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Bioshock Infinite: later thoughts

Bioshock Infinite.  
 
Bioshock infinite was a game that was critically lauded, and received tons and tons of praise, even from some hardline critics, which was more than enough for me to decide to check it out.  I got it on sale for 40 bucks, and played through it. I only lost my focus a bit later on in a dull section, but I finished the game around august.

Phwewwwwww....... 

After letting this game stew for a while, I find my opinion has worsened from even my lackluster feelings after beating the game.  

WAIT!!!!! 
 
Before you begin in with cries of you don't get it or you can't compare it to bioshock, I will bisect those two arguments right here and now. First off, yes, I may have missed bits of the subtext but I understood what was going on and it was a bit of a mess. Being pretentious does not mean being misunderstood, it means pretending to be making points and pretending to be smarter than you are, and this game is not nearly as intelligent or interwoven as it would like you to think it is.  
  
Secondly, yes I can compare it to Bioshock because it's called Bioshock infinite, has pseudo-plasmids and similar combat and even clearly steals sound assets from the first. The very name invited the comparison and therefore invites criticism regarding that. By naming it and lifting so many elements a comparison must be made, and one must look to what Infinite does differently than the original Bioshock to isolate what it is, and whether or not it is indeed better than its precursor.  Now with that out of the way, no I would not recommend this game at full price, though at a sale price I can recommend it for a play-through at least, to see if it works for you. The game squanders its potential by not focusing on the more interesting bits, like talking to citizens and exploring the town with dull combat, which is infinitely more boring than Bioshock (hah, mother *** hah). There's no real sense of progression, the fights are just long and drawn out, simply making fights more obtuse and more irritating to get through and the abilities are mostly uninteresting or just copies of the original games plasmids. And speaking on that, the vigors are just reskinnned plasmids, just without any of the lore, intrigue or even real relation to the universe that Bioshock and even a game that I consider in some ways to be better, Bioshock 2 had. There's no interwoven lore, the world is just there, the physics *** is *** pretentious and the main villain and city are uninteresting, especially considering Rapture and Andrew Ryan. I don't like how no one took this game to task for its issues, because maybe I am being pretty critical but the game is not as perfect as advertised. It got talked up and talked up and talked up, and even when I tempered expectations I was left disappointed. It's weaker than Bioshock, lore wise and world building wise and I just don't like it. I also really don't like how a game that did everything better than this one was overshadowed by this one because it was so hyped and deep and ***. It's not that deep, and when you have a line like "The city doesn't float cause of the balloons, it floats cause physics!!!" you know it's trying to be that game without understanding that by trying and not doing it falls flat.  

World  
 
While this game is worth a play through, you should beware the hype, as I personally felt it was far weaker than advertised. Go play the much better Bioshock, or even Bioshock 2, or hell, go play Spec ops if you want to play a truly great game, and if you want to see what this game could've been, go play the game it helped push away from the periphery, Metro Last light, because that game for all its flaws actually proves why it deserves it accolades, and doesn't just whisk you away from the people drama, which is quite good in Inifinite when no main characters are involved. Play the game once without listening to literally every conversation, and then do another where you listen to everything, and in that second play through you are going to find that hours of content are added, that could have easily been skipped and ignored. It doesn't force them on you, and it goes the extra mile to make it mean something that you listen to deepen and enrich the world. The metro is interesting, and I just feel like in some ways both games are similar, but Metro shows what Infinite had the potential to be if it unstuck its head from its own ass and tried.  

Combat 
 
I mentioned this before briefly, but I want to explain more the mechanical issues I have to further elaborate. Now, at first combat feels fine and goes alright and its actually fun. But as the game progresses the battles are more confined and less dynamic, and simply throw tough, high damage enemies that sap the fun away. Additionally the game has only two gun slots, only a few plasmid slots, no progression at all-which is fair enough- and most irritating though perhaps most petty of all, the guns don't show upgrades, making said upgrades feel ethereal and meaningless. It removes a sense of ownership, and it hurts the combats intensity. It also gets irritating to have to constantly look around for different weapons or be deprived of a favorite weapon because its not in this level, there's no ammo why would you want to use it, player? That's a little petty, but considering the legacy that hangs over it, I don't see why you didn't just leave it in. Maybe to attract the "gunbro" audience, but do you really think that said audience is so afraid of multiple gun slots? Or is that something the industry believes, so it must be true! Because it feels like that. And it makes the combat feel a lot weaker than it should, even if the skyhooks are a somewhat interesting mechanic that are ultimately wasted more on the combat than exploration.  

Ludonarrative Dissonance 
 ]I have no problem with the level of violence, none whatsoever. The combat is my issue, not the blood and graphic kills, though I can see why some people might have issues. Still it's a nonissue for me, so don't think that's my problem with anything in the game, because the rest of the game is my problem with the game. 

Graphics and Aesthetic design 
 ]The game looks pretty good; it's very pretty and colorful which surprises me. Aren't you afraid bright colors will scare away the "gunbros"? They can't tolerate anything that's not brown and gray!!!! It's odd that this was an excuse for the combat, but not the actually very pretty coloring and nice graphics. Aesthetic wise it looks good too, I do like the 30's patriotic vibe, though eventually it kind of sweeps this away for fire and chaos, which doesn't serve quite as well but it still feels alright so I can live with it. Enemy design is a bit lazy though, as there's not a huge amount of troop variety in unit type throughout the game, even if there are some unique concepts. But for the majority of the game it's the same troop subtypes, even if they are different factionally. Also what the hell is up with their eyes? Some have glowing eyes and that's never explained and that kind of bugs me. Sorry, that's really nit picky, but yeah overall I like the look and aesthetics. Credit where its due.  

Racism 

If you let those blacks free, they will burn the city down! 

Yeah, guess who tended to think that? Hint: Civil War. 
 
Guess what happens at the end of infinite? Spoiler alert: What the racists thought would happen if said statement was allowed to pass. 

This one seems tenuous, perhaps, but the Vox don't just take over Columbia, they burn it to the *** ground. Or at least try to. And while I can see that as part of the pretentious point that both sides can be corrupted with power, it still comes across leaving a sour taste. Perhaps this one can be interpreted differently by different people, but it seems like immediately making the Vox the villains and making them seem a lot worse than the founders-who didn't burn the city down-comes across as a little unevenly skewed. Might be just me and the person who originally put the thought in my head, but I can't quite shake it.  
 
So that's my overall thoughts, finally out for the world to see. Feel free to comment, I would like to know how you feel regardless of disagreement or agreement. It augments my understanding, and hey, maybe I can alter my blog post to be a bit better and provide a better read for more discussion. Hope to discuss soon!

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