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Bioshock Infinite: So good I actually finished it

The title may sound like a joke, but my gaming cabinet is littered with games that never got finished.  Multiple Assassin’s Creeds, Uncharteds, Ghost busters, Arkham Asylum, and the list goes on.  Games either have to have a short playtime(episodic TellTale games, The Cave, Puzzle Bots, Portal) or they have to really grab me.  Bioshock Infinite turned out to be the latter.
I can probably count on 1 hand the number of RPGs I’ve played the whole way through.  L. A. Noire and the Mass Effect games might be the whole list.  These games really pulled me into their story, if not their game play to the point where I just had to finish them.  L. A. Noire have some interesting technological and gameplay facets and Mass Effect’s decisions and sweeping universe just made me want to play more and more.

Bioshock Infinite left me with an experience different than both of these but equally compelling and enjoyable.

For the first half of the game or so, I was on the fence.  The pattern of the game was a little odd to me.  You know that you need to “Bring them the girl” to “Wipe away the debt”.  You don’t know what that means, but at least you have a motive.  The environment is enthralling, which kept me interested but I actually considered whether I wanted to keep playing, because I need a story to keep going.  This pattern even continues after you find the girl.

About half way through, you start to uncover the real story.  The background story of Columbia gets uncovered and it starts to mesh with the events of the game.  Once this started, I didn’t want to put the game down, and played about 6 hours in 2 days to finish it.  The ending was, as many other reviewers have said, very good.  Not only that, but I felt a sense of closure, which I enjoyed.

I will warn that through the story, you don’t get to make any meaningful choices.  Even in Mass Effect, the main plot will take the same course despite your choices but you can at least decide how you’ll get there.  In Bioshock, you don’t even get that.  It is even more like an interactive movie.  This isn’t good or bad, it’s just how this game’s story unfolds.

Beyond the story, which is my top priority, the gameplay was pretty interesting.  I don’t generally like first-person shooters.  The powers, or vigors, were fun but once I got the one that levitated enemies up in the air, I didn’t really use any of the others.  Elizabeth was a really cool addition.  When you have her, she runs around the battlefield, adding quips and finding you equipment you need.

The game also did a great job of melding the combat with the story portions.  They don’t resort to cut-scenes.  You see the plot points from the same point of view as you do shooter portions of the game, which helps a great deal with continuity and keeping you in the story.

The other thing that is a little odd to me that I mentioned before is that there is an odd combination of the first-person point of view and playing a character with an established background where you have no real choices.  The first-person view makes it more personal.  You are Booker Dewitt.  But the story on rails, the choices he makes(which you might disagree with) and his background which is unknown to you pull out of that personal feeling.  They are sort of diametrically opposed, and it just makes the game not quite gel right in my brain.

All in all, I really enjoyed it, despite the shooter elements.  Even higher praise than my finishing it, I’m even going to keep it to replay again.  It’s that good.

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