Why Bioshock Infinite should have been more like Dishonored – great design spoiled by a lack of options

New Bioshock Infinite PS3 screens

The first few hours of Bioshock Infinite are perfect. Beginning with one of this generation’s most awe-inspiring moments, it slowly, adroitly reveals its hand: a glorious, idealistic façade built on bigotry, which soon spirals out of control.

Bioshock Infinite’s great design spoiled by a lack of options

And that’s when it starts to lose some lustre. Three hours in, it becomes clear that – story apart – Infinite has shown you everything. Gunplay feels good, but there’s so much of it. Enemies meet your relentless, Repeater-shaped wrath over and over, and even when you mix things up with the Sky-Hook it’s like the game’s actively trying to bring you down to terra firma. Why else would Handymen electrify the Sky-Lines? Even the Vigors become a variation on the same theme: Murder Of Crows is an avian machine gun, Undertow is a shotgun blast, and Bucking Bronco makes it easier to target foes – with a gun.

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What the game needed, desperately, was Dishonored’s choices. Dunwall’s painted world pales in comparison to Columbia, but it’s a sandbox offering staggering options. The problem with Infinite is that, after a while, you’re barely stopping to appreciate its artistry. Brilliant pieces of design such as the Handyman and Motorized Patriots are just XXL cannon fodder. Locations like Battleship Bay, Hall Of Heroes and Finkton are disguised behind enemies who come out shooting immediately, and in exactly the same way. I remember Dunwall’s places, its people, the things the guards said. From its third hour to its final, startling reveal, Infinite passes in a blur of bullets.

Brilliant pieces of design such as the
Handyman and Motorized Patriots
are just XXL cannon fodder.

Imagine if you could stealth your way from A to B, or you had a chokehold. I wanted to watch Columbia. I wanted the option to tiptoe around, learn its rhythms, get the better of its aggressors through thought rather than bloodletting. I wanted that choice. But Infinite never mixes up its formula, even when it has the chance. Towards the end, there’s the creepy Boys Of Silence section, which could have been a terrifying hunt through the darkness. Instead, like the previous eight hours, it was simply a brief pause between trigger-pulls.

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