BioShock Infinite: An amazing world, but not an amazing game

I'm having a hard time reconciling BioShock Infinite's near-universal acclaim with my experience playing it, and I'm having a hard time believing that much of what's been written about the gameplay would have been said had the game featured a typical FPS world and plot.

Let me get this out of the way: BioShock Infinite's world and narrative are great. I've got my issues with the pacing, the lack of character development, and the throwaway nature of a lot of the objectives, characters, and story beats, but by the standards of video games, I can't complain. I don't think it's a masterful elevation of video game storytelling, but hey, casually throwing around hyperbole is how games criticism works, right? My issue is not with Infinite's script and art direction, but with the act of actually playing it, and the way its gameplay flaws have been swept under the rug.

I consistently found Infinite's combat to be awkward, unpolished, and generally unsatisfying. The enemies were brain-dead, and encounters often ended with my hunting down a stray enemy shooting at a wall or yelling the same few psychopathic phrases at me while running around in circles. I found many of the abilities required such an investment of time and focus that they were effectively pointless to use for anything other than quick crowd control or as specific counters. I found doing anything from the skylines so awkward that I only really used them to as panic buttons in conjunction with the skyline invulnerability equipment. The jittery enemy behaviours, ridiculously spongy enemies, and lack of hit reactions felt straight out of, well, 2007.

For reasons that, in hindsight, are unclear to me, I played Rage a few months ago. I'm not going to argue that Rage is a better video game than Infinite, but I'll say that the on-foot combat sections of Rage were dramatically better executed than Infinite's. The enemies behaved intelligently and animated believably, and the act of shooting enemies felt way tactile and satisfying. The constrained environments and predictable enemy mobility allowed the player to assess a situation and execute on an informed plan. In contrast, I found encounters in Infinite constantly devolving into confused clusterfucks, especially when Patriots, Handymen, or RPGs were in the mix. To put it simply, I didn't find BioShock's combat fun. It was, for the most part, a means to an end in a way that I don't think was befitting of a top-of-the-line shooter. Sure, the combat of Infinite isn't the main attraction, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't have been better.

The exploration segments of Infinite were unnecessarily hampered by the bizarre decision to litter environments with pickups. A lot of the time I could have spent soaking in beautiful environments and ambient storytelling was instead spent running around mashing square. This wasn't an occasional, minor annoyance -- I probably spent 10-15% of the game running around looting corpses and cabinets. I can think of no good justification for this -- if scavenging had to be a part of the game at all, it should have been way more seamless, or just a thing Elizabeth did for you. Many reviews don't mention the scavenging at all, which for such a time-consuming component of the game, is a bizarre critical omission.

I already touched on the jittery enemy behaviour, but I haven't mentioned how it manifests in Elizabeth. I remember watching an E3 (2011?) demo of BioShock that included a segment with Booker and Elizabeth looking around a souvenir shop. Elizabeth moved around realistically, had context-sensitive interactions with objects, and generally seemed like a character and not a brain-dead AI pathfinding her way around you. There was almost none of this in the finished product. Early on, I would stop whenever she seemed to be acknowledging something, but I quickly figured out that it never went anywhere. Inevitably, I'd walk over to her and she'd awkwardly turn on a dime and pathfind out of the way. At best, she might lip-sync to a piece of dialogue while starting at nothing in particular. By the end of the game, the lion's share of her ambient dialogue was about lockpicks -- in some cases lockpicks that weren't even in the same room or floor. Elizabeth's character model looked great, and animated well in directed cutscenes, but for most of the game she was about as believable of a companion as Half-Life 2's Alyx.

The game's other NPCs were even worse. In the beginning of the game, I started developing a theory that the inhabitants of Columbia were illusions, robots, or something that explained why they all looked the same and did absolutely nothing except repeat a short animation loop and flap-jaw lines when you got near them. This never stopped being distracting to me -- for a game that seemed to be investing so much in world-building, the lifelessness of its inhabitants was a bizarre misstep. I never felt like I was walking through a living, breathing world so much as a carefully-laid-out diorama. It's stuff that would have played well in a quick camera pan in a movie, not the kind of sustained viewing video games encourage.

BioShock Infinite, with the shooting gameplay of Rage and AI that didn't feel straight out of the mid-2000s, would have been a much better game, but when we're talking about a game that received countless perfect or near-perfect scores, how does one express "better"? In most cases, this kind of papering over of flaws wouldn't annoy me, but when we're talking about one of the most hyperbolized-about games since Grand Theft Auto IV, I can't help but feel duped by critics who are supposed to be, well, critical. I can't speak for said reviewers, and they're obviously entitled to their opinions, but I get the distinct impression many were blown away by the world and story (and really, the last third of it), and desperately tried to conceive of equally amazing gameplay where none existed.

46 Comments
46 Comments
Posted by Rorie

@grantheaslip: The scavenging definitely was a major flaw for me, as well. I'm generally higher on the believability of the world than you seem to be, but looting cups of coffee from bank deposit boxes and hot dogs from dead bodies was so silly that it made it difficult to take the worldbuilding seriously. I had some similar issues with Last of Us, but generally the scrounging was much more tied into the storyline there, and as such it wasn't as noticeable/distracting.

Staff
Posted by Morningstar

It had it's flaws, the ridiculous amount of combat the major one for me. I'd still argue it's an amazing game though.

Posted by Video_Game_King

I'm noticing this weird thing about BioShock Infinite: at first, everybody loved it. All the review bylines might as well have been "Like getting a handy from God himself". (I wanted to make that "Like getting a handy from the Virgin Mary", but then realized how little sense that makes.) But as time goes on, I'm seeing more people backpedaling, or, to be more accurate, more temperate opinions coming out of the woodwork. I happen to be in that latter camp, too, but more because the story and the gameplay just didn't mesh.

Posted by Milkman
Edited by believer258

for most of the game she was about as believable of a companion as Half-Life 2's Alyx.

So... pretty fucking believable then?

I remember watching an E3 (2011?) demo of BioShock that included a segment with Booker and Elizabeth looking around a souvenir shop. Elizabeth moved around realistically, had context-sensitive interactions with objects, and generally seemed like a character and not a brain-dead AI pathfinding her way around you. There was almost none of this in the finished product

That E3 demo was also heavily structured in order to make it look better than it could actually look when playing the game. Pretty much every E3 demo, well, ever has been this way. You don't really think that Titanfall is going to be the same way that it was in the on-stage demo? Or Watch Dogs? Or any other game you've seen demo'd at E3? I'm not excusing this, but I am saying that anyone who expected the same Pixar-quality animations in the final product that they saw in the E3 demos was a bit of a fool. I guess I've just always thought this was the common understanding of E3 demos.

In the meantime, did you even see that beach scene? Perhaps the most impressive scene of the entire game, barring the ending? It's gorgeous, not only graphically but also in the animations throughout the entire scene. Never have I seen a character able to actually move and dance so believably and so smoothly. The guitar scene is equally as impressive.

While I disagree with those things, I will agree with what you say about the combat. What Rage lacked in engaging storytelling it made up for in pretty good combat all around. No one in this game danced or sung, at least not as a central set piece, but the animations in Rage were fantastic all around. Bioshock Infinite's combat, however, is at its best when on skyrails and lacking bullet-sponge enemies. I don't think a Handyman should take only one machine gun clip, but I do think it's ridiculous to fire a bunch of rockets at it and never see it die. Death in this game isn't handled very well either (for the love of God, developers, stick with saving anywhere and loading at your last save when you die).

Posted by BigJeffrey

Troy Baker = GOTY

Posted by Klei

As odd as it is, Bioshock 1 and 2 were really better games to play, because the gameplay would be seasoned with the storyline. With Infinite, it's the other way around. The storyline is seasoned with some gameplay snipets that are, unfortunately, not all that fun.

Not only did the guns suddenly became uninteresting to shoot and look at, but they have no visual upgrades either, which is weird, considering that it was a staple of the first two titles. I'm having a really hard time to replay Infinite, when I could play Bio 1 and 2 over and over.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@milkman said:

@video_game_king: That happens to literally every game.

Then this is the first game where I've seen that happen (although that may be because I played it in a timely fashion).

Posted by SilentPredator

Yeah, I really didn't care for the combat. I think the switch from having health kits to a shield was a big step back. At least in the original Bioshock when you had health items you could always be in the thick of the battle. Big Daddy jacked you up? Pop a health item and keep wrenching him in the face. In Infinite, however, because you only had the shield, you couldn't be in the mix as much. At least the way I played it was, my shield would go down and I'd go hide and wait for it to recharge because you couldn't carry health. It just slowed down encounters which weren't that great to begin with.

Also the over-reliance on audio logs is terrible.

Edited by pyromagnestir

I disliked the boss fights and never really felt like I got a handle on how to take on the Handymen (my strategy was run around taking potshots and hoping to find a tear which offered a brief distraction) but I definitely don't understand the "the gameplay isn't good" point of view. Then again I don't play a lot of shooters, so maybe some of it is I'm just not as burned out on them as some of y'all.

Though finding apples in the trash and stuff as you and Rorie mentioned was silly but I just ignored it. And yeah the Elizabeth combat again was not as cool that demo made it look like it could be, but again it wasn't that difficult to overlook.

@video_game_king said:

(I wanted to make that "Like getting a handy from the Virgin Mary", but then realized how little sense that makes.)

That makes perfect sense. How do you think she stayed a virgin? Her original title was Handy Mary but what with her being the mother of the Son of God and all they classed it up a little bit.

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Posted by JouselDelka

I really wish the Men in Black would give gamers a flash before they fire up a game.

There's so much needless external shit that goes into opinions about games. Ken Levine this, Troy Baker that, the first Bioshock, Elizabeth having a huge rack and causing controversy, story and shit.

I wish we'd get a flash, fire up a game without having anything influence our opinions other than the game - how it plays and how it represents itself.

Opinions would be so much more realistic and to the point if it were like that. No hyperbole, no exaggeration, just pure constructive critique to game design.

Edited by MikeW1980UK

Bioshock Infinite will almost certainly be my game of the year. What tips it past The Last of Us is the side story of stealing modern music and changing it into the style of their time. I now have a new found appreciation for God Only Knows by The Beach Boys.

Posted by Demoskinos

I've said this once and I'll say it again. Anyone who had issues with the combat not being satisfying should have been playing on 1999 mode. That mode actually makes you think in how you approach battles and you are eager to scavenge because every health pack and bullet you find seems like a godsend.

All this being said its my second favorite game of the year behind DmC and I really enjoyed the combat in Bioshock and found 1999 mode satisfying to play.

Posted by pyromagnestir

@milkman said:

@video_game_king: That happens to literally every game.

Then this is the first game where I've seen that happen (although that may be because I played it in a timely fashion).

Well, it happens to a lot of games that would classify as "hyped". Partly because the most of the early adopters are the most enthusiastic fans, I'm sure.

Then you get something like a Deadly Premonition where there's no hype and it works the other way. Sort of.

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Posted by Tru3_Blu3

People seem to have a problem with the game not having the complexities of the predecessor, such as alternate ammo types, nonlinear levels, and resource-management. While I do think these things were bastardized to hell in Bioshit (I'm sorry, I really did not like the game. I thought System Shock 2 nailed the elements down perfectly), I could understand why people would want those things back. However, there's something that people are missing, something that Bioshock1 couldn't do because it didn't have it:

Elizabeth.

You see, Infinite is a narrative focused game, even more so than Bioshock 1. You have a protagonist with a working tongue and pharynx, an expository companion, and simple tasks that are blocked by opposition or hindrances that can only be solved by sidetracking and backtracking. The latter was extreme in System Shock2 and Bioshock and not really the case in Infinite. You mostly follow a linear path much like Half-Life or the Call of Duty franchise, and this isn't because Infinite isn't trying to STREAMLINE or DOWNGRADE for mass audiences. It's because Infinite isn't trying to be like Bioshock1 or or System Shock 2. It's trying to be Infinite and I respect that, unlike Bioshock 1 that tried to be Halo and System Shock 2 all at the same time, creating a mutated gaming experience where fully upgraded shotgun blasts to the fucking face of an enemy only takes down a 25% portion of their health, and where almost every single one of your plasmids are meant for group control, making the majority of them useless as shit.

Treat Infinite like an interactive book where you shoot at people, and you'll find Infinite to be an astounding game.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@video_game_king said:

(I wanted to make that "Like getting a handy from the Virgin Mary", but then realized how little sense that makes.)

That makes perfect sense. How do you think she stayed a virgin? Her original title was Handy Mary but what with her being the mother of the Son of God and all they classed it up a little bit.

I thought it was more like a lyric in a rap song. No idea what circumstances would lead one to using that line, but that's how I pictured it.

Posted by csl316

Honestly, my experience with Bioshock combat is the reason I haven't played this yet. I'd like to take in the world and all that... but shooters have been tuned so much this generation that I don't even wanna deal with the clunk. Especially since I felt the gameplay in part one got very repetitive.

Posted by FancySoapsMan

Funny, I feel the opposite way.

Although I would have preferred if it played more like Dishonored or something.

Posted by Deranged

I adored Bioshock's world, atmosphere and narrative but despised the combat of the first. For some reason, probably due to feeling less linear in it's areas, Infinite's areas were larger and I feel they benefited from it far more this time around.

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@rorie said:

@grantheaslip: The scavenging definitely was a major flaw for me, as well. I'm generally higher on the believability of the world than you seem to be, but looting cups of coffee from bank deposit boxes and hot dogs from dead bodies was so silly that it made it difficult to take the worldbuilding seriously. I had some similar issues with Last of Us, but generally the scrounging was much more tied into the storyline there, and as such it wasn't as noticeable/distracting.

Thanks for the comment! It's not so much that I didn't find the world as a whole believable, but rather that there are a few elements of the game that really detracted from it. It also wasn't the fact that I was looting stuff, but rather how much of it there was. I'm willing to accept video gamey stuff to a certain extent, but not when it's shoved in my face so much for no good reason.

I'm noticing this weird thing about BioShock Infinite: at first, everybody loved it. All the review bylines might as well have been "Like getting a handy from God himself". (I wanted to make that "Like getting a handy from the Virgin Mary", but then realized how little sense that makes.) But as time goes on, I'm seeing more people backpedaling, or, to be more accurate, more temperate opinions coming out of the woodwork. I happen to be in that latter camp, too, but more because the story and the gameplay just didn't mesh.

It was even worse for me, because I decided early on that I'd play it, and only bothered reading reviews (written at the peak of the hype cycle) after I finished it.

for most of the game she was about as believable of a companion as Half-Life 2's Alyx.

So... pretty fucking believable then?

I remember watching an E3 (2011?) demo of BioShock that included a segment with Booker and Elizabeth looking around a souvenir shop. Elizabeth moved around realistically, had context-sensitive interactions with objects, and generally seemed like a character and not a brain-dead AI pathfinding her way around you. There was almost none of this in the finished product

That E3 demo was also heavily structured in order to make it look better than it could actually look when playing the game. Pretty much every E3 demo, well, ever has been this way. You don't really think that Titanfall is going to be the same way that it was in the on-stage demo? Or Watch Dogs? Or any other game you've seen demo'd at E3? I'm not excusing this, but I am saying that anyone who expected the same Pixar-quality animations in the final product that they saw in the E3 demos was a bit of a fool. I guess I've just always thought this was the common understanding of E3 demos.

In the meantime, did you even see that beach scene? Perhaps the most impressive scene of the entire game, barring the ending? It's gorgeous, not only graphically but also in the animations throughout the entire scene. Never have I seen a character able to actually move and dance so believably and so smoothly. The guitar scene is equally as impressive.

While I disagree with those things, I will agree with what you say about the combat. What Rage lacked in engaging storytelling it made up for in pretty good combat all around. No one in this game danced or sung, at least not as a central set piece, but the animations in Rage were fantastic all around. Bioshock Infinite's combat, however, is at its best when on skyrails and lacking bullet-sponge enemies. I don't think a Handyman should take only one machine gun clip, but I do think it's ridiculous to fire a bunch of rockets at it and never see it die. Death in this game isn't handled very well either (for the love of God, developers, stick with saving anywhere and loading at your last save when you die).

Re: Alyx: I suspect if I went back and played HL2, especially Episode 1, I'd find Alyx's behaviour similarly awkward out of scripted scenes. And back then, nearly a decade ago, it was pretty impressive, but expectations for how AI characters should act in "AAA" (for lack of a better term) games have been raised a lot since then.

I obviously didn't expect the game to be quite as tight as an E3 demo, but the kind of ambient interactions with Elizabeth the demo showed were almost non-existent in the game. The closest I remember is her messing with the puppet machines at the beginning. Most of the time, she was just kneeling in front of pointless rubble, sitting on benches, or telling me to pick up lockpicks.

That beach scene is in many ways exactly what I'm talking about. Most, if not all, of the NPCs were sitting in very specific, rigid poses, spouting off lines when you got near them. There were dancers on the pier looping through a dance animation, and kids looping through a play animation. It didn't feel like a living scene, it felt like a diorama. At a certain point, I'm kind of just talking about a problem with video games as a whole, but I have a hard time squaring away the creepy static nature of those scenes with what I'm now reading about them.

I really wish the Men in Black would give gamers a flash before they fire up a game.

There's so much needless external shit that goes into opinions about games. Ken Levine this, Troy Baker that, the first Bioshock, Elizabeth having a huge rack and causing controversy, story and shit.

I wish we'd get a flash, fire up a game without having anything influence our opinions other than the game - how it plays and how it represents itself.

Opinions would be so much more realistic and to the point if it were like that. No hyperbole, no exaggeration, just pure constructive critique to game design.

You're right, it's unfair to hold other people's criticism of games against them. I'm just so sick of every big new release being met with hyperbolic praise about how the medium has been elevated and nothing will be the same again. I played GTA IV -- an even worse example of the games press losing their shit over a game with some pretty glaring flaws -- recently, so I'm still raw from that experience. I, too, would have liked to have seen more criticism of Infinite actually be critical, which means acknowledging a game's faults as well as its strengths, not just falling over oneself to shower it with praise. Many of the reviews, absent of their associated hype, read like they were written by a marketing team.

Posted by Daneian

I completely agree. Infinite is packed full of great great ideas, but almost every decision is too loosely executed to truly capitalize on the potential. None of the enemy types worked well together and some, as is the case the the Handy Man, were more frustrating than fun.

I found the story unsatisfying, especially the over reliance on the voxophones and all the content at the Hall of Heroes that Booker is arbitrarily sent to so the audience can get backstory.

Also, Booker drowning at the baptism only kills a Booker who already made his choice, it doesn't kill the man who hasn't yet chosen whether to go through with it or not.

Posted by Video_Game_King

It was even worse for me, because I decided early on that I'd play it, and only bothered reading reviews (written at the peak of the hype cycle) after I finished it.

That's generally how I do things: only read reviews after I've sorted out my own opinion on a game.

Posted by YOU_DIED

Why is anybody saying the narrative is 'great'? It's passable I guess, but there's really nothing special about it. The combat in the Shock series has always been meh.

Posted by Carlos1408

I completely agree with you. I found the combat dull and frustrating.

Posted by believer258

@believer258 said:

for most of the game she was about as believable of a companion as Half-Life 2's Alyx.

So... pretty fucking believable then?

I remember watching an E3 (2011?) demo of BioShock that included a segment with Booker and Elizabeth looking around a souvenir shop. Elizabeth moved around realistically, had context-sensitive interactions with objects, and generally seemed like a character and not a brain-dead AI pathfinding her way around you. There was almost none of this in the finished product

That E3 demo was also heavily structured in order to make it look better than it could actually look when playing the game. Pretty much every E3 demo, well, ever has been this way. You don't really think that Titanfall is going to be the same way that it was in the on-stage demo? Or Watch Dogs? Or any other game you've seen demo'd at E3? I'm not excusing this, but I am saying that anyone who expected the same Pixar-quality animations in the final product that they saw in the E3 demos was a bit of a fool. I guess I've just always thought this was the common understanding of E3 demos.

In the meantime, did you even see that beach scene? Perhaps the most impressive scene of the entire game, barring the ending? It's gorgeous, not only graphically but also in the animations throughout the entire scene. Never have I seen a character able to actually move and dance so believably and so smoothly. The guitar scene is equally as impressive.

While I disagree with those things, I will agree with what you say about the combat. What Rage lacked in engaging storytelling it made up for in pretty good combat all around. No one in this game danced or sung, at least not as a central set piece, but the animations in Rage were fantastic all around. Bioshock Infinite's combat, however, is at its best when on skyrails and lacking bullet-sponge enemies. I don't think a Handyman should take only one machine gun clip, but I do think it's ridiculous to fire a bunch of rockets at it and never see it die. Death in this game isn't handled very well either (for the love of God, developers, stick with saving anywhere and loading at your last save when you die).

Re: Alyx: I suspect if I went back and played HL2, especially Episode 1, I'd find Alyx's behaviour similarly awkward out of scripted scenes. And back then, nearly a decade ago, it was pretty impressive, but expectations for how AI characters should act in "AAA" (for lack of a better term) games have been raised a lot since then.

I obviously didn't expect the game to be quite as tight as an E3 demo, but the kind of ambient interactions with Elizabeth the demo showed were almost non-existent in the game. The closest I remember is her messing with the puppet machines at the beginning. Most of the time, she was just kneeling in front of pointless rubble, sitting on benches, or telling me to pick up lockpicks.

That beach scene is in many ways exactly what I'm talking about. Most, if not all, of the NPCs were sitting in very specific, rigid poses, spouting off lines when you got near them. There were dancers on the pier looping through a dance animation, and kids looping through a play animation. It didn't feel like a living scene, it felt like a diorama. At a certain point, I'm kind of just talking about a problem with video games as a whole, but I have a hard time squaring away the creepy static nature of those scenes with what I'm now reading about them.

Isn't that asking a bit much, though? Do you really think that a 360 and PS3, probably not even a PC, have enough processing power to deliver different AI routines and complex animations for every one of those NPC's? Barring that, do you think it's realistic for a publisher to fund a section of the development team that only animates and programs side characters with no lines who exist pretty much as decoration?

Unfortunately, video games aren't unlimited in scope. In some sense, scenes like this are always going to be closer to dioramas than "living scenes". We're talking about what eventually boils down to emotionless on-off switches, here. Can they come close? Sure... but if you walk up to some random NPC, always expect to notice some flaws. The developers simply chose to animate Elizabeth beautifully instead of splitting all of the resources (for the systems playing the game and the man-hours and money funding the scene's creation) between every average Joe on the beach.

Posted by Angouri

I never felt like I was walking through a living, breathing world so much as a carefully-laid-out diorama.

That line very well describes the experience I had in Infinite. I wanted to like the game: the game's opening oozes style. Unfortunately, that style is diluted and washed out by hours of repetitive slogs through warehouses and streets. Columbia might be pretty, but it wasn't fun to explore. The game was stiff. The idea of Columbia would be fascinating if it could be traversed using the systems of AC, where the world is your sandbox. Instead I got a rail system that was straight up stupid (I avoided those skyrails whenever possible -- who needs a rail to go from one side of an arena to the other! BUILD A BRIDGE), and arenas that felt copied right out of the DMC playbook. Hallway --> shoot people/run around ---> hallway --> exposition --> shoot more people --> look! pretty --> hallway.

The looting in that game was unacceptable. Hiding also key parts of the story in voxophones that were easy to miss was annoying. The fact that I needed to turn to the internet to understand what the hell the twin scientists were is a failing of its plot.

Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider are the most disappointing gaming experiences I've had this year. They both reached for greatness, but instead relied on boring shooting mechanics to compensate.

Edited by ButIShootFromThere

Yeah, I think the strength of the first act and general mystery of the story made me overlook a lot of flaws in the game the first time around. I tried to go back for another play-through, but I couldn't manage more than a few hours before the gameplay just forced me to quit. I agree the combat is lacking a planning aspect. Everything you need to win any fight is always right there in the arena, so there's never really a long term tension or weight to the decisions you make in combat. Also, because of the 2 weapon limit, I found myself making weapon upgrade decisions based on what I thought I would find more of rather than what I really wanted to use. The problem is only amplified by the redundancy in weapon designs. Most of the later weapons felt like half baked alt-fires of the existing ones. I understand it makes sense in terms of the Vox Populi narrative, but it still isn't worth the detriment to gameplay in my opinion. They should have just cut the arsenal in half and made more varied upgrades for them instead.

Edited by Rick_Fingers

Man, I could not disagree with you more.

I loved the setting and the plot, but I also thought the combat was leaps and bounds better than the earlier Bioshocks and so much more interesting than the standard 2 gun modern military FPS fare. I also found it to be very smooth and enjoyable to run around in, fluidly using rails and the various powers and guns.

I don't know, maybe I was just good at it? Although I know my wife loved playing it too, and she has a completely different, much more aggressive style than I do in FPSes

Posted by believer258

Man, I could not disagree with you more.

I loved the setting and the plot, but I also thought the combat was leaps and bounds better than the earlier Bioshocks and so much more interesting than the standard 2 gun modern military FPS fare. I also found it to be very smooth and enjoyable to run around in, fluidly using rails and the various powers and guns.

I don't know, maybe I was just good at it? Although I know my wife loved playing it too, and she has a completely different, much more aggressive style than I do in FPSes

Just out of curiosity, how did you manage to hold more than two guns in this game? One of my major complaints with the combat is that it took far too many cues from modern military shooters. It's all linear corridors, you don't really have to explore much at all, regenerating shields, and (perhaps the most criminal of all) a two weapon limit.

On the other hand, I'm confused by this comment:

@angouri said:

Instead I got a rail system that was straight up stupid (I avoided those skyrails whenever possible -- who needs a rail to go from one side of an arena to the other! BUILD A BRIDGE), and arenas that felt copied right out of the DMC playbook. Hallway --> shoot people/run around ---> hallway --> exposition --> shoot more people --> look! pretty --> hallway.

If any one thing excites Bioshock Infinite's combat, it's flying through the air at incredible speeds, shooting at dudes below you and jumping off and smacking them in the face. Instead, you'd rather everything be mundane bridges? Why? Sure, it's completely unrealistic and kinda stupid but so is the idea of a floating city in the first place! The only complaint I can make about them was that they were not fully utilized. There were plenty of them, but nowhere near enough.

Also, that's not the DMC playbook. That's the modern military shooter playbook, to bring this post full circle. Scratch that, actually - that's the Half-Life 1 playbook, and you can describe almost every major game released since then with the same sequence.

Posted by Hunkulese

People like complaining about the gameplay but isn't it just the FPS genre? Is Bioshock just picked apart more because the rest of the game is awesome?

Which games have I been missing out on? I have played RAGE and I guess the combat was better but not to the extent that you seem to be saying.

Posted by Rick_Fingers

@believer258: it's not really a two weapon limit with the multiple other powers you have though. While I would have preferred to have all of the guns, you are still, from a gameplay perspective, equipped with a large number of weapons at once.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Expecting a "fully immersive and realized world" from a video game requires a lot of suspension of disbelief and I think, for it's part, Infinite does that quite well. They could've done without the rummaging through trash cans though, both because it's a tedious, repetitive task that wasn't great in Bioshock the first and because it's rather silly to think about Booker rummaging through the trash so he can get ammunition for his gun.

I have issues with the way the story is paced (namely the part where you realize columbia and its religiously-inclined form of jingoism isn't what the game is actually about and is just background for weird dimensional travel craziness), and I can't disagree about the combat, but it's still one of my favorite games of this year... probably because I haven't played a ton of other exciting games this year.

Posted by believer258

@believer258: it's not really a two weapon limit with the multiple other powers you have though. While I would have preferred to have all of the guns, you are still, from a gameplay perspective, equipped with a large number of weapons at once.

I guess I can see that but it's not the same to me. The plasmids... er, tonics were never particularly useful to me. Cool, yes, summoning a flock of crews to pick apart at your enemies is cool in a psychopathic sort of way, but it's not the mixture of useful and fucking awesome that the skyrails are. Meanwhile, most of the weapons are pretty useful if sometimes a little too mundane.

People like complaining about the gameplay but isn't it just the FPS genre? Is Bioshock just picked apart more because the rest of the game is awesome?

Which games have I been missing out on? I have played RAGE and I guess the combat was better but not to the extent that you seem to be saying.

Well, people are tired of shooters where you can only hold two guns and are super linear. Why can't I be placed in a map full of enemies and secrets with several imaginative, interesting, useful, and fun to use guns laying around? Kind of like Doom, only with modern graphics and stuff. Serious Sam and Painkiller really don't cut it.

Rage was actually halfway there. It took some of the good things about modern shooters, like the impressive AI and the pretty good graphics, and combined them with some of the things that made old shooters awesome, like secrets and carrying an entire arsenal on your back. The problem is that the context given isn't particularly clear and it's terribly uninteresting, the environments are all dusty deserts and dirty interiors, and despite having a few secrets the levels are still largely super tight corridors without much wiggle room. It's not as fun as it should be because the player isn't given a reason to care about moving on once the central mechanics have been mastered, either because the story sucks, the environments are boring, or there's never going to be any real variety in encounters.

Infinite, on the other hand, makes quite an effort to engage players in a world and make them care about at least one character, and the game slowly introduces you to new and different areas with at least some new enemies and tries to expand on the mechanics given in good ways. But the base mechanics aren't all that great in the first place, some weapons reek of boring but practical, and the new enemies they introduce too often feel like cheap bullet sponges (fuck you, Handyman).

A short note on why the guns in Rage were more fun to use - they were often pretty loud, satisfying to shoot, and the enemies reacted to them in ways that you would expect them to. It's the difference between shooting a guy until he falls over dead from the other side of the battlefield or shooting an enemy who is ten feet away in the leg and seeing him limp along as he tries to get at you with his melee weapon.

God, this all sounds so psychotic.

Posted by EXTomar

Side note: I think it is poor when any opinion has in its first few lines "....universal acclaim..." or "...universally reviled..." or other such sweeping generalizations. What does that really mean since it is cliche? The author should be sure of their opinion regardless if "the world" likes/hates something the author is about to take a contrary stance on where pointing this is hedging.

Another side note: Personally I think that 1999 Mode should have allowed the player to carry all weapons which you could cycle through. Just like FPS games from 1999 did.

Edited by danmcn12

I found nothing wrong with the gameplay. They improved upon the weapon feel and smoothed out a lot of the combat. Removing the "every gun" and additional ammo made the combat a little bit of a challenge. In Bioshock 1, once you were a few hours into the game you could just save all your best ammo/guns for the big daddy's/bosses and take them out easily. I genuinely do not understand how people can be in love in TLOU and Tomb Raider yet nit pick Infinite's gameplay.

Edited by Evilsbane

Just my 2 cents the game was fucking beautiful from start to finish, the only problems I had were there because it made the gameplay better (Elizabeth being ignored by the enemy) the story was deep and flowing with some great characters and like 2 that were a little underdeveloped but only because they were never meant to be the focus.

Posted by Missacre

Ugh, this game was just terrible on every front. I tried to like it, and I was excited about it when I saw it at E3 2011, but the final product was like paying for a Lambo and getting a Fiat. I regret playing it now.

Edited by Aetheldod

I disagree ... but then again Im a dude who keeps playing games like Half Life 2 every year and still enjoy it as the first time. BI is not bad nor average ... it is a well executed game but , it is not the gratest around but so what? or once Im glad that they didnt try to be a 100% COC clone for starters... and the combat can get really fun if (but it seems that it is a big if unfortunately to some) you explore your gear/weapons/vigor options ...

I tell you once you clear a whole room with crows traps , that when you kill a dude while crows hurt him you produce more traps , more chances of critical hit , stun with criticals hits , and high fire rate (aka the sub machine gun) , man and then for every kill I can stacck more damage for 10 seconds up to 4 times the damage , oh man very few (if any) FPS shooters has gave me that "awesome" moment in ages. But yeah they are a few things that I missed ... like weapon model improvements and the like.

Also i love rummaging through the entire place :P , but this mat be only me.

Online
Posted by GrantHeaslip

@believer258 said:

@hunkulese said:

People like complaining about the gameplay but isn't it just the FPS genre? Is Bioshock just picked apart more because the rest of the game is awesome?

Which games have I been missing out on? I have played RAGE and I guess the combat was better but not to the extent that you seem to be saying.

[...] Rage was actually halfway there. It took some of the good things about modern shooters, like the impressive AI and the pretty good graphics, and combined them with some of the things that made old shooters awesome, like secrets and carrying an entire arsenal on your back. The problem is that the context given isn't particularly clear and it's terribly uninteresting, the environments are all dusty deserts and dirty interiors, and despite having a few secrets the levels are still largely super tight corridors without much wiggle room. It's not as fun as it should be because the player isn't given a reason to care about moving on once the central mechanics have been mastered, either because the story sucks, the environments are boring, or there's never going to be any real variety in encounters.

[...] A short note on why the guns in Rage were more fun to use - they were often pretty loud, satisfying to shoot, and the enemies reacted to them in ways that you would expect them to. It's the difference between shooting a guy until he falls over dead from the other side of the battlefield or shooting an enemy who is ten feet away in the leg and seeing him limp along as he tries to get at you with his melee weapon.

You more-or-less covered it, though it's really the AI that made the difference for me. Infinite is a game where you can constantly see enemies "pathfinding" their way around, often in broken-looking and unpredictable ways. They don't do things that make sense, and they don't do things in a way that makes sense.

Rage may not be a better game, but it's a much better shooter. It's frustrating to me that the gameplay could have been (and this is of course my opinion) actually enjoyable, rather than something I had to get over with. A lot of the mechanical problems I had aren't even things you can point to and say "hey, they tried, but they didn't quite get it", but rather deliberate design decisions that make the game less fun to play. A BioShock Infinite without looting and bullet sponges alone would have been a big step up, and both were the result of a design doc, not poor implementation.

@extomar said:

Side note: I think it is poor when any opinion has in its first few lines "....universal acclaim..." or "...universally reviled..." or other such sweeping generalizations. What does that really mean since it is cliche? The author should be sure of their opinion regardless if "the world" likes/hates something the author is about to take a contrary stance on where pointing this is hedging.

Another side note: Personally I think that 1999 Mode should have allowed the player to carry all weapons which you could cycle through. Just like FPS games from 1999 did.

It was, with very few exceptions, met with universal acclaim. I'm looking at Metacritic, and Infinite for the PS3 received just two scores under 90%. This post is, in part, a reaction to the way critics ignored some pretty severe issues with this game -- reading reviews after finishing the game was what drove me to write this. If I were writing a review, then sure, it would be weird if I was writing it relative to what other people said about the game.

I'm really not just trying to be contrarian -- I sincerely don't understand how critics handed this game the perfect scores it received. I'm generally getting weary of the blockbuster flavour of the week (think BioShock 1, GTA IV or Uncharted 2) getting showered with praise for art direction and production values while low-level mechanical issues are ignored or papered over. I don't think these games will stand the test of time, and I think their revered status is a byproduct a games press that wants a golden boy to point at and say "see, video games are totally like movies!". I'm still looking forward to playing The Last of Us, but I've got a growing sense of dread that I'll discover another amazing interactive movie with some middling gameplay holding it together.

I know invoking Super Mario 64 or Ocarina of Time is a bit unfair, but I'd still go back and play those games today, and I'm sure I'd still enjoy them. I don't think BioShock Infinite will hit as hard even a couple of years from now, letalone 17 years from now. There's a part of me (one with a lot more patience and free time, mind you) that wants to go back and play BioShock 1. I didn't much enjoy it in 2007, so I might not be a good judge of it now, but I'm curious how it holds up. My sense is better than, say, GTA IV, but my memory of it is so hazy it's hard to say how much.

Posted by Bones8677

That E3 demo was also heavily structured in order to make it look better than it could actually look when playing the game. Pretty much every E3 demo, well, ever has been this way. You don't really think that Titanfall is going to be the same way that it was in the on-stage demo? Or Watch Dogs? Or any other game you've seen demo'd at E3? I'm not excusing this, but I am saying that anyone who expected the same Pixar-quality animations in the final product that they saw in the E3 demos was a bit of a fool. I guess I've just always thought this was the common understanding of E3 demos.

The E3 demo of Last of Us plays EXACTLY how the finished game plays. I was really surprised.

Posted by Aetheldod

@grantheaslip: I dont think bullet sponge enemies is indicative of bad game design ... on the contrary it works how the combat was designed , you may not like it but I dont see problem with it because in that game designs there is a way to dispatch them effortlessy and interestingly and fast , unlike the tons of head shot done with enemies like COD inspired games. Its good to have choice.

Does that makes the game unworthy of praise because we got it and you didnt? (not trying to demeaner you , it just seems you didnt looked past the just shoot guns and ignored the rest ... like Brad did too , he never upgraded a gun , why wouldnt you do that?)

Online
Posted by believer258

@grantheaslip: I am fully with you on the bit about the games press trying to find a blockbuster of the week game that they can point to and say "Hey! Here's our Citizen Kane! Our Shawshank Redemption! Our Pulp Fiction! Our On The Waterfront!" At this point I almost always find myself playing old games, indie games, or smaller games, where mechanics and gameplay are still king.

Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time still hold up. I first played the former on the DS re-release and have since played it on the Wii Virtual Console a few times, and I've played a fair bit of Ocarina of Time on the 3DS. Both are pretty damn good. And I liked Bioshock 1 better than Infinite, if only because the exploration makes more sense there and the combat feels more varied and interesting.

@believer258 said:
That E3 demo was also heavily structured in order to make it look better than it could actually look when playing the game. Pretty much every E3 demo, well, ever has been this way. You don't really think that Titanfall is going to be the same way that it was in the on-stage demo? Or Watch Dogs? Or any other game you've seen demo'd at E3? I'm not excusing this, but I am saying that anyone who expected the same Pixar-quality animations in the final product that they saw in the E3 demos was a bit of a fool. I guess I've just always thought this was the common understanding of E3 demos.

The E3 demo of Last of Us plays EXACTLY how the finished game plays. I was really surprised.

Might have something to do with The Last of Us being as heavily structured in game as it was on the E3 demo.

...OK, I haven't actually played TLoU, but I haven't seen anything that interests me as far as gameplay goes. It was more interesting when I thought you would have very limited ammo and three human enemies would be a serious threat. Nope, now it just looks like sneaking around clickers by throwing bottles and bricks to the other side of the room (fucking Half-Life did this with the tentacle monster under the rocket) or shooting humans like every other third person shooter since Gears of War. That's not condemning the game or a final judgement of it at all, it's just the impression I've had from what I've seen of the game.

@grantheaslip: I dont think bullet sponge enemies is indicative of bad game design ... on the contrary it works how the combat was designed , you may not like it but I dont see problem with it because in that game designs there is a way to dispatch them effortlessy and interestingly and fast , unlike the tons of head shot done with enemies like COD inspired games. Its good to have choice.

Does that makes the game unworthy of praise because we got it and you didnt? (not trying to demeaner you , it just seems you didnt looked past the just shoot guns and ignored the rest ... like Brad did too , he never upgraded a gun , why wouldnt you do that?)

It's not that he didn't "get it". He did "get it", and he didn't think the combat was so great, or the rest of the mechanics. I don't think they are either, even when compared to the flawed combat of the first game.

How do you dispatch Handymen "effortlessly and interestingly and fast"? I played on Hard and those motherfuckers took a small armories' worth of rockets, bullets, and tonics to take down. That's bad game design. That's a very cheap way to introduce challenge. Back to Rage, the few big enemies that exist in that game are large and threatening and difficult to kill, but not because you've mastered a pattern and are just doing it over and over again. It's because they require the player to use the tools at hand in a different way than the player has been using them, i.e. wingsticks aren't going to cut it. Sometimes that amounts to circle-strafing instead of hiding behind cover, but they still don't take forever to go down.

Edited by Fynnius66

You see to me, Infinite did not have bad combat. Sure, the AI may not have been that great but what I think the game did which many other games do not, is give you a large range of options. From only being able to hold two weapons at a time, to having all the vigors at your disposal. This along with the use of skylines in combat situations, I found, made the game a fun romp when it came to combat.

Posted by Excast

I have to agree with a lot of the sentiment in the OP. I really appreciate the world and the atmosphere that was created for this game. But when I heard of how absolutely amazing it was, I guess I expected more in the actual game play department. The enemies were not all that inspiring. The vigors seems less fun to use than the plasmids from the first two Bioshock games. It just seemed like this really amazing visual experience, interesting world, and intricate story wrapped around a game that was just sort of there.

Posted by OurSin_360

I completely disagree, but since this is exactly what i would say about The Last of Us I can see where your coming from. We can't all enjoy the same things.

Edited by 2HeadedNinja

@milkman said:

@video_game_king: That happens to literally every game.

Then this is the first game where I've seen that happen (although that may be because I played it in a timely fashion).

I remember that happend to GTA4 too ... everyone loved that game until mabye a week after it's release ... at that point it was suddenly a terrible game (well, if you listen to the internet that is).