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BioShock Infinite

26 March 2013
BioShock Infinite - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.38 / 5.0
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2,305 Ratings / 9 Reviews
#1,040 All-time
#28 for 2013
Seeking to clear a debt, former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt takes the job to rescue a girl named Elizabeth from the mysterious floating city of Columbia, and ends up in the midst of a civil war between the elite and lower class rebels of the city.
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Bioshock Infinite: the thinking person's game where you mindlessly shoot waves of enemies
Bioshock Infinite received a huge amount of hype before and upon release, and having enjoyed the first Bioshock, I was excited to play it. I was extremely disappointed by this game. I found the gameplay to be boring, repetitive, and gimmicky, but even worse, given the priority of narrative in Bioshock games, aspects of the story are objectively incoherent. Any honest analysis of the story and writing of this game without "turning your brain off" makes it obvious that the writing is poor, deliberately over-complicates some elements of the plot and obfuscates others for the purpose of creating an atmosphere of profundity without having anything profound going on. Oh, and this is all while you kill thousands of people, brutally executing some of them, while laughably having your Disney princess daughter tag along through the firefights and gore. Spoilers are below.

When assessing Bioshock Infinite, it's especially important to emphasize the narrative focus of Bioshock games and the social and political critique that they attempt. For example, it's well known that the first Bioshock was an exploration of libertarian/Randian ideology, and a portrayal of a libertarian dystopia and failed political experiment. I emphasize this because the failures of Bioshock Infinite's story would be easier to ignore if it had less prominence in the game. As a consequence of this, Bioshock Infinite should largely be assessed in a manner similar to films. In contrast to the first Bioshock games, Bioshock Infinite's social critique is less focused. Rather than going down to a city in the ocean to see the results of letting scientists, artists, and capitalists completely off the leash in a libertarian paradise in the 1950s, you go up to a city in the sky to see the results of racism and religion at the beginning of the 20th century. In the game, you fight across the city against racists, religious fanatics, all the while unfolding a nonlinear, time travel, multiverse plot-line. A young woman also tags along with you for most of the game, who is revealed to be the player character's daughter. The aspect of the plot that is objectively incoherent is that player character turns out to be the big bad guy in the end from another timeline/universe/whatever and needs to die to stop the events of the game. As others have shown, if you dig down below the game's mystifications of its own story to assess the timelines, killing the player character couldn't change the plot in any way. This incoherence is not excusable because it's supposed to be the great big (predictable) plot twist at the end. This shows that the writers were lazy and gives the entire game a feeling similar to a Christopher Nolan film: at the end it feels deep because it doesn't quite make sense during the first watch/playthrough, but when you go to watch/play it again you learn that it didn't make sense because it just didn't fucking make sense. Developer: Irrational Games. No kidding, huh?

Most strikingly however, at the risk of making the same point again, it is difficult to combine extremely violent first person gameplay with rich plot and character development, even with narrative devices such as playing expository audio (records you find in the game) while you hose down hordes of enemies with bullets. Bioshock games face difficulty at the level of genre because of the tension between the extremely violent first person shooter gameplay and the rich plot development they attempt. Bioshock was partially successful with its narrative despite this tension because it focused on piecing together the events that led to the downfall of Rapture and exploring the ruins. Bioshock Infinite in contrast has greater focus on character development, and its tension at the level of genre renders its attempt at believable character exploration laughable. I was cracking up while playing this game because apparently your daughter can look you in the eyes and dance around with you even after you rip people's heads off with a rotary hook device and she's been running through streams of gunfire for hours on end. How could the writers expect players to continue to suspend disbelief when this happens in the game? It never reaches the levels of being "so bad it's good," but it comes close at a few moments. Again, this is not excusable because "it's just a game, not a movie" because of its narrative focus. It's impossible to play the game without interacting with the awful story.

Regarding the nonlinear/multiverse/time travel plot, writers and consumers should recognize the narrative-structural challenges associated with nonlinear plotlines. Giving entities or characters in a story too much power over the narrative structure can make the coherence of the narrative collapse. If Elisabeth is so powerful, why didn't she just resolve the conflict of the story herself? This would of course render all other aspects of the story superfluous. Bioshock Infinite attempts to rescue the structural coherence of its narrative from being swallowed up by Elisabeth's godlike powers with the embarrassing cop-out "some things are constant." It is never explained, explored, or examined exactly why some things are constant. Since this is the only thing restraining Elisabeth's total power over the story, it would in fact be the most significant and interesting part of the story. But nope, "some things are constant" is just an excuse from the writers.

I didn't find the game to be fun to play at all. It's great if others did, but I would suggest they look into better first person shooters to play, because first person shooters contemporary to Bioshock Infinite demonstrate that the gunplay is unimpressive even for its time. From the weapons to the magic, there's basically nothing new from the first Bioshock. Level after level of generic firefight after generic firefight grinding away to get boring upgrades for your weapons. Gimmicks such as the skyhook/circular saw decapitation device don't cover up how boring and repetitive the gameplay is. The replay value is low; who would want to slog through that again? The first Bioshock game had creative enemies and bosses (most notably the Big Daddies) and interesting combat scenarios, such as having to don the Big Daddy armor. The first Bioshock featured morally significant gameplay choices that affected the outcome of the game itself (should you use some of the evil juice to power yourself up, even if you are exploiting the Little Sisters while doing so?) The ostensibly significant "choices" Bioshock Infinite presents (should you join the racists and throw stuff at black people? Should you give your daughter the brooch with the cage or the bird?) actually have no impact on the outcome of the story whatsoever. These choices are presented as significant in the game. I suppose the game was trying to make a fatalistic point by including this, or something? More than anything it makes it even harder for the player to suspend disbelief and makes the writers seem insultingly pretentious, tryhard, and 2deep4u.

The first Bioshock games were pretty cool, so it's easy to see why there was so much hype before the release of Bioshock Infinite. It's not easy to see why there were so many glowing reviews after its release, however. A 10/10 rating for Bioshock Infinite from GameInformer and many other publications is bizarre, and makes their ratings suspect. I understand and respect that there are still defenders of this game, but I don't understand or respect the assertion that this is a perfect game. Critics who say so need to get better at assessing works in their totality. Consequently, Bioshock Infinite was a landmark in the history of video game culture, a moment which demonstrated the increasing rift between creators and journalists on the one hand and consumers on the other...

This is not a good game and never will be, even if the youtube personalities, journalists, and shills say it is three times. I was hoping to find at least something praiseworthy about it after reflecting on it enough to write this review, but as I put down my concluding remarks I find that I still don't really have anything good to say that's significant. I suppose it looks and sounds good, but not good enough to play it for that alone. Plus its looks and sounds are dated now anyways. Would not play again, not recommended.
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PeterGeach 2021-07-02T12:53:17Z
2021-07-02T12:53:17Z
0.5
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Now that I've got a better grasp on the confusing ass timeline I can appreciate what Bioshock: Infinite was going for.

I consider this the a third part of a series which draws from the struggle for an American cultural identity. The first two games were mostly about secular ideologies. Here, Christianity is at the heart of it. This a story about God and religion, white supremacy, and most importantly, sin and forgiveness. It's also a story about time travel but I'll get to that in second.

Booker carries with him two reasons for intense guilt. One is his participation at Wounded Knee. The other is the surrendering of his child to pay off his gambling debts. He is a broken man who believes he is beyond forgiveness. His baptism creates from him the monster that is Comstock. However, this Comstock is infertile and needs a kid. He finds a way to access a timeline where Booker was never baptized and takes Booker's child. Booker is brought into that timeline by the Luteces "to set things right" for their own inscrutable reasons, and after the events of the game, Booker is brought back to his baptism and drowned by his daughter(s), making it so Comstock was never born.

I don't know how coherent the timeline is. I suspect plot holes and I don't know why drowning Booker would destroy all of the Comstock timelines, but I also don't think it really matters. What matters is how the game interacts with the themes of sin and forgiveness. Everything happening around Booker is a blur, he is apathetic, he is just here to get the job done and pay back his debt, which I think aligns nicely with the theme of washing away his sins. Both he and Elizabeth discuss this throughout the game and by the end it emotionally moved me. It is by far the strongest part of the game which is a little disappointing because the rest isn't quite so good.

The Vox Populi is the main story issue. Where the Grace Holloway story in Bioshock 2 covered similar themes but managed to do it well I found Daisy Comstock to be a flat and unsympathetic character. She is a stock revolutionary, bloodthirsty to the core, and in the words of Booker, equally as bad as Comstock. I think the game could have gotten away with this if it were told better but it goes from focusing on the oppressive class system and racism of Columbia to criticism of the revolutionaries on a dime. Booker's apathy might be an explanation but it doesn't sit right.

To move on to the gameplay things are kind of weak. It is not bad by any means. Skylines are awesome, the vigor wheel is cool, and movement is incredibly fluid especially compared to the first two games. It's just that with a few exceptions the battles themselves aren't especially memorable. The variety of approaches you can take is pretty cool and there is more verticality involved than most games but it becomes very samey after a while. I found few battles challenging. But there are higher difficult modes I haven't explored.

In terms of graphics I love the colour palettes and lighting here. The pinks and yellows and blues are simply beautiful. NPC models repeat a lot and give a bizarre uncanny valley effect which is especially noticeable during the beach part.

Bioshock: Infinite is a very good game and a fitting end to the series.
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IndustrialHz 2021-08-01T07:42:36Z
2021-08-01T07:42:36Z
4.0
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"First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."

- Dr Martin Luther King Jr., 1963


"The white liberal differs from the white conservative only in one way: the liberal is more deceitful than the conservative. The liberal is more hypocritical than the conservative. Both want power, but the white liberal is the one who has perfected the art of posing as the Negro's friend and benefactor; and by winning the friendship, allegiance, and support of the Negro, the white liberal is able to use the Negro as a pawn or tool in this political "football game" that is constantly raging between the white liberals and white conservatives."

- Malcolm X, 1963


"Antifa are the real fascists!"

- Bioshock Infinite, 2013
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battered_sphinx 2021-05-07T00:00:44Z
2021-05-07T00:00:44Z
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Rippy_bits 2022-05-02T19:05:03Z
2022-05-02T19:05:03Z
1.5
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Fun and immediate first-person shooter.
I am not a big fan of first-person shooters, but I really liked the story, characters, and setting here. Despite the slow and confusing start, the plot offers character development and even some smart twists. A lot of credit goes to the visually gorgeous city of Columbia, which is brought to life by lots of details and additional documentation that can be found in-game. I am not fond of the cartoonish character models and the way all story segments look like a stop of a theme park ride, but got accustomed to it by the end.

The gameplay is a bit repetitive, as it's based solely on shooting whatever you see on screen while following the green arrow. Combat itself is far from being technical but offers a fun and immediate experience for anyone. It might not be enough of a challenge to satisfy experienced players but was perfect for a chicken like me.

The dynamics are spiced up by "Vigors", psychokinetic powers that can be used by consuming "salts". These are visually appealing but rather marginal in the gameplay, as I have never found them essential in combat if not in the very last couple of chapters.
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manicure 2021-07-18T05:44:53Z
2021-07-18T05:44:53Z
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first time around, i really loved this game. a part of me still does. the gunplay is fantastic. the graphics are impressive. the story is engaging for the most part. i recently just replayed it for the third time on hard. this game is butt ass easy. the first half of it i completely flew through. i died maybe three times. the second half there is a bit of a difficulty spike but it kinda feels bullshit to me.
instead of being like a normal game where you have lives or when you die you restart, bioshock infinite has this stupid system where your lady just revives you while taking away some money. this means deaths mean dick AND if you are in a boss fight arena (the one w the ghost lady) you can get yourself fucked by wasting all the ammo and medkits around because there is only a limited supply. really stupid system.
one other big gripe i had with it is the level system. you have to upgrade each weapon individually, leading you to have favorites. to counter that in late game, they start throwing out a lot less ammo so you have to gravitate to other guns. there were several times where i was stuck with the shitty ass heater or machine gun that did absolutely nothing. also, theres no way to upgrade ammo capacity, making great guns like the carbine, useless after like 8 dudes. they coulda just done a skill tree like every other game ever but whatever.
at the end of the day though, i've played this game three full times and that says something. the first half is a perfect ten and is one of those fps games that makes you feel like a total badass. i'd recommend.
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PenguinLink 2021-07-03T14:36:44Z
2021-07-03T14:36:44Z
4.0
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Catalog

knoise BioShock Infinite 2022-12-04T13:27:02Z
PS4
2022-12-04T13:27:02Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
PlayStation Plus
knoise BioShock Infinite 2022-12-04T13:14:53Z
2022-12-04T13:14:53Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Epic Games
Aarseth BioShock Infinite 2022-12-03T21:35:47Z
2022-12-03T21:35:47Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
renehawt BioShock Infinite 2022-12-03T18:14:44Z
2022-12-03T18:14:44Z
4.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
meadowforever BioShock Infinite 2022-12-02T15:45:15Z
Windows / Mac / Linux/Unix
2022-12-02T15:45:15Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
smolderingsteel BioShock Infinite 2022-12-02T15:08:49Z
2022-12-02T15:08:49Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Doubloon00 BioShock Infinite 2022-12-01T22:37:55Z
Windows / Mac / Linux/Unix
2022-12-01T22:37:55Z
3
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
dakotadsmith BioShock Infinite 2022-12-01T06:31:05Z
2022-12-01T06:31:05Z
2.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
El_Duderino_ BioShock Infinite 2022-11-29T18:36:04Z
2022-11-29T18:36:04Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Yogsothot84 BioShock Infinite 2022-11-29T17:38:48Z
Windows / Mac / Linux/Unix
2022-11-29T17:38:48Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
destroyxme BioShock Infinite 2022-11-29T09:52:05Z
2022-11-29T09:52:05Z
2.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
iq070 BioShock Infinite 2022-11-29T02:54:04Z
2022-11-29T02:54:04Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
OFLC: MA15+
Player modes
Single-player
Media
3x DVD
Franchises
In collections

Comments

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  • Previous comments (83) Loading...
  • breakdownbbe 2022-09-04 00:34:39.170489+00
    Columbia blows
    Daisy blows
    Songbird blows
    Gameplay blows
    Enlightened centrist story blows

    Ass gas game with a stank ammonia stench that ripens fouler every passing year
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  • Pumas 2022-09-04 04:25:01.205488+00
    The art direction here really captivated me and I can dig the story even though its sort of like a high school student giving his best try at writing a christopher nolan movie. What really hurts this game more than anything is the god awful level design, which is such a massive downgrade from the first game its hard to wrap my head around what went wrong.
    reply
    • WinterMirage 2022-09-07 16:39:08.244479+00
      That's being really kind to the writing quality of Nolan's films.
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  • plastiquey 2022-10-09 06:49:48.842349+00
    wasted potential
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  • knewnie 2022-10-13 07:41:37.962136+00
    really really really really fun to play
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  • aminstrel 2022-11-14 11:32:02.509834+00
    video games are the lowest form of art
    reply
    • dzhakh 2022-11-17 16:42:39.910156+00
      its sad because the medium has incredible potential but so many gamers just want 'cool graphics and i shoot dudes 8/10 :)'
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  • battered_sphinx 2022-11-15 11:49:58.632683+00
    the video game that is so gamer that it both sides white supremacy [2]

    Anti-fascism Is Literally The Same As Fascism: The Video Game

    so moral of the story: white man is allowed to kill endless numbers of people in his way but oppressed minorities are NOT allowed to fight back against their oppressors

    fuck off with that white liberal "Malcolm X was just as bad as the KKK!" bullshit
    reply
    • Lukeivy 2022-11-19 08:11:42.584532+00
      Aren't there actually quite a lot of historical examples of violent revolutions causing former oppressive classes/ethnicities/religious groups to simply become the new abused underclass? Do you think game is trying to say there was nothing wrong with Columbia's social order?
    • iggys_hot_music 2022-12-04 23:43:25.243576+00
      This game sounds awesome!
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  • sacchi 2022-11-25 04:48:00.053706+00
    Booker and Elizabeth story is cool as fuck, one of the better stories I've ever seen in video games, but all of this background Colombia stuff is lame as fuck and straight-forward ruining it all. Wasted potential for sure
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