I’ve lent my friend my copy of Bioshock Infinite. He loved Bioshock, which was his gateway from jocky shooters to games like Fallout 3, which was his gateway to games like Skyrim; I’m thinking Mass Effect is the next logical step for him. He was disappointed by the initial stages: Infinite, he said, is kind of ugly, and the story isn’t nearly as compelling from the get-go as Bioshock was. I can’t disagree with him.
“I got a little farther in Bioshock last night,” he tells me. “I just met Elizabeth.”
“And how are you liking Elizabeth?” I ask. My opinion of her is not very gracious: She’s a slightly-better-written-and-animated CG robot than the other CG robots are. Did I mention that one of my theories about Infinite was that Elizabeth was the only human and that the citizens of Columbia were all robots or holograms or something, explaining why they only spouted one line or sang one song and then remained silent and dead-eyed at you until you shot at them. Now THAT would have been a twist–even though Elizabeth doesn’t act fully human, she’s so much moreso than the rest of the NPCs that one could extrapolate, but alas, it’s just poor writing, a game whose characters’ personalities fall squarely in an uncanny valley–everything’s realistic enough that their glassy stares become extremely disconcerting.
“Elizabeth is…something, all right,” he says. He shrugs.
“She’s a fucking Disney princess,” his girlfriend says.
“Yeah, a lot of people were saying that, I think that was the Penny Arcade strip on it,” I say.
“She was watching me play and it was the part where we were on the docks…”
“The dancing scene?”
“Yeah!” his girlfriend says. “I was watching him and I was like, what the fuck is this?”
“It’s kind of a stupid game,” he says. “I mean I’ll play it, of course, but I think I’m gonna play Bioshock again cause it’s making me miss that game.”
I am finding, more and more, that Bioshock Infinite reminds me of that old saw about being shocked about President Nixon’s election, given that Pauline Kael or Susan Sontag or Joan Didion or whomever hadn’t met a single person who voted for him. For all of the perfect 10s that the game has received, I don’t really know anybody who wholly liked it.