Title: Bioshock Infinite
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
I tried to play this game about six months ago, and found that it too closely resembled a FPS for my liking. That doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t like it, but I don’t enjoy games that just turn into firefights, and that’s what happened for me when I played this game. On the advice of a friend I picked it back up to give it another chance. While I admit I’m impressed with the quality of the world that they’ve created, the game confirmed my fears of turning the Bioshock franchise into just another bland FPS.
Let me explain. I recognize that technically Bioshock games fall into the FPS category, but looking back at the original, there was just so much more there. I won’t go into a review for that game, but suffice to say that I absolutely loved it, and it resides on my list of top ten games of all time. The original Bioshock filled me with anticipation around every corner; it felt like I was a part of the world, and I was always asking myself the best way to proceed. Infinite shares some similarities with the original gem in its overall structure, but completely misses the boat in the most important areas.
First, as I mentioned, this game felt boring to me. Run from one area to another, engage in a firefight, move to a new location, repeat. Yes, the environment was amazing, and I loved walking around the world, but the gameplay components just didn’t mesh. Whereas with the first Bioshock, I constantly found myself exploring environments rife with anticipation, experimenting with Plasmids and having a blast defeating enemies, and constantly being enveloped by the story, none of these feeling accompanied my venture into Infinite. The tension was gone by virtue of having Elizabeth constantly tagging along, ready to throw extra power-ups your way whenever you needed them. If you die, you just jump right back into action with more life and salts, which really takes away from the sense of achievement.
I made it through the whole game rarely using Vigors (Infinite’s version of Plasmids), but I didn’t want it to be that way. I made an earnest effort to find interesting ways to use them, but due to the nature of the battle sequences, it just never felt like the right option. And the story didn’t do it for me, likely because of the oversimplification of Elizabeth. Without giving away the story, it took me out of the game when I’d see her constantly transformed into a simple automaton (“Want a coin Booker? Here you go, catch.” “I can handle that” when Booker asks for a lock pick). Elizabeth had so much potential to be an interesting character; instead, I cringed every time they had her say something.
There is no argument that Comstock is a beautifully realized world. The one component of the game that really sucked me in was the environment, as I thoroughly enjoyed walking around and see what there was to see. From the vendors to the anonymous NPCs, I was interested in everything they had to say. That aspect of the game left me wanting more, but instead I felt constantly ushered into yet another shooting sequence.
A perfectly capable FPS lies behind those sequences, but the problem is that Bioshock isn’t supposed to be just another bland shooter. That’s what makes (or has made) the series special; beautifully realized worlds and characters with innovative combat mechanics and enveloping atmospheres. Unfortunately, Infinite fails to capitalize on its potential and instead leaves you with a glaring emptiness of bullets and brass.
This game just felt like it was missing something to me, and I’m shocked it got so much recognition from critics and such consideration for game of the year in 2014 – Last of Us was a million times the better game, and resides on my list of favorite games of all time. The story and ending were decent, and all things considered, I realize this is a decent game with a brilliant, beautiful world behind it, but those qualities can’t rescue it from being yet another forgettable shooter.