The lights are on
After the original release of Bioshock Infinite, I
couldn’t help but be taken back by the unbelievable amount of praise the game
had received; and after playing the game rather extensively and having seen
that the game is still receiving praise almost a year after its release, I
think it’s about high time that the game got some legitimate criticism.
One of the many flaws of infinite, and perhaps one of the more controversial,
is the racism subplot; so I’ll get that out of the way first. The game scarcely
does anything with it, other than shoving it in the players face with signage.
Despite being a game hailed as pushing the medium forward and a prime example
of storytelling in video games, the racism doesn't go anywhere. It attempts to
use such a sensitive topic to shock the player, yet simultaneously tries to be
politically correct about it. There was no lynching, no mention of white people
raping their black slaves, no disparaging terms and as a result no sort of real
bite. I'd say that Infinite is more insulting as a result by undermining the
kinds of issues black people had to face during the time period. Despite the
time frame, Columbia isn't anywhere near as bad as many areas of the United
States, which is ridiculous since we're expected to hate Columbia and those who
reside there. In summary, the racism doesn't go anywhere near far enough and as
a result comes off as half-assed.
Another issue is how the game handles choice and
practically insults the player. One of the very first choices presented to you
within the game is at the raffle, where Booker draws the number 77 baseball.
The player is given the choice to either throw the ball at Fink, or throw the
ball at the couple. Bare in mind that we're playing a First Person Shooter. On
the most basic level, the player is required to look around and fire
projectiles. The game instead opts to prompt the player, insinuating that the
player wouldn't have the intelligence to throw the ball using the basic controls.
This is supposedly a game that's been hailed as both "An intelligent game
for intelligent gamers" and "The Citizen Kane of video games."
This leads on to the illusion of player choice. Ken Levine has stated that he's
far more interested in what exactly goes on within the players mind over the
outcome of the choice. However I'm willing to bet that when you opted to throw
the ball at Fink, you were thinking far more about "How will this choice
impact me later?"
Had control been relinquished to the player during the scene, I'm willing to
bet that the majority would've thrown the ball at the couple, not even knowing
that Fink was an option. This could've aided with immersion, placing the player
in Booker's position; being pressured by the mob to throw the ball at the
couple. None of the choices within the game truly reflect the player, if at
all. The players thought processes while making these decisions are liable to
be the best way to get around the system in order to gain the best outcome. At
no point did any of the choices make me realize anything about myself. Though
none of this ever really matters since absolutely none of the games choices
have an impact on the story, which is another issue in and of itself.This reminds me a little of that one scene in Half Life 2 when you're asked to throw the can in the bin... Only that game didn't treat you like a moron.
There's a lot of praise heaped on Elizabeth, however all
of this is completely unjustified. While it's true that the game at no point
felt like an escort mission, Irrational achieved this through removing
Elizabeth from the equation completely. At no point did any enemy attempt to
target her over Booker, nor attempt to capture her while she was out of sight.
This reduces her to a non-element. She has no real place, other than throwing
the player ammunition and salts that she seemingly generates out of thin air.
Her mannerisms are all completely out of character. Elizabeth had hardly
interacted with other human beings prior to Booker arriving. Yet as soon as she
leaves, Elizabeth seems to gain better social skills than Booker; dancing with
strangers and acting more outgoing than your average Disney princess. This
isn't how anybody who's been kept in captivity for their entire lives acts. At
all. It's jarring, irritating and a cheap way to get the player to like her. A
cop out to save the writers doing their jobs properly.Miss, isn't this your first time out of that tower since you were a small child?The
gunplay has scarcely evolved from the original, the
guns themselves feeling like limp peashooters. The enemies are all
sponges with no sense of self preservation, which absolutely isn’t
the two weapon limit and low ammo count. This forces the player to use
unupgraded weapons if they happen to run out of ammo for the weapons
been sticking with, making combat tedious and unsatisfying. As if this
bad enough, around half way through the game the weapon pool is
doubled which only makes it more difficult to find ammo for your
when you need it. This all seems to be done in order to make Elizabeth
like a useful companion, which is ridiculous. Sacrificing quality of
in order to make your AI companion seem less useless is utterly
design. None of the enemies require any skill to tackle, and hardly vary
in type. You have the guys shooting at you with guns, the guys throwing
fire at you, the crow guys and the handymen. Get ready to be doing a lot of this. Truly the most thought provoking game of this generation.
This leads me onto another issue. The game seems completely content to, instead
of tweak and improve features, simply rip them out instead. The original
Bioshock had a hacking minigame. No, the minigame wasn’t fantastic and it did
get rather tedious by the end of the game, but that doesn’t justify ripping it
out completely and reducing it to a temporary cast vigor. Instead of forming an
improved minigame, Irrational instead opted to cut it completely which is quite
simply lazy and reeks a lack of creativity. Lock picking is given to Elizabeth
(again to make her seem less useless) and even vigors feel like uninspired
drivel that are simply tacked on because it’s a Bioshock game.
Bioshock Infinite is anything other than a masterpiece. It’s not smart, it’s
not fun, and it’s certainly not worth your money. The only positive thoughts I
had during my experience with the game was how gorgeous Columbia looked from a
distance; which was ruined as soon as I got close enough to see the disgusting
textures. This is a representation of everything that’s wrong with the gaming
industry. A generic First Person Shooter with a story so convoluted that it’s
fans think a legitimate defense is that it’s “Just too deep for you.” For the
sake of spoilers, I’ve left my thoughts on the ending out of this review. But I
can promise you that the ending is just as convoluted and filled with holes as
the rest of the game.
It’s bland, uninspired, dull, tedious and underwhelming.