It’s about time I got to the gaming portion of this site and, being a
cranky passionate gamer it’s going to be a rant. A rant about one of the best reviewed games on Metacritic, Bioshock Infinite.
To be clear, I have not finished the game and I’m concerned I might not be able to. Why? Because this one is easily the least coherent of all the *shock games. *shock stories have generally been good and even if they weren’t good you at least knew where you stood. They’ve started with a person thrust into a foreign environment and being forced to adapt for survival. The questions aren’t about you so much as the world around you. Infinite turns this around and puts you in a world that explains itself to completely in the first hour or so but leaves you wondering who you are and why you’re doing any of this.
This, in fact, is a lie. You do know who you are. You’re Booker DeWitt. You also know why you’re doing this. Someone asked you to. Who asked you to do it? Don’t know. Why don’t you know anything about a giant floating floating city that the whole world apparently knows about? Don’t know. Why don’t you care that you don’t know anything? Don’t know. Who are those people you’re in a boat with in the beginning of the game? Don’t know and oddly don’t care because you continue to meet them and all you’re concerned about is whether they’re following you. There are tons of mysteries in the world to solve but your character doesn’t seem to care about any of them, least of all his own.
A case can be made that the character has been asked to perform a task, “would you kindly recover this girl”. This still doesn’t explain his lack of concern for not knowing anything about anything. If you were asked to retrieve a gallon of milk, you’d be surprised if you ended up in Wonderland instead of, say, the grocery store with a singing, dancing doe-eyed gallon of milk following you around throwing coins at you.
As a result I end up rushing from firefight to firefight because at least there I have some agency with the character. He wan’ts to survive, I want him to survive. I’d rather be exploring but honestly, exploring isn’t that much fun. Outside of the fact that the city is floating, which is cool, I’ve seen all these images when we learned about colonial history in social studies. It just doesn’t evoke much wonder.
Bioshock Infinite is a beautiful game, though it crashes on any graphic setting above high on my pretty powerful rig. It controls well enough and the environment seems to be well thought out. I just wish that Booker had the same concerns for himself that I do.