#1 Edited by Milkman (16618 posts) -

Let's just get this out of the way up front. The following article is written by Leigh Alexander. If that upsets you or angers you for whatever reason, click the back button now. I don't care what you think of her Bombcast appearance. I don't care how funny 775 million dollars is. I really don't care what you think of her at all. All I ask is that you read with an open mind.

I love BioShock Infinite. I love it more than I've loved anything in video games for a while now. I can't remember the last time I had a played a game where I was completely enthralled from minute 1 to the ending credits. But like any great art piece, it has its detractors, which is a good thing. No matter how great something, they always have their critics and these critics aren't just important, they're essential. Infinite is no different and certainly has attracted its fair share of criticism since its release. I've read my fair share of these and some I completely disagree, some I can see where they're coming and for others, some combination of the two. By far, the most interesting and in depth piece that I've seen was published today on Alexander's blog entitled "Now Is The Best Time."

Like every criticism I've read, I don't agree with every word. I don't agree with a lot of the words, quite frankly. I feel like some of her critiques of the world can be explained by this being, in some ways, a very different game than the first BioShock. While that game was so hugely and blatantly about Rapture, Infinite isn't really about Colombia. It's about the relationship between Booker and Elizabeth. Now, should it have been more Colombia? Maybe, I can't really say. That's an entirely different discussion. One particular issue that I absolutely agree with the disconnect between the actions happening on screen and Elizabeth, specifically her throwing coins and ammo to you. All too often during the game I would experience some sort of pivotal, emotional story beat and no less than a minute later, Elizabeth would cheerfully be tossing me some RPG ammo. In a game where I was completely immersed in the story, the breaking of that immersion for even a couple seconds really sucked.

I digress. I'm not going to analyze every single point in the article and there's plenty of I could say but read the article yourself and create your own responses. Why I actually felt this article was important to share was, besides the fact that it's incredibly well-written, is that while on the surface it's a criticism of BioShock Infinite, it's actually more of a celebration. The fact that the themes of Infinite has so analyzed and picked aparted so much is perhaps the best compliment that it can be given. Most video games don't even have themes to analyze, let alone say anything remotely as interesting as Infinite as does.

I feel like Infinite is an important game. A flawed game but one that will have a profound effect on the future of games. It's hard not to get defensive about the things we love and I totally get the sentiment to want to shout down any criticism of a game like this. But I'll leave you with Leigh's final words, who put it better than I ever could.

My last thought is to emphasize that I think a thorough critique is the highest compliment I can pay to any work. This vision deserves it. And I'd rather have a hundred imperfect games aching with the hollow voices of their strained creators than the loveliest cover shooter ever made. This is a crucial moment in our canon, and I honor it.

#3 Edited by JazGalaxy (1576 posts) -

I don't know who Leigh Alexander is, but I found the writeup kind of stupid, honestly. I know that's a harsh criticism to make of a person's blog, but it reeks of a number of "high-minded" critics who are whining about how Bioshock Inifnite the videogame isn't some transcendent lucid dream they wanted to have and is, in fact, a game made by people using computers and an aging game engine.

We've reached a bizarre "time" when what people are demanding from games is so untenable as to be ridiculous and so far from the base concept of "videogames" as to be something else entirely. It's something I don't want any part of. I LIKED the combat in bioshock. I think Ken Lavine likes it too. I think he made the game the way he made it because he LIKES those types of games.

#4 Posted by Winternet (8012 posts) -

Though Bioshock Infinite has cemented his place in the video game history I don't think it will do much for the industry, moving forward. I'm sure similar words were said by Leigh by the time Bioshock came out, but it's not like you can make a distinction for a pre-Bioshock and a post-Bioshock world. And this is not a detriment to Bioshock or Infinite. It's just how it is.

#5 Edited by Green_Incarnate (1788 posts) -

Article too dark and edgy for me. Like an English teacher explaining the significance of every word. Also she's still going on about Metal Gear?

#6 Edited by Humanity (9017 posts) -

@jazgalaxy said:

I don't know who Leigh Alexander is, but I found the writeup kind of stupid, honestly. I know that's a harsh criticism to make of a person's blog, but it reeks of a number of "high-minded" critics who are whining about how Bioshock Inifnite the videogame isn't some transcendent lucid dream they wanted to have and is, in fact, a game made by people using computers and an aging game engine.

We've reached a bizarre "time" when what people are demanding from games is so untenable as to be ridiculous and so far from the base concept of "videogames" as to be something else entirely. It's something I don't want any part of. I LIKED the combat in bioshock. I think Ken Lavine likes it too. I think he made the game the way he made it because he LIKES those types of games.

This is a great summation. The people from the industry who cry foul that a game is being a game always confuse me. I can only imagine that when you're in that line of work, day in and day out, somewhat loftier expectations start to take precedence over what these videogames should be as you're bombarded by mid or low tier titles without a grain of ambition. At the end of the day these are games though. Maybe Leigh Alexander would have enjoyed her time with it more if Ken Levine had patched in a holster button so the despicable reminder of what games are really about in the form of a smoking barrel wasn't constantly waving around in her face, affronting her delicate sensibilities about humanity in a world of ones and zeros.

In addition: I don't want to harp on this person too much as I don't really know her aside from that one Giantbomb video or have anything against her - but her style of writing is so "high brow" that it was hard not to roll my eyes at literally every sentence.

And then I come upon a lavish spread of rotting fruit, fine china. A raven is disturbed from the Dickensian tableside, spores and insects circulate in the silence. As I admire it, a man in a suit and a bowler hat enters. He's not dressed like a policeman. Who is this person, and what does he do in this place? Oh. He pulls out his gun. I shoot first. It's the end of a story that never even began.

#7 Edited by eskimo (475 posts) -

I dont have a problem with the game, I have a problem with the reaction to it.

It's like someone released an incredibly compelling loaf of bread.

I also have a problem with Leigh's writing style and general attitude. She comes across as an incredibly insecure intellectual who needs to use all the biggest words to impress everyone.

But then, I have an irrational hate for most things.

#8 Edited by Humanity (9017 posts) -

Also it is highly ironic that when I went to Google Leigh Alexander just to find out more about her one of the top results was a Giant Bomb thread from a year ago titled "So does Leigh Alexander do nothing but criticize people?"

#9 Posted by Demoskinos (14730 posts) -

I don't know who Leigh Alexander is, but I found the writeup kind of stupid, honestly. I know that's a harsh criticism to make of a person's blog, but it reeks of a number of "high-minded" critics who are whining about how Bioshock Inifnite the videogame isn't some transcendent lucid dream they wanted to have and is, in fact, a game made by people using computers and an aging game engine.

We've reached a bizarre "time" when what people are demanding from games is so untenable as to be ridiculous and so far from the base concept of "videogames" as to be something else entirely. It's something I don't want any part of. I LIKED the combat in bioshock. I think Ken Lavine likes it too. I think he made the game the way he made it because he LIKES those types of games.

Dead on. This high minded hipster attitude about video games irks me to no end sometimes. If you went into this thinking it was going to be anything but another shooter albeit a well produced one with a fantastically written story then you're entirely delusional.

#10 Posted by coakroach (2490 posts) -

I think the critique was for the most part valid.

I also dont really find critiques to be of much value outside of academic circles which are themselves of little value.

But maybe i'm just burned out on liberal arts.

#11 Edited by rebgav (1429 posts) -

I like Leigh Alexander but that article is borderline unreadable.

It would be neat/funny is someone put the effort into a round-up of the hilariously grasping and over-reaching criticism of Infinite which has become something of a sport on Twitter in the last week. The game that I like to play is trying to guess which aspect of indie game development the commenter is involved with before clicking through to their feed. Jonathan Blow had some strong, accurate criticisms of the combat mechanics. Sadly, J-Blo is a unique and beautiful snowflake. The primary threads running through the commentary that I've read have basically been how dare people like something that I don't like, as well as this game is racist, and the perennial favorite is that the best you can do, lol (I could totally do better). Oh, I forgot to mention this Bioshock game, it is violent.

#12 Posted by EXTomar (4635 posts) -

When I praise Bioshock Infinite it doesn't mean it is perfect. I have been a critic of the combat as well it seems if nothing else the balance is not sensible: On Medium you can play most of the game running and gunning and ignore vigors beyond "trick shots". On Hard in boss fights it doesn't supply you enough ammo and salt to feel fair. Also encounters are almost predominately other humans with guns where the opponents like the Crow or Handyman are rare and even Firemen are uncommon.

I want more games with a story like Bioshock Infinite. I don't think other games should copy Bioshock Infinite combat or encounter design at all. For whatever reason people find that hard to separate out.

#13 Edited by MikkaQ (10278 posts) -

Wow that was difficult to read, but I basically agree with some of her key points.

My ultimate problem with the game is that it's being praised to a degree I find uncomfortable. People saying it will have an impact on games for years to come, or that it's a memorable followup to Bioshock all sound totally crazy to me. The game was great, but it's no landmark. It does nothing new or innovative with games, or even the genre it's in. The game is exactly the sum of it's parts, it's a good story, functional combat and a beautiful world, but I feel like none of those aspects work in concert to elevate it to anything more interesting than yet another shooter with a good story. That's fine, but I don't get the people treating it like it's another Bioshock.

#14 Edited by EXTomar (4635 posts) -

I do think Bioshock Infinite is special in the sense it got the "distinct" part of "memorable" correct. I couldn't tell you the plot for Halo 4 (something about a Diadact trying to digitize everything and Cortana going bonkers from being on too long...) but I probably could write up a couple of hundred words on the plot let alone participate in discussions of Bioshock Infinite. I don't think this is "be all, end all" but that is the big reason why so much is being written about BI.

I think it is hyperbolic to suggest "this game changes everything" but it is a hell of ride I won't forget for months which is what I expect from a really good game.

#15 Posted by HiImRocktimus (27 posts) -

While I think she makes some good points, I find it a bit ironic she thinks BioShock: Infinite is "in love with being clever" while she is, in fact, trying very hard to be clever. Overall, it's a long-winded read for a conclusion that could have been summed up in one or two concise, well-written grafs.

#16 Posted by rebgav (1429 posts) -

@mikkaq: I think people give way too much credit to the original Bioshock. It has many of the same flaws that the new one has with the added downsides of worse combat, needless complexity in place of depth, and the storytelling not being nearly as entertaining or interesting.

I haven't seen Infinite getting crazy levels of praise (though I haven't read the reviews) but it seems to me that it's benefited from the dearth of new releases recently. Infinite is getting an undue level of attention simply because it's the only new game remotely worth talking about in the last couple of months (or for the immediate future.) That same scenario has also led to an undue level of criticism and a pretty shitty backlash against the popularity of the game. It would make for an interesting study of the downsides of dominating your release window.

#17 Posted by JazGalaxy (1576 posts) -

@mikkaq said:

Wow that was difficult to read, but I basically agree with some of her key points.

My ultimate problem with the game is that it's being praised to a degree I find uncomfortable. People saying it will have an impact on games for years to come, or that it's a memorable followup to Bioshock all sound totally crazy to me. The game was great, but it's no landmark. It does nothing new or innovative with games, or even the genre it's in. The game is exactly the sum of it's parts, it's a good story, functional combat and a beautiful world, but I feel like none of those aspects work in concert to elevate it to anything more interesting than yet another shooter with a good story. That's fine, but I don't get the people treating it like it's another Bioshock.

I don't know what to say to a comment like this. It's like we played two different games.

The game does a LOT of things different that are incredibly rare in the industry.

Firstly, it doesn't spoon feed you it's plot. The only games I know of that do this are Portal 1 and 2, Half Life 2, Left 4 Dead and Bioshock 1 and Infinite.

Secondly, the concept of the audiologs in the original Bioshock were pretty radical. It wasn't revolutionary as other games had done it before like System Shock and Doom 3, but other games definitely latched on to the concept of having a story tell itself over the player playing the game. Infinite, in it's wisdom, toned DOWN the audio logs instead of having more of them like a lesser developer would do. Instead it focused on having more interaction with the world via your NPC partner.

Thirdly, it can't be stressed how brilliant it was to have Elizabeth hide during combat. A lot of people who aren't designers, in any medium, don't understand how powerful the word "no" is. Sometimes not doing something is far more brilliant than doing it, even if it seems obvious. How many games have been trying to have you play alongside an NPC partner? Dozens stretched over decades? I remember that awful PSX game that was supposed to have you play alongside Bruce Willis trying to solve the exact problems Infinite tries to solve and only now is Infinite making the right decisions regarding a partner. And nitpicks like she teleports around are ridiculous. It's a videogame. That's like those idiots on "movie mistake" websites who write up dozens of minor continuity errors like they have no idea how movies are made.

Fourthly the game makes extensive use out outside information and just assumes you are smart enough to have a working knowledge of the world. How many people had to look up the battle of wounded knee? Or heck, how many kids had to look up the "world's fair"?

Fifth, the game actively talking about racism is HUGE. I mean, I can't even quantify how huge. I'm African American, and I can tell you that I have never in 25 years of playing games experienced a game that acknowledged race. I honestly wonder how many people with Irish decent were taken aback by the anti-irish racism in the game? Many people are very, very ignorant to racism and sexism in America's past.

Sixth, as far as the ending goes, how many videogame endings are one step above "thanks for playing"? Or worse, modern games just up and END abruptly in the middle of the characters doing something so they can sell you the next game. Bioshock Infinite has the best ending of any game I've ever played. It's not that it's the best possible way the game could have ended, or that the game was that great, but in the context of videogames that end, it was spectacular.

#18 Edited by MikkaQ (10278 posts) -

@rebgav: Well what made Bioshock notable was doing basically everything this game does five years earlier. It was a fucking impressive game in 2007, when Halo 3 was basically the best we had to look forward to. First person shooter stories were not exactly as front-and-center as they are nowadays. But I just don't get the people expecting me to be as impressed as I was 5 years ago when presented with a similar experience.

I agree though, it's likely people just REALLY want a game they can talk about, and certainly Bioshock Infinite is that. I am thankful for the game for getting us out the early year content dearth and for moving us away from the dominant feminist conversation in games, which was really getting monotonous. At least the damsel-in-distress haters finally get a decent heroine out of Elizabeth.

@jazgalaxy: I don't really want to refute those point by point because it would take too long, but none of those are really innovations in game design, so much as they are minor steps forward in the relative quality of game narrative. So while yeah, it's nice to see games step up the narrative quality so that they can at least match that of daytime TV, I would rather see more innovation where it's needed (in the realm of gameplay). As for the racial content you said the game is "actively talking about racism" but it's not. It's just established a world where racism happens, as Leigh Alexander said in her article, it's basically the Django Unchained approach to tackling racism, it just brings it up, and then does nothing to address it.

Also Elizabeth isn't all that special, she doesn't hide so much as stand there while enemies pretend she doesn't exist, that bothered me more than the teleporting. Plus her use in terms of gameplay is so minor, and so much less than what it was supposed to be. All she amounts to is a button that is assigned to give you free ammo or health when you need it, but then why not just give me the ammo or health without having me push the button? Or just balance the combat to not need any of that crap in the first place.

I guess the game's biggest problem is that it was rushed, which sounds hilarious when the game took 5 years to make.

#19 Posted by Nekroskop (2786 posts) -

I don't know what you're talking about. 775 million dollars is still funny.

#20 Posted by leftie68 (215 posts) -

It is a game that brings functional and fun combat to what many believe (including myself) to be an incredible setting and story. Period... That is why many people love this game. Plain and simple. I don't need a 1,000 word blog to explain my love for this game.

#21 Posted by Bourbon_Warrior (4523 posts) -

I don't know what you're talking about. 775 million dollars is still funny.

#22 Edited by RockyRaccoon37 (430 posts) -

@mikkaq said:

Wow that was difficult to read, but I basically agree with some of her key points.

My ultimate problem with the game is that it's being praised to a degree I find uncomfortable. People saying it will have an impact on games for years to come, or that it's a memorable followup to Bioshock all sound totally crazy to me. The game was great, but it's no landmark. It does nothing new or innovative with games, or even the genre it's in. The game is exactly the sum of it's parts, it's a good story, functional combat and a beautiful world, but I feel like none of those aspects work in concert to elevate it to anything more interesting than yet another shooter with a good story. That's fine, but I don't get the people treating it like it's another Bioshock.

I don't know what to say to a comment like this. It's like we played two different games.

The game does a LOT of things different that are incredibly rare in the industry.

Firstly, it doesn't spoon feed you it's plot. The only games I know of that do this are Portal 1 and 2, Half Life 2, Left 4 Dead and Bioshock 1 and Infinite.

Secondly, the concept of the audiologs in the original Bioshock were pretty radical. It wasn't revolutionary as other games had done it before like System Shock and Doom 3, but other games definitely latched on to the concept of having a story tell itself over the player playing the game. Infinite, in it's wisdom, toned DOWN the audio logs instead of having more of them like a lesser developer would do. Instead it focused on having more interaction with the world via your NPC partner.

Thirdly, it can't be stressed how brilliant it was to have Elizabeth hide during combat. A lot of people who aren't designers, in any medium, don't understand how powerful the word "no" is. Sometimes not doing something is far more brilliant than doing it, even if it seems obvious. How many games have been trying to have you play alongside an NPC partner? Dozens stretched over decades? I remember that awful PSX game that was supposed to have you play alongside Bruce Willis trying to solve the exact problems Infinite tries to solve and only now is Infinite making the right decisions regarding a partner. And nitpicks like she teleports around are ridiculous. It's a videogame. That's like those idiots on "movie mistake" websites who write up dozens of minor continuity errors like they have no idea how movies are made.

Fourthly the game makes extensive use out outside information and just assumes you are smart enough to have a working knowledge of the world. How many people had to look up the battle of wounded knee? Or heck, how many kids had to look up the "world's fair"?

Fifth, the game actively talking about racism is HUGE. I mean, I can't even quantify how huge. I'm African American, and I can tell you that I have never in 25 years of playing games experienced a game that acknowledged race. I honestly wonder how many people with Irish decent were taken aback by the anti-irish racism in the game? Many people are very, very ignorant to racism and sexism in America's past.

Sixth, as far as the ending goes, how many videogame endings are one step above "thanks for playing"? Or worse, modern games just up and END abruptly in the middle of the characters doing something so they can sell you the next game. Bioshock Infinite has the best ending of any game I've ever played. It's not that it's the best possible way the game could have ended, or that the game was that great, but in the context of videogames that end, it was spectacular.

1. You move through the linear game and the story unfolds. How is that not spoon fed?

2. You make no point here. Infinite tells you it's story as you progress through the game.

3. Again, what is your point? Yes crappy AI co-op in games has sucked, and it's great that she doesn't engage in that, so instead we get shoddy teleporting Elizabeth who throws things at you and is completely ignored by enemies. It's just as jarring and annoying as an AI buddy who can't aim or take cover properly.

4. Knowing anything about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair does nothing to enhance your understanding of the game-- it just provides a very basic parallel to the world of Columbia. The game doesn't encourage you to go to your local library, it provides those historical moments and moves on without anything to say except "war is bad".

5. The game has literally nothing to say about racism, except that it was a thing.

6. An ending is an ending in a narrative tale. Regardless of the context here, the ending is self-indulgent, heavy on exposition, and entirely unearned.

Online
#23 Edited by EXTomar (4635 posts) -

Wait, why should Bioshock Infinite be about anything we care about? It would be more important it is about something they, the writers and creators, care about. Although I can see why someone might be annoyed at the turn where instead of exploring The Founders vs Vox Populli (I suspect this will show up in DLC meh), it is far more interesting to explore Elizabeth and Booker.

And why is the ending unearned? A lot of ends are tied up and arcs are completed at the end where the game "shows your work" as you went along. And why is it a problem that the game points out the attitude of the era but can't address it? I mean it isn't like Booker could do anything to change Columbia let alone Fitzroy's or Comstock's stances.

#24 Edited by RockyRaccoon37 (430 posts) -

@extomar said:

Wait, why should Bioshock Infinite be about anything we care about? It would be more important it is about something they, the writers and creators, care about instead. Although I can see why someone might be annoyed at the turn where instead of exploring The Founders vs Vox Populli (I suspect this will show up in DLC meh), it is far more interesting to explore Elizabeth and Booker.

And why is the ending unearned? A lot of ends are tied up and arcs are completed at the end where the game "shows your work" as you went along. And why is it a problem that the game points out the attitude of the era but can't address it? I mean it isn't like Booker could do anything to change Columbia let alone Fitzroy's or Comstock's stances.

The game presents up front this clear conflict between (in simple terms) those who exploit and those who are exploited. It doesn't explore this in anyway except to cop out and say "absolute power corrupts absolutely"

The Vox Populi and the Founders are the same, so says the game. This is massively stupid and offensive when it's clearly meant to mirror current activism and past labour activism. The worst is the opening decision you can make in choosing whether or not to throw a ball at an interracial couple or the announcer degrading them. In the end though, the choice doesn't matter, which seems to suggest (along with some other points in the game) that there is no difference between the person who is violent towards the oppressor and the person who is violently oppressive.

The entire game basically culminates by saying that choice doesn't matter (which of course is the same point made by the original game). The politics of the game waver between ambivalent and nihilistic. If it's ambivalent about politics, then why are they there? Racism, fundamentalism, nationalism are all just window dressing for the world. Elizabeth and Booker aren't affected by this racist social climate at all.

To me, it's disappointing that the politics that are introduced early in the game are never actually explored and that the game ends on such a poor note.

Online
#25 Posted by rebgav (1429 posts) -

The entire game basically culminates by saying that choice doesn't matter (which of course is the same point made by the original game).

Congratulations on missing the point so, so thoroughly. And twice in the same breath, too! Amazing.

#26 Edited by Sweep (8837 posts) -

I feel like Leigh Alexander has unrealistic expectations of both Bioshock and videogames in general. A great deal of her criticism seemed to be aimed at the AI of the NPC's in the game - when has NPC AI ever been good? Do you know why? Because programming AI is fucking hard. And it gets a lot harder in a game with the scale of Bioshock Infinite - you can't program in the billions of variables that would result in naturalistic human reaction. One of her criticisms was that she shot a vending machine to help some starving workers get at it's contents, and was then apparently outraged when the mob turned on her. With the physical limitations of the medium; that you can only explain yourself within the context the game provides - how the fuck was the game supposed to interpret that intention? That's moronic. I'm a fucking person and I can barely understand it, even after she explained herself.

Bananas.

Moderator
#27 Posted by EXTomar (4635 posts) -

@rebgav said:

@rockyraccoon37 said:

The entire game basically culminates by saying that choice doesn't matter (which of course is the same point made by the original game).

Congratulations on missing the point so, so thoroughly. And twice in the same breath, too! Amazing.

I tried to come up with a response but I scrapped when I saw rebgav's. Yeah...the game doesn't seem to be about the exploiters and the exploited. The game isn't about power and how it corrupts. The game isn't about choice or determinism or any of that. No wonder why you are disappointed.

#28 Edited by RockyRaccoon37 (430 posts) -

@rebgav said:

@rockyraccoon37 said:

The entire game basically culminates by saying that choice doesn't matter (which of course is the same point made by the original game).

Congratulations on missing the point so, so thoroughly. And twice in the same breath, too! Amazing.

You're more than welcome to provide an argument instead of just being a snippy asshole.

If you happen to have figured out "the point", because obviously there's only one way to interpret something, then please enlighten me.

Wait, now I'm being a snippy asshole. Goddamn it, I guess Infinite was right all along!

Online
#29 Posted by awesomeusername (4168 posts) -

Too lazy to read but I want to say something. Never in the game did a emotional scene happen and Elizabeth turned around and gave me ammo/health/salts. I guess you guys just sucked at keep your ammo,etc. high because she only ever did that during battles for me. Never before or after them.

#30 Edited by Humanity (9017 posts) -

@sweep: Most of her claims about how NPC's should behave are unrealistic. She acts like she has never played a video game before wallowing in some sort of romantic idealization of every enemy encounter being a unique self contained story. I quoted a part of her article where she was upset that an enemy AI walked into a room and started shooting at her as opposed to creating some sort of narrative for the entire situation. "It's the end of a story that never began." While the AI in Infinite is a bit wooden, it's unfathomable that anyone in the industry would actually complain that simple henchman aren't engaging the player in extended dialog prior to each shootout. Although in the new Tomb Raider there were a few encounters where the enemies did actually try to engage Lara verbally before pulling the trigger so maybe she should give that a whirl, unless it's too sexist for her.

#31 Edited by EXTomar (4635 posts) -

*sigh* I'm not being snippy where I didn't even want to get into an argument but what you were saying where critiques where kind of off based which is why I originally "Wait..."

Its fine to not like Bioshock Infinite but saying "I didn't like Bioshock Infinite because its message is 'Choice doesn't matter'" is pretty damn weird.

#32 Posted by StudsMcKewl (68 posts) -

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you supposed to be as concise as possible in your writing i.e. not writing a whole book? Also I don't think words like "sepulchrally" are common use words. Maybe my vocabulary is just weak.

#33 Edited by RockyRaccoon37 (430 posts) -

@extomar said:

@rebgav said:

@rockyraccoon37 said:

The entire game basically culminates by saying that choice doesn't matter (which of course is the same point made by the original game).

Congratulations on missing the point so, so thoroughly. And twice in the same breath, too! Amazing.

I tried to come up with a response but I scrapped when I saw rebgav's. Yeah...the game doesn't seem to be about the exploiters and the exploited. The game isn't about power and how it corrupts. The game isn't about choice or determinism or any of that. No wonder why you are disappointed.

The game sets itself up as being about exactly that though, alongside the obvious story of Comstock and Elizabeth. It's not the entire focus of the story, but it's totally there.

Online
#34 Posted by RockyRaccoon37 (430 posts) -

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you supposed to be as concise as possible in your writing i.e. not writing a whole book? Also I don't think words like "sepulchrally" are common use words. Maybe my vocabulary is just weak.

Come on, it's 3400 words.

I think the piece is as concise as it needs to be.

Online
#35 Edited by rebgav (1429 posts) -

@rebgav said:

@rockyraccoon37 said:

The entire game basically culminates by saying that choice doesn't matter (which of course is the same point made by the original game).

Congratulations on missing the point so, so thoroughly. And twice in the same breath, too! Amazing.

You're more than welcome to provide an argument instead of just being a snippy asshole.

If you happen to have figured out "the point", because obviously there's only one way to interpret something, then please enlighten me.

Wait, now I'm being a snippy asshole. Goddamn it, I guess Infinite was right all along!

You say that the game culminates in saying that choice doesn't matter when choice (or agency) vs predestination is the core of the story. In fact, it would have been more accurate to accuse Bioshock of using remorse over choices and actions as the stock motivation for most of its important characters over the entire life of franchise. The first game peaks with a scene in which the antagonist challenges the protagonist with the phrase "a man chooses, a slave obeys." Infinite ends with Booker making two choices which change the shape of his universe. The differentiation between the Luteces is their view on whether they can choose to affect change or if events are predetermined. The antagonist's entire schtick is about predestination, he makes horrible, horrible choices based on the idea that there is no choice.

The Bioshock franchise is about worlds shaped by the agency of its characters, I literally cannot imagine how your takeaway could be "choice doesn't matter."

#36 Posted by TheSouthernDandy (3850 posts) -

I don't know who Leigh Alexander is, but I found the writeup kind of stupid, honestly. I know that's a harsh criticism to make of a person's blog, but it reeks of a number of "high-minded" critics who are whining about how Bioshock Inifnite the videogame isn't some transcendent lucid dream they wanted to have and is, in fact, a game made by people using computers and an aging game engine.

We've reached a bizarre "time" when what people are demanding from games is so untenable as to be ridiculous and so far from the base concept of "videogames" as to be something else entirely. It's something I don't want any part of. I LIKED the combat in bioshock. I think Ken Lavine likes it too. I think he made the game the way he made it because he LIKES those types of games.

@sweep said:

I feel like Leigh Alexander has unrealistic expectations of both Bioshock and videogames in general. A great deal of her criticism seemed to be aimed at the AI of the NPC's in the game - when has NPC AI ever been good? Do you know why? Because programming AI is fucking hard. And it gets a lot harder in a game with the scale of Bioshock Infinite - you can't program in the billions of variables that would result in naturalistic human reaction. One of her criticisms was that she shot a vending machine to help some starving workers get at it's contents, and was then apparently outraged when the mob turned on her. With the physical limitations of the medium; that you can only explain yourself within the context the game provides - how the fuck was the game supposed to interpret that intention? That's moronic. I'm a fucking person and I can barely understand it, even after she explained herself.

Bananas.

Both of these comments sum up a lot of what I've been feeling about the discussion regarding Infinite and even before that. Game narrative has come along way in the past few years but I feel like the expectation of what it can actually do has skyrocketed so far past the ground we've made that it's become totally unrealistic. People ignore the nuts and bolts of actually making a game and the limitations and the fact that it's still a relatively immature medium. It's fine to want more from games but we need to keep our expectations at a reasonable level.

#37 Posted by StudsMcKewl (68 posts) -

@rockyraccoon37 said:

@studsmckewl said:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you supposed to be as concise as possible in your writing i.e. not writing a whole book? Also I don't think words like "sepulchrally" are common use words. Maybe my vocabulary is just weak.

Come on, it's 3400 words.

I think the piece is as concise as it needs to be.

I might just be tired of reading a lot today, but 3400 words for a game review seems like a bit much. GB's reviews are what, 2000? Anywho, I was not a fan of the long introduction talking about original Bioshock, MGS, etc. I feel like it didn't really add to the review a whole lot.

#38 Edited by EXTomar (4635 posts) -

@rockyraccoon37 said:

@extomar said:

@rebgav said:

@rockyraccoon37 said:

The entire game basically culminates by saying that choice doesn't matter (which of course is the same point made by the original game).

Congratulations on missing the point so, so thoroughly. And twice in the same breath, too! Amazing.

I tried to come up with a response but I scrapped when I saw rebgav's. Yeah...the game doesn't seem to be about the exploiters and the exploited. The game isn't about power and how it corrupts. The game isn't about choice or determinism or any of that. No wonder why you are disappointed.

The game sets itself up as being about exactly that though, alongside the obvious story of Comstock and Elizabeth. It's not the entire focus of the story, but it's totally there.

Again I am not trying to be snippy but no Bioshock Infinite is not about most of the stuff you wrote which suggested you either didn't get to or ignored a big portion of the game. In fact your complaint about determinism makes your stance highly suspect since the game the major conceit of the game is built upon the power of a choice.

#39 Posted by JazGalaxy (1576 posts) -

@sweep said:

I feel like Leigh Alexander has unrealistic expectations of both Bioshock and videogames in general. A great deal of her criticism seemed to be aimed at the AI of the NPC's in the game - when has NPC AI ever been good? Do you know why? Because programming AI is fucking hard. And it gets a lot harder in a game with the scale of Bioshock Infinite - you can't program in the billions of variables that would result in naturalistic human reaction. One of her criticisms was that she shot a vending machine to help some starving workers get at it's contents, and was then apparently outraged when the mob turned on her. With the physical limitations of the medium; that you can only explain yourself within the context the game provides - how the fuck was the game supposed to interpret that intention? That's moronic. I'm a fucking person and I can barely understand it, even after she explained herself.

Bananas.

lol

that's perfect.

I don't feel like it's just HER though, I feel like I've seen a lot of people making this same argument.

#40 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (5372 posts) -

Irrational had a story to tell and a game to make and on both fronts they did a pretty good job. If we all look for something akin to a second coming in video games we'll always be disappointed. I'm not a game developer, but I know that making games is pretty hard. There's so many elements at work and so many things that can go wrong. Sometimes, It seems like some people's expectations surpass the feasibility of what can be done by a game. By no means do I think Infinite is perfect, no game is, but it's sure a damn fine one if there ever was.

#41 Posted by Milkman (16618 posts) -

I think most of the criticism of Leigh's article here is valid, for sure but one critique that I simply can't get behind or understand is calling her style of writing "high brow" or that's she using "big words" for no reason This seemingly aggressive stance that people are taking against intellectual discussion within the games industry makes no sense to me. This kind of analysis is good for games. In order to grow we need discussions like this, even if you disagree (like I said, I don't even agree with a lot of the article). This feeling that games should be nothing than these dumb things or that we shouldn't expect more out of our games is baffling to me.

@sweep: I agree about the vending machine thing. It's a bad example. But I had a similar thing happen to me during the game too. In the same area, I was running around looking for stuff to loot and at one point, I ran behind a shopkeeper. I guess this was some sort of restricted area but as soon as I ran behind him, everyone in the area turned and started shooting at me. And all of a sudden, I just murdered like 10 of these people for no reason. It sucked and felt completely out of place.

#42 Posted by Sweep (8837 posts) -

@milkman: Agreed. In a perfect world people could discuss a review talking about the game and sharing opinions without having to resort to criticising the writing style. I might not agree with Leigh but she does write with honesty and passion and it's definitely enjoyable to read.

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