I finished BioShock Infinite earlier today (yes I know, late to the party and all that), and after taking some time to digest the entire amazing story and ending, I find myself bothered by the same thing that bothered me throughout the entire game: the amount of combat and the level of violence.
There is simply too much of it. The original BioShock showed us that just because a game was a FPS, it didn't have to be all shooty-shooty every thirty seconds, with waves and waves of faceless damage sponges waiting to be mowed down. And maybe that's what makes it all the more irritating; it's already been successfully done, so why change it, and take things a step backwards?
It doesn't even serve much of a purpose, in my view. Yes, there needs to be that initial surge of violence at the fair, to illustrate that things aren't as idyllic in Columbia as they first appear. Yes, there needs to be a moment of over-the-top violence to repulse Elizabeth, and give Booker yet more reason to believe he is beyond redemption. The problem is that the game continuously throws you into these large firefights, while at the same time wanting you to get lost in the game world, and pay close attention to the story.
That's what I wanted to do. I wanted to just be in Columbia with Elizabeth. I wanted to experience the narrative, without constantly being pulled out of it by having to fend off waves of enemies, in what very quickly becomes standard Halo-style combat. I don't understand why portions of the story couldn't be uncovered and completed by some simple detective work. I mean, Booker was written as a detective, so why not use put that to some use?
I can't help but feel Ken Levine fell victim to the same trap so many designers fall into these days: changing things around to appeal to the broadest audience possible. It's also shown in the fact that Elizabeth is relegated to the back cover of the box, despite it being every bit her story as Booker's, if not more so. But dudebros aren't going to buy our game if there's some....girl on the cover. Dudebros won't understand why a FPS isn't constantly throwing enemies at them. Well guess what guys? Dudebros also weren't going to care about or understand the brilliant story you've created. Parallel universes and quantum physics are not things I usually hear players talk about during CoD or FIFA matches.
At the end of the day though, BioShock Infinite absolutely moves the FPS genre, as well as the entire video game medium, forward. It is a true work of art. A masterpiece. The ending is beautiful and mind-blowing and...I honestly don't have enough words to describe how much I love it. I just wish I didn't have to shoot so many guys in the face to get there.