I, like probably every other BioShock fan on the planet, had high expectations for BioShock Infinite. I expected a story that would blow me away like the first game did, I expected to be highly disturbed at every corner, and I expected some truly unique gaming elements. I also expected all three of these to possess high quality delivery. For me, only 1.5-2 of these were fulfilled. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I was expecting something akin to what I experienced with the first BioShock, and it never came together for me.
Reader beware…spoilers are within.
I greatly enjoyed the first half of the game. I loved not knowing what was going on, the exploration, and yes, even the combat. The combat in BioShock Infinite was exponentially improved upon from the first BioShock, although I really believe that since Booker was a more involved character, a more separated character from the player, than Jack, a third-person point-of-view might have been better. Nevertheless, the FPS mechanics were greatly improved from the first game, so I never felt that overly frustrated with aiming or with using the Vigors. Yes, the implementation of the Vigors felt kind of forced, but it’s part of BioShock‘s culture in many ways, so it didn’t really bother me. I never really mastered the sky-line combat, but I blame that mostly on my vertigo and not the game itself.
What I loved most about the first half of the game was the exploration of the world and slowly uncovering the story. There were combat sections, but they never felt heavy and they didn’t impede on exploring the insanity of Columbia. I loved taking my sweet time in the Brotherhood of the Raven building, growing more and more disturbed when discovering each room. I reveled in exploring individual houses and finding their racist propaganda and even anti-racist propaganda. Even when I had Elizabeth tagging along, I never felt pushed to move on or frantically fight my way through hordes of enemies.
About the time the Tears were introduced, the game began to drastically change. I couldn’t go anywhere without having to fend of hordes of Founders or Vox Populi, and gameplay started to feel more like a typical FPS. I started to understand why some people were calling the game “CoDShock,” although I think that label is a little unfair. As a result, gameplay started to go increasingly downhill in terms of both fun and game mechanics, particularly with the Lady Comstock’s Ghost boss fight (of which the concept was absolutely ridiculous, besides).
It was at this point where the story took a complete nosedive for me. At the point where Elizabeth could use her Tears to open doorways to alternate dimensions, I lost all interest in the story. I hoped it would redeem itself later, but it instead grew worse. I hate the parallel universe plot device with a passion. I find it to be completely lazy and it opens up more plot holes than it tries to fill. This is exactly why I lose interest in comic series; over time, they all seem to eventually devolve down into alternate dimensions. So once BioShock Infinite traveled down this path, I was done.
I have never been more let down by a game’s story. I thought Dishonored would hold that honor, but apparently my expectations for BioShock Infinite were higher and my hatred for parallel universes is greater. There is nothing anyone can say to turn me around on this game’s story. Trust me, my friends have tried. They’ve tried to fill the plot holes the same way I did after finishing the game (I stayed up half the night trying to fill in the plot holes in order to like the story and only opened up more questions), and I’ve been able to counter each explanation with another question they can’t answer. Also, please don’t suggest I didn’t get it. Like The Matrix trilogy, the game slaps you in the face with what is happening. I just flat out didn’t like it.
It’s always weird disagreeing with the massive majority on a game, but eh, it is what it is. I really hoped this game would be one of my contenders for Game of the Year, but it’s nowhere near my top ten. Then again, I haven’t exactly enjoyed a game that has released this year yet, so my list of contenders could be very, very short this year.