improvements and a new “Rivalry” feature that allows you to set up feuds between superstars and tag teams that either revolve around the title or simply as a grudge. It’s a nice touch, but some of the underlying flaws of Universe mode still shine through in terms of seeing names like The Rock and Triple H on WWE Superstars while guys like Drew McIntyre and Heath Slater are main eventing PPVs. The momentum system is a bit flawed, and I think the inclusion of a weighted system for main event guys would be a huge improvement, but it might be something WWE doesn’t allow. This is a company who wants you to believe that everyone on the roster is a “superstar”.

Going back to 30 Years of WrestleMania mode, it’s the cornerstone of this game and it really does shine brightly in many places. I think it lacks a bit compared to the Attitude Era mode of WWE 13, but it does it’s part to re-create the experience of new and old-school WrestleMania moments. The re-creation of every WrestleMania arena is very impressive, and the selection of matches is also pretty well thought out. In this mode, you always play as the winner of the match, and unfortunately there are a lot of matches chosen where you play as Undertaker or John Cena, so it gets a bit tedious by the end of the run. However, there’s a lot of great matches to re-create, even if some of the key moments aren’t necessarily included. For example, when replaying Edge vs Chris Jericho from WrestleMania 26, I was disappointed that the rather iconic post-match moment of Edge spearing Chris Jericho across the announce table and through the timekeeper barricade wasn’t included. But, many moments are.

In addition, 2K went out of their way to design many of the entrances in the “30 Years” mode to resemble the WrestleMania entrances of the past. While this isn’t always the case (sadly, none of Undertaker’s incredibly epic entrances are re-created), it does apply in some ways. Many little details are also included, such as accurate representations of each superstar’s attire during that particular time of year. In some cases, many superstars have nearly double-digits in the terms of different attires you ultimately unlock as you play through the mode. It really is quite nicely done and it shows that a lot of effort was put into this mode.

However, at it’s core, many of the fundamental flaws of the WWE series are still present. The control system has been tweaked ever so slightly and it seems that every superstar has a bit of “momentum” now which effects how they move, which is actually a nice touch. However, the counter system has also been changed, and the window to counter moves has been reduced substantially. Also, the timings of counters on some moves has changed, which takes some practice if you played a lot of WWE 13 in order to break your habits. Other than that, it’s very familiar to past year’s players. Most visual elements are nice, but not perfect. The sound, however, is flawed critically in a lot of places, and it detracts from the experience in many ways (see “AUDIO” on Page 2). While it still is the best WWE experience made, there’s a lot of work left to do, in my opinion.

GKick Review: Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V | Available Now
Xbox 360, PS3 | Publisher: Rockstar Games | Developer: Rockstar Games

Very rarely is there a game series which defines the very publisher it comes from. Though some might argue “Mario” or “Zelda” for Nintendo, “Sonic” for SEGA, or even “World of Warcraft” for Blizzard, there is no debate: Grand Theft Auto is the series that made and continues to be the backbone of Rockstar Games.

Despite the fact that the company continues to produce titles such as Max Payne, Red Dead Redemption, Bully, Manhunt, and more; there is no one series that truly defines a company the way GTA defines Rockstar. In the latest iteration of the series, Rockstar went deep to deliver one of the most impressive and stunning games ever made. While not without it’s flaws, Grand Theft Auto V is an amazing game, featuring a massive open-world environment, the series’ trademark non-linear gameplay style, a wide variety of side quests and missions, typical stellar voice acting, well-designed characters, and a game experience unlike any other.

In GTA5, players take on the role of three protagonist characters: Michael, a former criminal now living the life in a mansion in the San Andreas hills, but whose family is in utter disarray; Franklin, the street thug with a brain who doesn’t shy away from the criminal life, but wants to grow beyond petty business; and Trevor… Well, we’ll get to Trevor in a minute.

With these characters, you alternate between their stories and see how people from three drastically different worlds can come together and come apart. The game is very similar to GTA titles of the past in terms of story flow and development, but it does an amazing job of presenting it all in unique and brilliant way. Many of the missions are new and interesting mechanics, the side-quests are fun and seamlessly appear during your adventures, and care has been taken to make GTA5 feel like a whole new experience, top to bottom, from any previous GTA title.

One of the most interesting mechanics of the game involves switching between the three protagonists. During non-mission segments, you can choose to switch between any of the main characters at any time, and you pick up right in the middle of whatever they happen to be up to. However, in this living and breathing world of San Andreas, none of them will stay still, so you may stumble across Michael relaxing with a drink by his pool, Franklin giving his car a wash, or Trevor… throwing a biker off a bridge, or being thrown out of a lingerie store (while drunk) in a dress.

See, Trevor is the most interesting character GTA has had in years. Living out in the sticks, Trevor runs a meth lab and is likely a bit insane, if not also a bit brilliant. His involvement in the story turns what could be a typical crime thriller into a wild ride. Switching to Trevor was often one of the most rewarding experiences of the game, and provided some of my most legitimate laugh-out-loud moments the game had to offer.

Another new gameplay feature of the game is the Heist mode. Throughout the story, you’ll be putting together small or major heists, and these heists involve robbery or crime on a large scale. You’ll have to spend time setting up these heists, too, including picking various NPCs to act as your key team members, such as gunmen, drivers, hackers, etc. The better they are at their job, the larger their cut, so you can gamble on a cheaper person, but it may cost you in the end. Additionally, you can decide on the plan of action. Heists consist of two major plans cooked up by Lester, the brains of your operation from the get go; and you need to choose which plan you want to take. More often than not, the choices are “subtle” vs. “subtle like a chainsaw”, but either way is fun and fits individual playstyles. With your decisions made, the Heist plays out and the story elements adjust accordingly as you play out that mission, but they’re a great deal of fun.

At the end of the day, GTA5 is huge. Utterly massive. The game world is gigantic and not just full of empty space. There are tons of things to explore and do even beyond the core mission experience. Between dozens of random side quests and dynamic mission, you can also free roam the world and maybe play a round of golf, visit the dockside fair, or maybe even hike up and base jump from a mountaintop. All this and so, so much more makes this a game you’ll have a very hard time putting down.

GTA5 also includes a genuine multiplayer mode, GTA Online. This mode allows players to hop onto 16-person servers at random, commit heists, run small crimes, race against one another, or just participate in the traditional style of GTA madness we all know and love. This aspect of the game is a bit flawed mainly due to protections put in place to help prevent griefing, but it’s a very unique and fun experience for anyone with Xbox LIVE Gold or PS+ service.

GKick Review: Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite | Available Now
PC, Xbox 360, PS3 | Publisher: 2K Games | Developer: Irrational Games

It goes without saying that when you have a game with at least three years of development-slash-hype time that is part of such a potent series as Bioshock, the odds are already stacked against you. Many people hope your game lives up to the very hype that they created, and after a mixed reception to Bioshock 2, the game’s fans were hoping for a return to form with the original game. It would be fortunate that the original Bioshock‘s developers, Irrational Games, would be at the helm for this project as well. But another gamble would see the series finally leave the underwater city of Rapture and take to the skies of Columbia.

To sum up my thoughts on Bioshock Infinite nicely: this is a must play, fantastic game that was well worth the wait and well worth your purchase. But, it isn’t all floating cities and magic elixirs, oh no. There are a few clouds to the silver lining, but I’ll get to those shortly. In the grand scheme of things, the game is amazing and like a chocolate cake, it is many-layered, very rich and good to the last “bite”. But enough with my bad analogies, let’s talk Bioshock.

Infinite places you in the role of Booker DeWitt, a fully-voiced and fully-visualized character who has been sent to this magically floating city of Columbia to retrieve a girl named Elizabeth in order to settle a debt he has. However, a game that seems so simply wrapped up as a fetch quest turns into a creature of a story with tendrils that change the dynamic of your story at multiple times and nearly at every turn. The story is so worth exploring on your own that I will avoid spoiling it here, or even semi-spoiling it with things like “and look out for this big moment!”. Basically, the story is very deep, even if it can be a little bit cliched. But, in the scheme of things, it insists on your time, so if you take the time to start it up, be sure you have the time to finish it.

As for the game itself, it follows typical Bioshock tradition: you carry with you multiple firearms, a powerful melee weapon, and an assortment of magical abilities. This time around, instead of plasmids, you weild the power of Vigors, a selection of tonics which give you very similar magical powers that are useful throughout your journey in Columbia. Fortunately, the game definitely feels like Bioshock, even if you aren’t dealing with Big Daddies, Little Sisters, Big Sisters, or the omnipresent voice of Andrew Ryan. No, in this case, you get the omnipresent voice of Zachary Comstock, the Prophet of Columbia and savoir to the masses. Oh, and instead of Big Daddies, you deal with one big guy – Songbird, a massive mechanical bird-like being who protects Elizabeth and will stop at nothing to keep her in her prison.

The funny thing is, in Bioshock Infinite, only a small part of the game is finding and saving Elizabeth. The rest of the game involves getting out of Columbia and unraveling the story that is drawn out before you. And in that, let me clarify something: this is NOT a run-and-gun game. You will do yourself a disservice if you approach this game guns-a-blazin’ and try to rip your way through the story. This is the kind of game and the kind of world that is meant to be savored. Take your time, explore the corners and crevices of Columbia and see just how much care and detail was given to this title. Use your weapons carefully, use your Vigors wisely, and the best part: don’t worry about Elizabeth. Bioshock Infinite is far, FAR from an escort quest. You barely even have to acknowledge she’s there unless she’s passing you money, salts, health, or ammo. But despite all that, you still may find yourself growing attached to this fictional character as you both fight your way through Columbia’s baddest.

Beyond all of this, the story also takes place in this fictional 1912, and despite the apparent peace and prosperity of Columbia, the ever-present racism and social turmoil that happens on the streets of the city begins to creep up, and mentions of an unseen rebellion called the Vox Populi (or “Voice of the People”) begins to emerge. The Populi are led by a woman named Daisy Fitzroy, who is public enemy #1 after being accused of killing the Prophet’s wife, Lady Comstock. Well, maybe public enemy #2, considering the *real* threat seems to be the “False Shepherd”, he who will lead Elizabeth away and see to Columbia’s downfall, known only by the “AD” branded on the back of his hand.

I don’t want to go much further in what I reveal in this review, other than this framework will be twisted and bent in many ways as you play through the game, but the narrative does a fantastic job of keeping you up to speed. Following the plot of the story as it unravels before you isn’t as hard as it may seem, thankfully, because there are a lot of threads here.