Maybe I just expect too much from the video game industry. Maybe I'm just a hipster, as many people like to call me whenever I openly dislike newer games. Or maybe my brain is just wracked with syphilis and everything around me is just an elaborate nightmare my subconscious has lashed into existence. Whatever the case may be I am extremely disappointed in BioShock Infinite and for the life of me I can't see why the game gets the kind of praise it does.
Infinite has sacrificed one of my favorite things about BioShock, exploration, for reasons unbeknownst to me. Most of the exploration is gone and replaced with locked doors that require x amount lock picks to open. I constantly felt forced down a straight path to make sure I followed the exact steps the game wanted me to take. Ushered from one courtyard gun fight to the other with some hallway shoot outs stuck between just to make sure I haven't fallen asleep. It was missing the freedom of the previous titles.
Most side areas in Infinite are simply locked doors that open once you've found the required number of lock picks. When one of these doors are opened you are usually presented with an office of some sort with a health/shield/mana upgrade inside. The exploration consists of trying to find the lock picks under chairs and trash cans to get your health upgrade. It feels like such an after thought and it has absolutely no flavor.
Compare this to BioShock in which some doors required different plasmids to open, and often led to comparatively huge side areas full of scares and interesting encounters. There were a ton of side paths to wonder through and explore. What happened? I want to explore Columbia. I want to learn as much about this place as I was able to learn about Rapture. Give me that opportunity.
Columbia doesn't feel as fleshed out as Rapture because of this.
Don't get me wrong here. I think Infinite is a solid game that is pretty fun. It does a whole lot of stuff right for what it is, a dumbed down hallway FPS, however it isn't doing anything new or even anything all that interesting.
The game mostly consists of hallway into courtyard shoot outs that sometimes require you to zip around on skylines. With as much hype as the skylines got, you'd think that they would be more important to the overall gameplay, and outside of a few instances of using them to go forward they are almost entirely useless. I never had to use them outside of context and I think I saw enemies use them just to show up to the fight. I also never had any enemies chase me on them which I was really hoping to see.
Shooting dudes in the head its pretty satisfying if nothing else. However what the hell happened to having all kinds of kick ass ammo types that were better for different enemies? Now I just have to pop people in the dome from behind a chest high wall. Enemies also conveniently drop the ammo for the gun you have so there's really no reason to ever use anything other than the rifle and shotgun. None of the enemies actually use vigors themselves so its not like they are going to Bucking Bronco your sorry ass from behind cover. It just doesn't happen.
Speaking of vigors, most of the vigors you acquire are just stuns or disables. There's no reason to use anything other than Bucking Bronco or Murder of Crows because upgraded nothing can touch you and the other vigors are rendered totally useless. On a couple of context sensitive sections you need to zap a door open but other than that you don't need them for anything at all. Remember using Telekensis in BioShock to find all kinds of hidden items and ammo? Remember melting down ice to scavenge for items and explore new areas? Remember zapping open doors all over the place?
On the subject of zapping and burning, what the hell happened to all of the environmental damage?? There are about three or four puddles of water/oil in the game what you have to literally summon in from another plane of existence and hope that one of the enemies in this giant courtyard you're fighting in stumbles over to the three feet of water so you can zap him. Or you can just pop that guy in the skull and call it good.
Hacking! Hacking in BioShock was a pretty terrible minigame but at least hacking was there and it served a nice purpose. Lowered prices, permanent control over mechanical units, and security systems (which are completely absent in Infinite) . Now I realize that we have possession but its temporary and doesn't have the same effect on vendors. I'll admit that hacking needed a make over but it didn't need to be removed entirely. Then again, there's no sneaking or carefulness to Infinite so... how often would we even have the chance to use it?
Nothing ruins a gun fight like a little girl throwing quarters at you in the middle of it. And nothing makes what little exploration we get more fun than... a little girl throwing quarters at you every fifteen feet! Why is this necessary? Just say "I found money" and add it to the money pool. Stop throwing shit at me and interrupting me.
As for her powers in combat, its also essentially useless. Summon in a turret that dies immediately, or a flying turret that dies immediately! The choice is yours! The only time this power is ever useful is when you can call up cover in the middle of the courtyard you're in. No reason to call up health because she throws it at you almost constantly and you cant really die in the first place so why bother?
All of that aside she is an interesting character in her own right, but is insanely daft and multiple times I found myself rolling my eyes at her dialogue and character progression. That's just me though.
The story is rad. Its full of plot holes but its rad. You can't really avoid plot holes with multiverse stuff so what are you gonna do? The twins are by far the best characters and are absolutely outstanding in their performance.
That's all I have to say about the story. Its good. But its not "forgive the short comings of the game and give it a perfect score" good.
After playing through the game a couple of times I do find myself enjoying it. Zipping around and kicking guys in their dumb faces, or lifting a group of folks into the air before nailing them with a rocket is only fun for so long. Its a solid game with a great story and great characters. Its interesting enough to play through and I think everybody SHOULD play it, but it still sort of fuckin' sucks. It's missing so much that it needs to be a BioShock game. It feels so stripped down and straight forward. I just can't get over that.
How can this game be given the scores its given when its as flat as it is? It's just so much less than what we as gamers should expect and I am a little insulted that it has been dumbed down as much as it has been. I'll admit that when I finished the game I was raving about how great it was. I thought it was phenomenal! However, with each exploration and study of the game I come up wanting more and more, realizing I was wrong.