I didn't think it was possible, but Columbia is somehow an even dumber idea than Rapture. At least the surface dwellers didn't have to worry about a goddamn city falling out of the sky on them if something went wrong in Rapture.
I understand what you are saying and I feel much the same way, but what it comes down to is expectations and managing them. Infinite was not the game I was sold on, and I'm not really a fan of the game it turned out to be. But there's plenty there for others to like and I can't fault them for it.
i don't see levine at all as the kind of person to shamelessly lift elements wholesale as you describe.
He actually does that quite regularly. The Fontaine twist in BioShock was lifted wholesale from System Shock 2, and was the "revisit a previous game" fanservice in Infinite. Even the multi-dimensional stuff was touched on in System Shock 2 (albiet not nearly to the degree as it was in Infinite).
There are many other, smaller, examples, but it's hardly unprecedented for Levine to recycle elements.