As those who have played BioShock I and II will know, and what newcomers to the series, experiencing BioShock culture for the first time by playing BioShock Infinite will soon realize, there is a wealth of lore and and an extremely complex intertwining of characters and items, even when the many cultural references that serious reviewers find in the game's characters and storyline are left out..
In essence the main thrust of the plot is fairly simple inasmuch as it deals with a strong character with problems in his past or present life, seeking to rescue fair lady and so solve his problems. The man and lady in question are Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth. Booker's past is that of a Pinkerton Detective Agency operative whose proclivity for the arts of drinking and gambling led to him parting company with his employers. His twin addictions of course are no fault of his own bit are the consequences of post traumatic stress brought on by experiences in battle and the loss of his wife in childbirth and the subsequent trials of bringing up the resulting child. And, as is usually the fate of such characters, he is now heavily in debt.
The fair maiden, Elizabeth, is a girl of around twenty who from an very early age has been a captive in the floating city of Columbia. But she is not as ordinary as Booker as she can, under certain circumstances, manipulate the Tears, which are breaks in the local spacetime continuum. She is guarded by a creature called the Songbird, a winged monster, which she once regarded as a friend but then came to hate. It is she who Booker, who the player controls, is required to rescue, and the pair are consequently hunted by the Songbird, the Founders and Zachary Comstock and more. Recovering Elizabeth and delivering her to New York will result in Booker's debts being serviced by whoever commissioned the rescue.
The action for the most part takes place in 1912, in Columbia, a sort of floating city suspended aloft by a giant dirigible, and entered by way of a sort of light tower or lighthouse. Columbia is ruled by the Founders, a patriotic, nativist party, led by the aforementioned Comstock. The opposing political grouping, the Vox Populi, are regarded as a subversive rebel grouping who support the poorer levels of society. The city boasts a unique form of transport in the form of an elevated rail or tramway which Booker uses by deploying one of his abilities in the form of a grappling device to hook up to, and travel between locations, occasionally jumping down on enemies along the way.
Other characters who play a major part in the proceedings are Robert Lutece, Rosalind Lutece and Daisy Fitzroy who is Lady Comstock's servant, a migrant brought to Columbia as prisoner and who does not share her the political views of Lady Comstock's husband, so much so that after her escape she becomes leader of the Vox Populi. There is also a fairly large cast of supporting characters who play their particularly relevant parts and who, for the most part, have pretty uninspiring and ordinary names considering the imaginative nature of the story. The Lettuce twins, Robert and Rosalind, play an important part throughout the story, popping up all over the place offering aid and advice to Booker, and although identical twins and so physically similar apart from gender, they represent dual sides of a single character.
An all important role is played by Vigors which are worn on the arm and give Booker various abilities. These Vigors come in eight varieties namely Bucking Bronco, Undertow, Possession, Shock Jockey, Devil's Kiss, Murder of Crows, Return to Sender and Charge. Each has its own properties, or rather two properties, as they each come in charged and uncharged form. For instance the Bucking Bronco in its uncharged form can levitate opponents who, while in this levitated state, are quite harmless. In its charged state it can be deployed as a stationary booby trap having a similar but more powerful levitating effect. So, in general, Vigors when charged have a more powerful effect. They do however have some things in common. They can only be upgraded twice during the game and they also rely on Salts to power them.
Salts are are a chemical which comes in blue bottles found at various locations. The bottles come in small medium and large sizes and give proportionally one quarter, one half and full charge to a Vigor, and this charge, or how much of it is left, is displayed on a bar on the player's screen. Vigors play a similar role to Plasmids in earlier BioShock titles. They can also be charged at special vending machines found around Columbia, and certain foods and drinks contain the substance and help in charging Vigors.
The enemies on which these Vigors and other weapons are used come in many forms but fall roughly into two groups, Standard and Heavy Hitters. The first group contains Police, Soldiers and Citizens which are weak enemies and the last of which are not all of the hostile variety. The Heavy Hitters are far more interesting and comprise Firemen, Zealot of the Lady, Beasts, Sirens, Boys of Silence, Motorized Patriots and Handymen. Motorized Patriots are George Washington lookalikes, clockwork robots, relentless in assault and heavily armed, and Handymen are Human in form, welded to a mechanical frame. They are very strong, very fast, and very bad tempered. It goes without saying that each has its own powers and abilities, and each needs to be tackled differently with different weapons.
Weapons also, as expected, come in all shapes and sizes. We have the Triple R Machine Gun, the Pig Volley Gun, the Barnstormer RPG, the Bird's Eye Sniper Rifle, the Broadsider Pistol, the China Broom Shotgun, the Huntsman Carbine, the Skyhook, the Peppermill Crank Gun, and the wonderfully named Paddywhacker Hand Cannon. These again have varying accuracy and destructive powers, and some have limited ammunition, some are automatic and some have to be manually loaded for each shot.
Another useful tool is the Tear in the time continuum. These Tears can be found in many places and, although all can see them, only Elizabeth can use them to advantage. Useful artifacts can be transported for use in the characters present, and past events can be altered to some degree. However, they can be unstable and therefore the results of using them, or even being near them, can be unexpected and unpredictable.
So we have a basic main plot with many many sub plots with their twists and turns in place and time. A wealth character interactions and oodles of weaponry and enemies. Throw in the graphically well presented and well designed scenario, in which you may wander around finding all sorts of goodies and information relative to the storyline, or just to explore in spare moments, and you have a game which, if anything, has too much in it to comprehend in one go. The audio is pretty good as well, but who cares, you will be far too busy to notice.