By Pezen 7 Comments
In the summer of 2007 there were a lot of praise for a game that had just appeared on store shelves. Praised for it's art direction, story and unique setting I was intrigued. Looking over video and screenshots though, my impression of the game was that it somehow didn't quite appeal to me. I put it off my list of games to purchase as a result. However, one boring weekend had me itching for something new and I told myself to give Bioshock a chance.
I came home, started playing and was instantly impressed with a lot of the visuals of that game. I still didn't care for the character models the way I did the scenery, but it was a small complaints all things considered. What I didn't expect initially (but I feared looking at the coverage of the game before) was the gameplay and eventually the unfolding events just didn't keep me hooked. To be fair to the game, I don't actually recall what exactly turned me to finally stop playing and wish didn't purchase the game to begin with. It was a day I felt like I should have just trusted my original instincts. The game just wasn't for me.
After that experience, I wrote off Bioshock as a series. Not every franchise need to be for you, even if it's well recieved and reviewed by the media and fans (I should know, given I don't like Halo either). Bioshock 2 came out and I ignored it like an old vacation flirt that never turned to a relationship. It looked to be more of the same. More "Bioshock."
A couple of weeks ago I was drinking coffee at a friend's place talking about all sorts of game related subjects. As I take a sip of coffee he asks if I have Playstation Plus, but quickly answers his own question since he knew I didn't. He goes on to tell me I should consider getting it since Bioshock Infinite was one of their free games at the time. And although he remember me never really liking Bioshock he insisted I give it a try, if I get Playstation Plus that is because at least it would be "free" if I didn't care for it.
I shrugged. I don't like Bioshock and I have plenty of games to play. Besides, not sure what I would use Playstation Plus for aside from maybe getting a free game I want. But how often is that, I don't even remember the last time I even downloaded one of the ones Xbox Live had. Not saying both have the same level of quality in the games that are picked, but free isn't an incentive for me, it's just free. If I didn't want the game to begin with, the price tag wouldn't convince me otherwise in general.
Some weeks pass and I spent an entire weekend moving apartements. Bored and tired I fire up the consoles to see how they and my TV handled the move. After playing through TMNT Arcade on the Xbox 360, I found myself by some freak chance switching over to the Playstatation 3 and browse the marketplace. I click my way to a 3 month Playstation Plus account and say; I guess I'll give this Bioshock thing a try. At least I could tell my friend he was wrong in his suggestion.
A few decades later after I had downloaded, installed and patched (Playstation, why you gotto be like that?) the game I embark on my journey through Columbia.
WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?
A few hours in and I am convinced I am playing some form of fever dream. Columbia is a questionable place at best. A horrible skybound fortress of slavery, early 20th centrutry values and cult-like mania at worst. But all that said, I respected what Bioshock Infinite was doing. It didn't shy away from it's vision of Columbia. It was a messed up place, and there was no way around that. It is as though the game asks you to judge the city in the clouds instead of itself doing it for you. And I appreciated that it didn't try to tell me what to think.
My second surprise was that the combat was throughly enjoyable. Even as late as the last sections of the game I was finding new ways to combine and strategize with the vigors and weapons. Setting up traps and drawing enemies into them instead of waiting for them to walk on them, as an example. When combat found a nice rythm you almost felt like an unstoppable machine. But I never was. I did die and I did have moments where I might have made my wife roll her eyes in the other room at my loud expressions of frustration. But it was never enough to stop me from trying again until I succeeded.
Most of all though, what had me coming back to the game all the way until the end was the story and it's characters. Booker, Elizabeth, Comstock, The Luteces, Songbird. It was all a well woven narrative where every new bit of information made you question how you viewed the world of Bioshock Infinite. I felt like most characters had their motivations and none were truly good or evil. They were complex. Like people tend to be. And the world was equally complex, seen through the lens of actions and reactions mirroried in multiple universes. How the choices we make can have bigger outcomes than we might realize and how we're personally responsible for what we've created. Whether we want to admit to it or not.
At the end of the day though, I can't quite put my finger on what exactly Bioshock did wrong and Bioshock Infinite did right. But I can say this much; sometimes you need to give things a second chance. What you find might just be worth the effort.