Last month we witnessed the release of one of the most anticipated games in the past 2 years, Bioshock Infinite. The game’s hype was at its peak, with many of us doubting that the game will even see the light of day due to its troubled development and many members of the developer team leaving Irrational Games. I tried my best to keep away from all the Pre-release trailers and all the hype mania in fear of any spoilers. I wanted to relive the experience from the first Bioshock, which I played without knowing anything about the game other than the very first reveal trailer. The same happened with Infinite. The only thing I knew about it going in was the first reveal teaser where you see a city in the sky, a girl locked in a tower, and some guy falling down. That was more than enough to get me interested.
Wow! I finally am Playing Bioshock Infinite!
The game was released onto the masses on march 26 and sure enough, the review sites praised the hell out of it. I haven’t seen so many perfect scores given to a game since The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’s release back in 1996. Everyone loved the game, the story, the narrative and all the questions and “shocks” that the game’s ending gave to everyone who finished it. It’s one of those games that sparked a huge online discussion that is still ongoing, with thousands of players dissecting every second of the Gameplay and every pixel of every scene. It was like watching 2001: A Space Odyssey or Inception for the first time and having crazy theories about what really happened and what didn’t.
Thoughts and Critiques
Most of us thought that it was great for a game would intrigue us in such way. The gaming media websites and blogs, however, seem to have adopted the idea that since the game is so great and getting hyped even more after its release, they would try to find faults in the game and try to pass that out as “critique”. Granted, I’ve read some very well-thought critiques of Infinite that discussed the game’s philosophy, violence and characters. The majority of the articles I keep stumbling into everyday though are simply nitpicking for the sake of finding a fault. Maybe Bioshock Infinite is the new Call of Duty or Apple, something so popular that it might be cool to hate? I would understand if this came from casual FPS Gamers that went into the game expecting just another shooter, but it came from big gaming websites. Some of those websites already gave the game a perfect score a few days before turning around and writing about what they found wrong about a game. I find it to be a testament of how broken games reviewing and scoring is, but why is it happening more with Bioshock Infinite? I mean, if the game is perfect, based on the scores most websites gave it, then how come there are so many articles about what’s wrong with it?
Ending of the Game
The sad thing is, most of the articles are simply there because people jumped on the bandwagon of trying to hate a game for it being mainstream, nothing more and nothing less. This came from people I will always consider as smart, well-spoken video games journalists that I still have a lot of respect for, and I agree that Infinite is not perfect. There were a few things that I didn’t like with the game, and this is in no way an article defending it from the critique. I’m merely commenting on the on-going trend to nitpick a game to the point of creating a fault in it from nowhere. One of the critiques faulted the game for its shocking ending as if it was taunting him saying “HA! Gotcha there!” I thought a surprise and shocking ending was a good thing. The journalist in his podcast complained that the game had no right to taunt us with the surprise ending since it controlled how much information about the plot was given to the player throughout the game. The same can be said about books, movies and a lot of games as well, the original Bioshock was pretty much the same thing with its final twist. Isn’t Sixth Sense just a long movie with a big twist in the end? How about Fight Club? Same thing! Those movies are considered great classics now, why is it wrong for Bioshock to be the same way? If anything, Infinite took its time to deliver the final punch with its ending. I don’t really find that as a fault in the game if you ask me.
What I liked or what I did not?
One of the most popular things to hate about the game is its violence level. Again, this was more shocking because the buildup to your first kill took almost an hour from the beginning of the game. The game wanted to deliver a shocking start to how the story of Booker became a bloody mess. After that first scene though, being overly violent is an option that you can either take or leave. You could always just shoot people with the weapons that you have and give them a clean death, or go for a melee attack, and hit them with a sky-hook that you normally use to ride the sky rails, and if people complain that a kill with a hook is bloody is almost like complaining that the chainsaw kills with the Lancer in Gears of war are over the top. It’s a sharp hook; of course it would turn nasty if you decide to bash people’s heads with it. Granted, killing people with a gun is still a violent act, but it’s not really something that should stir countless discussions and articles when you’re talking about a first person shooter! In the beginning of the game, Booker, your character, was already carrying a gun; he only lost it on his way to the city. This should have been enough indication that his intention was to fight his way through his goal. He knew it; the player knew that there will be shooting in the game. I find the argument that the game should have given the player the option to use stealth or talk his way out of things a little bit tired.
Here we go again..
Some other complains that I read were concerning the game’s narrative. Some of the most common ones was why was Elizabeth locked in a tower all her life, or what the deal is with Song Bird and how the game gave so little about its origins, and finally there is the big one which is why Comstock is so racist. All valid questions, which may be answered by digging the game for more clues, or they could be a selling point for future DLCs or maybe even a novel. (Bioshock: Columbia – the novel. Please make it happen!) But in all seriousness, I think the fact that many people are eager to find answers to those questions is big plus for the game. This is one of those games where you can’t understand the meaning of everything on The first Play through. It simply has too many plot twists for someone to put together right away. So, instead of writing an article online complaining that you just “don’t gwhy so-and-so is what it is” just play the game again, maybe you’ll pick up a few more and hints. Even if the game does not offer you all the answers, there’s always a chance that we’ll get answers later either in a novel or DLC, or it could be in the game but no one managed to find it yet.
There is a “Big” difference between what the game could have offered and what it should offer. The violence was there for a reason, the journey was supposed to be bloody. I think the game would have lost a lot of its suspense and the sense that a great deal was sacrificed for Booker’s goal if it offered stealth or dialog options. It would be cool for a Gameplay gimmick, but the game would lose some of what made it special. That sense of intense struggle and sacrifice would be diminished.
I’m sure this trend will not stop soon. There will be more articles finding minor complaints about this game and blowing things out of proportion. It’s a game that everyone likes so it’s always cool for journalists to write something different about Infinite and cast a negative light on it, which is the very opposite of the kind of articles I found about Spec Ops: The Line, a game that suffered from reviewers but there were more articles praising every aspect of it. At least no one is complaining about the lack of multiplayer mode yet.