Did BioShock Infinite Show Us That Killing Waves Of Enemies Is Getting Old?
Posted on Saturday, March 30 @ 09:56:00 PST by Jonathan_Leack
Rambo would feel right at home.
Playing through BioShock Infinite I can't help but notice that its frequent combat sections detract from the overall experience. It seems like every time I get drawn into its beautifully realized world—which is often—I'm pulled right back out by a lengthy engagement. Don't get me wrong, the guns are well-designed and the vigors are a blast to use, but the regular combat traps when traversing from point A to point B are wearing on me.
The story in BioShock Infinite is absolutely captivating, and if that weren't enough the world is one of the most fulfilling in video game history. So is it that these qualities aren't enough to fill up an entire game? I can understand if Irrational Games thought it needed to bulk up the experience to make the game last longer; this is a game with no New Game+ or a multiplayer component, after all. Even then, Heavy Rain showed us that you can build a successful game off its narrative alone and layer in short action pieces to satisfy the craving for action.
Truthfully, the first time I felt this way wasn't with BioShock Infinite. While playing through Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception I noticed that I wasn't having nearly as much fun as with its predecessor. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I felt like the set pieces and design were on par, and it goes without saying that the presentation was outstanding, but I didn't feel nearly as driven to complete the experience. Then it dawned on me: I was growing tired of the constant firefights. Every time I would walk into an open area littered with cover points I knew that I was in for another 10 minutes of battle, similar to what I had done before the last cutscene.
When you look at the most acclaimed games of the past few years, virtually all of them follow this formula. The Uncharted, Gears of War, Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty, and Mass Effect series, just to name a few, all heavily gravitate toward this style of play. Maybe this is why Portal 2, Journey, and The Walking Dead: Season One captivated us so much. They weren't perfect games by any stretch of the imagination, but they tossed out the endless hallway fighting and provided an alternative.
What worries me is games with tons of combat, like those mentioned above, continually get perfect marks and sell millions of copies. The developers and publishers are obviously seeing success even when this design is thoroughly overused in their creations. Who's to tell them that they should stop? With a new gaming generation we're probably going to be stuck fighting after each cutscene for another seven years, albeit with better graphics surrounding us.
In a perfect world I'd like to see games begin to remove some of the combat and evolve to make the other elements more substantial. I can read a book for 20 hours and stay engrossed the entire time, so saying that a story can only do so much is a cop-out. Unique games have been winning over gamers and critics the past couple years, so maybe there is hope in sight. Who knows, maybe playing games that de-emphasize combat more often will make going back to fighting waves of enemies entertaining again.
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