BioShock Infinite

Common Sense Media says

Provocative, violent shooter tackles complex ideas.

Age(i)

NOT FOR KIDS

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Complex and mature messages concerning race, religion, consumerism, and American Exceptionalism (a philosophy that holds that the United States has a unique responsibility to spread freedom and democracy to the rest of the world).  Keep in mind, though, that there is an unabashedly glamorous element to the game's violence, which sensationalizes brutal killing.

Positive role models

From kids who smoke to religious extremists to the game's violence-prone hero, none of the personalities here are the sort most parents would want to see their children emulate.

Ease of play

Standard first-person shooter controls make this game easy to pick up and play for genre veterans. Multiple difficultly levels allow more inexperienced and hardcore players to find a suitable level of challenge.  

Violence

This extremely violent game involves plenty of gritty gun violence against humans. Players use pistols, rifles, and shotguns, as well more fantastical abilities that see players summoning fire and crows to burn and peck enemies to death. The most brutal sequences, however, involve melee attacks, which show the player's character putting a handheld grinder to enemies' bodies that rips into their flesh and can even decapitate them. Blood spurts in great gushes from defeated foes.  

Sex

Some statues and carved figures on bottles depict what appears to be the naked female form. Dialogue contains mild sexual talk, including references to fornication and the clap.

Language

The word "s--t" can be heard several times during play. Also expect multiple ethnic slurs, including words like "chink," "negro," and "Injun." (The game is set in an alternate version of the early 20th century.)  

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Players can make their avatars smoke cigarettes and drink beer, whisky, and wine to gain or lose health. Children can be seen smoking, and there are fictional cigarette ads in the game that target kids.

Privacy & safety

No privacy or safety concerns. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that BioShock Infinite is an extremely violent game that contains several mature ideas and themes intended for adult consumption. Action sequences see player avatars dismembering enemies in gruesome fashion, drinking and smoking to restore health and special abilities, and occasionally encountering citizens discussing matters of sexuality. Challenging narrative scenes, meanwhile, involve depictions of racially charged situations, such as a crowd of white people cheering the torture and humiliation of a black woman, and two non-player characters chatting about buying black convicts from a corrupt politician in Georgia. The racial imagery (and religious criticism) are not intended to offend, but instead to provoke thought and discussion. Mature players should be able to discern the criticism and gall inherent in these scenes, but younger players may get the wrong message.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding
  • government
  • history

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • strategy
  • thinking critically

What Kids Can Learn

While elements of BioShock Infinite focus on thoughtful examination of fringe ideologies and cultural issues, we don't recommend it for learning because of its graphic violence.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding
  • government
  • history

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • strategy
  • thinking critically

While elements of BioShock Infinite focus on thoughtful examination of fringe ideologies and cultural issues, we don't recommend it for learning because of its graphic violence.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

The setting is the sky above the United States circa 1912, where a mechanical floating city called Columbia is inhabited by citizens overcome with religious devotion to an enigmatic man known as the Prophet. Welcome to BIOSHOCK INFINITE, a game that tackles cultural issues and ideologies of the past and present, ranging from racism to religious extremism. Players take on the role of Booker DeWitt, a man who unexpectedly finds himself in this strange dystopia on a mission to rescue a woman. The city's inhabitants see him as a long-prophesized antithetical figure come to destroy their community and attempt to kill him. Employing both traditional firearms and a selection of chemically induced abilities known as \"vigors\" -- think fiery grenades and blasts of electricity -- DeWitt does his best to fend off his attackers while learning more about the bizarre world in which he finds himself.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Few games are bold enough to take on the controversial subjects that BioShock Infinite tackles head first, and fewer still are those that manage to do so with maturity, intelligence, and even a bit of wit. Alternating with impressive agility between thought-provoking ideas and visceral action sequences, the game engages players on emotional, intellectual, and gut levels, resulting in a heady experience difficult to compare to anything else (save perhaps the original BioShock, which managed a similar feat back in 2007).

Even the presentation is something unique. The world of Columbia is a clearly fantastical -- yet weirdly believable -- mechanical marvel. Early 20th century architecture is covered in old-fashioned posters and billboards as traditional music -- such as the classic folk hymn "Down to the River to Pray" -- emanates from phonograph horns throughout the streets. It's a full and beautifully realized environment, the likes of which have not been seen before. Every last brick and stone simply begs to be explored. Its graphic violence and decidedly mature themes may make this game unsuitable for kids, but BioShock Infinite will prove a rare and satisfying treat for grown-up gamers looking for a shooter with substance. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the depiction of racism in games. Are games, as a medium, ready to thoughtfully tackle this difficult subject? Do you think games can affect change in players' thinking on controversial subjects, for good or for ill?

  • Families can also discuss religion in games. Would you play a game that calls your faith into question? How about one that creates a fictional religion to serve as an analog for real-world faiths?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows
Price:$59.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:2K Games
Release date:March 26, 2013
Genre:Action/Adventure
ESRB rating:M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Mild Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco (PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360)

This review of BioShock Infinite was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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Teen, 14 years old Written byARaggedMuffin April 2, 2013
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

An excellently crafted masterpiece with an intriguing and thought-provoking story

This is my first review for CSM and I'm not really sure how I'm going to do it. I think a good starting point would be to describe what families should know about the game. Positive messages: Bioshock: Infinite deals with some very strong themes: racism, patriotism and religion being the biggest. In the world of Columbia, white Americans rule the proverbial roost. Black people, Asians and Irish people are all seen to be mistreated in one way or another, from torture to separate bathrooms to shanty towns. The reason I've put all this under positive messages is that none of these things are ever presented as good. Our main character, Booker, is not from Columbia and does not share its racist views, and the second protagonist, Elizabeth, is hugely opposed to them (Booker doesn't particularly care, he just wants to get the job done). I should note that violence in the game is presented from Booker's point of view as something that is sometimes necessary; he engages in it frequently yet takes no pleasure in it. Positive role models: Elizabeth is very much a moral compass for Booker. She is a very strong female character, something that is happily becoming more common in video games, with some very strong opinions that are tested as the game goes on. She is horrified at Booker's approach to violence - he treats it as something that he'll partake in to get the job done, whereas... [SPOILER] ...she kills a single person in the whole game (as far as I am aware, I have completed most of the story), with a very good motivation for doing so (her victim was about to murder a young boy), and is horrified at herself afterwards. [SPOILERS END] Violence: I'll say it now: Bioshock: Infinite is a very, very violent game. This cannot be denied. Booker shoots his way through enemy after enemy to complete his objectives. The primary weapons are firearms: blood is seen when enemies are hit, and a headshot with a sniper rifle will result in decapitation. However, this is commonplace for a First Person Shooter: the melee weapon is not. There is not much emphasis on melee in B:I. A single button is dedicated to it, for when enemies get a little too close. Booker's melee weapon is a metal gauntlet covered in spinning hooks. Normally, a press of the melee button will have Booker swing his arm at the nearest enemy. A quick splash of blood and they are wiped off the screen. However, holding the melee button when facing an enemy on the verge of death will bring a different result: Booker will execute them in gruesome ways using his gauntlet. He may trap their head between two hooks, then spin them, decapitating them, or twist them, breaking their neck. He may plunge the hooks into their stomachs and then spin the hooks, resulting in blood spattering the screen (I infer that he is grinding up their insides, but this is never stated or shown). This is just a sample of the melee finishers you'll see in the game. However, it is also worth noting that the opportunity to use these attacks is very rare and completely avoidable if you wish it. Booker's first kill, perhaps the most unpleasant one in the game, also involves this gauntlet. A police officer holds one over him threateningly, clearly about to kill him with it, at which point Booker grabs another officer's head and pushes his face onto the spinning hooks, something that, in reality, would grind his face into mincemeat. The man's head is shown from behind as this done to him, and blood is seen flying from the attack. After the fact, the man's face can be seen for a split second - it is covered in blood, but, as I would expect, no other injury is visible. Let's put that down to video-game logic. In short, the game has a lot of very bloody violence, but no gore can be seen - no guts are visible at any point. Sex: No sex scenes take place. The only remotely sexual thing I've seen at this point is a dress Elizabeth changes into (you do not see her change) at one point, which displays ample cleavage. Nothing to worry about here. Language: English. Ahahahahahaha, I'm so funny. There is a small amount of swearing in this game, but if memory serves me correctly there is nothing more offensive than 'sh-t'. Swearing is sparingly and realistically, not tossed about willy-nilly like in certain games I could mention. Consumerism: No product placement at all. As it is set in a city, there are some advertisements for fictional products, but no real-world products are seen in any capacity. Drinking, drugs and smoking: The player can eat and drink various items throughout the game world. This includes alcohol, but it is in no way necessary or encouraged. The alcohol has the exact same affect as other food and drink, except for one humorous detail I noticed: collecting several bottles of alcohol within a short space of time results in the screen going blurry for a few seconds. Several characters can be seen drinking in bars. No drugs. Safety and privacy: Bioshock: Infinite is an offline and fully safe game. Now that all of that is out of the way, here's my actual review. Bioshock Infinite is, first and foremost, beautiful. There is no denying that. The world of Columbia is a well-crafted and lovingly detailed city, and one of my favourite parts of the game is the first hour, which is mostly spent exploring a large part of the city which has similarities to, oddly enough, Disney Land. This sounds odd, but it works perfectly once you're playing the game. Of course, just as we don't judge a book by its cover, we don't judge a game by its graphics. Bioshock: Infinite has a story that is very well told and well written. You won't find a character more honestly likeable than you will Elizabeth, and, unusually for an FPS, the player character is actually a character, rather than a floating head with a gun attached. The writer does a good job of surprising you, too. First, the player is presented with a beautiful city that seems more like a Utopia, but soon the rug is taken out from under you and you discover the horrific truths behind it. There is some padding in the middle, but sometimes this is necessary if you want a game of decent length. The gameplay works perfectly, too. Gunplay is simple and easy to get to grips with, and Elizabeth is the best sidekick you could ask for: she stays out of the way, doesn't steal your kills like a certain follower I could mention *cough*Lydia*cough* and throws you helpful items as required, all while moving the plot along. It's rare to see a character like this in a video game. In summary, Bioshock Infinite is an excellently crafted masterpiece with an intriguing and thought-provoking story. I would say that it is fine for ages fourteen and up, as long as you can stomach some of the bloodier moments.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byorangeman2027 March 29, 2013
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

Bioshock Infinate pocketsized

Bioshock Infinate is one of the best games i've ever played. Despite what this website says there is DEFINATLY no sexual content in this game. There is alot of blood and violence though but its not realistic like Call Of Duty or Medal Of Honor. This is a completly different game to the other Bioshock games becuse its high in the air instead of at the bottom of the ocean and its a fresh new storyline.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bygamereviewer13 March 28, 2013
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

VERY good game

wow, well done common sense should change your name to idiot sense though because first of all the violence is not near as bad as everyone makes it just turn it off if it offends you, the language, what language theres barely anything that the main character says, but anyway the story goes like this, you play as a white virgo named Booker Dewitt a tough and witty guy who never kills mindlessly, and only kills in self defense and does begin to question what he is doing during the middle of the game and if its the best thing to do. booker is sent to columbia (a floating city in the sky) to rescue elizabeth, a kind loving character who will help booker in any way if he needs it and does not enjoy his killing but has to bear it because she knows there is a reason, anyway as booker begins to rescue elizabeth, more and more unfolds from bookers and elizabeths back story making it a great story for the player, the game is action packed, and actually has christian messages in it too. no educational value? i think not, it discusses immigration, the boxers rebellion and american exceptionalism throughout the story and is in very high detail. as for the gameplay it is great and addicting, i look foreward to future bioshock's. in my opinion let your kid play the game if you think its okay, and theres really not much to worry about with this game
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence

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