Random Thoughts – Randosity!

Bioshock Infinite: Crap game design 101?

Posted in video gaming by commorancy on March 29, 2013

Bioshock Infinite

Seriously, I don’t get big gaming companies like EA and 2K. Do they seriously hire pre-teen game designers to build their games? What makes anyone think that levels like the Prophet’s First Lady Airship level in Bioshock Infinite is in any way fun?

First Lady Airship

So, here’s a major game design faux pas. Even above the fact that Bioshock Infinite is clearly a 4.5 out of 10 star game, the levels are so trite, cliche and predictable that they’re not really even a challenge. Oh, they’re challenging from the point that you have limited ammo, limited health, your character dies at the drop of a hat and they keep throwing wave after wave of enemies at you. The enemies are just so lame. The trouble is, when you get to the Prophet’s airship, the whole game completely unravels into an unmitigated disaster.

The Airship level is stupid long and seemingly unending. Here is one of those levels where you are ‘traveling’ (or basically just waiting) to get some place and wave after wave after seemingly infinite wave of enemies just continue to bombard your ship’s health and you. I mean, who thinks this crap up? Worse, what person in their right mind would even think that this type of level is the remotest bit fun? It’s not like this type of level hasn’t been done before and done better in older games. Essentially, all you’re doing is continually running out of ammo, running out of health and being revived and the level is practically impossible (even on easy). There’s absolutely no strategy here and, for whatever reason, your character keeps falling off of the deck. Worse, you’ve got annoying Elizabeth constantly and inexplicably interrupting the game play to throw you salts and ammo (which forces the camera to turn away from the action making it impossible to keep your focus on completing the level). And, her interruptions usually happen at the most inopportune times, but not when you really need it.

Then, trying to use the Song Bird to complete the level only seems to make the game spawn even more enemies at once. And it’s not like the Song Bird is that much of a help with that stupid slow timer. What’s the point in the timer anyway? Just let me use that blessed bird any time I want!

Silly Stupid Levels

On some levels, there’s a vending machine about every 2 steps. On other levels, there is not a vending machine to be found. The game designers have no concept of how to place things around the levels. It’s all hapazard and randomly placed. They might as well just let you spawn them at your own choosing.

Unexpected from 2k / Irrational Games

This type of crap gaming is not something I’d expect at all from 2k Games. But, here we are. I’m willing to forgive some stupidity in a game, but this just so trite, cliche and asinine that this is it for my involvement in this franchise. I will not be buying any more Bioshock games. The last few Bioshock games taxed my patience, but I never felt like I do with Infinite. This game is just intentionally stupidly designed. Did the designers rip a page from the ‘Video game book of crappy design’ or something?

Gone are the familiars

Looking for Big Daddy?  Gone.  Looking for Splicers?  Gone.  Looking for Little or Big Sisters?  Gone.  Nothing of the familiar remains from Bioshock. Not even ADAM. This is an all new incarnation, a rewrite or, as some might say, a prequel.  Although, if it is a prequel, it has almost no elements that tie this to the underwater environments of Bioshock.  Unfortunately, the familiar is what made Bioshock into Bioshock.  Removing all of these elements and the dark moody watery environments for a sunny blue sky carnival atmosphere just doesn’t really work. It tries to be creepy, but it fails.  It tries to feel like the old Bioshock, but it tries way too hard and fails. The Rollercoaster rails are just not sufficient to replace the familiars. In fact, the rails just didn’t really even work that well as a travelling method.  You can’t do much with them or on them.

The story is haphazard and fractured throughout the game.  Instead, the designers rely way too much on the gameplay itself to carry this Bioshock wannabe.  Unfortunately, the gameplay is far too generic of a shooter to really hold up to the Bioshock standard. 2k and Irrational should have just left well enough alone and closed out this series with Bioshock 3. This game should have been called something entirely new.  They should have just let Infinite stand as its own name, game and brand.  Tying Infinite to the Bioshock franchise was just a money play in hopes that gamers wouldn’t see through this ploy.  I’m definitely here to say that this ploy didn’t work.  Although, I can definitely understand the need to tie Infinite to the Bioshock brand because this game would have failed on its own.

Overall

The best part of this game is the Steampunk ambience. Unfortunately, that’s where it really ends. The game is so amazingly repetitive and stupidly designed, I just can’t believe that someone at 2K even gave the green light to this turd. Basically, the only resemblance to Bioshock is the name and the Vigors. Everything else is so foreign, it just doesn’t work. Then, when you get to levels like the First Lady airship and the ghost cemetery level, you’ll feel like you’ve played this game already at least 3 times before. Worse, you probably have!

There is no originality in this game and the levels are so bland and uninspired, it’s not even worth playing. While Bioshock 1 and 2 felt unique and had at least some cool features, all of that was tossed completely out the window when they designed Bioshock Infinite. I’m hoping this is the last in this franchise as this game feels like a game designed by a company where this is their first title ever published. It doesn’t feel like a big name company produced this game or spent any real amount of time or care on this title. It really just feels like a quick throw-together to make quick cash.

If you’re a Bioshock fan, this game might be worth renting.  However, if you’re not a fan of this franchise, I’d urge you to steer clear of this disaster. There’s nothing fun here and the story is just not really compelling. In fact, the game feels so much like Fallout New Vegas in style, you’d swear they ripped off most of their ideas from both Obsidian and Bethesda. But, beyond the style of it, that’s where the similarity ends.  Fallout New Vegas is a much much better game than Bioshock Infinite has any hope of being.

[Update: If you haven't played the game, I'd recommend not playing the following video as it will spoil the game ending].  Since it’s been sometime since I have updated this review, I think it’s time to show the ending of this game (such that it is), of which I personally think is one immense fail on the part of the writers. The ending happens right after the lame airship level is completed. It took the game designers about 15 minutes to explain off the entire plot premise and even then it wasn’t very successful. I’ll leave it up to you to watch and decide, though…  I’ve also written another Randosity article entitled Bioshock Infinite: Or, why circular time paradoxes suck! that explains why this ending (and this game) sucks so hard and rightly deserves the 4.5 star rating.
 

 
Recommendation: Rent, don’t buy.  Skip if you’re not a fan.

Stars: 4.5/10 (needs a lot of work)

Game Studio: Irrational Games / 2K

33 Responses

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  1. dakan45 said, on June 14, 2013 at 12:21 am

    Also keep in mind that ken levine made excuses, about “revolutionary ai” and how the generic boxart is to grab dude bros and not because the game is generic. Or that when two lead devs left the studio, he said no one important left the studio doing damage control and ofcourse the 2 E3 videos were NOT in the game, it was more diffirent than colonial marines E3 demo that everyone is pissed off about.

    The game is not BIOSHOCK it doesnt do anything new for the genre or anything well, yet it ges 9.5s and 10s,

    Paid reviews nuff said.

    • commorancy said, on June 14, 2013 at 5:49 am

      Hi Dakan45,

      I wasn’t aware that anyone had left the project in the middle, but then I don’t really keep up with which devs are where. That said, if anyone leaves a project in the middle who is an important contributor, compromises have to be made to get the project back into a supportable deadline. Likely, some things may have been cut that those devs had been working on. It happens. Even still, with those pieces in the game, I still can’t see the game as being ‘revolutionary’ or in any way ‘game changing’. Unfortunately, a turd is a turd. And, gold plating a turd doesn’t make it any less of a turd.

      I also agree that this game bears no resemblance to the Rapture Bioshock games other than using the name. The game is also not in any way original, unique or different. As with any game, there are two distinct pieces that must be established to make a game worthwhile to play: 1) The story and 2) the gameplay / mechanics.

      Let’s talk about the story. Time travel stories are a dime a dozen and way overused, this one being worse than average overall. This story is, in fact, trite. You also don’t feel for any of the characters at the end. They’re such throw away characters anyway, why would you even bother?

      As for the gameplay, again it’s average. If you strip out the story and most of the visual eye candy, you’re left with a plain jane shooter that is actually worse than Bioshock. Nothing was added to the gameplay to make this game unique in any way. In fact, they dumbed down the gameplay even more than the last Bioshock by 1) adding Elizabeth who’s sole job it is to ‘find’ money and ammo for you and 2) the vigors are weak, uninspired and effectively useless. Plus, they’re simply no fun to use. This leaves only the weapons and there’s nothing new here, either. They’ve added no duck and cover mode. They’ve added no VATs. There is nothing new to the combat system. In fact, the gameplay was so generic, it could have passed for any shooter since 1998. The only new claim to fame in this game were the rails. Unfortunately, the rails got old fast and really weren’t very helpful.

      Thanks for your comment.

  2. A said, on May 17, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Agreed. This game is a piece of shit. Its a real nice nice pretty looking game, however the game play is just awful.

    I personally wasn’t too fussed that it was no longer under water and thought the graphics were outstanding, but the game play itself was horrible. This game should not be called Bioshock, they have taken all the fun out of upgrading the vigors where you can simply buy them now. They have removed the aspect of the little sisters and defeating the big dadies to upgrade your vigoros.

    They have also made the turrets weak and removed the alarms. To defeat big daddies and access safes it used to require alot of skill and planning, now Elisabeth does everything for you and even finds you money.

    How this game is getting 9.5 ratings I do not know.

    A huge disappointment to someone who has played the first and second bioshock

    • commorancy said, on May 20, 2013 at 10:19 am

      Hi A,

      I just wanted to take the time to comment on something in the gaming industry that’s probably not that well known, but that is definitely going on. Before I start, let’s take a step in the wayback machine and talk about Payola. You know, that old music industry thing where radio stations and DJs would take cash to play a record a few more times than it would otherwise get airplay. Then, they would make it seem like it was just a standard radio play rotation. In other words, it was deceptive. Stepping out of the wayback machine to the present, let’s talk about gaming development companies and popular franchises. Big game development companies know that if their triple-A title gets a 4 (or less) out of 10 rating by large gaming magazines, the title will tank and make no money. Considering how much they pay to make these titles, that would make for a huge loss. So, large development houses tend to throw their weight around in the form of coercive threats. Specifically, threats in the form of pulling large advertising campaigns from magazine publications. While this isn’t considered Payola in the strictest sense, it is a form of coercion and still fills the same gap as spirit behind Payola. That is, these magazine editors and publishers know that without these large high dollar ad sponsors, their magazine will likely cease to exist. The threat of pulling large dollar ad campaigns from a magazine is very real and can sink a magazine quickly. It’s also possible that some of these large gaming companies have invested in or are part owner of these magazines, which is a conflict of interest.

      Does that mean the writer of a game review is influenced or coerced by these threats? Perhaps not directly. But, the editors and publishers know that if the writers don’t keep these top tier magazine sponsors happy, those advertising dollars will dry up. So, it is highly likely that the publishers and editors request their writers to be aware of who the magazine’s biggest sponsors are and write articles that keep them happy. That generally means giving games that don’t deserve high marks higher marks than they deserve. In addition, these writers are also given freebies like game copies, swag and other freebies related to the game in hopes to influence the author’s opinion in a positive way. Combining freebies (a type of Payola if you will) and the threats of pulling large ad campaigns, it’s easy to see why these games get 9 out of 10 marks. It’s not that they deserve it, it’s because if they don’t get the mark, bad things will happen to the magazine… and possibly even to their job.

      We all know that Bioshock Infinite pales next to the original Bioshock series. The game is so dumbed-down by removing the things that made the original Bioshock series fun, it’s completely pales in comparison. Yes, the AI on Elizabeth might be cool, but you are correct. She gives you money, weapons, ammo and health far too easily. In Bioshock, you didn’t have this ‘helper’. You had to go find all this stuff yourself.. and that’s what made Bioshock both fun and challenging. Adding Elizabeth just makes the game tedious and frustrating because no longer do you have to go find stuff. She just finds it all for you.

      So, where is all of the journalism integrity today? It’s long gone at most gaming magazines. For my reviews here, I am not given freebies by large development houses to publish my reviews. Heck, I even pay full retail price for my own game copy. Hence, I tell it like it is with no sugar coating. I don’t have sponsors here to worry about. I don’t have an editor breathing down my neck nudging me to write a favorable review. I don’t have to worry about any of those journalistic ethical dilemmas. Instead, I tell it like I see it. If it sucks, it’s going to get the rating that it deserves. Granted, it is my opinion. So, readers will need to form their own opinions based on what they like and when they play the game (if they choose to play it). Personally, if I am to outlay $60 plus DLC for a game, I want to make sure I get my money’s worth out of that game. If I breeze through a game in 2 days, it’s not worth $60 and the ratings go down accordingly. If I get 3 months of play out of a game (i.e., Skyrim or Oblivion), then the game is well worth that $60. Unfortunately, you have no idea how long a game will be until you play it through.

      It’s unfortunate, but most gaming magazines fall into this same trap regarding sponsors. So, when you see the ’9 out of 10′ or ’10 out of 10′ ratings for games that clearly deserve no better than ’5 out of 10′, remember this comment and you’ll understand exactly why those publications are the way they are.

  3. rtanski said, on April 4, 2013 at 9:33 am

    I feel that the system shock franchise has branched into two distinct games. One became dead space, which for all its innovation, is actually aimed at people who don’t like configurability or complexity (the mass market iq 100), and the other bioshock, which became a plasticky, colourful adhd adventure for iq 115 – 85 people i.e. average to retarded.

    Neither are truly engrossing. Neither are truly innovative. They are all cash cows.

    If you want to experience a good game, play the original system shock or system shock 2.

    Even Diablo III feels like its made for iq range 85 to 115.

    Don’t software companies understand that making mediocrity fodder does not in any way inspire loyalty, enthusiasm or cult?

    • commorancy said, on April 4, 2013 at 10:11 am

      According to Wikipedia, System Shock and System Shock 2 spawned 3 different franchises: Deus Ex, Bioshock and Dead Space. Of the three, Deus Ex (at least the most recent version) was the most like an open world RPG of any of them, but still not a full RPG. Dead Space and Bioshock are actually very similar, but are just shooters. Graphically, Dead Space 3 still looks visually better than even Bioshock Infinite. The developers cut a few too many corners on textures in Infinite.

      I will agree with you that it doesn’t take a high IQ to play the games. All they pretty much have you do is point a gun and shoot. So, as long as you can do this, that’s what it takes to play and win the game. That’s not to say that Bioshock should become a puzzle game. But, I’d prefer that they at least offer more levels and types of play than the run in guns-a-blazin’ approach. If you’re going to give me a sniper rifle, then give me stealth to go with that. Let me sneak up on enemes and take them out quietly.Neither Bioshock nor does Dead Space have stealth modes. I don’t believe Deus Ex had it either.

      I haven’t personally played the System Shock series, but I might try it. It would be great if some developer could bring some of these older games onto consoles and breathe new life back into them. Unfortunately for Bioshock Infinite, Irrational squandered their skills on a mediocre shooter when they could have been producing something much much better.

      Oh well, as you pointed out, they’re in it for the cash.

      • rtanski said, on April 4, 2013 at 12:47 pm

        You can downloaded the modded system shock 2. Bloody lucky bastard. Ur in for a treat. And then ultimate disappointment that you will never see anything like it again.

        • commorancy said, on April 7, 2013 at 3:02 am

          I’ll have a look for both of these games. I’d like to play both of them, especially if they have upgraded graphics expansion sets, which I think SS2 has. Likely I’ve never played these games because I’ve been pretty much an avid console gamer. I rarely play games on the PC due to several reasons: 1) I never trick my PC out enough to do top end games, 2) If you want to use a controller, you have to spend a ton of time mapping the keys as it’s never plug and play, 3) I absolutely despise playing a game with a mouse and keyboard, 4) a console just ‘works’ and 5) the Xbox 360 controller is actually the best controller I’ve ever held (with the exception of the Wii U gamepad which I’ve only recently adopted as pretty much a tie to the Xbox controller). For me, gaming is about the game, not about fighting with the input device. Keyboards and mice are great for word processing and spreadsheets, but suck royally for game playing.

          Until Windows offers a native controller system so that all game companies can just adopt and utilize a single button layout standard, I much prefer playing games on the Xbox or the Wii U even if the graphics aren’t near as great as the latest graphics cards for the PCs.

          Thanks again.

      • rtanski said, on April 4, 2013 at 1:21 pm

        I think that most of the reason why games are getting dumber, is because in the good old days, only nerds played games, but that has changed with easier and cooler computers being sold.
        Secondly given the crappy nature of the graphics at the time, the developers had to over deliver on gameplay. Now theres no reason.

        Mind you there are also amazing games coming out. Tomb raider was better than any before. And dead space 3 had the space scene which was a new mile stone in awesomeness.

        The original deus ex was an awesome game, but it was before system shock 2. Incidentally System shock 2 was based on the thief 2 engine, and apparently was a horrible flop. Probably because pirates like me stole it and didnt buy it ;(

        • commorancy said, on April 7, 2013 at 3:23 am

          I think that most of the reason why games are getting dumber, is because in the good old days, only nerds played games, but that has changed with easier and cooler computers being sold.

          Yes, I agree to a point. However, I think that game companies are also getting generally lazier. It’s far easier to take a previous engine with template levels and template characters and build a new game from that. If someone had wanted to come up with an entirely new game experience, that would require building from the ground up. Companies like EA, Atari, Sega and Capcom tend to want to reuse game engines over and over. It’s easy and it makes the game far easier, faster and cheaper to build. After all, the faster they can get the game out the door, the faster they can make more money. Its all about the money.

          Earlier games weren’t about the money as gaming was considered ‘nerdy’ (as you mentioned) and, at the same time, they didn’t make piles of cash. They were a niche market that might make $10k or something similar. Games can now gross more money in an opening week than a blockbuster film can make in a year. So, game companies go for the low-hanging fruit rather than putting out a quality game experience. Now it’s less about the game experience and more about roping in as many $60 + DLC sales as they can.

          Basically, it’s the bean-counters and executives who are running the show and not the game developers who have passion about producing a high quality unique game experience. That’s the reason games are getting dumber and dumber. That’s also the reason Valve tends to produce so much better games than EA, Capcom, Sega and Atari combined. Gabe Newell still has the passion for producing high quality unique game experiences. Just look at games like Portal and Half-life as what can be done when the developer is given the creative freedoms needed.

  4. true gamer philosopher said, on April 2, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Oh I’m not sure if anyone addressed this but if you paid attention in the game the reason the vox have all the airships and patriots is cause its a different world, pay attention to the story.

    • commorancy said, on April 2, 2013 at 7:53 pm

      Hi Serge,

      Let me start by saying I don’t post any responses that include personal attacks. If you would like to rework your first comment without personal attacks and with solid arguments why you specifically liked the game, I’m happy to reconsider posting. This second comment is fine, however.

      Suffice it to say, I have paid attention to the story. There are huge gaping logic holes in the story, unfortunately, which apparently you haven’t really thought through. Columbia is quite small of a town. In fact, it’s so small that two opposing forces such as the Prophet’s troops and the Vox’s troops could not co-exist for long without one wiping the other out. In fact, the Prophet would simply not have allowed the Vox to become so militarily well equipped as that would have become a serious threat to his own goals. It doesn’t matter whether it’s multiple realities or one. The goals of a dictator are still the same. So, showing the Vox so well equipped militarily makes absolutely no sense no matter what reality it happens to be in.

      In other words, if there were a reality where the Vox had military forces stronger than the Prophet, they would have taken down the Prophet long ago without the help of any false shepherds. In fact, his mission to rescue Elizabeth wouldn’t have even been needed because the Vox would have succeeded in taking down the Prophet on their own (and with that much military might, they easily could have). As a result, Elizabeth would have long been released from her tower by the Vox because the Vox wouldn’t have need of it.

      If you’ve followed the story yourself, you will see that the Vox having that much military power makes absolutely no sense because the Prophet would not have allowed it. It also doesn’t matter whether it’s the ‘original’ world or a new timeline, power and corruption always to lead the same outcome. And, a dictator will always knock back any rebel groups to remain in power. Otherwise, they will get overthrown.

  5. Nikki :)) said, on April 1, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Well first off I doubt ANY of you have completed the game…at all. You all seem to be focusing on ONE bad point in the game and so that makes me think you guys just gave up as soon as you got there. The ending was shit and forced, I will ALWAYS stand by that but if you guys have even made it past this level you’d notice that you actually do end up in rapture. You’re not in the same Bioshock universe. Rapture and Columbia are juxtaposition in its finest, if you’d look at Rapture and you look at Columbia next to one another you’ll notice it is a Science/Religion battle and one is at the base of the ocean and one is almost in space. I think that you guys are being negative because you hit a challenging part of the game and gave up.
    Question 1…did you try using the skyline? No…okay well try that.
    Question 2…did you review what weapons you were using? No…okay try that.
    Question 3…did you bother to max out your shield so far instead of health or vigors? No well heck, try that too.
    I think you’re all just a little bit silly over one bad scene that you yourself can’t over come. If you’re really having an issue playing one hard scene in a game and that ruins it for you, then you don’t deserve to play it.

    You’re clearly not in it for the challenge or the story, I love the scenery as I’m an artist, I also like blowing peoples heads off with hand canons and shotguns, I also like whizzing around on skylines skystriking people in the face with a crazy metal swirling claw. There are harder games that were released probably before any of you were born and so I’m honestly looking at your opinion of the game as not only uninformed but silly and even a little bit over dramatic.

    The game itself is beautifully written, the characters are crafted and if you fuck up, yeah you’ll have problems in the game it’s decision based. I bet you got stabbed in the hand demanding a ticket, didn’t you?

    Anyway I generally think the game is well done, the characters are beautiful and the AI design on Elizabeth is brilliant, by far the best supporting AI I’ve ever played with. I think you are all judging because you can’t play the game rather then judging it by the fact it’s a bad game.

    I generally didn’t like the first two Bioshock games all that much, mainly because of how linear they are but I bought this one anyway, regardless of not really liking Bioshock much at all. I thought it was fantastic and has a plethora of awesome things to do, even mini games.

    So all in all I think that people shouldn’t really listen to you guys, seeing as you’ve played about a quarter of the game and probably wont play any more. Try playing the new tomb raider, that’s a shit game.

    My only issue with the game are some small details in design I’d like to change, e.g. seeing your reflection in water and windows.

    • commorancy said, on April 1, 2013 at 8:14 pm

      Columbia and Rapture should be a lot more similar than they are. There is nothing that resembles a Big Daddy or even a Little Sister. The only resemblance to the Little Sister is Elizabeth and she’s supposed to be human, mostly.. except for that tear thing she does which is not on Rapture.

      As for playing the game, there should be many ways to win a given level. The problem with the Airship is, if you’re hanging on the skyline, you can’t really focus on what’s going on on the deck. Since there are at least 8 different positions the bird can hit and he can only hit one about every 3 minutes, there’s really no easy way to use this device. And since this is the ‘training’ level (i.e., the first time you can even use the bird), trial and error is the only way here. But, throwing this unnecessarily hard of a level at that point in the game was completely pointless. It didn’t move the story forward. It didn’t in any way help the character and the story element was nonsensical. Why would they be attacking the Airship anyway? The prophet was on board. They had no way to know that he was dead or alive. So, from a story perspective, it’s an incredibly stupid level.

      Basically, the level is completely poorly designed both in game mechanics and from a story perspective. So, let’s discuss the difference between poor game design and characters within the game. Characters drive the story forward, but only barely impact the gameplay. In this case, Elizabeth is useless other than to throw ammo and salts. AI on the NPCs do what they do because they are designed that way. I’ve played many games with AI sidekicks. I don’t particularly find that Elizabeth is any better of an AI than any others I’ve played. In fact, the best AI I’ve yet to find on any game is still Star Wars: Republic Commando. But, I digress. Her AI is about average for a sidekick. The one big drawback to the battle sequences is the constant swinging of the camera to look at her when she throws something to you. This is extremely distracting and extremely poor game design. Nothing in a game should distract you that badly from the task at hand, which is to kill whatever enemy is attacking you. Note that is part of her AI, and this part it is poorly thought out and poorly designed.

      As for the level itself..

      1) Yes, tried the skyline, definitely not any easier.
      2) Yes, I’ve tried all of my weapons and none of them worked to make it easier.
      3) Maxing out shields and vigors requires being a completionist. That is, you have to scour every single level for the potions that do this. Basically, you can’t be a casual gamer if you want to get past this level. Again, poor game design. It also means you need to make a lot of choices much earlier in the game that you can’t know until you reach this level. And, if you want to make those choices later, you can’t unless you start the game over. Since this is a checkpoint save based game, you can’t revert to a 5 checkpoints earlier to retrace your steps and find the things you’ve missed. Again, extremely poor game design.

      Every game should be produced so that any gamer of any skill level should be able to complete any boss level. If this is not possible, the game designers have failed. There are two pieces to every game. The gameplay (how the mechanics work) and the story (how compelling is it to play). If both don’t work in concert, then the designers have failed.

      In part, you sound like you may have been part of the team that designed this .. er.. game. The problem with this game is that one showstopper level is all it takes to kill the playability and design of this game in one go. And mind you, I’ve played Halo 3 on Legendary all the way through.. and let me tell you, that wasn’t an easy play. But, this level is almost impossible unless, as you suggest, you max out your shields. The problem is, it’s not my shields that run out. It’s the Airship’s damage indicator. And there’s nothing you can do to increase that.

      Suffice it to say, I respect that you think this is a good game. Personally, I’ve played hundreds of games through to completion. I don’t tolerate games that lead you down a path only to force you into starting the game over to make different choices. Not going to do that. If you’re a level-up based game, then be a level-up based game. Let me quit out of the combat and level-up my character more. Don’t trap me into a combat sequence that I can’t get past without starting the whole frigging game over again to level up more. Poor design.

      And, don’t expect that I will be a completionist to finish your game. If I can’t play the game through as a casual gamer, then the game design has failed. Basically, this game is very poorly designed FPS wrapped around the Bioshock name. As I said, the only compelling piece of this is the Steampunk ambience. All else is just poor game mechanics and level design.

      Thanks for your comment.

      • Frank said, on April 2, 2013 at 1:50 am

        If you listen to what they’re saying when the airship gets attacked, or look at their costumes, or any of the dialogue, you’ll realize that the people attacking the Airship are the Vox, attempting to kill the prophet.

        You might find it easier to beat that part if you use the skyline to perform jump attacks one hit human mooks on the ground (if you have gear like firebird, this will kill them, even on higher difficulties, which I assume you aren’t playing at since you are playing as a casual gamer).

        • commorancy said, on April 2, 2013 at 2:38 am

          Yes, it says the Vox, but that makes even less sense. First, the Vox are a ragtag troop of rebels that have no money and no food. How are they supposed to have access to motorized Patriots, let alone warships and zeppelins in near infinite abundance? This makes even less story sense than having the Prophet’s troops attacking the ship. Having the Prophet’s troops there makes a whole lot more sense from a military abundance standpoint and because they would be defending against intruders. Second, it’s also terribly convenient that the attack just happened at the same moment in time that the ‘false shepherd’ happened to be on board the Airship.

          Ok, so I might be able to forgive the timing of the attack. But, storywise, if the Vox truly had that much military firepower at their disposal, they would have taken down the Prophet’s airship long before the ‘false shepherd’ ever showed up. In fact, with that much firepower, they could have taken control over Columbia from the Prophet while Elizabeth was still in her tower painting. No matter who’s attacking the Airship, there’s a huge story logic problem here.

          Oh, and one more glaring story logic flaw. The Prophet’s troops wouldn’t know if the Prophet is dead or alive, so they would be there attacking the Vox themselves along with the player character. They wouldn’t let the First Lady Airship get attacked without attempting to defend it themselves in their own ships. So, where are they? Why are they not there helping to attack the Vox and defend the Airship?

          Thanks for your comment.

          • Laguna Company said, on April 27, 2013 at 5:09 pm

            Wasn’t the whole section in Finkton (Columbia’s manufacturing centre) supposed to show how the Vox got their weapons?

            • commorancy said, on April 28, 2013 at 8:59 am

              Actually, that part wasn’t very clear. I believe the manufacturing plant was actually supplying Prophet’s troops with weapons. I believe the Vox’s weapons were to be obtained by the false prophet. At least, that’s what one of the story missions was all about. However, once the time tear opens, the story becomes quite convoluted, fractured and nonsensical. So, in reality, the writers lost their way after the first time rift opens. As I said, the Vox were a rag tag group of rebels with little money. It was very easy for the Prophet to subdue the Vox and prevent them from gaining any real power because he had all the money and troops. The fact that by the Airship level the Vox had more firepower and troops than the Prophet tells me that the writers didn’t think through the story arc. Again, there is no way the Prophet would have allowed the Vox to become that militarily well equipped. And if the Vox were to gain that much military might, the false prophet wouldn’t have even been needed to free Elizabeth. And, that issue right there completely unravels the whole premise behind creating Infinite. Basically, the story completely falls apart at the Airship level.

        • commorancy said, on April 2, 2013 at 3:16 am

          Jump attacks work great on human characters, not so much on motorized Patriots. So, when you get to the part where the Patriots are storming the deck of the ship, you’ve got really very limited options other than the bird. So then, that wastes the bird when it could be used on the Zeppelins. Again, it’s a very poorly designed level.

          • Laguna Company said, on April 27, 2013 at 5:14 pm

            Hey commorancy,

            Have you tried using Possession on the Patriots, or Shock Jockey to stun them and then shooting the gears on their back?

            • commorancy said, on April 28, 2013 at 9:07 am

              Yes, and possession is such a weak power that it rarely ever works correctly on larger mechs. Let’s just say that if you’re dealing with one Patriot, it’s easy to defeat it. When you’re tackling the Airship level with two Patriots combined with about 10 other troops storming the deck and three airships off the bow lobbing RPG volleys, trying to use powers like this to focus on one single enemy will usually get you killed or the airship destroyed. There’s far too much going on all over the deck to be able to really focus on any one thing for very long. Using possession on a single Patriot might help for about 10 seconds, but then 10 other troops will swoop in and kick your butt.

      • commonflux said, on November 22, 2013 at 9:24 am

        You said: “Every game should be produced so that any gamer of any skill level should be able to complete any boss level.”

        I’m a casual gamer as well, so I am by no means a master at conquering any video game that crosses my path. But I recognize that it still takes skills to play video games. Hand-eye coordination is a skill; analytical thinking is a skill; deductive reasoning is a skill. With practice, these things improve and become talents that a person possesses and can rely upon when playing a game. I understand if a player is not adept at a particular game (or even a type/genre of game), but they still have to be proficient enough with their skills in order to get through it.

        To say that every game to be completed by any gamer of any skill level basically means that every game can’t be challenging in any way. If someone is not skilled enough to place a crosshair over an enemy, then I don’t expect them to complete a first-person shooter. If someone isn’t skilled enough at hitting buttons in the correct order to a rhythm, I don’t expect them to complete musical games. If someone isn’t skilled enough at analyzing problems, then I don’t expect them to complete puzzle games.

        What I expect is for games to teach us, and through playing them, practice those skills in order to be able to complete the game. Sometimes this is done by playing on an easier difficulty. Sometimes this is done by playing other games that require the same skills. But if a person does not challenge themself to improve to the point where they can complete a game, then they need to accept that they cannot finish it. Games are not trivial devices to hand out false praise because anyone can do it; games challenge us to become better, and should reward us accordingly.

        You said: “If I can’t play the game through as a casual gamer, then the game design has failed.”

        I have to disagree, and say that in this case you have failed to improve yourself at this game. Whether you decide to accept the failure and quit, or continue to try to beat it, is up to you.

        • commorancy said, on November 22, 2013 at 11:43 pm

          To say that every game to be completed by any gamer of any skill level basically means that every game can’t be challenging in any way. If someone is not skilled enough to place a crosshair over an enemy, then I don’t expect them to complete a first-person shooter. If someone isn’t skilled enough at hitting buttons in the correct order to a rhythm, I don’t expect them to complete musical games. If someone isn’t skilled enough at analyzing problems, then I don’t expect them to complete puzzle games.

          Based on the hardness level that is selected, every gamer of every level should have a shot at completing the game. Meaning, most games offer at least 3 hardness levels (easy, medium, hard). If you choose the ‘easy’ option, this skill level should be capable of being played by just about anyone, including someone who hasn’t ever picked up a controller.

          The subsequent harder levels would be designed for more seasoned gamers. These levels clearly would not be for the novice gamer, but they could certainly try it knowing that it may be difficult. This is the reason multiple challenge levels are included in the ‘better quality’ games.

          You said: “If I can’t play the game through as a casual gamer, then the game design has failed.”

          I have to disagree, and say that in this case you have failed to improve yourself at this game. Whether you decide to accept the failure and quit, or continue to try to beat it, is up to you.

          We’ll have to agree to disagree here. If you’re playing on ‘easy’ level (which is clearly designed for casual gaming) and the level turns out to be something other than ‘easy’, then the game design has clearly failed. And, if the game switches hardness strategies randomly even under ‘easy’, the game design has also failed. Bioshock Infinite clearly did this throughout the game. But even worse than the hardness of the game randomly changing, you also get the problem repetitive enemies all over the game. I’m not just talking about the pawns that can be killed by one shot. I’m talking about mini-bosses.

          Every boss should be unique and different on every level. If, as a game development house, you cannot be bothered to create unique and different mini-bosses throughout the game, then I can’t be bothered to play your game.

    • commorancy said, on April 8, 2013 at 3:09 am

      Hi Nikki,

      You write

      Well first off I doubt ANY of you have completed the game…at all. You all seem to be focusing on ONE bad point in the game and so that makes me think you guys just gave up as soon as you got there. The ending was $&#t and forced…

      Let me respond specifically to these points as these few sentences are completely loaded with commentary:

      I doubt ANY of you have completed the game…at all

      As a long time game player, I’ve played many games through to completion. I’ve owned practically every game console that has ever been made and played most of the major titles. Most games I complete, some I don’t. However, completing the game or not doesn’t mean you can’t review how well the game is designed. If the game is crap, it’s crap. If the mechanics don’t work, they don’t work. When the levels are designed poorly, it’s easy to tell from just the first few levels. In fact, it’s easy to spot crap design even on the _first_ level. However, when I choose to critique a game, I do at least attempt get through at least 50% of the game before I feel I know enough about it to write a sensible critique. After all, I am willing to give the game developers some slack with the first few levels.

      But, you definitely do not need to complete the game to critique how well the game is designed. I can also guarantee you that my rating of this game would not change having completed the game or not. Once there’s a problem in a game, that problem cannot be undone. It’s there unless the game company rolls a patch that rewrites that level. To date, I’ve never seen a game company do this. One game that really deserved a rewrite is Mass Effect 3, but that didn’t happen either.

      Time is valuable. Time is, in fact, each person’s most valuable resource here on Earth. More valuable than money, gold, diamonds or anything else you can think of. You can choose to spend your time however you like. But, how I choose to spend my time is my choice. If game designers don’t respect that I am willingly giving up part of my life to play their game and instead insult my intelligence with poor design choices (like the First Lady Airship Level), then I don’t continue to invest my time into their game. Keep in mind that games aren’t like movies. A movie is around 2 hours in length. A game might consume at least 10 hours if not 40-50 hours of time that you can never get back. For this reason alone, if stupid design is involved, I don’t continue playing the game because it’s not worth my time.

      You all seem to be focusing on ONE bad point in the game and so that makes me think you guys just gave up as soon as you got there.

      It’s not just ONE bad point in the game. It’s one bad point in among many. It’s that this one level turned into ‘the straw the broke the camel’s back’. Everything leading up to the First Lady Airship was already taxing my patience with this game. The cemetery level was nearly enough for me to give up the game just because it’s already been done in other games and done better. Because this level is a blatant ripoff of other games, why would I want to repeat a previously played game? I’ve already stated my time is valuable. Developers need to respect that. In other words, be original. Design original game play with original levels. Don’t rip your levels off from other games. Copying may be a form of flattery, but not in big-name video game titles. Originality is the key.

      And then you ironically say…

      The ending was $&#t [edited] and forced…

      So, were I to get past the First Lady Airship level and complete the game, there’s really no incentive to do so based on this statement. But, I already knew that by the lack of thought that went into the Airship level both from a game mechanics perspective and a story perspective… especially from the story perspective. It’s clear that Irrational’s designers did not think through this story arc. It’s also quite difficult to write a cohesive story when you’re dealing with time fractures. This is one of the reasons I prefer not to read books or watch movies/TV about time travel, time fractures or anything dealing with time paradoxes. Inevitably the authors will cheat and then chalk the problems up to the ‘time anomaly’ (i.e., Lost). Lost was probably one of the worst offenders of Ex Deus Machina (read trite) storytelling I have ever seen in a TV show.

      Infinite was already treading down that same Ex Deus Machina path as soon as Elizabeth opened her first tear and we walked through it. After that point, the story had to tread very carefully or become a complete cop-out. Unfortunately, the writers trudged through the story arc with all of the grace of Goliath wearing combat boots in a mudslide. By the time we got to the Airship, all rational story ideas were tossed aside in lieu of the game play. Someone at Irrational must have thought, “Who cares that the Vox would never be this well equipped as long as we can put this deck level together?” To them I say, “Respect my time, respect my intelligence.”

      I don’t need to complete the game to know that this game has problems or to write about said problems.

      Thanks.

  6. Zoltán said, on April 1, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Exactly. You are very right. When I got the the Airship fight, I ran out of ammo in about 5-6 minutes, then I was just pointlessly running around, throwing a few useless, weak vigors. Eventually, when I figured that I need to KILL myself in order to have enough ammo, the game dropped me right back to the start of the battle. That’s the point where I said ‘okay, now I’m just gonna quit before I break something.’

    And indeed. This game has NOTHING to do with the original Bioshock series. If they didn’t put Bioshock in the title of this game, I wouldn’t have bought it.

    Waste of money, complete trash.

    • commorancy said, on April 8, 2013 at 5:48 am

      This is the exact problem I have with checkpoint save games and the exact reason I despise the checkpoint style of saving. In this day and age of gaming, there is absolutely no reason not to allow saving your game anywhere at any point and let you pick back up from that point. Checkpoint style game saving is the laziest way for game designers to write game saves. It takes a bit more effort to actually write out a game save file that can be loaded in with the game being set back up right at the same place where it was. It’s not that it cannot be done, it’s that game developers choose not to do it (i.e., they’re basically lazy).

      Bioshock Infinite is a game that suffers quite badly from checkpoint saves. The reason is that if you are required to level your character up to a point to get past a certain future level, you’re trapped when you can’t go back and level your character up more. Because Bioshock Infinite is a linear shooter, that means you can’t go back to a previous level and locate things that you might need.

      The Amazing Spider-Man game got this piece right, at least. While it is a linear game, it lets you go ‘home’ and replay past levels to pick up things you missed. You can’t do this in Infinite and this means that if you need to find all of the potions for shields and health that you missed, you can’t go back and find them.

      So, yes, I agree that the lack of full game saves make this game poorly designed and only worth a rental.

  7. Michael said, on March 29, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Took the words right out of my mouth. Annoying and chaotic game!! Really a disappointment!! I just stopped playing, ran outta ammo, nothing to be had in sight, stupid game!! And, full of weakass dumb vigors.

    • commorancy said, on March 30, 2013 at 7:29 am

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for your comment. I definitely agree with you about the vigors. By the point in the game where you are on the Airship level, your vigors should be strong enough to kill most enemies in one shot. Instead, the vigors are so weak, you can barely even stun most enemies with them. Although, you can chain the vigor with the weapon and usually get a faster kill. Worse, the game prompts you to ‘Remember to use your vigors’ constantly. And, if you die a number of times, the game harasses you to downgrade the skill level. Again, more condescending game design. Games shouldn’t automatically recommend downgrading hardness levels. Instead, it should compensate by reducing the strength or number of the enemy so you can at least move on. That, at least, is not patronizing to the gamer. It’s less about completing the level as designed and more about finishing the game.

      When people trade the game in unfinished, the game developers have completely failed in game design. It isn’t about how hard you can make the level, it’s about allowing every game player to complete the game on THEIR terms. If that means you’ve got a hardcore gamer who can whip enemies in 2 seconds, then progressively increase the game’s hardness level to match the player’s skill. If the player is less skilled or prefers using alternative combat techniques like stealth kills (which Bioshock Infinite doesn’t even offer), the game should compensate to provide enemies that work with that play style.

      At this point, Bioshock Infinite’s fighting engine is so behind the curve when compared to games like even Call of Duty, this game could have been released 8 years ago and no one would have known the difference. This game is basically an FPS that has absolutely no bells and whistles. It’s a completely straightforward shooter. It offers no stealth capabilities, no duck and cover modes (even though you can crouch behind things), no peek out from cover, no jumping between cover and no VATS (automatic targeting).

      For a franchise as big and as far along as this title is, this game is so behind the technology curve I don’t even get why you would want to release it, let alone play it. As I said in the review, the game is completely bland and boring. The underwater city with the Splicers was at least interesting and the story worked far better than Infinite. The premise here in Infinite is so weak, it doesn’t even hold up. Someone marks the back of this guy’s hand and calls him a false shepherd and everyone just suddenly becomes aggressive trying to kill this guy? What kind of setup is that? It’s not like the guy couldn’t put a glove over his hand!

      Oh well, no point in crying over this game. What’s done is done. Irrational better hope that they make enough money out of this thing. Triple A titles usually don’t end up being D grade quality. I’ll have to start being a lot more careful with games released by 2K.

      • Frank said, on April 2, 2013 at 1:51 am

        “Games shouldn’t automatically recommend downgrading hardness levels. Instead, it should compensate by reducing the strength or number of the enemy so you can at least move on.”

        The point of a harder difficulty level is that its harder. What you’re saying, essentially, is that rather than gettign suggestions to set the difficulty lower, the game should do so automatically because you can’t get past a certain point.

        • commorancy said, on April 2, 2013 at 2:27 am

          Actually no. What I’m saying is that the developers should provide one of two approaches:

          1) We don’t need to be told that there’s a lesser difficulty level each time the character dies or whenever the game feels like it. That’s redundant and patronizing. You don’t need to patronize the gamer. Once we’ve been told once there is another difficulty level, we don’t need to be told again and again and again. We already know that there are multiple difficulty levels and can manually switch it any time of choosing. Therefore, don’t suggest this option more than once.

          2) If the developers must suggest more than once, then turn it into a smart system. Intelligently figure out what level the player is at and automatically adjust the difficulty level to match how the player is playing. Lots of games do this already, it’s not that hard of a feature to add. And, it avoids this redundant message. Use that message for more important things, like tips on how to beat a certain opponent.

          What this current implemention is called is lazy game development. That is, instead of doing the work to make the game better, they just keep throwing up a condescending message suggesting the player to change the difficulty level, which is not necessary. Very few gamers wouldn’t already know how to change the difficulty level from the options menu.

          • Laguna Company said, on April 27, 2013 at 2:56 pm

            Hi Commorancy,

            Did you try switching off “Adaptive Training” in the options menu?

            • commorancy said, on April 28, 2013 at 8:46 am

              Yes, turning it off or on offered no real benefit. Although, I’m already done with this game. It’s already a done deal in my book. Too many problems as already described to make this game into any kind of a decent game. This game is pretty much a rail shooter. You’re stuck on a single path that directs you in one direction (unlike Bioshock 1, 2 and 3 that at least had some semblance of free roaming). You’re trapped where you are in the game because of the checkpoint saves. This game pretends to be a game that offers a level up system. But, you can’t go back and level your character up to gain better skill by reloading to a previous save. When you create a game with a leveling up system, you have to offer a save / resume anywhere option. Checkpoint saves are designed for games where leveling up is not needed. Again, another game design faux pas. It’s very clear, this game needed at least another year of development time.

              • Laguna Company said, on April 28, 2013 at 3:54 pm

                A fully-featured save/load system would definitely be a real convenience; Bioshock Infinite instead has a “Load Chapter” menu.

                (Also, I’m a bit confused – was there a Bioshock 3?)


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