The lights are on
Unlike most reviewers who talk in their own words about a game during a review, I'm simply going to make an easy to read list of the Pros and Cons I found in Bioshock Infinite. Even though it's a list, it will contain SPOILERS! You have been warned.
The story. I dare say you will not find a more complicated, yet endearing and impressive story in all of the history of gaming. And that's saying something if you played the original Bioshock.
The combat. Whether or not you consider it more enjoyable than in the original Bioshock, I'm sure most can agree it is way more intense. You will be scrambling for cover, flying across Skyrails, and dropping in on enemies throughout the game, and it's a blast.
The mystery. There are many parts to the story, and they are hinted at throughout, but you don't find out how they come together until the very end. It keeps you thinking the entire game, and coming up with many different theories to keep your mind occupied.
The voice acting. It's very good, and that's saying something from someone who normally doesn't even notice the quality of the voice acting unless it's phenomenal or absolutely horrible.
The vigors. While some are technically repeats of plasmids from the first 2 games, there are more that are quite original. Bucking Bronco and Murder of Crows were two of my favorites.
The guns. The guns themselves aren't what impressed me; it was the balancing of them. Most were quite useful. I never found myself saying, "That gun sucks. I can't use it to kill anyone." While I did have my favorites (Sniper Rifle and Repeater), I didn't hate any of the other weapons, which is rare for most games.
The Skyhook and Skyrails. I know I mentioned them in the combat section, but they deserve their own Pro. They are fun and very useful. Riding the Skyrails is a great tactic for combat to get out of the line of fire, as well as drop in on unsuspecting enemies for a very satisfying gravity-assisted melee attack. But the Skyhook isn't just there to gain access to the Skyrails. It's a weapon in itself. The executions you can do with them are gruesome and satisfying themselves.
The return to Rapture. For me personally, the huge tear near the end that takes you to Rapture was the highlight of the entire game. My jaw dropped open, and I just took a few minutes to take it all in. It felt as if I'd been in foreign lands for a very long time, and I'd just returned home. It felt amazing.
The character connections. In the first Bioshock, I couldn't wait to meet Andrew Ryan, I was fascinated with Sander Cohen, I loved being adored by the Little Sisters for being their hero, and I was dumbfounded when I discovered I'd been duped by Atlas/Fontaine. But in Infinite, I felt almost nothing towards any of the other characters. Even Elizabeth, who's with you the entire time, didn't even feel like a real person until close to the end of the game. You meet Daisy Fitzroy once, and before you know it, she's dead. The very same can be said for Jeremiah Fink. I kind of hated Comstock, but that's because they drill it into your head that he's the bad guy. Other than being your average run-of-the-mill megalomaniac, he's nothing special in the villain category.
Elizabeth's AI. While I am glad that the entire game isn't one big escort mission, it feels artificial that enemies not only ignore her, but she's invincible as well. So even if you get hit with a rocket, and she's right next to you, she'll be fine. All her actions are scripted very simply. She doesn't actually find supplies to help you out. They just appear out of thin air. You're low on health? Here's a health pack once per battle. The same happens for salts and ammo. She throws money at you too at random times. While I'm happy for the extra cash, it really felt "tacked on". The early trailers made it appear that she actually helped in combat, not just throw you supplies. She does open tears, but technically she doesn't. If she's busy doing something like picking a lock, and you activate a tear, it still opens. It seems as though they simplified her AI programming to just simple scripts, which is another reason she doesn't feel that real.
The lack of special enemies. Okay, so Infinite does have many more types of enemies than Bioshock 1 and 2. However they released trailers promoting the prominence of these enemies in the game. The Motorized Patriot I admit does make quite a few appearances. But there were only a "handful" (get it?) of Handymen, a couple Sirens, and 3 or 4 Boys of Silence. They really promoted the heck out of these guys, and they didn't get much screen time at all.
Gun upgrades. Buying gun upgrades were a con for 2 reasons. Number 1: they were super-expensive and burned through the little money you usually had. And Number 2: there were no cosmetic changes to the gun. In 1 and 2, upgrades gave you a cool new steampunk addition to your weapon. The upgrades were very clever in their design, and added something unique each time, but not in Infinite.
Open but not open. Columbia was beautiful. After all, it was a city floating in the sky. One of the things that featured prominently in one of the first trailers was using the Skyrails to sail from island to island, pursuing enemies, running from them, knocking them off the rails, and evading incoming fire. However in the actual game, each island was pretty much self-contained. Skyrails only went around a single island for the most part. Columbia didn't have that creepy claustrophobic feel to it that made Bioshock special, but neither did it use its openness to carve a new niche in the environment category for itself. Freedom to soar through the air across the city could have been truly magnificent. It was fun for short distances, but not what it could have been.
That's it for the Pros and Cons. The Cons took longer in explaining, but the Pros really do outweigh them by quite a bit. Hence, the review score. Bioshock Infinite was a truly unique experience. The ending was truly worthy of the franchise. And I look forward to seeing what will come next.
I know I said this was just a list, but I couldn't review Bioshock Infinite without at least taking a crack at explaining the ending. Hope this will clear up some things for those who just finished it but are still confused. It also might help to read up on infinite loop, closed loop, and multiple branching time theories, and watch a whole lot of Doctor Who.
Explanation of the Ending
At the end of the game the different versions of Elizabeth drown Booker at the exact moment where all the universes that contain Comstock are created. If she didn't, then Booker would go on to create his alternate identity of Comstock in many of the universes. Elizabeth is inside and outside of all the universes at the same time, so she can see them all, as well as both carry out the drowning, and cease to exist once the deed is done. Since Comstock never existed, every version of her disappears as well at the end. She didn't just kill all the versions of herself and Comstock, she completely destroyed all those universes. She made it as if they never existed at all. Every time someone makes a choice of some kind, another universe, or branch of causality is created. Eliminate a person's ability to make any more choices, such as drowning Booker, all those branches get cut off. All those universes never come into being. If it involved one universe, then yes it would be a paradox, but with an infinite number of branching universes, true paradoxes can't really exist, especially if you have someone outside them all controlling their pasts, presents, and futures. They can all be changed at any point, thus changing others as a consequence.
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