Bioshock Infinite, Disappointed in the plot. (SPOILERS)

#1 Edited by Beaudacious (926 posts) -

Just having finished Bioshock Infinite, I can't help but feel kind of let down by the story. My initial thoughts find that the story could be cut down to you meeting Elizabeth,go straight into the ending cut scenes and have the same overall impressions. I feel as if the entire middle chunk of the game in terms of story was quite pointless. It failed to invest me in the world in the same manor that the fantastic art, atmosphere and audio logs accomplished. I feel as if the audio logs were far more interesting then anything in the main plot.

Comstock was so far removed most of the time that I had trouble really seeing him as a valid threat. Elizabeth was quite a boring character until you find her audio logs in the alternate dimension where shes been turned. The twins were the only characters I had any interest In since they were constant across all dimensions which actually allowed for some development.

The ending on the other hand invalidates everything you've done up to this point and creates a mine field of questions and plot holes. An example would be; "Why wasn't there a dimension where Elizabeth was free and had all her powers, where she could then already kill Comstock in all dimensions." The final twist I found to be quite tacked on, and unnecessary. Almost as if someone said "Ah fuck it, lets just make him Comstock.". I'm not sure if there were hints to this along the journey. And the lack of clarification on the duality of being Booker and Comstock at the same time I also found to be a cop-out.

On a side note, I think Booker killed every citizen of Columbia in all dimensions anyways. Who needs dimensional powers, or a maniacal obsession.

Don't get me wrong I still enjoyed the game overall, minus the terrible combat(Played on Hard, which in retrospect wasn't actually hard at all). The art direction in this game was absolutely, unbelievably amazing.I guess I mainly stuck with it for audio logs, the aesthetic , and atmosphere of the Infinite world. Otherwise the gameplay and plot were a let down.

Second side note, I enjoyed the art and atmosphere so much that I will be purchasing the season pass.

3/5 Stars

#2 Edited by crithon (3059 posts) -

hmmm interesting.

Its fascinating to see people say what works and what doesn't out of this game. I honestly got annoyed with the audiologs

#3 Posted by Draugen (619 posts) -

The ending on the other hand invalidates everything you've done up to this point and creates a mine field of questions and plot holes. An example would be; "Why wasn't there a dimension where Elizabeth was free and had all her powers, where she could then already kill Comstock in all dimensions."

I assume because her not being free was one of the constants. When there is an expressly stated concept in the game that would easily accout for it, I have a problem calling it a plot hole.

#4 Posted by Sooty (8082 posts) -

BioShock 2 is still the Citizen Kane of the BioShock series.

#5 Edited by wackojackman (142 posts) -

@beaudacious

Rule of thumb for me; if you tell a story that ends up with some sort of time/ dimension crossover you're always going to be able to pull it apart if you look hard enough, so I find it's best to maybe just sit back and enjoy the ride.

The only section of the story I was dissatisfied with was when you go through a tear and you are the leader of the Vox rebellion. It felt a bit disorientating and it took me a bit to get my head screwed on right again.

Can you elaborate on "the story could be cut down to you meeting Elizabeth, go straight into the ending cut scenes and have the same overall impressions"? I don't want to jump to any conclusions but my initial thoughts were, it is a game and obviously plays out a story in a more lengthy way than other mediums.

I didn't find the gameplay terrible, it's not the games strong-suit though, that is in the hands of art and story telling for me. I think your feelings of the final twist being tacked on I interpreted more as a rug being pulled out from under me. People see plot twists, turns and devices in different ways though I guess.

#6 Posted by Aetheldod (3495 posts) -

@beaudacious: Booker being Comstock its telegraphed all the time through the game , the fact that you werent able to see that does not make the twist bad.

#7 Posted by Humanity (8729 posts) -

@aetheldod: I'd argue that not seeing a twist coming is quintessential to the twist being good.

I enjoyed Infinite, but I didn't really pick it apart too much. The entire prison section I was riding an emotional high of "I need to save Elizabeth!" which made the subsequent ending a real downer.

#8 Edited by wackojackman (142 posts) -

@humanity: After all the ending events transpire, followed by the piano keys and fade to black... that hit hard and yeah, left me feeling blue. Immensely satisfied with the ending though.

#9 Edited by LifeasClarity (17 posts) -

@beaudacious, @aetheldod, @humanity:

What undermines the Comstock twist for me is not whether it's predictable, or even if it's justifiable that Booker could have become Comstock, but that Comstock is a boring and drearily flat character. Consider Andrew Ryan. Ryan was a man so dedicated to his ideology that it consumed him and his utopia. Comstock is a super racist zealot. Even as a pretty pulpy villain, Andrew Ryan had nuance and was a compelling character. Just think about that death scene!

On the other hand, Comstock exists mostly as a device to compel the plot forward, which is totally fine--plenty of stories use villains as plot devices to amazing effect--but it leaves the twist feeling flaccid to me because, well, Comstock is not a compelling character. He's barely a character at all. In an alternate universe, your character became an ill-defined plot device! I don't really care if it tricked me or not, but I do care if it felt hollow, which to me it utterly did. The Comstock twist was a witty idea without any soul, which is honestly how a lot of Bioshock: Infinite felt to me (with a few very worthwhile exceptions!).

#10 Edited by Humanity (8729 posts) -

@lifeasclarity: Comstock is a religious zealot and embodies the characteristics of one obsessed with a single narrow minded interpretation of things quite well. Much like Rapture was built in Ryan's image, so was Columbia constructed to embody the fanatical ideals of the newly baptized Comstock. They were both simple tools to be frank, except Comstock is a bigger villain for entrapping his own daughter in a prison because of his selfish needs. Ryan is hardly anything in the original Bioshock apart from that one scene - you never see him or hear from him. He might as well not even exist as he makes no strides to contact or oppose you. If anything, Ryan is much more flat and hollow as his only meaning in the entire game is exposition to a plot twist. Everything else happens quite literally around his character.

#11 Edited by LifeasClarity (17 posts) -

@humanity:

I'd definitely challenge your statements about how often you see or hear from/about Ryan. Between audiologs, the intercom messages, and the occasional projector video you hear quite a lot from Ryan, and a lot from others about interacting with him. In this respect your degree of exposure to both Comstock and Ryan is about the same, and you are exposed to them in much the same way. But it's not a matter of quantity for me, it's a matter of whether or not it's compelling. Caricaturish and singularly racist individuals absolutely exist, but they rarely make compelling characters. And for me Comstock is just a boring character.

If you found Ryan similarly hollow, I guess I can see that. But for me I am far more fascinated by Ryan's character, the way his own impulses and emotions subtly undermined his objectivist utopia (his treatment of Cohen, his affair, etc.), the way he was too proud to save his dream, and the way he chose to die as an ultimate example of his philosophy before no audience but himself and his puppet. I should say I don't care for Bioshock's plot twist any more than I care for Infinite's (though as metacommentary I guess Bioshock's is nominally more interesting, if that's your kind of thing).

You kind of make the argument that Ryan isn't much of a villain in the classic sense--in particular he doesn't really aggressively oppose the protagonist. This is a good point, and perhaps that's part of why I like him. He's simply a character. He doesn't have to be the big bad, and he's defined predominately by who he is, rather than his opposition to you. Furthermore, his laissez faire approach to you and your toiling--and initially to Fontaine's uprising--is utterly in keeping with his objectivist principle, which again is his undoing. Ultimately, Ryan is done in by Ryan.

I like villains that I have a compelling ethos. I don't think Comstock really has one. He's got fundamentalism and racism, and a sad past that turned him down that path. But it's just hard to really be compelled by his character, at least not in the way I was by Ryan's. I mean either way Levine is not the greatest writer in the world, and your critiques of Ryan definitely have merit. I have a boatload of issues with Bioshock's narrative, too :P

It just seemed the most fair and interesting thing to do to compare Comstock to Ryan since Comstock and Ryan, by Infinite's logic, are quite literally reflections of one another.

#12 Posted by Humanity (8729 posts) -

@lifeasclarity: I agree that Ryan is a more interesting character - to me anyway as science interest me much more than faith. I will take your word on the amount of interaction you have with him as I honestly have not played the original Bioshock in quite a while. From what I remember you heard a lot about him, and listened to audio logs pertaining to him or coming from him, but actual direct communication between you and Ryan were sparse. Also I never treated Ryan as a villain, but rather as an important backdrop - but thats neither here nor there.

At the end of the day I think several elements can factor into your appreciation for the ending and twist within. If you are into religious transformations and cult of personality following then I believe it could be a bit more intriguing than to most. I also agree that Comstock on the surface appears to be nothing more than a two dimensional villain twirling his evil mustache as you run the gauntlet set forth by his armies. What I found interesting was how far he would go to achieve his goals and how dark a lot of it was. Booker seems like such a far cry from what this man has become and it was fascinating for me to discover the journey that ultimately led him there (in another reality anyway). Ultimately as you said, both Ryan and Comstock are two sides of the same coin - one a man of science and the other a man of faith. Just like Ryan, Comstock had an affair, quelled a rebellion and built a society that initially was an escape from the outside world but ultimately became a prison of his maniacal vision.

#13 Posted by csl316 (7986 posts) -

I liked a lot of it and thought it got super interesting when the revolution started, until you realize that a lot of it doesn't matter. Just some conflict in some random dimension.

And I agree with Brad about Booker turning into Comstock being kind of... eh. Seemed like an unnecessary twist to me, I dunno.

#14 Posted by EXTomar (4453 posts) -

Sure Comstock was evil but I'm not sure "mustache twirling" is the right way to put it. Comstock acted in peculiar ways towards Booker which was part of the "draw in" to the story. It is pretty strange how he allow Booker to run wild with the city's most precious and most protected person where part of the story is the discovery why he allowed it. Of course if one didn't like the "parallel universe" thing as the basis of the the story then one isn't going to like using that as an explanation for motives either.

#15 Posted by Beaudacious (926 posts) -

@lifeasclarity , @humanity:

I'd say I have to pretty much agree with lifeasclarity in all regards to Comstock being a flat character. I was also having trouble defining how I felt about the twist, but the idea of it just being hollow, and lacking soul hits the nail on the head. It feels like such an afterthought in the composition of the narrative, and highlights how schizophrenic I find the narrative. Maybe the story was a bit too ambitious for Levine's own good? It feels like he had a beginning, and an ending. Then decided to place some filler in the middle, and tack on another twist to the ending.

@extomar:

I think you might be reading too much into the fact that in all games the protagonist always has an unbelievable amount of freedom to do damage towards the antagonists cause.

@aetheldod: I don't feel it would of made the twist any better, just wouldn't of been a twist anymore. Out of curiosity where or how was it telegraphed?

#16 Posted by Aetheldod (3495 posts) -

@beaudacious: I played the game some while ago but , first clue I got was when Comstock talks to Booker on the big screen (how would he know him?) also how would he know that Booker had the AD mark? But the most important time was when the old soldier talks about Booker being at the battlees instead of Comstock , so by that time you most suspect that there is something going on (I thought hat comstock was Booker and I was prooven right by the end)

#17 Edited by Viking_Funeral (1727 posts) -

@wackojackman said:

Rule of thumb for me; if you tell a story that ends up with some sort of time/ dimension crossover you're always going to be able to pull it apart if you look hard enough, so I find it's best to maybe just sit back and enjoy the ride.

My favorite are the people who argue which time travel rules are acceptable or not. Especially when it comes to clothing.

#18 Edited by wackojackman (142 posts) -

@viking_funeral: "I feel like the people who pick at BioShock Infinite's various paradoxes probably aren't much fun to be around."

- Jeff Gerstman

“I’m not gonna sit here and discuss time travel paradoxes with you! We’d be here all night and end up diagramming shit with napkins and straws.”

- Old Joe (Bruce Willis), Looper

The Looper quote is my favourite fob off to all those types of conversations. Some saw it as lazy, but it basically just calls out how ridiculous those conversations can become.

#19 Posted by Ramone (2956 posts) -

I feel like the story deals in way too many contrivances to stand up to much scrutiny but I enjoyed the ride nonetheless.

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