I'm over the moon right now. I just finished up my Bioshock Infinite playthrough. It's been quite the journey. In more than the obvious way. You know the type of thing that only gets better, as it moves along? Well Bioshock Infinite is just that. At the end, all was forgiven, for it finally reached a magnitude of awesome that transcends its flaws completely.
At the beginning however, whilst enjoying the atmosphere and elaborate set-up, the nitpicks quickly began to pile-up. So much so, that I had the hardest time not jumping in on the boards and venting my frustrations (and risking massive spoilers), before finishing the game. I made it though, and now it's time to take my dumb. Don't get me wrong, I loved this meal, but now I've got some bombs to drop.
So here it goes...
- Clones. So many friggin' deadeyed clones. Execute Order 66.
- Zero meaningful interactions with *Non-Elisabeth* NPCs. I felt like walking through a layman's theater production, with NPCs blatantly waiting for me to pass by, for them to recite their line, and then fall back into deadeyed stare mode.
- Ugly birds. Not British gals, but the ravens and doves in-game. Never seen a less adequate representation of a thing in-game in many years.
- Columbia feels just as dead as Rapture, even though it's not supposed to be a Dead City. It merely succeeds in creating an interesting backdrop, but not in creating the illusion of a living breathing world. Dead scenery like animatronics in a themepark ride.
- Completely surprised by what a straightforward action game it starts out as. At first, it's essentially DOOM, just more linear, and in a more elaborate setting.
The action becomes much more enticing in the elaborate skyrail infused combat arenas of the latter half of the game. With more powers unlocked, Elisabeth and the Tears, and plentyfold weaponry at my disposal, combat eventually became the stand-out feature of the game - but at first it felt archaic and backwards - almost like an actual DOOM-era FPS, with mindless fodder running at me, and me sidestepping fireballs constantly. Yes - when it all comes together in the end, it is one of the most impressive and challenging and all-out awesome FPS experiences to date, but that's certainly not how it started out.
Outside of the comparatively bad first impressions it made on me, not everything is golden otherwise either...
- Money is XP. Money is primarily obtained by scavenging the environments. I can't help myself, but to scavenge every last scrap I can find. It has been to the detriment of the game, as it's definitely been a strain on its pacing. It's partially my fault for playing that way. On the other hand, it shouldn't have been handled like that in the first place. I think XP should be earned for feats of actual progression. In Bioshock Infinite, that's combat, and combat only. So in my opinion, the currency of player progression should have been earned in combat, and not by behaving like a cleaning lady, cleaning up XP out of trashbins. The whole scavenging angle of looting *rotten apple* out of *bank deposit box* is silly to begin with, and should have been toned down.
- Punitive & demeaning death mechanics, rather than just resetting the skill challenges as per usual, upon player death. I hate punitive death mechanics (here, the player loses money AKA XP). There are exceptions, like Dark Souls, where it adds to the tension, and the combat mechanics are deliberate enough to support such a thing. Bioshock Infinite is designed to be played playfully, and its death mechanics just don't mesh well with that circumstance. In this case, it adds only the frustration of losing XP, as well as giving me the shitty feeling of *not having properly beaten* the skill challenge, since it does not reset upon death. It's a shit way of handling failure. It demeans me as a player by letting me automatically cheese past challenges despite my failures, and thus robs me of the achievement of properly overcoming it. Good thing this didn't apply to the final encounter, it would have been a shame if it felt as cheesy as the many other encounters, where failure occurred. A kingdom for a proper fail state.
I'm sure I've got more to nitpick, but it's time to give the good lord some push-ups.
If to strengthen thine flesh is to strengthen thine lord's flesh, then by doing so, you strengthen thine devotion to thine lord's will. *Blurb for Push-ups*