BioShock Infinite takes that nagging feeling of disunion and makes players wade through its century-ago antecedent, in a way that lays bare the agonizing personal costs paid to the grinding cycle of history. Columbia is a chunk of America that has in fact gone to pieces. And the result is horrifying. But beautiful, too.

You haven't been to a place like this before. The fictional floating city where Infinite is set is all clockwork platforms and brass gears, its many sections populated with hucksters, strivers, lovers and schoolchildren. One minute, you're walking past a sheer drop, the next a park swings down into the open space. Sure, they seceded from the Union but it's such a bloom-lit paradise that you almost can't blame them.

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