Bioshock Infinite is a beautiful game; its textures and sound effects are quite attractive. At any point, I could pause the game, take a screenshot, and use it for wallpaper. But as for gaming depth, what you see on the surface is all you get.
To be fair, Bioshock Infinite as a standalone game would get higher marks from me if it wasn’t in a series. But trying to compare Infinite to the original is painful. I was expecting dark and creepy nuances. And while there are disturbing undertones, it doesn’t carry the same tension and horror as the original. The atmosphere of Columbia is so Technicolor that what should be shocking isn’t.
The story could be weightier too, if the characters were more endearing. Booker, the main character, is a generic noir gun for hire with a dark past and nothing to lose. Even the gritty voice reeks of ex-cop and Max Payne. Elizabeth and the twins are more compelling characters, but the range of emotions they convey come off flat. Songbird, despite being a gigantic bird that only crows, really has the best emotional depth. Even the interactions between characters, aside from Songbird’s bond with Elizabeth, feel too scripted. And, simply put, the plot twist at the end feels hallow. The only reason the game has stuck in my head is because I have a morality question – “So, I was playing as a racist?” In the end, the whole story feels too linear and forced, dragging you by the nose to the climax where none of your choices mattered anyway.
Gameplay mechanics are letdown. Yes, at its core, Infinite is an FPS with superpowers thrown into the mix. However, the number of weapons and powers get a little overwhelming. The shotgun is still a shotgun; it doesn’t matter if it’s a Heater or a Sweeper. Or the Repeater a Machine Gun. There are some minor differences, but not pronounced enough to matter. Even the distinctive melee weapon/transportation Sky-Hook isn’t used enough throughout the game. Your superpowers can be pared down to a select few; Bronco/Raven against humans, Electricity/Possession against robots. And while Elizabeth does provide you with useful items throughout the game, spinning around to look at her every single time is jarring.
Overall, Bioshock Infinite just isn’t that engaging. Using the multiverse theory and time travel as core story elements sounds great but it’s just not executed well in Infinite. There is almost no replayability once the story is done.
Play it for the beauty. Just expect more interactive story than game.