BioShock Infinite: The Missed Opportunity

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I take notes when I’m reviewing games. Sometimes I write down a lot, sometimes very little. Game content dictates what could be relevant material when it comes time to piece it all together.

For the first half of BioShock Infinite, my notes were filled. That never happens. The floating world of Columbia was exorbitantly detailed and rich. Those small details can help a review by fleshing it out, and they poured from Infinite. I was running out of room on the paper… and it didn’t matter.

BioShock Infinite turns. Instead of this richly textured world, it collapses in on itself. That translates to combat, and the bulk of the second half is splattered with it. Whereas I was constantly aware of where I was within Columbia and finding things to take notice of, that disappeared. Beyond “shooting inside a building,” there was nothing left to say. Infinite was gassed.

I feel bad, although I’m not sure for who. I respect the hell out of a development team who pieced this together so carefully as to make the entire experience an illusion. Craftsmanship is exemplary, and everything needs to come to a head. Without divulging spoilers, a war erupts and the country begins a collapse. But, so invested is the combat that there is no time to appreciate the changes. The locations are less interesting because they no longer serve a narrative, and instead play host to derivative combat with little variation.

BioShock Infinite had to be a certain length, that much I suspect. If someone were to blaze through the first act, it would be no more than an hour most likely. As such, Infinite is padded heavily, stopping progression cold as weary gunfights play out. By the time the battles complete, environments have lost their interest. Why wander?

I so wanted to adore Infinite. I wanted it to be THE premiere narrative-driven video game, and instead, I was in the midst of another shooter. That label seems to cheapen what Infinite does right in the front half, but it runs into categorization on its own.