BioShock Infinite Review: A Head in the Clouds

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So far (3 hours) it's a game where 95% of the gameplay is shooting things. Which is disappointing, but I should have learned my lesson from Bioshock, which wasn't much different.

Iīm dissapointed that they changed the gameplay and level design the way they did. Itīs a lot more linear and thereīs next to no persistency in the gameplay. You still have choices in each encounter, but itīs a lot more designed and controlled than in Bioshock. This also makes the exploration less interesting because you canīt really find anything interesting. You almost always have full ammo in your guns and health + salts are everywhere, so you are just looking for gold coins to buy new upgrades, not much else. In bioshock you were excited to find all kinds of stuff, you were looking for ammo for your good guns, and special ammo and equipment that could prove useful later on. You had to think about how you approached each situation, should you use your Armor piercing bullets? Or save them for later and use a rocket instead? Maybe try using some plasmids? All this is practically gone and hacking has vanished, so you canīt choose to take control of gun turrets and stuff like that...

Itīs a great game and all, but i find it dissapointing that they have made so radical changes to the gameplay that made the first two games soo appealing to me. It just isnīt as interesting to play, especially when every other shooter is based on the same principles as Infinite, atleast Bioshock was unique...

1999 mode also seems to be a bit too easy, the beginning is hard, too hard (since when were games from the 90s about dying constantly?). But later on you find plenty of cash so you practically become immortal and the game also seems to be getting easier as you progress. So i donīt know... Atleast it could have been worse.

Monsterfurby:

I'm a PC gamer through and through, and I felt the same way about Half Life 2 as I did about Dishonored and this one. They are probably great games - I just feel that, as a narrative medium, the first-person-perspective really falls flat. It's hard to explain, but even with the best-told story, this perspective sucks all the life out of a protagonist for me.

I can handle that in Portal or even the CoD-games, where other characters are the stars. Games like Dishonored though (which it seems is a good comparison to Bioshock Infinite) focus too much on the unseen player character.

Yeah, that makes sense. First-person games generally tend to place a higher emphasis on immersion than storytelling. The same with open world games like GTA, and arguably most MMOs. You're probably more at home with a good JRPG. Though I'm thinking Borderlands 2 *might* work for you, if and only if you can appreciate the dark sense of humor. Fallout 3 *might* work for you because of the way you live through the silent protagonist's childhood and tell the silent protagonist what to say.

But yeah, in general, first person shooters aren't about storytelling so much as theming and immersion and worldbuilding. And of course, gameplay. (Planning & Execution challenges.)

Blood Brain Barrier:
So far (3 hours) it's a game where 95% of the gameplay is shooting things. Which is disappointing, but I should have learned my lesson from Bioshock, which wasn't much different.

Interesting complaint about a first-person shooter. I'm curious. What percentage of the gameplay did you expect to not be shooting, and what kind of gameplay did you expect instead of shooting?

MrBaskerville:
1999 mode also seems to be a bit too easy, the beginning is hard, too hard (since when were games from the 90s about dying constantly?). But later on you find plenty of cash so you practically become immortal and the game also seems to be getting easier as you progress. So i donīt know... Atleast it could have been worse.

It's called 1999 mode because that's when System Shock 2 came out. Actually, I'm really intrigued by the existence of this mode. SS2 was a game all about carefully optimizing your character for the long haul. Should I improve my defense so I can take more hits, or improve hacking so I have access to more health kits? Unfortunately, it was almost impossible to make informed choices on your first playthrough. When the original Bioshock first came out, people who had played SS2 were expecting more of the same, but instead they got a modern shooter in which it was completely impossible to run out of resources or paint yourself into a corner, which were primary modes of failure in SS2.

The point of 1999 mode is not to just make the game harder. The point is to turn the game into a ruthlessly cold simulation of a world. If it becomes too easy, it's because you made optimal use of limited resources and figured out how to bend the world to your will. Congratulations.

(Of course, that's assuming they didn't just slack off after balancing the first few levels in 1999 mode.)

WarpZone:

MrBaskerville:
1999 mode also seems to be a bit too easy, the beginning is hard, too hard (since when were games from the 90s about dying constantly?). But later on you find plenty of cash so you practically become immortal and the game also seems to be getting easier as you progress. So i donīt know... Atleast it could have been worse.

It's called 1999 mode because that's when System Shock 2 came out. Actually, I'm really intrigued by the existence of this mode. SS2 was a game all about carefully optimizing your character for the long haul. Should I improve my defense so I can take more hits, or improve hacking so I have access to more health kits? Unfortunately, it was almost impossible to make informed choices on your first playthrough. When the original Bioshock first came out, people who had played SS2 were expecting more of the same, but instead they got a modern shooter in which it was completely impossible to run out of resources or paint yourself into a corner, which were primary modes of failure in SS2.

The point of 1999 mode is not to just make the game harder. The point is to turn the game into a ruthlessly cold simulation of a world. If it becomes too easy, it's because you made optimal use of limited resources and figured out how to bend the world to your will. Congratulations.

(Of course, that's assuming they didn't just slack off after balancing the first few levels in 1999 mode.)

I know what the intention was, but in reality itīs just a mode where you recieve more damage and the enemies takes more bullets before they die, and ofcourse it costs a 100 bucks to revive (i have 1600 in my pocket at the moment and i kinda suck at this game^^). I donīt really see how this is anything similar to System Shock 2, itīs more like a "ultra" hard setting in a game that was fairly easy to begin with. Oh yeah, and it disables the guide thingy, which doesnīt really make a difference since the correct path is always obvious. Resourses arenīt sparse, you find enough food and salt lying around every area after each encounter to replenish everything back to full, and if you donīt find enough, Elisabeth will help you out.

While I found the story and characters enjoyable, and the ending very kickass, the setting wasn't explored to it's fullest potential, and the gameplay leaned too much on the dude-bro shooter formula, making it overly shallow.

After that ending, I get why someone would give it a 10/10, but a day later, no.
But it's a good enough game, and perfect scores have been given to much worse things.

MrBaskerville:

WarpZone:

The point of 1999 mode is not to just make the game harder. The point is to turn the game into a ruthlessly cold simulation of a world. If it becomes too easy, it's because you made optimal use of limited resources and figured out how to bend the world to your will. Congratulations.

(Of course, that's assuming they didn't just slack off after balancing the first few levels in 1999 mode.)

I know what the intention was, but in reality itīs just a mode where you recieve more damage and the enemies takes more bullets before they die, and ofcourse it costs a 100 bucks to revive (i have 1600 in my pocket at the moment and i kinda suck at this game^^). I donīt really see how this is anything similar to System Shock 2, itīs more like a "ultra" hard setting in a game that was fairly easy to begin with. Oh yeah, and it disables the guide thingy, which doesnīt really make a difference since the correct path is always obvious. Resourses arenīt sparse, you find enough food and salt lying around every area after each encounter to replenish everything back to full, and if you donīt find enough, Elisabeth will help you out.

That's disappointing. I was expecting it to be something more... substantial. In fact, it sounds like they just called hard mode "1999 Mode" because they expected it would resonate with the vocal minority of players who actually played SS2.

In other words, more of the same Gaming Industry Marketing Spin Bullshit we know and love. The only thing interesting is the fact that they bothered to try and market it directly to the SS2 purist crowd at all.

It's not like it would even be hard to make a REAL 1999 mode. Just TURN OFF all the bullshit that makes it impossible to fail. Don't increase any enemy stats, just force the player to ration their own. There's your hardcore game mode. Elizabeth just looks at you bleeding out and winces and maybe, if the sample already exists, says something like "I'm sorry... I couldn't find anything," but if not she could just look sympathetic and it may not be PERFECT, but it would at least be WHAT THOSE PLAYERS ACTUALLY EXPECT from a spiritual successor to System Shock with the gall to call something "1999 Mode."

unacomn:
While I found the story and characters enjoyable, and the ending very kickass, the setting wasn't explored to it's fullest potential, and the gameplay leaned too much on the dude-bro shooter formula, making it overly shallow.

I'm very curious what you would have liked to see. How could the setting be better explored? How could the gameplay be made deeper? If you can't put it into words, use examples from other games that did it better.

Man, I feel like I'm monopolizing the conversation, responding to everybody. I should take a break.

WarpZone:

unacomn:
While I found the story and characters enjoyable, and the ending very kickass, the setting wasn't explored to it's fullest potential, and the gameplay leaned too much on the dude-bro shooter formula, making it overly shallow.

I'm very curious what you would have liked to see. How could the setting be better explored? How could the gameplay be made deeper? If you can't put it into words, use examples from other games that did it better.

Man, I feel like I'm monopolizing the conversation, responding to everybody. I should take a break.

Bringing back the alternating upgrades for the weapons would have been good. They just upped the number and made them too painfully generic. I ended up cycling through them a lot, meaning that it didn't really matter which ones I upgraded, near the end I just took what I could find. Would have helped if the weapon limit was set to at least 4, but honestly, not a lot, with the weapons they had, they all seemed too meh. Not even secondary ammo types.
They could have done more with Liz's power than just have her spawn cover and supplies. She could have shifted enemies, turned regions of the map into gaping holes in space, bring a velociraptor to the fight. This thing could have had velociraptors in it, and it would have made sense. It just became dull after a time, to the point where it was barely present in the final fight. Sure, before that she summoned tornadoes, but nope!
The hook was a fairly useless melee weapon when compared to the wrench, absolutely no sneak-up-bash-em-over-the-head action unless execution was involved. No sneaking whatsoever, until that last bit, was a letdown.
Absolutely no sense of exploration, Liz would just point out the only other place of interest in a level before we got to the exit, and that was that. No hunting for codes and secrets, just a couple of keys and books.
As for the setting, it starts out with a very nice Anachronoxian feeling, but it never delivers on it, After the first scene, you never see buildings moving around, rearranging themselves. And you never go into the belly of the beast. It floats because of exotic particles, ok, I want to see those things, the control mechanism, the steering. In Rapture you got to see everything.
More random tears, with stuff you could actually do, or influence in and around theme would have been good. Heck, replacing the voxaphones with tears or tear-ghots would have been fantastic.
I feel they underused Songbird, and instead of having him be the focus of the second quarter of the post-Liz game, you meander around looking for some gunsmith.

The overabundance of indoor shooting scenes with generic armed thugs were a poor decision when they could have had more battles that utilize the skylines. As it stands, combat tends to become bogged down in resources. On hard, I rarely had enough of what I wanted to have fun with it, but an overabundance of the stuff I didn't care about. Lack of self applying salt was a let down, it meant I couldn't really go all out, I kept having to go around the level picking salt or waiting for Liz to find some. Resources really got on my nerves during the ghost fight, the things would just endlessly respawn, to the point where, in the vault, I ran out of ammo and would just let myself get killed in order to get more. That part got annoying, but the idea of it was one of the best combat situations in the game, a nice change of pace.

And also, Halo called, it wants its shield back.

WarpZone:

Blood Brain Barrier:
So far (3 hours) it's a game where 95% of the gameplay is shooting things. Which is disappointing, but I should have learned my lesson from Bioshock, which wasn't much different.

Interesting complaint about a first-person shooter. I'm curious. What percentage of the gameplay did you expect to not be shooting, and what kind of gameplay did you expect instead of shooting?

Well wasn't Bioshock a first-person shooter as well? That had puzzles, although not very good ones imo. I was hoping that for all the hype I'd heard over the game it would somewhat transcend boundaries. Like System Shock did.

I don't know anything about development, so maybe I'm wrong and developers really do sit down and say "Right. Let's make a first-person shooter" instead of actually planning out a game from scratch, sans genre.

Blood Brain Barrier:
I don't know anything about development, so maybe I'm wrong and developers really do sit down and say "Right. Let's make a first-person shooter" instead of actually planning out a game from scratch, sans genre.

From what I've heard, the reality is much worse than that. In general, it starts with the publishers going "what sold the highest last month? Gritty brown war game? Awesome! Let's fund one of those. And see if you can get them to shoehorn in multiplayer and micropayments, while you're at it. And if it's not a sequel, slap a movie license onto it because the name alone will move units." So then when developers come in and elevator pitch 20 interesting new game ideas and one boring brown shooter, the publishers greenlight the boring brown shooter.

But Bioshock is a special case. Even though Bioshock swiped the story from SS2, it pretty clearly had no intention of transcending anything other than graphics. Bioshock was all about taking what worked in System Shock 2 and repackaging it in a slick modern interface for console players and FPS noobs. And it worked. Antisocialfatman goes into it better than I can: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBJUJXOxztE

But the point is, Bioshock taught the gaming industry the unfortunate lesson that if you dumb down your gameplay, you will sell more units. Then Metal of Duty and Gears of Killzone and all the other brown games somehow pushed the FPS genre to the top of the charts, and the industry further learned the equally unfortunate lesson that (Halo notwithstanding,) if you make everything brown and grey and set in the modern day and use real guns from real gun manufacturers, you will create a best-selling franchise out of whole cloth overnight.

Puzzles, story, NPC support characters, skyhooks, respawn chambers, and even the whole steampunk aesthetic are all just seasoning as far as publishers are concerned. Gimmicks which differentiate this shooter from all the other shooters out there. If anything, we're lucky we got this much variety. The successor to System Shock 2 could just as easily have been called Patriot Shock or Desert Shock or something and been all about shooting people in the middle east with an MP5.

I don't think Irrational Games is capable of creating an actual spiritual successor to System Shock 2. Even if they wanted to create it, I don't think they would be allowed to publish it. If it ever happens, I think it'll come from some indie developer, possibly with one or two names from SS2 on board. It won't be named Bioshock or System Shock unless by some miracle of kickstarter they can afford to rent back the System Shock lisence from whoever owns it. It'll be PC-only and it won't sell well. But if we're very, very lucky, maybe it'll get on steam, maybe it'll sell a little, and maybe they'll go on to make another one.

Same goes for Thief, Descent, Deus Ex, Serious Sam, and all those other quirky little first-person games that were born in the 90's. These games are the extinct species that died off throughout the evolution of the modern shooter. Even the ones that had sequels are gradually becoming homogenized into Spunkgargleweewee. (I know I shouldn't need to link you guys to the origin of this term, but here we go for posterity's sake: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/6492-Medal-of-Honor-Warfighter-Doom-3-BFG-Edition )

And I know as little about the design process as you do. Everything I just said is based on an outsider's observation of industry trends, and from reading articles and watching commentary videos like the ones here on the Escapist.

If people actually sat down to create a brand new game from scratch every time, starting from a story or an idea or an innovative new core gameplay, I think very few of them would be first person shooters in the first place. Because the first person perspective is only really useful for pointing and clicking in a 3D environment. No, the reason we have so many shooters is because of sales trends. And the reason the shooters keep getting less cerebral and less challenging is also because of sales trends.

It's tempting to blame us, to blame gamers, but the problem isn't that we're selecting dumber and dumber games. It's that new gamers are selecting dumber games than we would select, and they have more purchasing power than we do.

I do appreciate that Bioshock Infinite had the balls to do anything novel or interesting with its setting at all. I'm not surprised at the lack of puzzles, though. My expectations going into this review were low, the effusive praise and 10/10 scores only lowered them, and hearing from people who have played the game bumped them back up, but only a little bit. I think it does live up to the hype to an extent. It just doesn't live up to the natural expectations of people who've played System Shock. And I'm honestly starting to think that nothing Irrational touches ever will.

WarpZone:
So the bad guys are normal humans just following orders, the real enemy is political corruption and cultural decay, but the protagonist has no actual ability to speak or argue and instead EVERYTHING revolves around the player leading one helpless female NPC around and shooting people in the head?

Way to advance gaming as a medium, guys. Sexist escort missions, here I come!

If you actually play the game, you will realize just how completely wrong that view is.

Redingold:
Is it better than the first one? Because for me, Bioshock ran out of steam two thirds of the way through, after the confrontation with Ryan. After that, it was an uninteresting slog through dull, tedious combat and some really crappy escort missions.

I'd say no, but I'm in the minority that thinks this game made significant mistakes.

unacomn:

WarpZone:

unacomn:
While I found the story and characters enjoyable, and the ending very kickass, the setting wasn't explored to it's fullest potential, and the gameplay leaned too much on the dude-bro shooter formula, making it overly shallow.

I'm very curious what you would have liked to see. How could the setting be better explored? How could the gameplay be made deeper? If you can't put it into words, use examples from other games that did it better.

Man, I feel like I'm monopolizing the conversation, responding to everybody. I should take a break.

And also, Halo called, it wants its shield back.

Yes! These are not small mistakes! I made a post in another thread about more of these.

MikeWehner:

knight steel:
Wait a minute this review is too positive,not one negative was mentioned......IMPOSSIBLE Nothing on this earth can be perfect as that would mean that it has no flaws making it divine,but the game was made by humans which means if the game is divine in it perfection.....so must be the developers,but this is impossible for a human as our brains and bodies are designed in such a way that we will make mistakes,which means we can't be divine and that this game inturn can't be perfect unless,that this game must be made by gods,wait why would they make a game unless.........THIS GAME IS CHRISTIAN PROPAGANDA!!!!!!!It all makes sense target gamers who are more likely to be atheist's and convert them to Christianity,but why?.......Unless GOD needs us to believe in him in order to exist in this reality, EVERY ONE DON"T PLAY THIS GAME,by doing so you will be mind controlled by god for his sinister purposes.
image

Umm.... let's see. Flaws.... ummmmmmm.

The iron sight on the pistol is kind of lame. It has a point, like a sharp point, rather than a flat top, which kind of bugged me. Some of the NPCs have the same face. You can't fly a giant dragon.

That's all I can come up with at the moment.

More meaningful choices would be nice, and having more than two weapons at once, but screw it, the game and the story where awesome, even if I managed to predict a small part of the ending...

My 2 cents:

Overall: good story, ok gameplay (guns and abilities were meh but enjoyable) - two first acts dragged on a bit - last third was a thrillride that did not prepare me for the ending at all... which was... weird, but neat

Now, for the EXTREMELY spoilerific sidenotes:

Unresolved stuff that I'd have loved to have learned more about:

And finally, regarding the ending

Also, for the bioshock fans

Do4600:

unacomn:

WarpZone:

I'm very curious what you would have liked to see. How could the setting be better explored? How could the gameplay be made deeper? If you can't put it into words, use examples from other games that did it better.

Man, I feel like I'm monopolizing the conversation, responding to everybody. I should take a break.

And also, Halo called, it wants its shield back.

Yes! These are not small mistakes! I made a post in another thread about more of these.

webkilla:
My 2 cents:

Overall: good story, ok gameplay (guns and abilities were meh but enjoyable) - two first acts dragged on a bit - last third was a thrillride that did not prepare me for the ending at all... which was... weird, but neat

Now, for the EXTREMELY spoilerific sidenotes:

Unresolved stuff that I'd have loved to have learned more about:

And finally, regarding the ending

Also, for the bioshock fans

Yeah, gotta admit, that sucked.

I dont understand, everyone is talking about how pretty this game is but every video I have watched is blurry or bloomly.
At first I assumed it was the capture method used but every video is the same no matter the source. I can understand using bloom when looking out over the city. But even when standing right next to people you cant see detail in there face just blur.

Was not going to buy this...but luckily I cancelled my Colonial Marines Preorder so I had money to spare. Thank God for that.

One of the best games of 2013

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