Other Take

BioShock Infinite - A Fan Scorned

  • Game release: March 25, 2013
  • Reviewed: October 9, 2013
  • PC

Squandering infinite possibilities. Tom takes a second look at one of 2013's biggest games.

by

Our Other Takes present alternative opinions on games from unique perspectives. Click here to read our Featured Review!

The original BioShock is one of Tom's favorite games ever. He will most likely love any game that tells a fascinating story and uses the mechanics to build on those themes.

My love of the original BioShock is unwavering. Irrational's previous foray into a dystopian society explored the ways in which the foundation of civilization crumbles when everyone has only their own desires in mind. The powerful themes resonated throughout every inch of that modern-day masterpiece. Not only did plasmids add novelty to the combat, they furthered the ideas the game was centered around. Plasmids injected into your veins let you twist your body into an unrecognizable monster, and the enemies you fought against showed how debilitating overuse of these drugs could be. Important figures exemplified how various mindsets would function when the rules of decency were removed. Remember when you explored the blood-soaked hovel of J.S. Steinman, the plastic surgeon trying to carve beauty into unwilling patients now that morals had been absolved? Or when you gazed at the artist Sander Cohen's disturbing masterpieces? BioShock was a terrifying exploration of the manifestation of selfish desires left unchecked.

BioShock Infinite begins with a similarly intriguing premise. Jaded by the unclean, corrupt beasts that rule democratic lands, Zachary Comstock founds a city in the clouds free from the shackles that have been destroying the modern world. Columbia is a place of pure hatred. The elitist settlers believe they are the chosen ones, elevating themselves above the unwashed masses who dared to be a different race or have less money than the privileged few. The stage is set for a sobering exploration of how a segregationist's mentality is ultimately doomed. However, Infinite avoids taking a stance on the situation that it constructs, instead diverting its attention to a pair of characters who encompass tired stereotypes (merciless killer, gifted damsel) that have no relation to the thematic elements set up at the outset. With nothing of value worth exploring, Infinite quickly devolves into a mindless shooter buoyed only by its stunning artistic design.

Elizabeth never says no to a dance off.

Booker DeWitt is a guilt-stricken war veteran who readily massacres hundreds of individuals. Relating to the protagonist is nearly impossible, and not just because he's a terrible person whose hands are perpetually drenched in the blood of his enemies. Because Booker's words and actions so often conflict, it's hard to take him seriously. Why would we ever believe that he regrets killing Native Americans at Wounded Knee when he still willingly enters battle zones with murder on his mind? Infinite desperately tries to engender sympathy for Booker by giving him a troubling backstory, but it feels as empty as the rest of this adventure because his motivations are continually ignored to allow for another extended battle sequence. It hardly matters that he's on a rescue mission because there's so little investment in who he is. Instead of offering an emotionally complex individual as the star, Infinite instead introduces a female companion who desperately tries to give the game moral grounding.

Infinite quickly devolves into a mindless shooter buoyed only by its stunning artistic design.

Elizabeth is a bird in a cage, spending her days locked in a tower as she peruses the books that make up her most readily available companions. No average woman, she has extraordinary powers that allow her to open portals to other realms. A strong-willed woman who is well read with abilities that would make a superhero envious doesn't seem like a weak damsel, and yet Infinite trudges down the tired path of using women as prizes, so she's thrust into that role regardless. She's rescued by Booker early on in this adventure, and accompanies him as he mows down the armed citizenry of Columbia. Sadly, she's little more than an item dispersal system with a fancy dress. Elizabeth helpfully tosses ammunition and health when Booker gets low, and unlocks doors, but otherwise she serves as a bystander. She does offer one nice touch of humanity. When Booker kills enemies in particularly violent ways, she recoils in disgust, which is more character development than is found elsewhere.

Located where the sun touches the sky, Columbia is a gorgeous city in which every new location contains its own beautiful touches. Marvel at the intricate railway system connecting one floating section of town to another and appreciate the down-home sensibility of the quaint storefronts. Despite the disgusting people who live there, Columbia is a place where you want to spend your time, gazing at the myriad delights as you listen to the serene music that fills your heart with joy.

BioShock's Big Daddy's made sense in Rapture. These fools are just poor imitators.

Treasure those quiet moments when you're allowed to soak in the stunning sights, because such respite is all too rare. Around every dazzling corner await gun-toting soldiers who are all too eager to make your life miserable. Infinite pushes unceasing waves of attackers your way to ensure little more than a minute passes without your trigger finger seeing action. Sadly, in the six years since BioShock introduced a fascinating world with mediocre shooting mechanics, Irrational has still not been able to inject the core action with the same appeal as the aesthetic wonders. The claustrophobic locations of BioShock's Rapture have been replaced by a sprawling cityscape in which enemies snipe you from across great distances, which transforms the personal conquests of BioShock into exhausting, pixel-hunt ordeals in which you're constantly being peppered by unseen heathens offscreen.

The chaotic endeavors are tiresome rather than thrilling because haphazard enemy placement urges you to sprint pell-mell across Columbia's skies. With no fluctuation in the rhythm of combat, these battles quickly lose what little appeal they offered. There's no deeper strategy necessary to dispatch the brain-dead foes who hunt you, so once you've succeeded in a few encounters, there are few surprises to keep you invested. With exhaustive numbers and thick skins, enemies long overstay their welcome, and there's not even interesting punishment to keep you fearful of death. Fall in battle, and you're resurrected right where you left off. This mechanic was introduced in BioShock and made things too easy back then, and it's even more baffling six years later that this punitive-free system is still being used. It's troubling that Infinite forces you to spend so much time engaged in these boring ordeals. As you fend off attackers for upwards of 20 minutes at a time, it becomes clear that these fights are terrible filler in a game bereft of meaningful content.

The standard assortment of guns Booker carries fail to enliven these excursions. However, vigors imbue you with crazy powers that complement your bullet-spewing antics. By tapping a button, Booker can unleash a murder of crows at enemies, or push them into the setting sun with a blast of water. Shocking enemies with an electrical bolt is certainly more interesting than peppering them with a pistol, but vigors have such little depth that they too grow stale before long. There's little reason to experiment with different powers, because once you have a projectile in your inventory, you can keeping using it until your hand grows tired. More troubling is how little thematic relevance vigors have. Their counterpart in BioShock is plasmids, and there's a reason plasmids exist in Rapture aside from diversifying the combat. But why would the citizens of Columbia, who consider themselves to be better than their peers, deign to infect their bodies with a foreign substance? It doesn't make any sense, and subsequently feels like it's stealing from BioShock without understanding why such powers resonated so deeply in the first place.

As you fend off attackers for upwards of 20 minutes at a time, it becomes clear that these fights are terrible filler in a game bereft of meaningful content.

And then there's the ending. Infinite's argument that an evil megalomaniac will always exist is an extremely cynical outlook. That history shows this is the case doesn't matter, because whether it's true or not isn't important. What is problematic is that Infinite, which desperately tries to avoid making an insightful statement on American exceptionalism or racism, doesn't lay the foundation for such a pronouncement to exist in the first place. Issuing this statement is merely a shallow way to link the universes of the BioShock games. Instead of exploring the inherent problems that would urge Comstock to found Columbia or Andrew Ryan to create Rapture, it takes the easy approach by stating the what without delving into the why. Contrast this late-game revelation with what transpired in BioShock. There, we realized that in a society built on objectivism, the protagonist doesn't even have free will. Such twists are satisfying only when the game builds on them throughout rather than just throwing them in at the end as Infinite does.

Infinite is a poorly conceived adventure that struggles to form a cohesive whole. By borrowing the core elements of BioShock but never working them properly into the narrative, the action is constantly at odds with the story. Infinite stands as one of the greatest disappointments in my gaming life because I know what Irrational is capable of and could only see the squandered potential of its latest foray. Infinite has a fascinating world, in both visual design and story premise, so it's a shame that its vision falters, shying away from exploring any potentially unsettling plot thread in favor of focusing on choppy action sequences that endlessly drag on. BioShock Infinite is an incoherent mess that fails in both its shooting and its story.

The Good
Gorgeous visual design
Amazing soundtrack
The Bad
Tedious, never-ending combat
Story refuses to explore difficult situations the premise presents
Mechanics clash with the narrative
4
Poor
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The original BioShock is one of Tom's favorite games ever. He will most likely love any game that tells a fascinating story and uses the mechanics to build on those themes.

Discussion

1393 comments
fursecu
fursecu

wow, this review is pointless and has nothing to do with the actual game..i see that you just tried to highlight some of the weaker elements, but really, what the heck is this?

kvan33
kvan33

Just finished BSI.   It is truly one of the most overrated games of the last decade.   Many of my gripes mirror Tom's.   The gameplay truly feels dated, which is a major detriment to a FPS.   Hard to describe, but it just feels clunky to move and shoot.   In addition, the whole package seems to be a loosely tied together mess of random game mechanics and plot narrative.   It's almost as though Ken Levine had a concept for an original game that was never intended to be part of the Bioshock franchise until he realized that he could never get a AAA budget unless Bioshock appeared in the title.   I guess this is what you get when you tell someone they are a genius, give them a huge budget, and then allow their vision to run unchecked.   Star Wars: The Phantom Menace anyone?

chrisb66
chrisb66

Review the actual game, not the game you wanted and hoped for. Review what is actually before you!

cboy2332
cboy2332

This article is just a piece of sh*t. I can not believe how could gamespot post such a horrible article.

RobGrizz
RobGrizz

I think a 4 is a bit harsh, but I too, didn't have a good time playing this game.


" Infinite avoids taking a stance on the situation that it constructs, instead diverting its attention to a pair of characters who encompass tired stereotypes (merciless killer, gifted damsel) that have no relation to the thematic elements set up at the outset."-

FULLY agreed, and one of the sore spots of the game to me. After that unforgettable bit in the beginning at The Fair, and later meeting the Vox Populi, I really thought this game was going to have some meaningful things to say about certain themes they established, and I would get proactively involved. But the game wasn't interested in any of that, and story surged forward into much more absurd territory with parallel universes and time-travel. What a waste, considering all the social commentary they set up. Including aspects of Booker's blood-soaked past. Those did't go anywhere.  


"Sadly, (Elizabeth is) little more than an item dispersal system with a fancy dress."-


This is exactly right, and for the life of me, I can't understand why people have made her such a big deal as some revolutionary character. For non-playable A.I. what's to be impressed with? Because she sometimes looks at things in the environment?


"As you fend off attackers for upwards of 20 minutes at a time, it becomes clear that these fights are terrible filler"-

And this is ultimately what turned me off in Infinite. The tiresome combat just wasn't dynamic. Some vigors are utterly worthless, while some others are so effective, so why bother using anything else? Endless waves of foot soldiers encompass I'd say the entire second half of the game, removing one of the more interesting elements of Columbia that set it apart from Rapture- the people. I hated the dizzying skylines, I hated my limited arsenal (only 2 guns at a time, are you serious?!!) and those mother effin Handymen were the worst.

There are two flashes of combat brilliance, and incidentally, they come when the game finally decides to CHANGE IT UP. It happens at Comstock's place when you have to sneak and be more careful around the horrifying Silent Boys, and at the airship battle when you finally can summon Song Bird. These moments (along with the kinda-fun boss fight with the spirit of Lady Comstock) almost saved my entire Bioshock playthrough.

But I can't get over the fact that it feels like this game almost went TOO big, and tried TOO hard, with too many ideas, and somewhere along the way, lost sight of being more a streamlined package. 


Hell of a review.

Gamer3344
Gamer3344

I totally agree with you for the first time Tom :D

ares_dc
ares_dc

Finally a person who can write a non paid review.

Great review, even 4/10 is a bit low, i would have gave it a 5/10, an enjoyable game after all.

But the fact that they call this game "Bioshock', it simply makes me laugh.

I dont know why this game hasnt been released with another name? The hype it has been generated before launch was so high, when players actually put their hands on this game, made them uninstall it in short time.

We have been lied. Yes! This game has nothing to do with the original Bioshock games.

For me at least, the uber hype combined with the lie, turned into negative game experience.

And above all, this game is only fun only for the 1st hour or so, after that is repetitive and boring as fuck.

BravoOneActual
BravoOneActual

Playing the game now.  Sorry to say, but it's really half-baked and I get a sense Levine lost his mind a little bit on this one.


I keep wanting to quit, but my gamer street cred isn't allowing for it.  A "4" is a bit harsh and certainly speaks to a broken game, which this isn't, but in spite of it's good looks and high-production, this one is a study in missed opportunities.


The scores I keep conjuring in my mind are dropping by the half-point with every hour I play.  

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

Interesting insight Tom. I think the score is a little harsh, but I can't argue with any of your points. The first bioshock was so great I knew they could never live up to it, so I went in with low expectations and enjoyer it for what it was. The first was horror survival, and this was shoot everything that steps in your path. Spot on about combat as well, endless shoot em ups that dragged on far too long. I did like the idea of their society, it seemed like a 1910 Mormon paradise, however they didn't focus enough on the race warfare enough in my opinion. However I thoroughly enjoyed the parallel dimension aspect, as well as the mind blowing ending that had me pondering it for weeks afterwards, but nothing could top the originals plot twists for me.

wongph
wongph

the weakest entry of the Shock series. very good review

flameon12346
flameon12346

Tom this review have redeemed you from that old Bioshock Infinite review. Haters are going to hate and you say it as it is. You earn my respect.

Camoth2
Camoth2

Hear, hear. This is what the original review should have been.

ebyrwa
ebyrwa

I enjoyed this review. I think there should always be a dissenting opinion. Then again everyone got mad at the review for GTAV so maybe not everyone on here can appreciate an opposing opinion. I thought Infinite was ok and a lot of the pitfalls were identified in this review. A lot of comments on here too are thoughtful too.

spoonshoe
spoonshoe

I hesitate to bring up philosophy on a game review but, it was referenced in the review. Not just this one, but yet again, i hear people reference Objectivism, but ultimately have no idea what it is. It's not a 'wikipedia' article way. The original Bioshock, was a great game, but it had nothing with Objectivism, it had everything to do with Anarchy. So if you want to review it as a game, for a game, then find but please don't pretend to understand philosophy from some 3 paragraphs you google. Please. 

greyfoot
greyfoot

I agree and slightly disagree.

I'm delighted to see that I'm not the only one who was disappointed with Bioshock Infinite; I've read players and professional critics' reviews around the net, and there are a few who also deeply criticize it. However, it does seem that I'm the only one morbidly disappointed. I say this because the original Bioshock, for me, is a contender for the greatest game I've ever played. I won't go into a detailed critique of the first installment unless anyone asks me to. Suffice to say, it was one of the most original, intense and fun gaming experiences I've had. The first sequel, as we all expected, was a joke--just more of the same. But like a lot of people, I became excited when I heard the third installment was being totally rehashed, with a new code and everything. So imagine not just my disappointment, but heartbreak, when Infinite turned out to be repetitive, dull, and way too easy in some cases.

Which is where the only disagreement with Tom comes in. I was actually bored. I spent far too much time running from one scene to the next with nothing happening in between but cut scenes and dialogue with Elizabeth (which wasn't even that interesting). Battles have potential to be dynamic, but only if you choose for them to be. A lot of the time one can sleep his way through it. In a few cases, I could lob explosives or use kinetic powers to dispatch enemies from a lofty corner and never be touched by them. I'm also irritated that Elizabeth can't be harmed during these battles. What's the point of being her escort, her protector, if she's not going to get hurt anyway? And then of course there's the story itself--totally unoriginal and lacking suspense. The revelations at the end are hinted at so heavily throughout the game that they come as no surprise at all. I felt robbed. The final battle scene is ALMOST difficult enough to keep you from being bored, but because it's actually just more confusion and pandemonium than difficulty, it becomes tedious after 3 tries.

I also agree with other players that this "beautiful airborne cityscape" was wasted most of the time. Almost none of it is interactive. And that which is is scarcely useful.

There was so much potential with this one. It's really too bad. And I find it baffling that 9 out of 10 gamers thought it was brilliant. As I suggested though, I'm glad it was 9 out of 10 and not EVERYONE. 

"To each our own" is a respectable enough aphorism. Which is why I must admonish other commentors for their vaulting assumptions that a scathing review must automatically be insincere. The fact that Tom is an enormous fan of the original in this series precludes this review from being disingenuous, people. If you disagree with him, then just say so. Stop trying to demonize those who aren't in lockstep with your opinion.

nunyerbiz
nunyerbiz

I just completed the game, having picked up the PC version on sale. While I would not personally assign a 4 to this game, I generally agree with most of Tom's points. They set up an interesting early premise and then buried it under multiverse nonsense... With only Time Lord Elizabeth being able to use her God powers at the end to tie it all into a neat bow. The first half of the game could have taken place anywhere, with anybody doing something generically 'evil' and the second half of the game wouldn't have had to change a bit... so all that exploring and listening to all those audio logs in the beginning about racism and religious zealotry... It was all just a big time sink until the 'real' story, the time space continuum stuff, kicked in about five hours into the game. There was a weird disconnect there. 


While I enjoyed the gameplay more than Tom, there was a distinct grind to the whole thing that wasn't present in the first Bioshock. There was no sense of dread of what was behind the next door, no tension or suspense or any of that vibe that made the first game so memorable. Not that I necessarily wanted a straight rehash of the last couple of games... But without that fear of the unknown everything become a simple routine of enter room, clear room, look for audio logs, rinse, repeat. I also agree that the vigors always felt out of place in this universe... just an excuse to give your character super powers and provide a flimsy gameplay link to the original game. 


I'm not trying to slag the game, I enjoyed it for the most part... I just don't think it lived up the hype or provided the overall gripping experience that the first game did. 

Kaleous_Maximus
Kaleous_Maximus

He is very accurate in this review.  After the game received a 9.0 I went and picked it up.  As a fan of FPS games this one fell short in almost every aspect.  Simply put the gameplay was simple and repetitive making the game very boring.  So if the gameplay is boring what is it supposed to fall back on? Story? That fell short as well. There are other games with more to say.  I think that a lot of games now are coasting off the success of their previous titles. 

ViskiJack
ViskiJack

Tom is an idiot i said this before and i say it again.Infinite is a bandwagon game much like COD i certainley did not deserve it's 9 when it came out.But it's sure as hell not a 4 either.For me it's a 7 or a generous 8.It's the bare minimum i would play theese days.It's not time wasted and it's not a masterpeice.

Zjarcal
Zjarcal

Finally having played this game months after its release, the only thing I can say is that I could not agree more with Tom's opinion on pretty much every point.

Obviously I'm not gonna tell people who love the game that they're wrong or anything like that, but I seriously ended up hating this game.

The score is also right around what I would give it. Yes, it has undeniably good aspects, but when you dislike the rest of the game so much, it's impossible to give it even an average score.

kwanzudood
kwanzudood

I'm finding it harder and harder to trust game reviews.  This just seems like click-bait, because they know the game was reviewed well and people would flock to an article with a dissenting opinion.  It's BS that a videogame reviews site has a positive review for all the people who like a game, then a negative review for all those who disagree, and then Gamespot in the meantime just soaks up all the page view numbers. 

lordnitrodead
lordnitrodead

I whole heartedly agree with this bioshock infinite dissapointed me more than aliens colonial marines

margevich
margevich

but.. but.. the metacritic score is 99/100 therefore it is the best game ever! how dare you!

/sarcasm off

lild1425
lild1425

If you read the review before looking at the score, I'd say they would have given it a 7/10.  While this review is a fantastic opposing viewpoint highlighting the pitfalls many of us had when playing, giving it a 4/10 is absolutely laughable. 


MenaceSG
MenaceSG

I personally fell in love with the world of Infinite. I liked the unique story, I loved the characters, and the setting was really special. I've loved Rapture and this was a nice change of pace. I personally feel a 4 is a bit unfair as I've seen numerous games on this site that didn't live even close to what this game is get better scores. Infinite was a fantastic game and I think it will stick with me. Just like how TLOU got major hate after its release because of its glitchiness and its "boring" gameplay. Another game that blew me out of the water. Gaming comes down to your personal opinion and views. I don't view a game based on its review score from websites. I base it off of gameplay and the idea behind it. 

joesguy
joesguy

Not sure about 4, but the meat of the review is pretty accurate.

cosades2002
cosades2002

I got to be honest, I do agree with this review even though the score could be higher.

xXxIRyanxXx
xXxIRyanxXx

This is a second opinion for a game, but the two scores are so drastically different, a 9 and a 4, not sure how this game can be thought of as a 4 for me its a contender for game of the year, however I would love to see GS post second opinions on a game like COD or something else controversial.

haunteddragon
haunteddragon

So brave of you to give the game a 4/10 just to score hits and create controversy!!

foxmission
foxmission

The disaster that was Aliens: Colonial Marines scored higher than this game. Really GS? I can understand that you want to make a counter-point to all the hype that the industry and gamers where tied up in early in its release, but a 4? This game clearly isnt a Poor game. It is totally understandable if people do not find this game appealing, or interesting to their taste. But, when measured against others games in its genre, it clearly deserves better than "Poor."

at129907
at129907

Wow! Gamespot is willing to let their editors troll just to get a few more hits. Four is the score a broken game full of glitches, and repetitive game play deserves.

PowerDingALing
PowerDingALing

Always said this game sucks, in many comments on the original review... And people always got mad at me, because this game is a work of art, after all! Now look at that...

VercettiTommyy
VercettiTommyy

I personally found Bioshock Infinite to be one of the most creative, thought provoking means of entertainment (yes, alongside films and books) in existence. People nowadays are so obsessed about shooting and guns that they forget there's a storyline. I find this to be the most important aspect of a videogame. I spent 4 hours talking with a friend of mine about the themes, metaphors and ending of Infinite. Nothing since the movie Mulholland Drive gave me this opportunity.

   There's just so much heart put into Infinite's characters, so much naturalness, attention to little details, and everything is woven together in a fantastic world. Sure, it does not have the pressing, dark atmosphere of Rapture, but it didn't want that. The first two games were, in my opinion, a reference to political ideals and systems in their pure form, more of a social and cultural study, while Infinite is a dreamy, if more scientific take on a number of physical concepts borderlining sci-fi, all implemented flawlessly. I am actually very happy Infinite got stripped of the additional content included in earlier trailers- Ken Levine wanted to explain everything. And everything does make sense, if you stop to think about it and have the knowledge to do so. The way this guy blended all his scientific concepts with art, from perfectly fitted musical score to allusions to literature (Wizard of Oz comes to mind- the tornado scene), world religions, the cult of personality, human nature- everything is there if one has the eye to see it.

   For instance, what this sad excuse for a 'reviewer' said, that the story refuses to explain situations the premise presents. I find this sad. First because it's obvious that he never read the game's title. Secondly, because everyone expects everything to be explained, done and solved for them, without the necessity of a single creative thought from themselves.

  And you see, being different is great as long as you can sustain that objectively. Being different just for being differen't sake, now that's just to attract attention and hype. As long as that is obtained, the manner in which it's done is meaningless. As two examples, see Julian Assange's critique of The Fifth Estate or the newspaper which rated The Godfather 30. Guess what, without making any valid points. Just like this review. 

doctordapper
doctordapper

@ares_dc  If you don't see why it's a Bioshock game, you clearly haven't played all the way to the end. 

maxbb1
maxbb1

@BravoOneActual  Play it to the end, and think about it.. it's a 4/10 if you don't understand it, a 10/10 if you do.

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

I enjoyed #2, but it's story was pretty weak with it's "let's replace one misguided rapture dictator for another" vibe. Minerva's den was actually a much more enjoyable ( albeit personal ) story in my opinion.

Zjarcal
Zjarcal

@lild1425 How on earth do you get the feeling of a 7/10 out of such a negative review, especially one that ends by saying the game fails in both story and shooting? :/

4/10 is actually very in line with the tone of the review (regardless of whether you agree with said review or not), 7/10 would actually suggest the reviewer thought the game was good, which they didn't.

Northuz
Northuz

If you think the game is that great saying "I personally feel a 4 is a bit unfair" is way too weak. Four is ridiculous, even for a critic.

But anyway, I loved the game as well, good to see at least a few other fans among all these weird creatures who somehow don't like the game or like it only marginally.

joesguy
joesguy

@VercettiTommyy I find it odd that you lack proper examples with your own criticism. How about explaining how the end achieved anything. It didn't resolve the overarching plot, it didn't provide a proper epilogue, hell it didn't resolve anything but Booker's worthless existence.

ares_dc
ares_dc

@doctordapper @ares_dc  

Obviously i didnt, I've played till chapter 25 or so, when i couldnt bare the boredom.

I only finish games i like :)

I strongly wanted to finish it, because i'm a huge fan of 1st two Bioshock games, but the repetitive gameplay put me down. 

If this was a standalone game, i wouldnt even reach chapter 5, but i said to myself: lets give a try to the team behind epic Bioshock games.

joesguy
joesguy

@Culochilegge @PowerDingALing And majority opinion means everything, what with most of the world's populace unable to use proper diction. Yeah, not impressed with your majority.

VercettiTommyy
VercettiTommyy

@joesguy @VercettiTommyy Gladly. I, for one, do not understand the brain's obsession with resolve. Why do we always need to be told 'this and this happened, and this is how everything concluded' ? Why do we always want somebody to think it over for us? What is a 'proper epilogue', in non-clichee terms?

  In a game as intellectually challenging as Levine's Bioshock series, it's hard- almost impossible- to have an ending that will appeal to everybody. Since all three games rely heavily on art, literature, and thought-provoking scientific concepts, different people might have different expectations from the ending. I, for one, thought the Andrew Ryan encounter in the first game was the actual climax, while the actual ending faded off. 

  Therefore, Infinite offers us a clue in the title, which suggest permanence, continuity, endlessness. It does the same with the song 'Will the Circle be Unbroken' , the circle being the perfect example of infinity. Upon introducing the Multiverse Theory with the lighthouse scene, Levine has us wondering whether our actions indeed have a clear impact throughout alternate dimensions, or just in one - remember the song. Quantum mechanics, specifically the Quantum Field Theory, is used in order to explain Elizabeth's gifts, and her ability of creating tears. Quite masterfully, I might add.  Social study and human nature are used in determining the chaotic side of both conflicting parties, namely Comstock's army and Fitzroy's Vox. 

  The game's ending is not an ending per se, it's just a means of supplying parallel starting points for the game's plot. The fact that the final scene is ambiguous is perfects, and gets us thinking to the implications- and extent- of Booker's death. Does it mean that Elizabeth's existence is also forfeit? Was she conceived before or after Booker's baptism? How many dimensions were left unaffected? Is this turn of events ironic- as Booker left out to find his daughter, he ends up spending quality time with her, without even knowing it? Isn't it ironic that Booker ends up protecting Elizabeth from himself?

   This is what makes the ending so brilliant. The game gives you all the necessary tools- scientific models, literature parallels, plot ideas from Voxophones, quotes by the Luteces, offers you the Multiverse Theory take, and lets you experiment with them. I'd rather have this than the usual 'this is exactly what happened, no need to think it over, thank you for playing'. I hope I cleared at least some stuff up related to my interpretation. 


joesguy
joesguy

@Culochilegge @joesguy @PowerDingALing 1) I care, as should you, since you seem to put so much stock in majority competence, and 2) who said anything about me not caring about them? I'm talking about majority opinion being no indicator of quality.

VercettiTommyy
VercettiTommyy

@joesguy @VercettiTommyy Firstly, this is the first intelligent and documented response I ever got from people who disliked Infinite. Finally. Great. Now, that's classic storytelling you're referring to. Intro-Body-Ending. However, there are different  ways to do it, you don't necessarily have to stick to the same old principles. That's where Levine failed in Bioshock 1 (not because of his incapability as a writer- I do regard him as by far the best videogame writer at the moment- but because the very difficult concepts it explored, and the extent of the revelation offered by the Ryan climax - one of the best moments in videogame history, I might add), so that's the reason why he opted for this, with Infinite being an even more delicate construction of ideas- so that everybody can have his or her very own ending. While it adheres to the model built by the plot, I see no harm in the questionable validity of each interpretation.

  Now, quantum mechanics are used to explain why the city is floating, instead of, i dunno, lighter than air dirigibles, as well as the tears, while interestingly masking the reasons behind this, Beach Boys' song 'God Only Knows' ,played in the barbershop, serving as a intelligent anachronism. The tears are accessible to everybody (another song parallel, 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World'), but can be manipulated only by Elizabeth, due to her severed finger, which led to her existence in two alternate dimensions at the same time. Her powers certainly peaked in her youth, before the syphon was built, being practically limitless and allowing her to travel anywhere at any time, which explains her knowledge. There might be some minor inconsistencies with the charts, I'll look specifically on my next replay, but that's the overall trend of it.


  The fact that Booker is a different personality in every dimension is logical, as he is shaped by that world's events, so his memories therefore melding, is, again, a principle of quantum mechanics and not the traditional time/alternate reality travel concept, where two separate entities are created. Even in the dimension where Booker was dead- and a martyr- he retains his past traits, and when confronted with Fitzroy, who was using his death as a revolutionary spark, she finds herself in quite a predicament. Which tells one or two things about human nature.


  Gameplay-wise? Sure, not too creative or groundbreaking, but we're living in the Call of Duty era, so we can't really complain. It's functional, and does at least the same things Bioshock 1's acclaimed gameplay did, just in a different context. In a lot of comments, people complain that enemies are not as memorable as in B1 and B2, that characters aren't as memorable, that the atmosphere isn't as pressing. Well, sure, but it doesn't try that. The first two were horror games, while in Infinite, there's zero attempt for that. Of course the bat-shit insane splicers, who scared the hell out of us, or Dr. Steinman's distrubing experiments are going to stick in mind much better than, say, a Mechanized Patriot, or the Lutece quotes' highly missable implications. Not necessarily because of a higher merit, though. Same goes with the atmosphere- you need to detach yourself from the fact that you're isolated on the bottom of the ocean, and not expect the same pressing atmosphere. It's a completely different experience. I find the background info offerend by the Voxophones, and the plot twists offered by the Lutece comments quite ingenious. The player who searches for these and tries to connect them will be rewarded with a better understanding of the game. Much better than the classic, unmissable 'gameplay-cutscene-gameplay- all revealing cutscene' , in my books.


  The lighthouse is not a lighthouse per se; it symbolizes a constant. Remember constants and variables? The coin flip is a variable, but the result of the coin flip itself is a constant, serving further as a starting point. Quantum mechanics argues that whenever a variable is reached , and a decision is taken, an alternate dimension where the opposite decision is taken is automatically spawned. Time flow is normally regarded as linear- a river- which would consequently lead to a paradox. A paradox would be created when Elizabeth drawns Booker.  Booker dies, Anna is never born, Elizabeth doesn't kill Booker. Booker lives, Anna is born, Elizabeth kills Booker. This goes on for an infinite number of times. But, as Lutece states,time is not a reiver, but an ocean, therefore granting independence of events and cutting off interdependencies. Therefore, Booker's death before the baptism has nothing to do with time : it only changes that a decision is not made. It does not mean all Bookers in all other universes die. His death is therefore a variable, while his lack of decision becomes  a constant. Comstock's 'lack of birth' is a constant once he is eliminated, and once all possibilities of his birth are eliminated, that's it- it doesn't matter if Booker continues to live, because it has already happened ('dies,died, will die'). Booker's death is a variable because no paradox is created, despite the fact that he technically dies. Since the variable is turned to a constant, he cannot choose whether to become Comstock or to remain Booker- he MUST remain Booker. Therefore, the post-credit scene has a lot of sense, as it offers the perspective of Booker fathering Anna without the existence of Comstock in any other dimension.

joesguy
joesguy

@VercettiTommyy @joesguy Well I'm sorry, but that's how storytelling works. It's fine if you want a cliffhanger ending, but one that has zero resolution to the plot of the "episode" you've just experienced is crap writing. A proper epilogue isn't this useless few minutes of Booker looking into a crib. It tells us nothing. Now, we're free to interpret it, but when just about any speculation is just as valid as any other, there's a problem.

 I will grant you that Bioshock 1 ended it's story arch at the confrontation with Ryan, again that speaks more to Levine's incapability as a writer more than anything else.This mantra of "There will always be a lighthouse, etc." doesn't even hold up on its own, as there clearly isn't a lighthouse or Booker in all the multiverses. At what point were we supposed to care about our Booker's journey or fate? Keep in mind, the second he goes threw a tear, he's no longer the same character. His memories meld with the current univers' Bookers and the plot is dropped. We go from things being decent, though not great, to nothing. Suddenly we're no longer getting weapons for Fitzroy, we're floundering about for a while till we get an airship. I could go on for hours about Elizabeth's powers being poorly explained as well. One example of such problems is the diagram showing her progress. It shows her power peaking, and then only going down as the syphon is built. The syphon being built shortly after she reaches the low point does not coincide with how the it was described to have worked. On a gameplay note (if we're addressing that at all) there's really nothing to talk about. It's predetermined spots to activate stuff. It's just like flicking a lever in any other game, there's nothing more to it.

 The problem with this loop is twofold - 1) the Lutece twins already made note that the variables had changed (how exactly, we don't know) and 2) Booker's death did nothing when there are other Bookers out there making other choices. At what point was I supposed to care about the other universes? We get not one hour to the end credits, and only then we get the real plot. That key Elizabeth "always had?" Yeah, what do I have to smoke to get that one?

The ending gave us something in lieu of the Sopranos and Prometheus, but that lack of resolution to anything is merely lazy. Voxophones were one of the primary means of telling the story - a collection of missable audio logs? We're Bioshock 1 used these recordings to give a background on Rapture and its noteworthy residents, I didn't need them to infer what was supposed to be nearly the entirety of the narrative.

I wasn't expected to be spoonfed the entire story, but for Levine to create such a colossal mess and claim that it's our story just because we can choose a texture on Liz's neck pin and that the plot throughout is so loose it introduces a new story every hour or so, is insulting. Perhaps you like vapid, empty canvases, but I freely submit that this isn't my story, nor is it any of the player's. They wrote it, they scripted it, they developed it to its fruition and it's a great disservice to games with a proper story that doesn't rely on my ability to fill in idiotic gaps.

BioShock Infinite

  • PlayStation 3
  • Xbox 360
  • PC
  • Macintosh
BioShock Infinite is a first person shooter where players assume the role of former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt who is sent to the flying city of Columbia on a rescue mission to save Elizabeth, who has been imprisoned since childhood.
ESRB
Mature
All Platforms
Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Mild Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco
Check out even more info at the BioShock Infinite Wiki on Giantbomb.com