The game is growing on me the more I play it and the more I think about it. Visually it is absolutely stunning, probably the most beautiful game I’ve ever seen. Columbia is every bit Rapture’s equal.
I’m not all the way through yet, but the story has done a good job of getting me slowly more and more engrossed as I continue playing. It is ludicrously convoluted, but that’s part of its charm. Buying the whole multiverse thing takes suspending a fair amount of disbelief, but the characters (especially Booker and Elizabeth, as promised) are well-drawn enough that I have no problem going there, especially since it leads to all sorts of fun and interesting conundrums. It might not be a PERFECT story, but it’s a story one told.
MINOR SPOILER coming – it won’t change much about the game or plot but it’s a nice moment that you might want to see for yourself, depending on how anal you are with that sort of thing. BUT:
One of the most chilling moments in the game for me involved a character named Slate, an old war veteran who fought with you in the past. At one point in the game he releases waves of enemies after you, and after you defeat them you get the option of whether or not to kill him. I chose not to.
Later in the game you go down to a jail, looking to bust a character arc. While there you see Slate. He is sitting alone in a tiny cell, unresponsive, angry at the world, and humiliated. Elizabeth remarks to you that “Saving him really wasn’t a kindness”. The jolt I got when I realized who he was coupled with the realization that I was responsible, at least partially, for putting him in that cell made for a truly wonderful little story-telling moment.
A couple of posters expressed disappointment that Comstock wasn’t more multidimensional, like Andrew Ryan. I’ll avoid the spoiler and just say that I actually think they do a fine job subverting expectations here, and while I thought this would annoy me at first it no longer does.
The combat is a mixed bag. There just isn’t as much variety as in the original BioShock. For some idiotic reason you can only carry two weapons at a time, making combat far more restrictive right off of the bat. And vigors are more rigidly controlled than plasmids. You shoot plasmids like you shoot lasers; you shoot vigors like you shoot bullets. And you run out quicker too.
The big difference is in the skyline system. Infinite’s combat takes place over several city BLOCKS of space sometimes, and even in its most confined is normally in a large open area. Skylines allow you to zip around and slam on people from above. You can shoot while flying, land on airships and cause explosions, and generally do all sorts of fun stuff that involves running and gunning, and that was impossible in the original BioShock. It’s crazy fun.
BioShock toed the line between shooter and RPG (falling decidedly on the “shooter” side in the end, though), and one great thing about the game is that for most missions and tasks you needed to complete, you didn’t actually HAVE to kill any enemies. If you were to accomplish all of your tasks while managing to dodge all of the splicers, you’d be in fine shape. The only times when you’re actually required to kill things the plot gives you a specific reason, and off the top of my head I can think of maybe two times in the entire game where they just decided to flood you with enemies and not let you through until they were all dead. That’s not to say that I wasn’t ENCOURAGED to fight the enemies at times, just not required.
BioShock Infinite should have taken a hint from that system, but it didn’t. Unfortunately, in a couple of sections I wasn’t allowed to proceed unless EVERY enemy was down, this despite nobody being anywhere near my way and having the time to do basically whatever I wanted. Twice I was stuck spending a good ten minutes finding a random survivor wandering around the map so I could finish him off and get on with the game. This takes a bit away from the immersion as well, which is a shame, because otherwise I was engrossed.
Overall so far: Very, very good. Solid plot with potential that’s slowly but steadily improving, flawed but fun combat, and an atmosphere and setting that’s utterly stunning. I’m looking forward to giving a full review when I’m finished.