I can’t help but be a little disappointed in Bioshock: Infinite, I think it’s gameplay fell short, I keep having this gnawing feeling that it would have been better in a different genre, my vote is stealth game.
A number of people have questioned its excessive violence and I’m leaning that way. It just seems out of place. Just as Yahtzee points out Infinite’s predecessor is more of survival horror game, in the original Bioshock you’re killing splicers because they are trying to kill you, they’re monsters, humans gone mad. In Infinite you’re either gunning down the police or fighting an army, and it feels like a missed opportunity for a game that’s trying hard to be taken seriously.
It’s not that the gameplay is bad at all, and the addition of the sky-hook and Elizabeth’s powers to the Bioshock shooter formula makes for a bit more variety, but It still seems a bit dated, the fact that you will loot cake off a corpse and eat it in the midst of battle to regain life is a bit of a sigh.
Speaking of Elizabeth, she is an interesting mechanic. You’ll initially find her refreshing, a nice change from countless soul draining escort missions found in games. It’s nice to have her around, but you’re quickly made aware that, as Austin Walker put it, she doesn’t even really exist. All of her powers are just really your powers, she picks locks, but you find and pick up the lock picks. She can summon a turret, but you must tell her to. It’s an interesting characteristic, and I’m reminded of Elika from the underappreciated 2008 Prince of Persia, a separate character that’s really just an extension of your own.
But gameplay aside I sure fell for the story line. I can’t say it hit me the way the original Bioshock did, in Bioshock it was all much more personal, it wasn’t just ‘Jack’ it was you, you were being manipulated. Infinite has a much more clear distinction, you are put into the role of actor, playing Booker DeWitt, it’s not bad, but it does give more of an outsider looking in feel.
I’m generally a sucker for multiple dimension stories, and Infinite does a good job of bringing up questions of freedom and fatalism. I loved how the plot pieced together and wrapped up neatly at the end. The big surprise ending was less of a huge surprise and more of a, “Ahhh, okay, that make’s sense.” and as I drowned Comstock I was having feelings of hints towards the truth. Which was cool, it makes me anxious to replay through this “1999 mode” and try and catch stuff I’m sure I missed, there is a lot of symbolism throughout, especially on baptism (like drowning Comstock, and then drowning ‘Comstock’…).
But it makes me wonder, if you die at the end, and the events of the game are prevented from happening, then is our real world that timeline? The timeline in which the floating city never existed? Isn’t that a bit of a bummer? That’s always been one of the sticklers for me about the idea of literally infinite realities. If Infinite realities exist, then there is a reality where we’ve already made it to space exploration and we’re missing out here in our reality. I guess my question is if infinite possibilities truly exist are they all quite so mundane?
We should all become the evil versions of us, and try and find a way into one of the cooler realities and beat them up.