Really it is, because critics continuously fail to point out the games flaws or ignore them altogether. The plot isn't that good, the characters outside Ryan and Tenebaum are mostly one dimensional, and after the twist the game loses steam. And take away "Would you kindly?" and this game is nothing more than decent world building. Nevermind that the game clearly takes much of its ideas from System Shock 2, so it isn't all that original either. You go after Ryan for Atlas like you go after the Many for SHODAN. Nevermind Levine has shown he just cannot put together ideas into a cohesive whole and wrap a game properly. All these flaws pop up again and worse on Infinite.
Its the sequel that had more rounded and dynamic characters, choices that matter, and knew how to actually wrap a game (and its DLC as well). yet it gets bashed for being a rehash, goes to show the stupidity of gaming journalism. Here is a hint, by counterpointing the first, it actually has the more original plot, and Infinite copies it. And I will say this its funny how Bioshock 2 is actually a more influential game when it comes to the game industry.
First off; spoilers for a nearly ten year old game.
I half agree on the plot. It is rather basic (Dude and other Dude try to escape city, twist happens, got to stop other dude), and due the game's length doesn't flow the best and feels bloated at times.Especially after the twist. However, it works and is enough to keep the player motivated to continue. I would also argue that the twist helps bring the player into the world more. They know their origin and this place they have been discovering is truly their home. This allows the word building to impact the player on a more personal level.
I would disagree on the characters however; unless you are disregarding audio logs, they provide a great, cast of characters we follow throughout rapture. Some are one note; but we have to keep in mind we are at the end of some of these characters arcs. Some are one dimensional; but they are meant to be and really shine regardless. Sander Cohen, for example, really sticks out for me as while not having much depth, but being extremely memorable. He is a major character, and while lacking depth, still shines above most of the other cast. We would also have to discuss minor characters getting much more personality than they would in other games. In the same level, we face the Ice Man; who could be described as a mini-boss at most. Yet he has great characterization, and memorable (well delivered) dialogue that it some of the best in the game. This is just from one log, and a few lines he mutters to you after freezing you. We learn he has beef with Cohen; and that adds to the character. There are plenty of characters with various amounts of personality and depth; I'd argue most work out well. Sander Cohen, Ice Man, and Dr. Steinman are much more memorable than most any character in the following games.
The worldbuilding is far from decent; it is marvelous. I can get a great sense on what kind of place Rapture is; and who all these people are. The environments help tell the story, and add more depth that you say it lacks. A great example is the cult is the park level (where you grab the chemical thrower). This nature worshipping group has a secret cave in the park. Religion is outlawed, so this shows the length and devotion people will go to for their beliefs. That is just from level design, enemy design, and placement.
The gunplay as aged; and Bioshock 2 does everything on a gameplay level much better; though I would argue the level design in 1 is much better. The big problem with Bioshock 1's gunplay is switching between weapon and plasmid. Otherwise I always felt it was enjoyable and satisfying.
Bioshock 2 had the better narrative; but honestly many of the major characters felt flat to me. That isn't to say good characters aren't there, none stick out as much as the ones I mentioned before. The worldbuilding is great however; one of the best level's is the amusement park ride. It builds on Rapture, while being a great level to play and really rivals the first game's levels. I will agree Bioshock 2 is vastly underrated and doesn't get nearly the credit it deserves. I would say it's nearly as good as the first game; if not as good. Also the multiplayer was pretty boss.
But the problem is these characters go off personality alone instead of true depth. While the audio logs do hurt characterization (that method of storytelling needs to evolve), its also that Levine made them like Batman characters instead of reasonable human beings, and basically blame their fall on a slippery slope instead of real characterization. And really, many characters go crazy because of Adam.
Contrast with Bioshock 2's more human cast, instead of running off of sheer personality, they run off of depth, and they fall not because of ADAM, but for human reasons. And the character that did go insane, Gilbert Alexander, both sides of him are shown.
While the one dimensional characterization does work for the first Bioshock, it does NOT work for Bioshock Infinite, where more character depth was required.
I do see your point; a good chunk of the characters in one go insane directly because of ADAM. An argument could be made that is the point and trying the get its message across, but it is repetitive. The deeper characters, major and minor, are outnumbered. I'd still argue it works for the first game very well though. Would it be better to see Steinman's reason for perfection, outside of being bored and going mad? Cohen was always crazy to some degree, or at least very eccentric and I feel the way he was portrayed is the best possible way, and is a reason he thrived like he did.
2 did have the more human cast, and thinking about it; that worked better for that game's narrative. The audio log thing is great, I do understand at this point it seems aged, and we do need a fresh way to mesh story and gameplay, but it's a very elegant solution. It is difficult because how else would you tell story without interrupting gameplay? The obvious answer is used in the Bioshock games, but the enviroment, character design, how they may fight, work small details into the gameplay and levels.
I agree wholeheartedly about Infinite. When I first beat it I defended the games shortcoming (in regards to characters and story), but looking back it is very weak in many regards. Booker, Elizabeth, and Comstock are the only characters that stand out; and they did feel like people. Comstock was basic, but he worked. Otherwise none of the characters land. Some were purposefully flat, like Fink, but the whole thing is a missed opportunity.
But here again, in Infinite, the ball is dropped even on the main characters, Comstock was a poorly developed antagonist and compared to Ryan, he is nothing. Booker isn't well defined either and Elizabeth's character development was extremely forced. Fink is another one dimensional wonder. And really if the character writing was better, I would forgive its contrived plot. And do not get me started on Daisy and the Vox Populi.
The problem with audio logs is that they tend to be gamey and unrealistic when used to the degree that Bioshock series does. And really, no ones going to record treasonous thoughts and leave them lying around. Game developers need to evolve past this.
I agree they should grow pasat audio logs; but it is difficult to imagine a way that they could work in story so easily. I will defend the first two games use of it; they were private, bbut eventually scattered in a ruined and pillaged city.
I agree with Daisy and the Vox; that was just bad. Comstock I feel was supposed to be a flat villain. Just a dude to work agasint. I really felt for Liz, and really enjoyed her character. Booker, I enjoyed as well, though I admit he wasn't much more than a dude with a murky past.