D Bags of the Roundtable: BioShock Infinite

Irrational’s newest offering has turned a lot of heads and inspired a metric shit ton of analysis since its release. BioShock Infinite has been almost universally lauded for excellent gameplay, an engrossing story, and the protective rapport players develop with Elizabeth. What did the staff think of the game?

Oh, and this should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: spoiler alert!

Scott Colby, Head Editor – BioShock Infinite’s one hell of a game. The care and attention to detail Ken Levine’s team showered upon Columbia and Elizabeth in particular make it the obvious front-runner for game of the year honors. I enjoyed myself throughout despite a few encounters that felt harder than necessary. It’s the rare game that I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone with $59.99 to dispose of.

That said…ugh, that ending. If you’re paying attention, you’ll see the final twist coming. I spent the last few hours of the game hoping I was wrong and then cursing under my breath a little when it turned out I was right. I wish the game had ended ten minutes earlier with Elizabeth and Booker wandering through the lighthouse area. The idea that there’s always a man, a lighthouse, and a city in their multiverse struck me as an extremely powerful metaphor for gaming in general and for modern game series in particular. I wish they’d just left it at that and given us the chance to put the other pieces together ourselves. Unfortunately, I doubt we’ll ever see that type of ending in a modern video game because it would piss too many people off.

I also worry that Levine is going to the twist well a little too often. The original BioShock’s climax was brilliant because it was a unique mechanic that only could’ve worked that well in a video game. I worry that Levine may take the M. Night Shyamalan route and slowly lose his touch.

Still, if you haven’t played Bioshock Infinite yet, what the hell are you waiting for?

Nathan Ortega, Staff Writer – Ken Levine joints take a long time. They are very ambitious, and the final product ends up pretty divisive. That said, nobody is doing work in the industry quite like the crew at Irrational Games. BioShock Infinite is a beautiful game that has a lot of interesting themes, endearing protagonists, and a mind-bending overarching story. The big sticking point is that the gameplay doesn’t quite live up to the other loftier elements of the game; it plays out as a competent FPS with fantastical secondary attacks (Vigors) and a new element of verticality thanks to Columbia’s rail system.

Ultimately it is a fascinating game to play through, even if the combat becomes a bit tedious and the bigger story starts to fall apart the further you think about it. It operates as an interesting deconstruction of the genre, as well as a meta-commentary on both our expectations of the franchise and the dynamic between creator and consumer.

John Koziol, Staff Writer – I still havent beaten it. I cant make it past the stupid airship level with my broken controller. I need to fix it or get a new one.

Editor’s Note: If you have a functional Playstation 3 controller you’d like to donate to John Koziol, email dpaddbags@gmail.com. He might be willing to barter his services. John’s skill set includes dress making, bread toasting, paper snowflake cutting, controller breaking, and plant sitting.

Nathan Ochiltree, Staff Writer – BioShock Infinite’s ending is a lot more style than substance. It almost seemed like the writers were more concerned with attempting to “blow your mind” than tell a convincing story. The moment you find out Booker is Comstock (which I’m sure many people had predicted by this point), the use of alternate dimensions in the plot becomes a cheap means to an end. It would have been awesome if the game had started at the baptism and then revisited it, but opting to have Elizabeth introduce you to this major plot point at the end of the game makes it feel tacked on. Add a lack-luster “defend the castle” encounter as your final fight instead of having you face off against a final boss (Songbird maybe?) and you get a pretty disappointing ending to a pretty good game.

(Editor’s Note: The following perspective was added at 1 pm on 4/23) Rob D’Allegro, Staff Writer – While I agree that BioShock Infinite is a gorgeous and ambitious game-and a decent game on its own-I am a bit dismayed that there was no mention of the features (both from previous games and those shown in demos as actual “gameplay” footage) that are absent.  It just in no way deserves the reviews it received.

Why? Well, here’s a short list off the top of my head of great things that are missing from or worse in Infinite:

  • -Where is the craftable ammunition?  That was a wonderful thing.
  • -What happened to the awesome visual transformations of guns when upgraded?  A plain shotgun in the previous games turned into something quite different when upgraded, and that was a lot of fun.
  • -Between these glaring flaws and a two gun carry limit, the gunplay is just nothing special, and certainly not better than Bioshock 2.
  • -There are fewer vigors/plasmids.
  • -There is no hacking whatsoever.  Why?  Hacking was great fun in BioShock even though it could get tedious, but the manual/auto hack remote darts in BioShock 2 were a wonderful improvement.

As far as the story goes, I agree with Scott’s M. Night Shmayalananyanan analogy.  I think Levine is going down that path, incorrectly.  Being beaten over the head with pseudo-science alternate-dimension crap in a five minute span was a bit too much for me.

What say you, dear readers? What’s your take on BioShock Infinite and its ending?

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