Opinion: BioShock Infinite is Groundbreaking, But Not Perfect
Though BioShock Infinite was a fantastic game and every bit deserving of the praise that it receives, I'm still having second thoughts.
Though I've had a few days to sit down and digest BioShock Infinite, I'm still not quite sure how I feel about the game. Yes, it's a technical triumph: a testament to how far we've come as an industry in its ability to craft an experience, a tangible world. Despite being completely disgusted with the universe, I've never more wanted to explore a fantasy world than the confines of the beautiful and dystopic city-in-the-sky of Columbia. It's an absolutely fascinating setting: a United States gone wrong, if you will. Columbia is the U.S. had America's reverence for its founding fathers and nationalism had been elevated by mixing with religious zeal.
Maybe I found the world so captivating simply because, as an American, it hits pretty close to home. Columbia is a startlingly on point lambast of the U.S.'s sometimes misplaced patriotism in its history, especially because often what's written down in history textbooks is a whitewashed (pun intended) version of the events.
But for Infinite's technical strength, it's also a glaring indicator about the weakness of videogame storytelling. When I look at Infinite, I see that the medium is still in its infancy when it comes to delivering narratives. No, I don't think that Infinite's story is weak. It's really rather the fact that I have to qualify Infinite with having one of the best stories I've ever experienced in a videogame. While I was kept on my toes the whole time (kudos to Irrational Games for that) and the ending revealed unforeseen complexities, the entire ordeal was something that I'd already been seen before. It's difficult to describe the finale without revealing any suspense-ruining spoilers, so I'll just leave it at that. I thought it became so overly-complicated that plot holes were bound to happen.
In any case, while BioShock Infinite's story may become remembered as a classic of this gaming generation, when upheld against other mediums, it proves to be nothing special because it's a story that's already been told before. That's not to demean its status as a groundbreaking videogame. After all, this is necessary ground to tread and has been tread before by literature, television, and movies. It's a growing pain for the industry, and it's necessary for BioShock Infinite to tell its story, groundbreaking or not, simply so that there is a precedent for other videogames to emulate and grow upon.
So yes, I enjoyed BioShock Infinite as a videogame. Its game mechanics were sound, and it's probably the most technically impressive game I've played in recent memory. Its story was well-paced and constructed, so that, despite the long-list of games that are competing for my attention in my Steam account, I played through it within a matter of days. Even then, while I recognize that it deserves the heaping 9's, 10's, and accolades that are being showered upon it by critics, I still take it all with a grain of salt.