BioShock: Infinite review (Xbox 360)

Valenka | 663d ago | User review
Reviewing: BioShock: Infinite
Deep and moving? No. Bullet storm? Yes.
It's been almost six years since we were introduced to the original BioShock experience; a game that carries a heavy weight to its name for mostly positive reasons and you would be hard pressed to find someone who didn't like it, nevermind know of it. Following three years later, a rather disappointing sequel was developed by 2K Marin with a multiplayer component (no surprise there.) Some claim that the original BioShock set the standard for single player games of the seventh generation. Most people agree with that credo and go further to say it was revolutionary and innovative. I must contest as gamers and critics alike throw around both adjectives so much when a game has garnered so much positivity that I firmly believe they'd forgotten the definitions of the terms.

BioShock is a series that I tend to go back and forth with; the games, in my opinion, try too hard to be deep and philosophical instead of just being deep and philosophical. The games are quite often praised for such when in reality, they are simply action games with an intriguing enough story to keep you interested with generic gameplay and an inevitable plot twist that keeps people talking about it for years. To be honest, behind the smoke and mirrors, I find the games to be nothing shy of ordinary.

Let's take BioShock: Infinite for example: I can't deny that the game shines brightly in terms of narrative, visuals and audio. While it's great to see the often ignored aspects in video games focused on more, gameplay is sacrificed and that is not okay - it's a video game, after all. When I'm playing a video game, I want to feel like I'm playing a video game, not watching a film - and I must point out to avoid confusion, I am not insinuating that the game mirrors Heavy Rain or anything of the sort. It's just that while the narrative and visuals and audio are given the attention, the aspects that make a video game a video game sadly suffer.

BioShock: Infinite takes players on a journey to Columbia - that's right, hasta la vista, Rapture - a 1900's era landscape blooming with scrumptious detail and an almost dystopian feel; an eerie combination, in essence, of Oz and a post-apocalyptic aura. Visuals are undeniably award winning and wonderfully impressive and serve a solid factor in immersion. Booker DeWitt - the game's leading protagonist - an alcoholic with an inescapable debt is brought on by a strange character to infiltrate Columbia and free a hostage named Elizabeth, a lovely young woman with deadly supernatural abilities.

DeWitt's presence and his aiding of Elizabeth's escape causes the two factions within Columbia to turn - almost robotically - hostile and this is where the game basically goes from forcing the philosophical background to forcing a bullet hailstorm. I feel as though this is a weak point in the narrative - while the BioShock games have always truly been about a strong narrative and even stronger combat (notice how I said combat and not gameplay,) it was ultimately a missed opportunity for something different. I could easily picture the two protagonists being thrown into the centre of a political power struggle between the two factions and inspire the philosophical and emotional theme to actually be relevant to the narrative as a whole instead of it just being implied. Instead, suddenly everyone is an enemy and you honestly wonder where all the guns came from in that seemingly idyllic environment.

One of the notable feats of BioShock: Infinite is that while Elizabeth serves as a companion to the protagonist, the game does not turn into an escort mission - Elizabeth is perfectly capable of holding her own and serves as a rather reliable ally. Considering the rather disappointing transition from seemingly open-world exploration and discovery to gun-toting madness was basically thrown in your face, it's nice that the game almost literally says, "Hey, sorry about that. To make up for it, here's an independent AI who you won't have to play guardian over."

Combat is slightly different than before but reminiscent enough to appease fans of the previous instalments' mechanics. I personally find it to be enjoyable but nothing 'revolutionary' or 'innovative.' Some claim it to be tactical, I find it convenient. As always, you have your firearm and your plasmids (now referred to as 'vigors,') that work well together as always. There's not much depth as others have claimed - it more so just rests on the surface and says, "Hey, I'm a good idea. Use me." To keep things interesting and less repetitive, some enemies are unaffected by certain vigors forcing you to change your methodologies and actually do more than just pull triggers. You have the ability to put on different gear pieces with apply improvements to the effects of your weapons and vigors.

Enemy characters are different this time around - you're not going after waves of splicers. You'll find yourself up against 'normal' opponents such as security guards, but you'll also be up against 'heavy hitters' which is Infinite's version of Big Daddies, just less intimidating. Enemy AI however is nothing to lose your pants over - glitching, stupid behaviour that we shouldn't be expecting in 2013 and the only way for the combat to truly be something of a challenge is to play on the harder difficulties. I could get through the game in my younger days when I was new to shooters and always played on easy modes.

Unlike BioShock 2, Infinite does not offer a multiplayer component - awfully developed or otherwise - so thank the God of your choice.

Overall, BioShock: Infinite is a decent enough game with a well-written narrative, excellent character development - more so with Elizabeth than DeWitt - charming visuals and pleasant audio. However, I still to this day do not understand the grovelling fan base surrounding the series as I find them to be ordinary games with mature themes and intelligent plot devices. General gameplay needs to be taken into better consideration to be considered revolutionary or innovative as people so often label it. Infinite uses philosophy and emotional drive as a plot device but as always, BioShock relies too heavily on fun-centric gun fights to truly focus on anything that would prove the games worthy of their revolutionary and innovative monikers.

Author's Note (4/10/13): Please refrain from criticizing me on what score I gave the game. "It does not deserve a 7" is your opinion and considering that I gave it a 7, I beg to differ. Please do not treat your opinion as fact. Thank you.
Well thought out narrative
Lush and gorgeous visuals
Ear-candy audio
Generic gameplay
Failure to properly incorporate philosophical elements
Lacklustre final moments
Graphics Beautiful and detailed, the backdrop and setting is wondefully done. Character models seem arcade-like.
Sound Wonderful audio - voice acting, sound effects and music are all done splendidly.
Gameplay A shot in the dark would indicate gameplay was carried over from previous games with minor improvements.
Fun factor You can't go wrong with an action-shooter with good mechanics, but it's only entertaining for so long.
Online Infinite does not offer a multiplayer component, so thank the God of your choice.
Overall (out of 10 / not an average)
coolbeans  +   663d ago
"Lackluster ending?"

My, my, you're certainly in the mood to debate in your comment section, aren't you? :P

Anyways, an...interesting review that still leaves me a bit anxious to play just to see where I would stand on its quality (thank goodness this review wasn't spoiler-y).
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Valenka  +   663d ago
Ah, I should probably edit that to clarify what I meant by lacklustre. It wasn't the ending itself, but the final moments as a whole including a spoiler that I shan't reveal.
coolbeans  +   663d ago
I see.
Paranoidplayer24  +   663d ago
Oh me oh my. How I do not agree with you.

The ending and whole story was fantastic and makes complete sense if you watch it 2-3 times and get the voxophones
Kran  +   660d ago
To be honest with you, endings should be understandable first time.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all with playing through a game a couple of times, but that's besides the point.

Some people want an ending they can understand right away, not an ending that'll screw you over until you spend another 13 hours just to understand it
DigitalRaptor  +   649d ago
I can't agree with that. Having a story that is understandable is important, but a story that is hard to piece together, but becomes more cohesive on multiple experiences is the sign of a layered experience, and one that is designed to be soaked up rather than spelled out for you. If you're a fan of a certain universe, the "Aha!!" moment is priceless. Some of the greatest films I've watched and music I've listened to and books I've read have followed this, and the payoff is immense, once it hits you and you gather more than initially experienced.

It's also the sign of a true artist to leave your work to the interpretation of others, as art is the expression of self-reflection. It doesn't always need explaining to be valid.
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ZombieNinjaPanda  +   647d ago
I've never before seen so much praise for such a lack luster storyline in my entire life. Just because they add in a time travel twist at the end does not indicate a good story for the game. It felt completely forced, one second she's what can be seen as a naive girl, the next second she's traveling through time and 'understands' everything.

I'm glad Valenka however gave this game a more accurate score than what it has been receiving so far. Perfection? Far from it. Flawed but good? Yes. And I haven't even touched upon the several gameplay mechanics that have been removed or dumbed down either.
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N4Flamers  +   663d ago
I thought your review was mediocre. It seemed you were trying to be edgy and go against the popular opinion so you could label yourself as original or "trendy"

I didnt mind the combat in the game and i thought you were generally on point with that but it seems you missed a few points in the narative that might have helped you understand it. Everyone in columbia that is an authority figgure is prepared for your arrival and has been instructed to hunt you down. Its explained that comstock the prophet has put them on alert. There is so much evidence to this that i would rather pm it to you. The other thing you missed is that the war between the vox and columbians doesnt take place in the columbia you start out in. It was in a different reality. You might have missed this but it was only the central theme of the entire game.
Valenka  +   662d ago
I was waiting for a comment like this and while I am certainly sorry you feel that way, it was not my intention to be considered trendy or original - and with all due respect, everyone is original in their own way, regardless of their opinion - for writing a review highlighting an opinion perpendicular to the popular consensus. This is my honest opinion about the game (as as illustrated in the opening paragraph, the BioShock series as a whole) and it just happens to be an opinion that does not find itself grovelling at the feet of the franchise as a percentage of other reviews have.

However, I have indeed missed that piece of the narrative that you pointed out - Columbia's authorities preparing for DeWitt's arrival - and I thank you for doing so. You're more than welcome to PM me what you think I've missed and we can talk about it there. :) I appreciate you bringing this to my attention, N4Flamers.
dedicatedtogamers  +   663d ago
I mirror your opinion. I gave the game a 7.5 in my own review of the game and I got flamed for it. I didn't think it was a very "Bioshock"-ish game, seeing how the enemies were more generic, it focused more on combat, it gave you less freedom, there was less exploration, etc.

Oh, and the ending was dumb. The only people who thought it was revolutionary haven't picked up a sci-fi book in their life.
yaz288  +   662d ago
"Oh, and the ending was dumb. The only people who thought it was revolutionary haven't picked up a sci-fi book in their life."

The ending wasn't revolutionary, I agree, but it still was a good one and it answered an important question about the story and so It made the return trip much better imo.
N4Flamers  +   662d ago
I dont feel that the ending was dumb at all and i actually have a blogpost about it. Its refreshing to pick up a video game with a complete story. People like the ending because it explains the rest of the game and isnt a cliff hanger or sequel bait. That is why its a good ending.

I didnt play bioshock 2 so i cant compare it to that one but i felt this game was driven by the story more than the first. I felt it was as bioshock as the first and even had a twist in it about the character just like the first. I mean if i wanted the original game i could just play that. They kept a lot of what made the first great, guns, powers, city theme, lighthouse, political agendas, recordings, mechanical protector, central ruler related to protagonist. Your opinion is your own however.
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LightofDarkness  +   660d ago
This is one of the most (if not THE most) expertly crafted, moving and cohesive stories told in a videogame yet. The use of foreshadowing and theming is one thing, but it's incredibly difficult to tackle concepts like time travel and alternate realities and tie it all together without exposing massive holes, and THEY DID IT.

Give credit where credit is due.
ZombieNinjaPanda  +   647d ago
No they didn't. I realize this comment is 13 days old but I'll still respond do it. When you use time travel, you need to expertly craft it in a way that people will not be able to ask "Why didn't ____ do this instead of this?"

The moment that time travel happened in this game I found myself asking that. I found myself putting together a narrative that would have been much smarter, made more sense than what they already did. Why didn't Elizabeth do ____ instead of _____.

Overall, this shoehorned storyline opens up more questions than it answers.
Conquerbeard  +   657d ago
"the enemies were more generic" Uh. You fought nothing but splicers throughout the entirety of Bioshock, save for Big Daddies and flying drones. I'd love to know how that's more unique than what Infinite presents.
sdozzo  +   663d ago
I respect the review. It was a little rushed story-wise at the end, but the game was really great. I never played the first two and so I didn't know what to expect from a gameplay standpoint. While not handling like a "shooter," it felt pretty natural and after an hour it handled great.
yaz288  +   662d ago
"Deep and moving? No. Bullet storm? Yes."

funny, every time I play the game I remember bulletstorm. the two game share the same beautiful graphics look and by the same engine. one of the most underrated shooter ever.
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TuxedoMoon  +   662d ago
THANK YOU! Nice review and I agree.

I played through it not too long ago, and while I can agree that the story was pretty good and interesting...the gameplay was kinda bland. I disliked a lot of Dishonored's stuff, but the gameplay was pretty good. It used the magic powers for something OTHER THAN KILLING PEOPLE. This is where Bioshock failed. The magic was cool, but most of them weren't needed. I beat the game with only the possession skill. The 2 weapon limited was stupid too.

This game was over hyped hard. REAL hard. IMO, this game is a 7~8.5/10 at best. Giving a game, ay game, a 10/10 means that it revolutionized gaming (introduced something new that will be a standard in future games) or was an enormous step up from it's last game.

I had no issues with the ending. When they started explaining the rifts/tears, I sort of expected some sort of twilight zone type thing to happen. I liked the ending and do think it fits the story. It's no ME3 where a deus ex machina comes out of no where and screws you over. The final act explained everything.

I never played the first 2 bioshocks, but I did enjoy this game. IMO, it's not the best game of this generation nor does it deserve a 10/10. Pleas try to stray away from thinking that a 7/10 is a bad score...

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smashcrashbash  +   662d ago
I think people are being overly harsh. Sure the original Bioshock was deeper but this game is by no means a 7.It played well, Elizabeth was a great help and enemies were challenging enough to at least make me die several times.The only difference is this Bioshock is made more like a mystery suspense rather then like a horror like the original.Like most gamers you expect every version of a game to be revolutionary and slapping a 7 or lower on a game just because it didn't completely blow your mind this time is being overly harsh.I you want to take off one or two points for story or linearity I can respect that but I highly don't believe that it deserves a 7 or deserves to be called generic. That being said I am on;y now playing the original Bioshock and it is awesome and I can see why some people could be a little turned off by this one
adorie  +   661d ago
I really don't think the original Bioshock was deeper than this.. if anything this one was so deep that it actually took us to... Hehehe.

I'll leave it up to those who haven't beaten it yet to find out where you go.
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lovegames718  +   661d ago
I agree for the most part with the reviewer ad would score this game an 8 or so. I did however enjoy the ending and was pleasantly surprised.
IcyEyes  +   661d ago
Just to say I totally disagree with this review and to be honest, a 6.5 in gameplay is an incredible wrong vote.
I can start to talk about the concept of "the good gameplay" blah blah blah, but better skip those thing and assure you, the gameplay of Bioshock, is pretty well done.
This review and the Crysis one you post few days ago are a step back from your previous review of Tomb Raider.

I mean, looks like you got fun with Tomb Raider (awesome game) and you wrote an euphoric review, but , you know, sometime have no fun with a game dont mean that game deserve a low score.

Every one have his/her opinion, like you in this review, like me in this comment, but there are also some fact and Bioshock infinite is a masterpiece of game, that is a fact.

Have a good day Sir.
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xPhearR3dx  +   659d ago
"Bioshock infinite is a masterpiece of game, that is a fact."

That's not a fact, that's an opinion. I personally think it's a great game and was a $60 well spent, but I don't think it was a masterpiece.
Ingram  +   649d ago
No masterpiece by a long shot.
Bioshock was though, in its time.
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Tornadobounce  +   660d ago
Yeah I agree man. The shooting mechanics were a hell of a lot better in this one though.
Ingram  +   649d ago
Good review. I -personally- would give it a 5/6 at most.
I found the game shallow, pedantic and stuck in 2005 gameplay mechanics.
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cerpintaxt44  +   648d ago
while i disagree with your score and some points you made i respect your opinion well written review

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BioShock: Infinite

Average Score 9.4 Reviews(476)
Release Dates
PC Release Dates
US 26 March 2013
EU 26 March 2013
AU 26 March 2013
JP 26 March 2013
PS3 Release Dates
JP 26 February 2013
AU 26 February 2013
US 26 February 2013
EU 26 March 2013
Wii U Release Dates
Xbox 360 Release Dates
US 26 March 2013
EU 26 March 2013
AU 26 March 2013
JP 26 March 2013