Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
No, BioShock Infinite's Ending Doesn't Suck

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 16 Apr 2013 12:00
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Secondly, it was not necessary for Infinite to be as violent as it is. It's not the killing I object to; the enemies are all pretty decisively portrayed as mad cultists, and killing them is on the same level as Indiana Jones shooting all the dastardly Nazis or James Bond kicking an evil henchman off a walkway. My point is, the most Indiana Jones did was wince uncomfortably when a big Nazi got minced off-camera by a propeller. He never rammed a spinning chain-hook device into the poor bastard's throat and watched the blood all squirt out in slow motion.

The major way in which Infinite differs from its predecessors is that it's not, by any stretch of the imagination, a horror game. In contrast to the grim silent corridors of the VON BRAUN, or the drippy, decayed opulence of Rapture, Columbia's environments are bright, clean, colorful and airy. The action, especially when the skyline travelling gets involved, is fast-paced and exciting. It's very overtly a swashbuckling adventure, in the sliding down a pirate ship's sails with a dagger between your teeth style. And while a horror game can use gory violence for creating the necessary tone, in Infinite's setting it becomes a bit of a stumbling block. I'll agree that the story does handle some pretty fucked up themes, but there are ways to portray violent radicals as such without having them nail bloody scalps to a wall.

The other reason why horror sits uncomfortably in Infinite is that the essence of horror is in horrible things happening to realistic people, and the enemies in Infinite are absolute cartoons. You could argue that the same is true of BioShock's splicers, who spoke like stereotypical 50's housewives and 20's flappers, but it was established that these were once sensible people who came to a theoretically sound ideal society and have since mutated themselves and gone mad. Meanwhile, Infinite's enemies are just a mad cult of unapologetically racist kooks who want to blow up the world for being full of sinners. And it's just not as interesting as the Rapture scenario. It's too easy. It's a Saturday morning cartoon motive.

I have a friend who's convinced that American conservatives are going to denounce Infinite as a liberal smear upon the Republican south. Personally, I don't think they would, because of what is known in libel law as the "small penis defense". I wouldn't think that any group is going to say "Hey! You know these complete nutters who gleefully enslave the poor and stone interracial couples to death as a fun carnival game? I think they're supposed to represent us!"

So the degree of inherent shitheadness in Columbia's population was the other thing that I felt could've been toned down. I do see that the plot did call for Comstock to be an irredeemable monster, because by the end the main characters are taking really self-destructive courses of action for the sole reason that it will put down Comstock. It's when you start building cathedrals to John Wilkes Booth that things start getting silly.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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