Release date: March 26th worldwide
Platforms: PC (version reviewed), PS3, Xbox 360
In the infancy of the current generation of home consoles, Irrational Games (then known as 2K Boston) released Bioshock, a ground breaking title that portrayed a hidden underwater city built upon the objectivist ideals first coined by author Ayn Rand. The game enjoyed critical praise from both press and public, and it was highly regarded as one of the best games to be released in this generation.
We are closely reaching the end of this generation of home consoles, and rather fittingly, its spiritual successor, Bioshock Infinite has come along to see it on its way. But can it possibly aspire to, or even exceed the benchmark set by its predecessor?
After finishing Bioshock Infinite, I can safely say that it is possibly the finest game produced for this generation, and undoubtedly one of the greatest games I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
Set in a fictional version of 1912, Bioshock Infinite, you play as Booker DeWitt, an ex-soldier who currently works as a private investigator. Steeped in gambling debts, Booker is given an offer by two strangers to clean his slate; to find a girl named Elizabeth, and bring her back to them. After being taken to a drop off point, Booker is sent to the floating city of Columbia, a newly formed state that seceded from the union a few years back.
Much like the city of Rapture in Bioshock, Columbia has separated itself from America in order to create a new society, and is run by an enigmatic, evangelical leader, named Zachary Comstock, but unlike its counterpart, Columbia seems to be succeeding in its efforts; its streets are clean, there’s economic prosperity, crime is almost unheard of, but as you can expect, not everything is quite as it seems, and a dark undercurrent runs through the city and citizens of Columbia.
For some mysterious reason, Elizabeth is imprisoned within a tower, along with a multitude of books, paints and study materials. It is soon discovered that she has the power to bend time and space, and as such, she is being held as a commodity for Columbia. Make no mistake though, you may be playing the protagonist in Bioshock Infinite, but this is Elizabeth’s story, and thanks to her character being so well realised and developed over the time you spend with her, it’s one you’ll want to see through to its conclusion.
The problem with discussing the story of Bioshock Infinite’s story, is that I really can’t into the details without potentially spoiling it. Every single piece it has to offer is important, and it all weaves a fine, rich tapestry – complex in its construction, yet all coming together to create a magnificently formed structure.
Bioshock Infinite plays similarly to its predecessor, but with far more diversity in its combat; there’s a wide arsenal of weapons to choose from, pistols, machine guns, rocket launchers, most of which are staples in the first person shooter genre, but much like the first game, what makes Infinite stand out, is its use of powers; the Plasmids of the first game are now known as Vigors, a creation of the scientific minds of Columbia that grant your average man strange yet potent abilities. Booker can use all manner of these powers in combat, such as being able to manipulate remote turrets to his will, toss firebombs, lift a crowd of enemies into the air and suspend them there, catch bullets that are fired at him and toss them back, or even summon a murder of crows to attack.
You can also make use of the Sky-Lines which are threaded through Columbia, a network of rails that allow traversal of cargo and people via the use of Sky-Hooks, a wrist-mounted device that Booker, Elizabeth and – of course – their pursuers can use in the heat of battle. At first one could see the Sky-Lines as a neat little gimmick added for the sake of giving the game some flair, but you would be wrong; not only does it add to the diversity of its combat system, its usage is at times a necessity, serving as an escape mechanism should you be cornered, or even allowing you deal with enemies on various levels of terrain at the same time. It’s an extremely fun and exciting mechanic, and executed in a magnificent fashion.
Elizabeth plays her role, too; although Booker is technically escorting her, the game makes sure to note that you don’t have to look after Elizabeth in fights (something which has been the bane of other titles that feature escort missions), quite the opposite, in fact, she is extremely useful. Elizabeth can use her power to materialise objects into the environment, including cover spots, automated turrets, mechanised allies, and even weapons that would be helpful to the situation, such as sniper rifles for long range fire fights. She’s also reactive to your situation, if you’re low on health, ammo for your current weapon or salts (which fuel your vigors), she will actively scout the battlefield for you and throw them to you when you need it the most.
Much like Bioshock, Infinite is immaculately presented, its art style and design is pitch perfect in delivering the era and tone of the game, imagery and symbolism are found at almost every turn, and can effortlessly transition from being beautiful to bleak. Its sound design also stands out as some of the best I’ve ever heard in a game –the voice actors, the environments, the score (consisting of both original and known compositions), and just as Bioshock made you shiver at the groan of a Big Daddy, Infinite will terrify you in all the right ways – just wait until you first hear the call of the Songbird.
What really makes Bioshock Infinite such a triumph (and difficult discuss in a review without spoiling it) is its story. I have never had the pleasure of experiencing a tale so fantastically told within a game, whereas Bioshock had the major theme of objectivism holding it together, Infinite touches on so many different areas; religion, philosophy, patriotism, racism, discrimination, freedom – all approached with brevity yet never laid on so thick as to feel preachy.
Many criticised the original Bioshock for its ending, claiming that it felt rushed and wasn’t adequate for the story that preceded it – this is absolutely not the case with Bioshock Infinite, in fact it’s one of the most satisfying, bewildering and deepest conclusions I’ve ever seen in a game. I defy anyone to not play this game through to its conclusion and not have their brain wrinkled by it; it mentally and emotionally overwhelmed me to the point where I sat there in silence for a good ten minutes, contemplating what I’d just seen.
When I finished Bioshock Infinite, I was astounded by what I’d experienced. It was an unusual feeling, something that I’ve only experienced a few times in my life, and that was the feeling I’d just finished something truly incredible, and special. But with that, came a tinge of sadness, knowing that it’s probably going to be a long time until I experience that feeling again, not just from a game, but from any form of media; it is undoubtedly one of the greatest games I’ve ever played.
Bioshock Infinite is an unequivocal masterpiece, it is art and entertainment married into one package, a triumph for all those who crave for more substance in their games, and testament to Ken Levine’s brilliance as a game designer and, indeed, a writer. It absolutely cannot be missed out on; it’s the most important game you’ll play this year, and one of the finest works of this generation. Bioshock Infinite, is as close to a perfect game as you’ll get.
Saturday 22nd Septmber is the Bermondsey street festival, which seeks to promote local talent and creativity, that’s local designers, performers and musicians http://www.bermondseystreetfestival.org.uk
And our friends ’A Grape Night In’ are taking wine to the people!
Not only will there by lots of wine, but also a fantastic afternoon of performances, art, music and food. As the organisers say, the Festival is “the perfect blend of village fete folksiness, with Bermondsey street style”
Find A Grape Night in, in ’The Meadow’and we’ll be selling wine by the glass and bottle to enjoy with the delicious food available at the Festival. Come down and say hi and throw your best tasting note in the ring to win tickets to one of their tastings!
It’s Saturday afternoon at 3pm and you’re starting to get ready for a dinner out with 12 of your nearest and dearest to celebrate two friends turning 21 for the 8th time, when the phone rings……… Breathlessly you are informed that the restaurant that was booked has lost gas and that all of a sudden it’s looking like the choice will either be McDonalds or a liquid dinner. Re-booking dinner for 12 people in central London this late in the day is not an easy task, so where do you go?? Well Bethnal Green of course!
On the outside, Bethnal Green is not known for its thriving restaurant scene. Admittedly, once off the tube and wandering along the high street we were a bit concerned about what was going to be on offer for our dinner. After a ten minute stroll we turned down Wadeson Street where we believed the restaurant was, walked all the way to the end then again once around the block. Slightly bemused and concerned, we doubled back on ourselves only to be rescued by a dashing chef (I do love a man in chefs whites) who asked if we were looking for Bistrotheque? He then pointed us through a white courtyard and up a flight of stairs.
Birstrotheque can only be described as a destination restaurant, and by that I meant a restaurant you go to for an experience despite its rather dodgy surroundings. As we clambered up the stairs, an uneasy feeling settled in as I pictured entering a world exclusively for the beautiful, rich and cool, a member of a club to which I definitely do not belong. However, once the door opened we were greeted by both a white expanse of warehouse and a smiley and welcoming member or staff. As we running a little early we sat down at the bar for a quiet beverage.
The drinks choice is good and the boys in the group chose The Kernal, a very tasty Pale Ale brewed locally in South London.
Once the gaggle had arrived we were ushered to the table with a slight air of urgency and asked to order as soon as possible. Understandably, they had taken us as a last minute booking and admittedly we were running a few minutes behind, however it was felt by a number of the table that this pushiness was a little over the top and lowered my opinion of the otherwise good service.
The philosophy behind the Bistrotheque menu is that they offer seasonal, simple food produced in the spirit of a French bistro. If you visit the restaurant before 7.15pm or after 9.45pm they have a pre fixe menu which is 3 courses for 17.50 as well as their à la carte offering. The great thing about being in a group of 12 is that in a restaurant such as Birstotheque is that you can often get to sample a majority of the menu, and we did! The starter choices varied from ham hock terrine to crab salad, all which came in good sized portions. The ham hock had a good taste without the gloopiness that the gelatine can sometimes offer and there were rave reviews from those eating both the crab cake and asparagus. Main courses however, offered up a slightly different perspective. All of those on the table who went with the pre fixe menu opted for the onglet steak, a long, thin cut of meat which is known for its rich flavour. However, upon delivery the steaks took up a variety of forms in terms of shape and size. Aside from this, all of the steaks were cooked as requested and had the rich and full flavour desired. Trouble however, brewed down the other end of the table when one of the dishes arrived a good few minutes after the rest of the group had been served and a burger which had been requested well done was delivered distinctly on the pink side and had to be returned. Credit must go to the front of house team though who handled the situation superbly, including taking the two dishes off the bill without so much as a whisker of a complaint.
One of the more unusual dish choices of the group, steak tartare, was hailed by our resident expert as being season perfectly and delicious. Somehow we managed to squeeze in desserts including salted caramel tart and chocolate cake, which were all judged as ok but nothing special.
Conclusion: The best way to sum up Bistrotheque is a mixed bag…. Would I go again? Yes. Would I recommend it to others? Maybe. Would I say that it is one of the best dining encounters I have had in London? No. Whilst the experience of going to Bistotheque is an adventure in itself, I couldn’t leave without the feeling somehow the wow factor was missing. The food is very nice, the prix fixe is great value for money, however, without the mystery location it is simply another good restaurant, and one of many others which are dotted all around the London landscape, but if you are in the area it would be rude not to go.
A TweetedReview score of 3.75/5
Niki is a food blogger and currently undertaking the ultimate gourmand (read: greedy) challenge: 365 days of dinner blogging. Follow her journey (and plates) at http://dinneroftheday.tumblr.com/ and http://twitter.com/breakinglon
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Calling all foodies……. Yes once again it is the time of year where we don our urban wellies and head over to Regents Park to celebrate the culinary delights of our fair capital.
Taste of London will be taking up residency from June 21 – 24 in the centre of Regents Park. The festival promises to be assault on the senses, with over 40 of the city’s best restaurants dishing up gourmet plates, talks and words of wisdom from some of capital’s top culinary experts, cooking masterclasses and over 200 food and beverage producers showcasing.
Here at Tweeted Review, we are very privileged to have 2 secret garden passes. These tickets are the VIP of the VIP, with access to a private area, champagne on arrival, a complementary taste recipe book and most importantly £30 worth of crowns per person. These crowns aren’t the wearing type but are the currency of choice for Taste of London and must be used in order to eat or drink from the bars and restaurants. £1 equates to 2 crowns and most of the restaurants will be charging around 8-10 crowns for tapas size dishes.
Having extensively reviewed the menus online, our hot tips for ‘dish of the day’ include;
Club Garçon – “Basque” spicy confit duck, crazy pop corn (10 crowns)
Launcheston Place- light goat’s cheese cream, St Moranzo tomatoes and candied black olives
Patara – Grilled herb-marinated baby rack of lamb with papaya salad (14 crowns)
Yauatcha - Yauatcha steamed dim sum platter (12 crowns)
However, with such an amazing range of dishes available, the world literally is your oyster, lobster or the world’s most expensive Scotch egg, which is priced at a whopping £500
Aside from the amazing food on offer, the festival is welcoming some of the world’s culinary greats, such as: Wolfgang Puck, David Chang, Nuno Mendes, Bruno Loubet, Michel Roux Jr and of course no food related festival would be worth its salt without the visit of the seemingly omnipresent Jamie Oliver. However there is one surprising omission in the form of Gordon Ramsey, who we can only assume is far too busy in prison teaching the finer points of cup cake making. Though to be honest we are just as excited about the possibility of stumbling across the next big thing or an unsung hero than a celeb chef.
Our advice: Tickets are priced from £24 upwards if booked in advance, if you’re on a budget and don’t want to pay full wack for the Secret Garden Passes at £90pp, the best value is the Premium ticket for £40pp. These tickets come with £20 of Crowns, a minimum saving of £4, but be warned you can only book Premium tickets in advance via their website.
Finally don’t forget to come back next week for a full review on all our festival highlights; however we highly recommend a visit to experience the best food that London has to offer. Bon apetit!!!
Find out more at www.tastefestivals.com
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While the Jubilee is over and it is back to normal for most of us, Tea with Rachael takes us on amazing review of her favourite bits. Most of which can be enjoyed at anytime, not just when Queen and country gives us a four day weekend.
It has been a very busy few weeks, out and about for the Jubilee festivities and enjoying our short-lived Summer weather!
Ah, the start of the gloriously summery weekend, which we really made the most of! We ventured outside and sat on a blanket on the riverside outside the wonderful White Swan pub in Twickenham, watching the world go by and drinking ice cold Rekorderlig Strawberry and Lime – what a fantastic summer drink! It was almost like being beside the seaside…
The White Swan 4/5 – great location!
Organic food and drink in stunning surroundings – Ham House and Gardens
Rather disturbed by witnessing a moorhen fight/mating ritual(!), we headed down the riverbank to get the Hammerton Ferry over to Ham House and Gardens, where we enjoyed organic beer and Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade in the sunny gardens of the Orangery Cafe. After a stroll around the kitchen gardens for inspiration, we wandered round the stunning gardens and I managed to get some lovely pictures on this beautifully clear, hot and sunny day.
No visit would be complete without a visit to the gift shop, where I purchased some of the herbs we’d seen earlier, and ones I use regularly in my cooking – Thyme, Lemon Thyme and Tarragon. I will post my recipe for Tarragon chicken, using these lovely herbs, next!
I also got some lovely books: Comfort Food – providing more cooking inspiration – and A Taste of Tea by Brian Glover – a fascinating history of the various rituals associated with drinking tea.
I never go to a National Trust shop without buying Lemon Curd - and this time I bought some Raspberry Curd to try as well! I feel another afternoon tea coming on…
Ham House 5/5 – stunning grounds, lovely cafe and great gift shop!
During the Jubilee weekend, Twickenham was hosting the Charlie Shore Regatta as part of the Twickenham Riverside Jubilee Festival – Twickenham Alive. Always a fun event, this year the festivities were extended to include a craft fair on Church Street and the local church fair. Armed with a large glass of Sangria from Pincho, we perused the stalls and sat in the sunshine watching the river races.
After staying in during the downpour to watch the Flotilla on TV, on the Bank Holiday Monday we met some friends and headed to favourite local Twickenham pubs. The White Swan had a BBQ going and a street party in aid of children’s charity Shooting Star Chase – despite the gloomy weather – where we enjoyed burgers, homemade chocolate cakes and more Rekorderlig! Once it started raining more heavily, we moved on to the Royal Oak to check out the ‘Jumbilee’ in aid of local charity HANDS, where I picked up some fab vintage bargains!
Later in the day, we managed to sit in the sunshine (while it lasted) drinking organic cider outside the lovely old Eel Pie pub, before heading to The Fox for the biggest pie I have ever eaten! We all ordered chicken and cider pie with mash and gravy – not realising you each get an enormous individual pie! It was really tasty – fantastically hearty and quintessentially British in honour of the Jubilee! As we were particularly hungry after all the cider drinking, we ordered fries and chunky chips too, which were also delicious and went very well with the gravy! Heartily recommended!
The Fox 4/5 – amazing pie!
I made the most of my time off over the Jubilee Bank Holidays by drinking lots and lots of tea! As well as my usual stash of Twinings and TeaPigs, I had the privilege of trying a selection of teas from the lovely people at Ahmad Tea, which have very appropriate historical paintings of London on the boxes.
English Tea No.1 is a lovely blend of black teas with Bergamot and is a stylish alternative to Earl Grey. It even has a flotilla scene on it, from the opening of Tower Bridge! Very apt for Jubilee celebrations! Their Earl Grey is also very refreshing, and I particularly like the Darjeeling and English Breakfast blend too!
Ahmad Tea 4/5 – great taste, lovely packaging!
I made sure I had Jubilee-themed biscuits with my tea – I am addicted to Cadbury’s biscuits (favourite chocolate on biscuits – what’s not to love?!) and have eaten far too many over the past few weeks! 5/5
Juice of the Month #1
Chapel Down Bacchus 2011
In honour of English wine week & when all eyes were on England for the Diamond Jubilee we had to sneak in one of England’s finest. Based in Kent and often referred to as one of the leaders of English wine we very much agree that ‘It doesn’t have to be a special day to drink Chapel Down wines as they make every day special.’ We love their Bacchus – England’s signature grape aptly named after the God of wine. Often compared to Sauvignon Blanc, this is a textbook example with oodles of fresh lemons, and lively goosebury fruit. £9.59 English pounds at Waitrose
Juice of the Month #2
Royal Tokaji Dry Furmint 2010
As we look back at Her Majesty’s 60 year reign, there was a time when Hungarian wine was popular here in Britain, and now’s your turn to see why! Tokaji is a region famed for producing some of the best sweet wines around with the local Furmint grape. While we love sweet Tokaji Aszu, we’re pretty excited about the dry style that is taking centre stage right now. Dry Furmint produces a unique wine with hints of a viogner; fresh peaches & heady fragrance but with its own twist of fresh green apple, nuts & volcanic minerality.
Drink like they used to for £8.49 at Majestic
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Blue Lip Feel and The Heartbreaks.
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The Bowery Bar is best known as the bar that a former Artic Monkey built, rather than as the older brother of The Great Gatsby. It’s not the sort of bar I’d normally think of to go and see bands in, mainly I never realise they’re on until the night they’re playing, normally through a random tweet.
This weekend I managed to find out in advance that they were putting on three night’s of live music for free over the Thursday, Friday and Saturday for their Landslide (long) weekender.
I got to the Bowery on the Friday a bit later than planned and managed to catch the tail end of Blue Lip Feel’s set. They were a four piece band playing rocky songs with a hint of The Libertines jangly guitar in places and at one point the lead seemed to channel Johnny Ramones with his vocals and not just his hair. Never a bad thing in my opinion! They have some good songs and given the opportunity some of them like the catchy Rinse Me Down could become dance floor fillers.
Next on were the headliners The Heartbreaks, all the way from Morecombe on their album tour. Their presence on stage was greeted with a big cheer from the audience as they played 50s style pop. The Heartbreaks started their set slowly with the first two songs sounding a bit samey.
They picked up some speed with on their third song and turned from faux fifties crooners to an indie pop band with a shoe gaze twist. The started to roll out their singles and got the crowd singing along to Delay Delay before getting them dancing with Winter Gardens. (That was about the time I moved a little further back from behind a speaker as it seemed perilously wobbly with a mosh pit approaching.)
Most of the rest of their set kept up the same stomping indie pop momentum with the one exception of a slow song in tribute to Donna Summers. They ended the night with a medley of their own song and I Wanna Dance With Somebody sending me grinning at the unexpectedness off into the night.
Tweeted Review Score: 4/5 Tweet
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Juice of the Month #1
Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde
As winemakers head to London from all over the World, it’s time to reflect on the eclectic mix of wines that we are so fortuate to have access to right here in London. Our top tip for the summer is to try Portugese wine, which is having a mini revolution in front of our eyes.
If you thought Vinho Verde was cheap and tastless, then think again! This VV from Quinta de Azevedo, made from local Loureiro & Arinto grapes, is as sprightful as an imp, and as fresh as a summers day, with notes of freshly cut flowers, apple skins, and a squeeze of lemon. One for an easy afternoon at only 10.5% ABV.
Currently on special at Waitrose for £5.79
Juice of the Month #2
Cecchin Carignan 2007
April 17th was World Malbec Day, which inspired us to chose this wine – but it’s not a Malbec! Rather this wine has been made with local carignan grapes, but is from Mendoza region of Argentina where Malbec is famously produced.
Certified organic and practicing biodynamic principles, Familia Cecchin are championing the ‘natural’ trend over in Argentina, even lowering the natural sulphur levels so this should be kinder on the head the next morning! But the wine speaks for itself – with the fresh and juicy red fruits doing the talking, alongside it’s silky tannins and delicate spice.
From the very local Fat Deli (7 Chesnut Grove, Balham)
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