For a long time, video games have played a rather central role in my inane existence. I’m just old (and poor) enough to know what life was like without them — a couple years off from being a digital native — but many major developments happened in computer gaming during my formative years.
Games have a way of drawing me in, especially games where I have some say in what happens. I could start playing Fallout 3 and have my missing persons report expire before resurfacing.
I don’t mind having my hand held a little, or even a lot, though if the game has something to say. I should clarify that statement: if the game has SOMETHING WORTHWHILE to say. The writers of Aliens: Colonial Marines just wanted to say, “Hey guys, we’re total Aliens fanboys (and we hate how our favorite characters get the shaft).”
I would like to talk more about video games, but I’m always a little bit behind. For one thing, new releases are just too expensive for me to find the investment worthwhile ($60 for one game, or for five games that are a year old?) and I am not overburdened with spare time in my very real life.
Even so, I think that Bioshock Infinite is worth discussing even now, around a year after its release. I only just now played it (thanks to my wife being a wise Christmas shopper) and now I want to join all those self-satisfied bloggers in proclaiming:
What the huh?
There might be mild spoilers below, though I won’t bed six using any major plot points.
Let me say that I enjoyed Bioshock Infinite. The swashbuckling adventure, the unfolding story of the various characters drawn into this inevitable conflict, the actually useful / not intolerable companion character. I even liked the story… mostly.
It should come as no surprise to any veterans of the series that Bioshock Infinite is lying to you from the start. The writers went into this knowing that players are expecting a twist near the end (like movie viewers began to expect from M. Night Shymalan films) and were pretty careful to disguise their intentions.
What perplexed me was the way they kept throwing out red herrings without really resolving them, just sweeping hem under the rug.
The Founding Fathers theme overlaying the entirety of Columbia? Not really anything of substance. In fact, the militia man head robot enemy is, at some point, replaced with a Father Comstock head robot for no apparent reason. Would it not have been better to just commit to the crazy ass cult led by Comstock and not confuse matters with this Founding Fathers business?
The deep-seated racism and class warfare that seems the central focus of life in Columbia? Not that important in the end. That storyline is wrapped up… sort of, but not in any satisfying way. Here’s your answer to that one: people suck. Moving on!
The twist they finally shove down your throat comes from out of left field. At least it did for me. I expected half of it, but the icing on the cake of their juicy reveal felt a bit random. I’m sure it made sense to someone on the writing team, but in my opinion they did not justify it in the build up.
This might sound like I didn’t enjoy the game. I love it, and I think that everyone should play it (then let a friend borrow it). The story makes you ask yourself questions, and that’s more than I can say for most games. (Though Aliens did have me questioning why I still associate with my friend Lance.) It’s a game that urges you to challenge your preconceptions about what a game can mean, and to wonder if anything you do really matters.
Bioshock Infinite wins an infinite number of pathetic pun attempts and a place in my brainspace for the foreseeable future.