Bioshock: original vs. Infinite thoughts (mechanics only, no story spoilers)

I just recently finished Bioshock Infinite, and I had some thoughts about the gameplay mechanics. The original Bioshock was one of the first Xbox 360 games I played and I still think it's great. But I was a little let down by some of the non-combat changes in Infinite. I thought the hacking, photography, crafting, and alarm systems in the original were much more fleshed out and better integrated with the combat than Infinite's systems:

  • stealing: This was only available in a few spots, and I'm not sure I know what the point is. If the text is red and you pick up an item, people attack you? Is that all?
  • lock-picking: At the beginning this gates your ability to get to certain optional areas, but as the game went on I had so many lock-picks there was no point to having anything locked.
  • choices: In a few instances, you are given opportunities to select one of two choices, but the result never seem to be anything more than minor differences.
  • vending machines: There's not much to do with them in Infinite, unlike the original where you could, for example, hack a medical station to harm an enemy if they tried to use it.
  • powers outside of combat: The original had some simple puzzles (or at least locked areas) that required the use of plasmids. In Infinite, there are only a few places you have to use a specific vigor outside of combat, and they're all in the same area.
  • stealth: There isn't much opportunity for stealth, such as sneaking around cameras and turrets in the original.

On the other hand, I thought Infinite's actual combat was improved over the original:

  • sky-line: This was great for moving around quickly and added to the strategies you could use in fights. It made the battlefield much larger and more dynamic.
  • weapons: There's much more variety in Infinite, and since you can only carry two you can find yourself switching more frequently.
  • vigors: They are all useful in combat. You can pretty much go with whatever you like.
  • gear: A good replacement for tonics, and they definitely change how you approach combat.
  • tears: Again, these add another layer of strategy.
  • Elizabeth: She is actually extremely helpful during combat.

One final thing I thought was weird about Infinite: non-combatants disappear into thin air as soon as fighting starts. Streets that were full of people are suddenly empty. This occurs at the very first instance of combat.