Average User Score: 8.5Apr 4, 2013This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Gameplay will never change. There is this mass illusion in the game industry that each game has mechanics slightly more polished than its predecessors. While you can tweak it a bit, the shooter formula has reached its apex, and while Bioshock Infinite does improve superficially on both the vigors and the guns, especially in the latter category (gunfire and recoil more realistic), it's really what it doesn't do that the game needed more of. Some have complained about the lack of RPG elements (with the exception of gun and vigor upgrades), such as inventory or map screen. I found this to be a huge improvement. There is no menu interaction to slow the pacing and you're always on the move. I thought the tone of the game world would have felt more immersive with the lack of a HUD, much like the first gameplay demo Irrational Games released several years ago. But all of the above are personal opinions and design choices. What left a sour taste in my mouth wasn't anything you can experience in the game itself. No, you could only experience this bittersweet regret if you had watched, in eager anticipation, all of Ken Levine's interviews, only to realize you had just witnessed the biggest cop out in gaming history.
Expectation #1: An actual floating city, complete with physics.
After the first demo that was released (which is never shown in the game), we see one of the massive, orange balloons tethered to the corner of a belltower deflate suddenly and the massive structure starts to pivot towards the ground, the bell flying loose from its moorings only to come grinding to a stop inches away from your feet, the cobblestones buckling under its weight and shooting off in every direction. Later, Ken Levine commented on the instablity of the city, how the tech team had made it pulse with life, and hinted that you'd be able to topple the city around you. This fell short on both accounts, the only undulating architecture in the game appearing during the first half, and after you're solidly captivated by the world, these stellar sights give way to more mundane gameplay (street shootouts and interior combat). It never feels like their main selling point is really taken to its full potential.
Expectation #2: Watch the city tear itself apart (pre-Rapture)
This is the big one. I want to be as harsh as possible when I say that this was a blatant lie. We were supposedly going to 'watch the city fall apart before us'. We were told that there would be moments where you would have to interact with citizens on the street, such as pointing a gun at a potential mugger to send him scrambling, or intervening in a local execution (both of which are shown in the same demo). There are maybe three moments in the entire game where you feel this sort of weight behind your actions, and they are as superfluous as they are dull. You can't change the overall outcome of anything, although watching the colorful, Independence Day style utopia burn slowly is captivating in its own way. I would have preferred a little more interaction, hence replayability.
Expectation #3: A decent resolution.
This one is debatable. And the main reason for the spoilers tag. Let's get the big one out of the way, the resolutions to each storyline. Both Daisy Fitzroy and Jeremiah Fink are shadowbox characters that bleed out of the story as quickly as they pop in. Slate is one of the more interesting characters but doesn't feel fully fleshed out. Don't get me started on Comstock. Let's face it, time travel was both the protagonist and antagonist here. It solves everything (most levels are going back and forth through the area in different time periods), and also helps ease along the ruthlessly shoehorned ending. But despite all of this, the ending was emotional and relatively significant enough to make it feel as if it 'belonged'. It was the gamer in me that made me want to slap Ken Levine. Songbird becomes your best bud and then you get to watch him drown in two seconds. Apparently the Bioshock story will never change because even with its fairly restricted narrative parameters, it's the doorway to infinite worlds just like it with new coats of paint (so we can expect this disappointment forever). Oh, and my personal favorite: The final boss is three waves of the easiest enemies in the game. No Handyman. No Songbird. Fail.
But aside from all the things they promised and didn't deliver, this is a bittersweet shooter, with some amazingly satisfying gameplay regarding the vigors and gunplay, but some equally frustrating inconsistencies in the pacing and storyline. Oh, and this game tries desperately to emulate Disney (and doesn't do a bad job), but it's so obvious in parts it's almost painful, especially if you're like me and find the overall 'girl in a tower' concept a little overused and cheesy.
Still, if you're a fan of shooters or Bioshock in general, you owe it to yourself to see how far the series has come.… Expand