Welcome back to our group discussion of Bioshock Infinite. If you missed us last time, fret not! You can find the first part of this article by clicking here. Right now we’re giving the story a minor break, as we move on to talking about Infinite’s gameplay, from the use of Vigors, this game’s version of Tonics and gun combat in general, to some of the more controversial moral decisions you could take during the game.
Remember: possible spoilers ahead! Read at your own risk!
Part II: Moving on to gameplay! This is Bioshock we’re talking about! Is it any good?
Eduardo: Let’s touch on gameplay. What did you guys think? I personally thought the gameplay was okay… for the most part. I’m a big fan of Bioshock 2 and I felt like Infinite took a bigger cue from that particular game than the first Bioshock for its gameplay, with much bigger firefights and heavier use of power combinations overall. That turn into a bad kind of chaos, especially later on in the game. At points I didn’t even know where I was being shot from. Vigors were very fun throughout the entire game, though.
Andrew: I started my playthrough on normal, and instead of restarting the game on hard I just continued on, so I didn’t get the achievement for my hard work. Combat gets tedious, the final battle is just a chore. At some point I just went I didn’t care about dying anymore; just revive me and I’ll just win through sheer attrition. I think on normal headshots kill in one shot, but on hard that definitely isn’t the case with anything but the hand cannon and sniper. I’m not sure exactly what the difficulty changes are, but it does seem to be more health and damage rather than real difficulty. Save system was a nightmare, no idea why they did that. I kind of wish I had played the game on normal because I do feel the amount of combat drags down the whole thing.
Vigors were interesting, but I didn’t invest as much money in them. Their upgrades are more expensive than the guns, so just dumping cash into all the weapon damage upgrades and a little bit of lightning and possession was what I ended up doing. Upgrading possession would probably have been something useful, but when the upgrade is like 1.5k when I can get like four different gun upgrades for that it never seemed like a cost effective thing for me to do. I don’t think the combat is bad by any stretch, but I definitely feel like playing on hard was probably something I shouldn’t have done.
Eduardo: I personally thought the vigors were way too expensive to upgrade, and when I did invest in a couple of them, they just made it too easy. That was an issue I had with the original Bioshock, where I somehow stumbled into a combo that made me invisible and super strong with the melee attack. The ending section was probably the worst spot for me, I struggled to aim Songbird at the blimps and the ground attacks were plain useless for me – and that was the only part of the game where I was able to actually hit the sensitive part of the patriots due to their A.I scripting of “go for the glowy thing, shoot it, ignore everything else”. But by that point my guns were so powerful that a couple of shots to their head just nailed them.
Heck, I thought of playing it on hard from the get go on this one, I probably should have…
Also, guys, once we end the conversation on combat, which I’d love to stay on for a while, I’d like to know what are your thoughts on the whole “morality” allusions thrown in throughout the game, such as the warnings of not stealing and such. Did you steal? Did you pick the evil choice at the beginning? Frankly, I didn’t find as strong of a choice in this game as in the first one, I tried to be good throughout, and even reloaded checkpoints at the beginning when the use of possession of a vending machine just freaked everyone the heck out. I tried going stealthy and not attacking guards but out of the blue they always seemed to open fire, even though they saw me walk by a couple of times before.
Callum: I liked the combat. Played on normal and found it to be plenty challenging (though maybe I’m just not very good at shooters). The interaction between gunplay and vigors allow for plenty of fineness and variety, both in reckless running and gunning and more tactical play. With how large the armies you fight are, having the vigors on hand really evens the field. Doubly so when the traps are used effectively. Only wish it didn’t take so long to activate those functions. They always seemed to take a few more seconds than they should. And the upgrades – too expensive.
Once the Skyrails are introduced, however, things really take off. Being able to jump on and off them both to get around and to launch attacks from really adds dimension to the action. In one of the first few instances I had to use them to avoid rockets, board carriers, and reach sniper installations whilst still fighting an army of soldiers and mechs. It was awesome. I only wish there were more environments that made use of them.
Also: The final encounter. Hectic stuff. Strong example of how smart use of vigors can change the tide of battle as well. First attempt, I didn’t use them enough. Relied too heavily on guns and failed as a result. Started setting traps on my second run and suddenly it became more manageable, if only slightly. Perfect for crowd control.
The pure chaos of that final battle was the strongest part about it. It was fun to participate in once I started using smart tactics, but the sense of finality and desperation of it all served it nicely. Gave the battle more purpose than your average encounter.
What was most annoying was how the Songbird wasn’t always immediately responsive. Would hover the reticle over targets and the darn thing wouldn’t attack. Didn’t happen often, thankfully.
Gareth: I played on Easy, so combat was a cakewalk. Easy Street is easy livin’. I do hate “fake” difficulty. Just bumping up the amount of life enemies have is stupid. Was watching a video about this, actually: It said that you already know how to play the game and kill the enemies, but bumping up the difficulty artificially elongates the playing time. If they add extra enemies, that’s fine.
Thought gameplay itself was the strongest of all three BioShock games: Really easy to switch between vigours and guns. However, aside from Achievement hunting purposes, I felt like I could have stuck to the Pistol, Machinegun, and Carbine through the whole game if I so desired, and once I had the Shock Jockey tonic that was my go-to vigour because after hitting them with a vigour you only need shoot them once and their heads explode.
I have to agree that the finale battle on the zeppelin was probably the weakest bit of the whole game with the exception of fighting Lady Comstock’s ghost 3 times (Zelda’s Rule, check). It just felt really contrived: “Here’s this massive power thing which shouldn’t get destroyed” and you only know that because a health bar appears at the top right of the screen (I don’t remember Booker or Elizabeth ever mentioning it). Also I found the later levels (from after Finkton onwards) where not as interesting as Soldier’s Field or the Comstock Center. Emporia kind of just felt dead because there were no “citizens” left; felt this was an area where that E3 demo seemed to show off more than actually ended up in the game.
Eduardo: I liked the skyways as well and they really should’ve been used more, I agree. I also liked how handymen could electrify the thing and just leave you screwed outta luck. This seems like the game tailor made for new game+ in regards to upgrades, right? They do carry over, I think, to higher difficulties? (editor’s note: no, they don’t, unfortunately…).
Are we there yet? Are we there yet?! We’re stopping this cable car right now in the middle of this skyway if you don’t stop asking, reader! *Ahem* We’re almost to the conclusion of our group discussion of Bioshock Infinite. On the third and final part, we’re going to be talking about Infinite’s approach to morality, from the pacifist’s route to the moral quandaries in regards to Elizabeth.
Join us next time, would you kindly?