Reviewed On: PlayStation 3

Available For: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Publisher:2K Games

Developer: Irrational Games

Genre: First-Person Shooter

Age: 18 (PEGI)

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Cities in the sky have long been a thing of fascination.

From the mythological silver sky city of Tripura, through to Lando Calrissian’s Cloud City in Star Wars - tales of floating cities have been doing the rounds for centuries. There’s a sense of tranquillity and stillness in the clouds, the perfect settings for utopian societies. It’s also the perfect setting for things to go wrong.

Launched by the American government in 1901, Columbia was a floating city and a symbol of American exceptionalism.

Soon after its launch, the well-armed city became involved in an international incident which claimed the lives of Chinese civilians, leading to the severance of ties from the US.

A decade after and the lost sky city has been found by protagonist Booker DeWitt. It soon becomes clear that Columbia has been consumed by the ideology of exceptionalism to such an extreme, it became a haven for racial segregation, violent xenophobia, and a controlled way of thinking. In this world of confusion and hatred, there’s always going to be a fight to be had, whether it amongst themselves or with outsiders.

Combat is fast, furious, relentless and gripping. The AI of the enemy is exceptional, and the firing of weaponry is satisfying. Even the Vigors, supernatural attacks similar to the old Bioshock’s plasmids, are varied and create extra offensive or defensive strategies. These can range from unleashing a pack of hungry crows upon the enemy, to surprising them with a proximity triggered ball of fire.

The use of ‘gear’, or as normal people call it ‘clothing’, helps to adjust and balance character statistic and attributes to the players own desire. Four can be equipped at any time and can do anything from speeding up the shields recharge rate, to offering more health.

But the customisation doesn’t stop there. The weapons and Vigors can enjoy upgrades to help boost their potency and use.

Play is open with multiple paths, whilst still channelling players in certain directions. It’s like segments of freedom and choice, occasionally bottlenecked through compulsory paths. This and the customisation ensure each player has a completely different experience.

The visuals are breathtaking and go to show the PlayStation 3 can still pack an almighty punch. Although the city is in the sky, Columbia shares striking aesthetic similarities to the underwater dystopia of Rapture - and that comes down to the fantastic knack developer Irrational have of bringing early 20th century ambience and feeling into their games.

Move compatibility is present, yet for me is not a preferential control system. Playing with a standard controller makes the experience less fiddly and consequently far more enjoyable.

Bioshock offers a dystopian city full of contradictions. It’s an oppressive place which bombards players with choice, it packs an ugly and distasteful belief system within its beautifully delicious looking environment, and it’s a horrible place to be whilst being wonderful to experience.

The sky city from myth and sci-fi is here and whilst it’s not the paradise we’d have hoped – it’s paradise to play.

SCORE: 9 / 10

PROS: Fabulous graphics, fantastic variety of combat, upgrades for everything.

CONS: It only takes around 12 hours to complete - although that's a heavenly 12 hours. Move compatibility sucks.