Community Review: BioShock Infinite

Well, I'm spending my long weekend camping. I'm not happy about this. It means that my opinions on BioShock Infinite are basically reworded from this preview piece! I spent roughly four hours with the game and that's what I thought back then. Since I haven't had a chance to play any further than that point, it's difficult to have different thoughts...

The tl;dr version of those above thoughts is this: I felt as though BioShock Infinite is a little bogged down by its predecessor. The game, during the first four hours, constantly reminds you that it is a BioShock game — it alludes to the first game in the writing, the set-up, everything — and the comparison isn't always flattering.

At times it feels a little derivative, but what I'm hoping — and partially expecting — is that BioShock Infinite will use these allusions to ultimately subvert my own expectations. I actually believe this will happen. But for now, four hours in, I feel like BioShock Infinite just can't match the original for impact and quality. I hope to be surprised in the remainder of the game.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

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    As a game, one of the betters ones in recent memory.

    As a 'digital experience' - probably the best I've ever had.

    In comparison to Bioshock 1 though, while Columbia was amazing to look at and be in, there was a certain charm about the original, certain aesthetics that were inherent to a claustrophobic city under the sea.

    One of my favourite parts about Columbia were the tears and hearing say, 70's rock through one of them in 1912.

      Yeah, the 1912-ised pop songs were a highlight. They needed to do a few more of them.

      They reminded me of the 30s-style cover of "The Real Slim Shady" that Tony Martin did on "Get This" years ago.

    I actually prefer Columbia over Rapture. It is great. And something fresh and different.
    Loved the game, loved the story. It wasn't flawless but what is. Probably one of the best shooters and games that's ever made. Like in top 10-20 great!

    A really interesting story with some fantastic twists and turns, but I felt the commentary and criticism it had on American exceptionalism, empire, religious extremism, racism etc were ultimately drowned out by the metaphysics. The themes we rarely see were kinda abandoned halfway through as the game became a generic war story then turned into something philosophical at the end. Bioshock Infinite's meta-story about time and space didn't need the 1912 Columbia setting, necessarily, and I thought the opportunity to be a bit more biting with the political themes was slightly wasted. The themes didn't gel with the story as obviously or as easily as Bioshock's commentary on Objectivism.

    Artistically, though, it was a masterpiece. Those first few hours in Columbia were remarkable, and it really shined at environmental storytelling.

    Up until Elizabeth I had trouble enjoying the game as it played way too much like Bioshock. After she joined the game became much better and I enjoyed it how she would spot targets and throw me supplies. Especially useful with only two weapons, which was a smart move by the developers. I now don't rotate between weapons that have too much ammo, I have to think how the weapons I carry will apply for the battle, with my vigors, etc.
    Her "tear" abilities kinda wrecked the game as you can just spam it. Tear in a turret, when it dies, tear a hook then re-tear the turret.

    The areas with skylines were fun, flying around, shooting people then slamming into someone. They even chase you on them. The only annoying thing about it that the line you grabbed onto was based on which rail you were looking at, as opposed to which direction you were facing it from.

    I found the variety in enemies to be much better then previous games. In a world where people can buy lightning from a vending machine, I always found it weird that nobody actually did.

    At least in Infinite you come across enemies who do share those powers, although most of them just shoot you. Probably setting a limit amount of times almost all enemies could use them would be better, Maybe that limit resets when you die.

    The Vigors were nice, but share the same problem as Bioshock. Most are broken or overpowered. The crows are just the bees, and can be upgraded to become crow bombs. I was rotating through vigors just to add variety to the combat, as I could just easily spam crows or possession. Possession also should not have been the first vigor, it's way too broken and auto kills the possessed target once it runs its course. On top of that you also have three vigors that stun or keeps enemies aloft. Probably lowering all effects to single enemies could have helped, like crows only attack one person as opposed to all 12.

    Columbia is a nice, artistic place to see, but at the same time I don't think it can match up to Rapture. Rapture Farms was basically a character in itself. Columbia is just, there. Seems more like it's trying to survive on it's concept alone. I also found many problems with its existance after a while. I find it completely unbelievable that it could exist at all, as opposed to the biggest meat process that explains everything. Is no one worried about children playing on the edge of a city with only a wooden fence holding them back? Simply adding in an exhaust system to the edge of the areas that launch everything back would be better. I also could not accept a "beach" existing, much less one deep enough to survive a fall in.

    The story is the best part, keeping you interested to keep playing to find out what happens. But many plot elements were just dropped. Also, once you start "tearing" I lost track on which universe I was in. Do you even finish the game in the universe you start out in? If not, why care?

    But probably the biggest controversal comment people are already attacking me on that will get downvoted is the ending. Which I didn't like at all. I found it unsatisfying and speaking with someone else we've found plenty of plot holes. It seems to be relaying two different messages that it keeps back tracking on. An infinite loop of stating the previous message is wrong. There's really no payoff in the end, and a large portion of it just feels like a lazy copout. It does encourage discussion but at the moment it seems like it only encourages discussion for people who think its the greatest thing in the world.

    But probably the biggest problem with the ending is that now we're going to see an influx of hipsters using it to inflate their own ego and to use it to prove to themselves how much smarter they are compared to everyone.

    At least the twins were fun.

      Someone in another thread suggested you may have not gotten the ending. From your post I'm fairly certain you didn't.

      The reason I say this is your statement 'once you start "tearing" I lost track on which universe I was in. Do you even finish the game in the universe you start out in? If not, why care?' You seemed to have missed that at the end of game, your at a focal point and consequently in all of the dimensions you traversed (plus Infinite number more). Elizabeth states this, and further you see it when an infinite number of bookers are lead to the same point. The rest is my interpretation: that when you make the choice to be baptised AND drowned in the process, the split between the Universes becomes (a) baptised and dead, or (b) never baptised. Hence Dewitt continues, but any Universe with Comstock does not. This is also why all the Elizabeths disappear.

      Something else you may not have noticed (I didn't till someone pointed it out). Is that when you die and Elizabeth isn't there to revive you, you seem to shift dimensions to one in which you didn't die (hence the doorway). My point is that its hard to label something a cop-out when the whole way through is a commitment to the concept.

      With regards to the kids, I agree to an extent, but its implied they don't give a shit. They have kid branded cigarettes remember.

        Your second spoiler is broken or contains nothing. If it's hiding words, then colour me intrigued.

      Neo Kaiser - "There's really no payoff in the end, and a large portion of it just feels like a lazy copout. It does encourage discussion but at the moment it seems like it only encourages discussion for people who think its the greatest thing in the world."

      I agree.

      Also, while I think its interesting to discuss the interpretations of an ending, in the end, its just some bullcrap that came out of Levines head to sell a game.

      "But probably the biggest problem with the ending is that now we're going to see an influx of hipsters using it to inflate their own ego and to use it to prove to themselves how much smarter they are compared to everyone.

      This. Same shit with Inception. I wasnt a fan of the movie - so apparently I didnt 'get it'.

      Last edited 01/04/13 1:00 pm

        Can't comment on Infinite yet, but the thing about Inception was lots of people straight up didn't get it. There were people out there that genuinely thought the ending went one way or the other and couldn't understand that there even was a question. There were people out there that just continued to ask 'But which is it, what's the point of the movie if I can't know!?!' regardless of how much you explained to them that whether it was or was not was irrelevant. They didn't 'get it.'

        If you understood the ambiguity, and that it didn't really matter, but just don't like the plot, the ending, or simply the conveyance of the ending to audiences, more power to you, diversity of opinion is great, I know I find Nolan to be a bit heavy on exposition sometimes. But it's equally fallacious to think that because you 'got it' and didn't like it, everyone who didn't like it, also got it.
        (There's a tongue twister!)

        Also, while I think its interesting to discuss the interpretations of an ending, in the end, its just some bullcrap that came out of Levines head to sell a game.

        Actually no it didn't just come out of levines head, its based on String theory, a real life Theory of existence in the universe.
        Without knowing that, im not surprised some people don't understand the ending.

      Sorry but i don't think you actually understood the premise behind the ending, or the entire game for that matter.
      (its based on the idea of string theory)
      Now that you know the ending go play it again, i can guarantee almost all you're questions will be answered, you will see small things and hear small things that didn't make sense at first but will now make complete sense.

      I had about 50 glaring issues answered in that last 30 minutes, so much clicked into place.

      The city being possible is actually explained:
      If you collect all of the Voxophones, they actually explain how Columbia is possible using Quantum Physics (its a very dumbed down version), but basically the "twins" (who i'm assuming you realised were not actually twins?) have worked out how to create particles that exist outside of time and space, but exist instead as a universal constant, the city isn't "flying" but is in fact just "there".

      As for which universe:
      It wasn't about which "universe" it was about fixing them all, it was a bigger issue than just you're single universe.

      I've read many books that cover this idea, but not a single game has ever done it as well as this one did.

        You know what String Theory and Bioshock Infinite have in common? They're both flawed.

        Last edited 01/04/13 7:47 pm

          maybe so but, in another universe you dont think so :P

    I'm about four hours in and I'm finding it fun, but at the same time it's quite stale and a total rehash of BioShock 1 and 2. Moving the city 'character' into the sky just didn't quite work they way I was hoping, and I really don't like Columbia. I want to destroy this flash, expensive floating turd. I really do.

    Just finished this last night.. the story is awesome. It's one of those games where I'll be thinking about that ending for a while. The allusions to the first Bioshock sort of makes sense in the end, and also why it's called "Infinite".
    Anyways the gameplay, though fun, does become a little generic. I wish there were more side quests, hacking, better NPC interaction and more choices. It's a bit more linear than Bioshock 1/2.

    To be honest, I enjoyed this game more than any other I have played. I like the plot a lot, though I thought the stuff on the revolution was a bit underdone. The leads were fantastic. Columbia was a place of wonderment. The soundtrack was just awesome. Perhaps most of all, I was totally engrossed in what the hell was going on.

    I think most of all I like the questions the game raised about redemption - and

    The idea that it was better to never seek it, and console oneself with the drink, than to pursue redemption through faith, which in this case required rationalising some pretty terrible prior actions.

    Regarding gameplay - Infinite is better than the original and BS2.
    However, the story, while 'interesting' really fails with execution. During the game, I never cared about Booker or Elizabeths character. There was no gradual revealing of what Bookers 'debt' is or what Elizabeths purpose in Columbia was.
    And Levine sticks to his typical method of storytelling - the sort of "lets explain all the twists and character motives to the viewer right at the very end" - this kinda makes me feel cheated. Really interesting story. Too bad it was told in a really boring method.
    And Bookers character is just as bland as Jack.

    7/10 - The gameplay, while advancing on the original, seems really dated.

    Last edited 01/04/13 12:50 pm

      the sort of "lets explain all the twists and character motives to the viewer right at the very end"

      Replay the first ten minutes. You actually find out a lot of the characters motivations straight up, but you don't know what they are talking about on the first play through. Kind of blew my mind a little.

    I'm about 10 hrs in and I'd put it in my top 10 for sure. The opening couple of hours are definately the most impressed I've ever been about a video game. I think once the "game" settles in, it loses a bit of the wow factor, but it's still an exceptional video game.

      Its the fps factor. the fps progression slows everything down, making the game lose the amazing feel it gave in the first few hours.

    What i loved most about Columbia compared to Rapture was that we got to see what the city was like before it's destruction, hence leading to a greater understanding of the place, while in rapture it was already destroyed and ruined, and we only heard what it was like, not experienced it.
    I'm hoping as DLC we may be able to go there and see what it was like before.

    Like many I like infinite but I'll just list the small things I don't like about it.

    - For a game to be under Bioshock title, I wanted more things Bioshock related. Unfortunately with Infinite I would have liked it under a different title.

    - Difficulty, I guess there's 1999 the core difficulty choices (Hard) is not difficult because the rails make things really easy, compared to B1 and B2, had tougher battles.

    - FOV, even thought you can customize it, my head hurt from the max setting but I got used to it.

    The game is great overall, story is solid and one of the rare ones you may join a discussion on how you interpret it the ending and alternate realities and question the logic in it. The game play is smooth, I felt it was paced better than Bioshock 1 and 2 and the movement, ever played fallout? I appreciate movement so much after that game.

    The game has problems with its pace.

    Overall, not quite as good as part one. but still good.

    My only "complaint" as it were:
    I just felt like the end of the ending didn't make sense. I understand it in theory, killing Booker will undo all the damage. But how will killing our Booker, the one we've played through the game with solve everything? He's seen it all. He knows who Comstock is and the atrocities that will be made in Columbia. If he went back in time and went through with the baptism, he could surely change himself from becoming Comstock. We know the future, we can change it! Let's talk it out, Elizabeths!

    Other than that, I loved the ending and everything.

      This should explain it:

      They're not really killing Booker per say. They're killing him at the moment of the baptism. Comstock can only come into existence if Booker accepted the baptism and thus create the multiple Comstock universes that exist.

      With Comstock dead at the point of baptism then none of those universes are possible, but all the universes where Booker refused the Baptism still exist so he's free to live his life with Anna.

      My interpretation of the ending was that simply deciding not be Comstock was not enough. Comstock becomes a possibility as soon as he is Baptised. What they instead did was make the two paths no baptism and baptism resulting in death. Alternatively, they stop Comstock by ending the path where booker goes to the river end in death everytime. The post credit booker is one who never goes to the river. I think. It's definitely ambiguous.

        I'm pretty sure that the way it's meant to work (and really, it's up to Elizabeth how it works because there's no "hard physics" answer here) is that the Booker who accepted baptism was drowned in all the possible universes where he accepted baptism- in the same way that the Luteces' coin flip came up the same way in all possible universes- but that the Booker who did not accept baptism continue onwards in all those unvierses and went on to get married and have his wife die in childbirth lived, and since Comstock never existed then he was never able to give away Anna/Elizabeth. Although he'd still have a massive debt, so their lives were probably no bed of roses down that path either. I am not convinced that Elizabeth made the best choice- even without Columbia, the world is still full of suffering which she could have used her powers to help mend.

        My one disappointment with the ending is that the Luteces were more or less karma Houdinis- Columbia could have been stopped with them instead of with Booker/Comstock. In fact, it could have been stopped more reliably, since it is very conceivable that if Comstock never existed they would have still shopped the technology to some other rich asshole with no consideration for morality.

        its actually that the decision was taken out of his hands, if he had actually decided for himself there would still be a universe where comstock existed.

        In having Elizabeth do it, it took away the choice, making it so that there was only 1 route.

          This is true, but she does question whether its what he really wants.

    Bioshock Infinite felt like they made incredibly mind blowing and beautiful aesthetics and art, supplemented it with a delightful story that felt like a mix of Steins;Gate and Dr Who (in terms of the Quantum Physics, alternate universes and observed phenomena) and then remembered they were making a game and crammed in a mix of Borderlands and Halo's basic gameplay (and flaws) at the last moment, leading to a game that both took my breath away and disappointed me at the same time. (Which is entirely probable if you follow the science)

    My biggest complaints (other than badly designed gameplay) are:
    - The character models were incredibly ugly and monotonous given the attention given to everything else.
    - I always felt like a tourist in a Columbia theme park. Everything was just encouraging me to visit the next attraction. Although, I suppose if you follow the story, there's a reason that can be given for that.
    - Minor quibble about consistency. It was always hard to figure out if you would be attacked or not. Sometimes guards didn't care if you existed. Sometimes they only cared after you walked past and others when you've stood in front of them for a minute. A lot of the time you could steal from people while looking them in the eye, sometimes they'd attack you. You could almost always go behind a counter without any issue, sometimes you'd get attacked.
    - The ending. I get it, I understand it. I have issues with some of the implications and there are several different theories that fit. It just felt rushed. Like they hit the end of the game and realised there was too much that wasn't explained so they summed it up with "Wibbly wobbly Timey Wimey Universey Wuniversey stuff". It's also a bit of bad writing if you need to collect the majority of all the audio logs to understand it on the basic level.

    Still, the art and story are compelling enough to override the negatives really.

      If you thought the ending was tacked on, try replaying the game. Blew my mind how much of it was foreshadowed. I have to conclude that the ending was exactly as intended, though your free to feel it wasn't complete. I tend to agree about the audio logs - its lazy exposition, though they do encourage you to seek them out.

        I'll get around to replaying it soon. Explain all the foreshadowing ever.

      I tell you what, I agree about the guards. Had to restart several times after accidentally picking a fight.

    Such an amazing game.
    Got all giddy when Elizabeth opened the tear to rapture.

    Never played anything like it, apart from Bioshock 1 ;)

    If the developer had merely made "Rapture in the sky" and did not embark on extensive world building, it would have been enough.

    And if the developer has merely embarked on extensive world building, but not created a cast of wonderful characters, it would have been enough.

    And if the developer had settled at creating wonderful characters, but did not write a careful constructed plot that demanded attention and thinking from the player, it would have been enough.

    And if the developer had just created a carefully constructed plot, but did not fill the game to the brim with good combat replete with inventive mechanics, it would have been enough

    And if the developer had created wonderful combat with inventive mechanics, Brothers and Sisters, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH!

    Elizabeth is one of the best companions in a game i can remember, she's there when you need her, keeps the story moving but you never have to worry about her or where she is. The shooting was tight and while it takes a bit of getting used to, by the end it jsut works. The environment and location is just fantastic and i often found myself stopping just to admire Columbia and its sights. Cant wait fo the DLC.

    Its not the story thats holding me back from the BioShock fad but the gameplay. Ive played the first 2 for a while and i just cant get into it. I really dont know why. So i ended up watching all the gameplay/cutscenes on Youtube instead.
    I agree that the stories depth is deeper than most shooters out there, and it was interesting, but nothing exceptional.

      Most of the story wasn't revealed in cut scenes. I personally quite liked the combat in Infinite, and hated it in Bioshock. Worth giving it a go.

        I figured it wouldnt be, hence the watching gameplay/cutscenes comment.

          You watched 12 hours of gameplay? I'm kind of impressed by your stamina.

        I definitely had the opposite feeling (so far). The combat in Infinite is some of the worst I've played in an FPS (for my tastes).

          I didn't think the combat was fantastic, but it was servicable. I would have preferred more variety in enemy types, but I thought the range of tools at your disposal was good.

    The game design seemed to me to be the worst of all of Bioshock as most of the plot is in the beginning and towards the end, which leaves hints of plot throughout the filler gameplay....

    Not surprising though as there hints with the beta footage of showing a character and it has been not shown in the final product but the NPC and posters discuss the character...

    Anyways I found it disappointing as it gave no real sense of progression of the plot until towards the end as it keeps repeating you are clearing a debt and you need the girl (of course with good reason), I just seem the devs played it real safe with the development and that way all they can concentrate on the padding as most of the plot is at the beginning and end.

    I basically agree with everything Mark said, but also as he said I have only played the first part, about 3 hours in.

    It is a bit disappointing that even in terms of pure level design it has let me down a little. It fails on some basic game design such as being clearly able to identify your opponents. I'm not sure if this is my graphics settings but I find it a little frustrating.

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