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Let's talk about Bioshock: Infinite




If you haven't played the game and you plan to, You shouldn't read this. It could very well ruin the game for you, I'm going to stay away from major plotpoint but the ending just won't be the same if you know how it hit's you. If you're thinking about playing it, I think you should. It's a good story driven game with some unfortunate oversights.


I originally heard one of my friends raving about this game in my math class during senior year, not too long after it's release. Fast forward to just after I obtained the game and another friend was giving it high remarks after I informed him of my purchase. And when first playing it I had no idea what to think. I knew some early events in the game, but as I had never played Bioshock 1 or 2 I had no knoledge of the universe or how things in general worked. I was slow to start, but once I hit a curtain point the game was my main focus outside of schoolwork. Once I figured out that this was a bit more than a shoot-em-up anyway.


But this game suffers from some pretty crippling issues. When you first enter Columbia it's shown as a vast, open city, with lots of technical doodads and seems to be decently populated. I didn't really notice anything wrong here until I read and watched some reviews. Upon entering the city it feels that you're separate from it. This isn't really a bad thing, but the way in which it's done makes it feel like an oversight rather than by design. You can't converse with people, they simply say what's on their mind when you approach them. When I played it I didn't notice, and it's not really important to the game, but it does leave some dissonance with what the game is telling you is happening and what it's showing you is happening.


The clothing mechanic always felt a bit tacked on to me. I never really bothered with it, and the game barely acknowledged it. I can't even remember what the clothes I used did. Even the weapons felt that way. Like, none of them are really interesting. Halo gives you various weapons for various jobs. If something is shielded, grab a plasma pistol, If your dealing with grunts, grab a magnum. But in Infinite the guns all accomplished the same thing. I mean, some of them where automatic and some of them had burst fire, but pretty much all of them did the same thing. And the vigors were basically different guns. You can do some neat things with them, but the way they limited there use felt... well, limiting at times. One vigor had two uses before it drained your salt, some had something like 12 uses.


And Elizabeth (That might be spelled wrong...) Is a strange addition. From a story point it makes perfect sense, but from a gameplay standpoint it really doesn't. For some reason she doesn't participate in combat outside of supplying you with health, salts, money and ammo. Which makes limiting salts seem even stranger. There isn't much excuse for not having her actually pick up a weapon and participate in combat. But she just kind of stands there and the enemies ignore her. It's weird, but even more-so considering the game has female enemies, so it's not stating they can't or don't fight, just that Elizabeth can't. It seems like a rather poor oversight to me. plus having someone to share combat with might make it a bit less painful and add some depth to the combat system.


And yes, I found the combat painful at times. Especially when they through those freaking bullet sponge brawler things with the exposed hearts at me. They absorb far too much damage, and some of the enemies are just a paint deal with by design. The crow enemy is particularly irritating to deal with. One is bad enough but when you have more than that or one of those and other enemies it's an absolute pain in the neck. They warp around and shoot crows at you and always attack at close range, meaning anything but chipping at their health is useless. There is no strategy here, no thinking ahead on how to handle these guys. In halo I'm forced to assess every encounter with careful planning, even if that means dying a hundred times to figure out how to deal with it. Most of the "Boss" type enemies appear in a way that seems random and gives you little warning. I've fallen to being ill prepared more times than anything else in this game. And it's not a "Get up and do it again" thing either, you're thrusted directly into the situation that already killed you once, with the enemies healed and you missing half your health.


Now, I know what your thinking. "That's a lot of negativity for a game that he just recommended." It is. It really is. But what this game does well, it does well. The story was gripping for me. I wanted to know how it ended, what was going to happen. And the ending sure didn't disappoint. I'm not going to go into all the things it got wrong because that' s not really that important here. There are some errors there, but most of are just due to the nature of the story. But the last cutscene of the game, after the last bullet is fired on the ship you're defending, is when everything that made the game good was accentuated while everything bad was left behind. When I finished the last cutscene my entire opinion of the game was elevated immensely. And sounds a bit weird to say that something that involved almost no gameplay was the best part of the game. I honestly believe this would have made a better movie or TV show then a game. And the last cutscene showcases that. It smacked you with so much storyline. It took everything that I thought I understood about the game and figuratively smacked me in the face with it. I knew that this game dealt with different timelines, but I was not expecting that.


And when looking at how the story played out, it seemed to be poking fun at the fact that there was nothing you could do to stop it. it took it's own limitations and used them. It did it during the Lutece's coin toss, it did it during the choices you did have. It did it in the beginning when preemptively warning you for what was going to happen. It knew where some of it's limits where and used them. Making the ones it more or less ignored seem much worse.


Agree? Did I screw it up? Leave a comment and I'll be sure to answer any questions you have regarding my thoughts on the game.



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I agree to a lesser extent with what you said, you definitely do have some valid criticisms that in hindsight I think, "Yeah, that is problematic." For example, the tankiness of enemies like the Handymen, fights with them were quite ridiculous (but actually, if you play the other BioShocks you learn they are equivalent to the iconic Big Daddies). So, I agree with where you find faults, I just didn't find them as... well, faulty as you did. :P


However, I think you compare it too much to Halo. I play Halo a lot too, but your arguments are somewhat weak with just turning to Halo to say what's better, when they're arguably different kinds of shooters.

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I can agree with that, I just use it as my go to FPS because I'm most familiar with it. That's not to say anything not like Halo is bad, It just gives me a reference point to work from. The Bioshock games are not your typical FPS, But most of the elements that bother me have to do with how it handles FPS type elements. I don't yet have a lot of experience in that genre yet.

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I must say, I wasn't so fond of Bioshock Infinite. It's received a lot of acclaim that I consider unjust since it doesn't really do anything different from any other first person shooter gameplay-wise, and the story it boasts is often jumbled and poorly thought out. From taking the player from wide-open expansive areas and instead cramming them into linear corridors in the latter half of the game, to the lack of creativity that damages my view on Elizabeth's power over tears (Oh gee, she can summon a hook, ammo or maybe if I'm very lucky, another gun) I just found it didn't live up to what it should have been, especially when one considers the sheer mass of cut content that was present in the trailers prior to its release. 


And of course, as I said, there are a dozen problems that I have with the story. The whole way through, it was cluttered and never seemed to know what themes and issues it wanted to focus on. The multiverse concept was interesting but not very well fleshed out. The ending just came across to me as pretentious, since it makes a fine effort to hide its plot holes behind as convoluted a layout as possible. Killing a character in one branch of the multiverse will not eliminate them entirely. Tricking the player with the illusion of decision-making just feels like a cheap way of phoning in some obligatory commentary on the medium of video games in the way that the first Bioshock did so very masterfully. 


Overall it was a decent game, and I don't regret the time that I spent playing it. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a slightly-better-than-average game but I would not put it anywhere near a top ten list. It did have some very good parts, and I was particularly fond of the Lutece twins who I think were handled well. It just fell apart in some areas and so I was naturally  disappointed. 

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I think at least some of that can be explained away if you take a little bit of liberty with the plot. It is convoluted, and the ending was mostly symbolic. But it does suffer some, I'll admit. the lack of creativity with the tears is rather irksome, but purely from a game play perspective it makes more sense that way. I still need to play the first one... 

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