Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Since my computer won't run Bioshock Infinite, I rented it for PS3. Right away I started off with a handicap: I have never played a FPS on a console system! I've been using keyboard and mouse so long it's difficult for me to play on anything else.
Took me half the game to get proficient with the controls. Not good, just proficient. I died way more than I should have, which was frustrating because I know I could have done better if I had keyboard and mouse. But I did get better. I did learn. I did adapt. I played. And I finished the game.
And what a game. Fucking epic and incredibly well-done. The world isn't as interesting as the previous two Bioshock games. Of course it wouldn't be. I'd call it impossible, as Rapture was a very hard act to follow, and Andrew Ryan was an intelligent, fascinating man to learn about.
Columbia isn't nearly as interesting. Instead of a city under the water it's a city in the clouds, and instead of being founded on Ayn Rand's principles of unregulated capitalism, it's founded on the idea of racial superiority. It's a fitting theme to explore. This mentality was everywhere in the early 1900's, such as the belief in the Aryan Race, which the Nazis would later base their mantra on.
But that's not why Columbia exists. A man named Zachariah Comstock was pissed off America freed its slaves, and founded Columbia on the belief that inferior races needed to stay in their place. White men were naturally the rich businessmen, and everyone else are workers. It's the natural order of things.
Booker Dewitt is sent to Columbia to bring back a girl. But this isn't a normal job. Things will go badly.
I like how this city is still a thriving community when you arrive. In Rapture, everything went to shit more than a year ago, so everyone is insane and out to kill you. Columbia, however, is still a normal, active, beautiful city. There are many times in the first half where you're not fighting, but wandering the streets and nobody is shooting at you. This is very refreshing. Things don't go to hell until you show up because you see, the non-white races are tired of being tools white men use to make themselves rich. Revolution is brewing.
But this isn't even the main story. It's just background!!! The main story is about the girl you're escorting, Elizabeth. Once she's with you, it's an escort, but you don't have to protect her! Finally, an escort mission that doesn't suck! In fact, she helps you by tossing you health and ammo during combat! She's not helpless like most girls protagonists are sent to rescue.
The real story is about parallel universes and quantum possibilities. This is what happens when you start messing with it. Things get confusing.
I've written about the "no consequences for death" trend in games today. In most games, once you die, you come back to life and everything is just as you left it. Why bother including player death at all if the player is just going to respawn exactly where he left off? Normally I bitch about this dumbing down of games, but in this case I was glad for it because of my PS3 handicap. And in Bioshock Infinite, coming back to life after death is integrated into the story fairly well. It has a hinted reason to be there, and it makes sense. More sense than the vitachambers in Bioshock and Bioshock 2 did. I didn't mind it this time, though I still stand by my disdain for the practice in general.
My only real complaint is the vigors are not explained. They have no stated place in the world. No reason to exist. In Rapture, the plasmids were part of the world, and the whole ability to alter one's body to shoot fire and bees is what made the world what it is. All of that doesn't make sense on Columbia though. Why can men buy the ability to shoot fire? Why can they summon crows to attack people? What purpose would it serve on Columbia, and how would it come about? Fucking cool as that is (Murder of Crows is my favorite vigor!), it's not explained, and without the integration it wasn't justified.
It shouldn't have been called Bioshock, but it is a great game. Lives up to its hype, definitely.
I wish I had more time to replay the game, but when I do that, it will be on the PC, where I'm more comfortable. I did well enough with the PS3's controls, but I'm sure I'd die a lot less if I could play it with keyboard and mouse.
Discussion on the ending (SPOILERS)
I hear a lot of people are confused by the ending, but it does make sense if you think about it, and if you're paying attention to the audio logs and dialogue all through the game.
Comstock himself says: what if the man who is baptized moves on from his sin, while the man he left behind still exists somewhere else, sins in tact? What if, indeed. All through the game we're hit with alternate realities, jumping from one to the other, pulling things through, alternate realities merging, etc.
Booker is Comstock from a different world. Booker Dewitt is what Comstock would have become had he decided not to take the baptism and stew in guilt for his sins during the wars he fought. Comstock is what Dewitt became when he did accept it and chose religion as a way to deal with his sins during the wars. They are the same person who made two different choices.
The scientists were playing with multiple universes on Columbia. That's why everything is so messed up here. Comstock couldn't have a child of his own, but he did have a child in other universes. He took his daughter from another universe (in which he did have a daughter) to be his heir, and remake the world as he thought it should be... where savages stay in their place and never make waves--which is, according to Comstock, the reason for all war, isn't it? Blacks and Indians and Chinamen and the Irish just won't accept their status as servants of the white man and stay in their place.
He himself calls Columbia "another Noah's Ark." He intends to rescue everyone who agrees with him and destroy everyone else who does not. Comstock wants to do this in not just his universe, but all of them.
The only solution is to destroy the man at the point where both of them exist. At the baptism. This is possible because, as the scientists say, time is not a river, but an ocean. It will correct things across every universe.
It does make sense, and I enjoyed it. It should be a movie! It's a cinema-quality story with professional-grade acting in game form and it's excellent.