Tuesday, April 30

Mission (sort of) Accomplished: Gamefast 2 ends in success!

It's been four, gruelling months, but I survived. Gamefast 2: The Plum Sake Slushie Mandate ends in success as I've abstained from buying any games, downloadable content or items of gaming hardware in 2013 to date so far.

I'm not going to lie, this victory isn't as comprehensive as it could have been. An exceedingly generous woman who was willing to support me in my weaker moments ensured that I made it across the line. Allow me, if you will, to detail the care packages rendered by my beloved wife - I nominated "reasons" for the timed delivery of salvation because surely someone doesn't help another tackle addiction through the goodness, and only the goodness, of their own heart right? Right? 

Month - January, Reason - Just because
DmC: Devil May Cry (PS3)

DmC was probably the best game/carrot I could've hoped for. So slow it was to get started that I found myself starting to look to the backlog for more engaging experiences. The Darkness II, Halo 4 and Sonic & All-Stars Racing were all conquered thanks to the new Dante's inability to get me hooked proper. As per my review, once it did get started, I found myself addicted... but my word, Ninja Theory made me wait. 

Month - February, Reason - Valentine's Day
Anarchy Reigns (PS3)
Dead Space 3 (PS3)
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Carly's generosity served to reinforce the reasons why I probably shouldn't be buying multiple games every pay cycle. Example: I'm still yet to play Dead Space 3 and Anarchy Reigns for longer than 15 minutes. I played Ni No Kuni for a grand total of ten hours. If I was un or under-employed, I dare say I would've invested a great deal more time in this Greatest Hits collection of JRPG tropes. It may not deliver many surprises, but it offers charm and warmth in spades.  

Months - March/April, Reason - Birthday
BioShock Infinite (PS3)
Injustice: Gods Among Us - Collector's Edition (PS3)
Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)

If Nintendo had their shit together, I dare say I could've lasted four months on Fire Emblem: Awakening alone. For those unaware, the game was released in the United States in February while the PAL release was delayed for the purpose of proper English translation. It's achingly beautiful, I've spent more than ten hours with it so far and I have every intention of finishing it. Thoughts of romance, experience farming and micromanagement have haunted my every waking moment since it was gifted to me just over a week ago. BioShock Infinite is the early front-runner -- I'd almost go as far to say it's the unbackable favourite -- for most disappointing game of 2013. It may have been enjoyable enough to warrant a second playthrough, but the thematic and narrative failures in this package still have me hurting. Finally, I'm yet to spend much time with Injustice, but the game has well and truly reinvigorated my faith in the concept of the Collector's Edition: a quality statue, comic book and exclusive DLC all for 10 bucks more than the price of the standard game. Stellar!

Fortune -- in the form of timed redemption promotion -- allowed me to get a hold on some of 2013's releases without spending a dollar of my own money. Buying a new Toshiba TV upon my return from Christmas holidays netted me a prepaid credit card which I used to pick up Tomb Raider (which remains unplayed), the criminally-underrated Castlevania: Subtitle Squared, and StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. I may not have spent much time with the Zerg, but installing the new expansion compelled me to go back and finish Wings of Liberty.  

I was also able to procure a review copy of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance back in February and just last Friday, my little brother gave me a copy of Trion World's latest MMO, Defiance. The story behind the latter is pretty funny: Reuben's obsessed with the game and reports issues to the developers regularly, almost to the point of harassment. In an attempt to thank him for his near-religious fervor for the fledgling online game, he was sent a copy of the Collector's Edition; unfortunately for Trion Worlds though, they sent a US version (with DLC codes that are incompatible with his digital Australian version), so the flow of emails restarted.  

I'd love to say that I've learnt a lot from this experience, but I have to admit that I'm looking forward to spending up big as soon as I can. First on the list is Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 following the revelation that the franchise will be shelved for 2015 to take full advantage of new console hardware. After that it'll be Luigi's Mansion 2, as I'm paranoid that I'll miss out on a physical copy with stock of first party 3DS games in Australia drying up faster than sauce at a sausage fest. 

Still, I made it, and I'm a little proud of myself. 

Tuesday, April 23

Review Fight Club: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate (3DS)

It's time to shake things up a bit. I'm not going to tell you that videogame journalism is broken or anything, but if writers insist on issuing arbitrary scores with their reviews -- which in turn can rob developers of bonuses and/or livelihoods -- then there needs to be some kind of ombudsmen to ensure that natural justice is applied for each and every game. I can't be that guy: I have a full-time job that, unfortunately for me, doesn't involve games in any way, shape or form and the time that I have to dedicate to my passion draws shorter with each passing week. I am, however, happy to look at a few games in isolation to try and validate the videogame critic's malaise. 

With this in mind, please join me for the first instalment of Review Fight Club - a series where I'll take the worst four reviews (not just necessarily because of the score awarded) rendered by the lucky games writers who have their scores posted to Metacritic. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate (hereafter referred to as Mirror of Fate) on the 3DS will be the first subject, a 2D platformer that has received "mixed or average reviews" and an aggregate score of 73 out of 100 according to the game industry's all-important arbiter.

For my part, I really enjoyed this interesting experiment which aimed to fuse the traditional 2D platformer with the God of War flavoured combat that first saw light in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow which appeared on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2010. It's by no means the best game that I've ever played, but was in no way deserving of the middling critical reception it was afforded - with two reviews drifting below 50.

It's easily one of the best looking games available on the 3DS, with a camera that moves to emphasize some truly impressive backgrounds and fearsome opponents. It must be said that I rarely use the 3D effects on the system, but the sections where I trialed the technology looked great. A consistent frame rate, charming, gothic art direction, and a varied assortment of well-animated, screen hogging creatures await all who are willing to see past a plethora of mixed assessments.

The other-dimensional combat is what sets Mirror of Fate apart from the majority of its kin. With controls more reminiscent of the fully 3D Lords of Shadow (and its Sony Santa Monica inspration, God of War), players can use direct and area attacks to dispatch enemies that approach high and wide. Levelling up unlocks new attacks which, while not essential for success, make it substantially easier to whip through the demonic hordes. Each character also has the ability to dodge back and forwards to evade enemy attacks. It takes quite some time to master, and considering that each playable character has their own set of weapons and abilities, the brawling seldom gets stale throughout the ten hour adventure.

This might sound odd, but the way in which abilities unlock makes sense in the overall context of the narrative. To go into much more detail would be a surefire way to spoil the story, but it would make sense that a reckless, vengeful youth, an awakened and forgetful vampire and a high ranking slayer would have varying levels of mastery over Belmont family heirlooms.

Difficulty (generally speaking, the brutal nature of it) seems to be one of the common complaints amongst games writers, and while I think the game encourages judicious use of magic and the dodge ability, I don't think it feels overly punitive. GamesBeat's Jasmine Malificent Rea offers that "you’ll often find yourself pinned in impossible situations," and that "Bosses are the worst about this and have the added bonus of ensnaring you in perpetual animation loops." Both assertions are patently untrue. Even without unlocking higher-tier abilities, all playable characters have access to both direct and area attacks. Direct attacks and combos act exactly as you'd imagine, flying directly at the enemies in front of you. Area attacks, however, have the whip and Combat Cross flinging above, behind and below you. Alternating between these attacks to control the crowd and dispatch enemies is key to survival; not as central as the dodge, but essential nonetheless.

Boss fights are difficult, but only once was I trapped in anything resembling Rea's "loop". Like any Castlevania game, bosses have a distinct and limited range of attacks and usually assault the player in patterns. The same is true in Mirror of Fate, except here, you're afforded checkpoints throughout these encounters -- which, granted, you will use -- and even specific hints if you keep getting knocked around. On more than once occasion, I was greeted with text in white all-caps telling me exactly how to avoid death when faced with a specific attack. IGN's Colin Moriarty  claims "the developer seems to have made a modest admission of its game’s complete lack of reliable combat mechanics by designing boss fights that are laughably forgiving." He then adds that through the "brute force" of the player dying and respawning, bosses can be defeated. Contrast that with Polygon's Philip Kollar who would have you believe that the boss fights are a "chore" with opponents that can "take off a fourth of your life bar" with each attack, encounters that he sees as only "passable courtesy of liberal checkpoints."

Maybe these writers should get together and decide what constitutes too hard and "laughably forgiving"? To be fair, in support of Moriarty's comments, know that each character gains an ability to either essentially convert their magic bar to a second health bar or heal themselves through attacks or dodges - two actions you'll perform as much as breathing while playing Mirror of Fate. To support Kollar, I should admit that I died at least once during most boss fights. I wouldn't say these encounters were too much of one thing or the other, they were great - you had to memorise attack patterns, experiment with magic and attacks and then act accordingly. You know, like every other Castlevania game. There's also inconsistencies in how enemy configuration is assessed. The relentlessly-negative IGN writer says that Dracula's castle is "sparsely populated by enemies" whereas Destructoid's Tony Ponce states that the Belmonts are forced to "spend an exhausting amount of time engaged in combat." What is it boys? Too many or not enough?

For those looking for the second coming of Symphony of the Night, you will find yourself wanting. Mirror of Fate doesn't offer potential for exploration: it points you in the direction of the next major event through the use of an objective marker on your mini map and you can either choose to follow the somewhat apparent path there, or deviate when the opportunity rarely presents itself. It's a system that works just fine in my opinion. The game has a sense of purpose and determination that sets it apart from its predecessors. Moriarty argues that the game is "unfocused" and that it offers "fragmented exploration," whereas Tony Ponce complains that this iteration of Dracula's castle "is essentially a straight shot." Again, a contradiction which, in my opinion, fails to acknowledge that the new breed of Castlevania is more directed and that's not necessarily to its detriment.

Spoiler warning - The following two paragraphs contains plot spoilers because Polygon's review team are clowns. 

Finally, I'll address the story which, surprise, our reviewers actually agreed on. Philip Kollar and his editor saw it fit to spoil the ending of Gabriel Belmont's 2010 adventure. Why I'm not sure. I mean they could've just referred to the antagonist as, oh, I don't know, DRACULA!? Why they thought it was relevant to the review as a whole, or even necessary to address for that matter, will haunt me until my dying days. It makes fucking zero sense. Perhaps even more infuriating, the villain is referred to as Dracula for the rest of the review! When he's not spoiling games from yesteryear, Kollar says that the "plot never goes much deeper than its introductory revenge tale, instead building to a goofy, predictable "gotcha" moment at the end."

Moriarty, Rea and Ponce are mainly on the same page, arguing that the story approaches "nonsenical", "uninteresting" and "telegraphed". I saw the twist coming as soon as I saw Alucard because I played the demo, but yeah, I can't see anyone being blown away by this nonlinear, three act play. What I will say is, since when has Castlevania been the pinacle of videogame story telling? Have you played Symphony of the Night? To see the game's true ending, you have to find a pair of magical fucking spectacles! Moreover, you'd be lucky to hear five minutes of dialogue across five hours of play! Mirror of Fate isn't the most compelling tale I've played through, but I could understand what was happening and the voice acting scored high on the Scottish Brogue Index. So there's issues with lip syncing in the otherwise beautiful cel-shaded cut-scenes. What of it?!

End spoilers. 

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate is a good game. I'd argue that the fusion of traditional 2D platforming with the kind of combat that's most usually associated with the third dimension is enough to "build an identity of its own" while still honouring its "lineage" - a courtesy that Polygon's Kollar is unwilling to afford the game. While I agree that the new breed of Castlevania is indeed "brutish", it's unfair and disingenuous of Jasmine Malificent Rea to assert that it's "disappointing because it’s trying to marry two unwilling elements". The combat system works just fine, and while the boss fights may indeed be brutal, they're able to be bested with mastery of said system and with the help of generously-doled checkpoints and hints that appear when you're just plain doing it wrong. I can't remember Konami or Mercury Steam promising "the fusion of old and new Castlevania design", but Tony Ponce should know that's what we got here, and Colin Moriarty, you got it dead fucking wrong when you said this game "isn’t worth playing at all".

I thoroughly recommend Mirror of Fate to all 3DS owners. It may not be Symphony of the Night, but then again, I don't want replication. This is genuinely different. This isn't a tired rehash of a beloved formula. This is worthy of your your time.

Saturday, April 13

Going the hard way with BioShock Infinite

If you're anything like me, you may have been left wanting for challenge if you played BioShock Infinite on the default difficulty setting. Death may have cost a few bucks and your enemies may have regained a wee bit of health, but that hardly seemed like penalty enough to warrant a change in tactics. Further to that, every man and his dog seemed to be packing enough fruit (and other health recovery items) to open a greengrocer. Every secret of Columbia can be accessed without encountering a lick of trouble, but to get any real sense of satisfaction from the myriad of combat situations you'll encounter over the course of the game, I recommend a second playthrough with 1999 Mode. 

1999 Mode is unlocked by completing the game using any difficulty or, according to IGN, by entering the Konami code while in the main menu. It's the highest difficulty level and it offers reduced spawn points, enemies that deal greater damage, a more fragile Booker DeWitt, and if you don't have enough money to cover the cost of a respawn, it's game over (don't worry though, you'll be able to reload your last save if you're bankrupted). It's not for the faint of heart, but it's far from insurmountable.

While I'll mainly be detailing general strategies, know that some battles are addressed specifically. In other words, spoilers ahead!

Money matters
Coming in a few bucks short at the register might mean that you need to wait a little while longer to experiment with gun and Vigor upgrades on lower difficulties. In 1999 Mode, budgeting can mean the difference between success and losing big chunks of progress. With this in mind, the following strategies should guide your approach to play:

·         Pick and stick with two Vigors: I know it's hard to show restraint with the breadth of visually spectacular abilities available, but there are going to be times where money is tight. Vigors are key to success in combat, but bottom line, you're going to have trouble beating most anything without lead in the equation. For my run, I chose Shock Jockey and Possession and upgraded them completely. Possession was the bedrock of my combat plans as, if nothing else, it leads to a guaranteed kill on standard infantry - including deadly troopers equipped with rocket launchers, flak cannons and sniper rifles. It also serves to slow down Motorised Patriots, Firemen and Zealots, so you can move out of harm's way. Be sure to pick up the "Possession for less" upgrade as soon as possible to make the most of your Salts. Perhaps most importantly of all, Possession allows you to make a few quick bucks when used on any vending machine; if you've got any means of refreshing your salts nearby, you simply have to take the time to steal some Silver Eagles. Shock Jockey offers an effective means of crowd control, particularly when fully upgraded. While it may not do much to slow down Handymen, it can set up a "1-2 punch" against other heavy hitters if you have a shotgun, hand cannon or crank gun at your disposal. It's also a cost effective Vigor which offers a solid trap option for more open battles.
·         The Lara Flynn Boyle Gun Rack: Pardon the Wayne's World reference, but the point is don't go purchasing upgrades for every gun. Pick a few to switch between to suit your situation, don't be a jack of all trades and a master of none. That being said, you're best off picking guns which deal big damage and have a big ammo count. A fully-upgraded carbine is the best pound-for-pound gun in the game, but you'll be well served by the shotgun, the sniper rifle, the RPG, and the hand cannon. I'd also recommend picking up a crank gun whenever you get the chance - be it from a downed Patriot, or an opportunistic tear.
·         Manage your gear: There are very few stretches of gameplay that require micromanagement of gear, but be mindful of what you're wearing if you run into trouble. For those of you who bought the Collector's Edition, make sure you have Extra! Extra! equipped when you find a Voxophone; much like possessing vending machines, you won't get much for your trouble, but it's in the bank all the same. Urgent Care is easily the most indispensable piece of kit that you'll find as it doubles the efficiency of your shield, but other pieces like Bullet Boon and Overkill are also worth searching high and low for.
·         Nooks and crannies: Keep an eye out for Vox Codes and lock picks so you have every chance of collecting Infusions and pieces of gear. My strategy of maxing out the shield before addressing Salts and then health worked extremely well. The value of the shield can easily be underestimated until you encounter your first sniper. Locked doors and secret rooms are also likely to house money as well as health and salt recovery items, so take your time and leave no desk untouched.
·         Im not supposed to go on sprees: Be sure to have enough coin saved for at least three respawns at all times. It might be tempting to buy those upgrades before you walk into a big battle, but odds are, you wont be walking out of there alive if you do.  

The heat of battle
Without addressing any specific firefights, patience and cover are key to any successful strategy. There's no shame in running back behind that wall if you cop a few choice shots. Better still, very few times was I pursued if I retreated through two or more doorways. Make sure that your shield is at full charge before you emerge from your carefully-selected sanctuary as well: you'll want as much between Booker and your enemies' bullets as you can afford. Finally, check your ammo count before you wander into the next battle; swap to another favoured firearm if you're running low on bullets for the guns you've equipped.

In retrospect, there were three situations where some advice wouldn't have gone astray:
·         The second encounter with the Siren: By far the hardest single fight in the game, duelling with Lady Comstock in the bank withdrew hundreds from my savings account. Rushing the Siren is not an option - her close range attacks do big damage, and her entourage of revive-able cronies will be more than willing to finish what she started. Worse still, there's plenty of places for the ethereal enemy to hide and weave between. My winning run didn't involve any acts of valour, rather I exploited the unwillingness of my foes to follow me through the vault door. Crouched, with my sights creeping just above the threshold, I unloaded an entire cache of sniper rifle rounds plus a few carbine shots to emerge victorious. Keep in mind that if you fall, Lady Comstock will heal completely from any unsuccessful assault.
·         The final battle with Lady Comstock: Yes, it's her again. After charging to the hidden corner of the forecourt that houses three vending machines, patience and a sniper rifle are your best friends. If you're having trouble with this fight, be sure to possess the vending machines to refill your wallet. Getting close to the Siren and her posse is, once again, a recipe for certain death.
·         Any fucking fight that involves a fucking Handyman: Sweet mother of Zeus, do I hate Handymen. They're deceptively fast, they're able to cover huge distances with a single bound and they can kill you in two hits - and that's with a fully-upgraded shield! The only advice I can give is to create as much distance between you and the big bastards as humanly possible. I know they say "Aim for the heart," but this is 1999, man! Nobody's taking a fall. When planning your escape from an onslaught, don't rely too heavily on Skylines either, as Handymen can electrify them for a big hurt. I should also probably mention that those of you who dabbled in the pre-order exclusive, Industrial Revolution should have access to and as a result, equip Handyman Nemesis - a piece of gear that will increase the damage you deal to these colossi by fifty percent.

We shall scrimp and save
For those looking for an even greater challenge, try going for the "Scavenger Hunt" achievement (or trophy, depending on your preferred system) on your 1999 run, which forbids you from buying anything from a Dollar Bill machine. Forbidding yourself from buying ammo and health does put you in some awkward situations; as an example, my first unsuccessful tilt at the second Siren fight had me exhausting all ammo for all available weapons. It is, however, entirely doable. Please note that possessing Dollar Bill machines for extra cash does not disqualify you from earning this achievement.

The conditions may seem daunting, but be rest-assured that 1999 Mode can be conquered with patience and sound strategy. Making the most of your money, guns and gear, are simple matters of budgeting and sound administration. Beating some of the more brutal opponents, however, requires a strong constitution and an eye for detail. Are we playing shooters, or going for a job interview?

If you have any hints that I've missed, please feel free to share them in the comments below. If you want to see more of my adventures on higher difficulty levels, here's my account of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance on Hard

Friday, April 12

BioShock Infinite Review (PS3): Face Value

Note: This post contains plot spoilers for BioShock Infinite. 

The original BioShock is one of the few games that, in my opinion, hailed the arrival of what was the "next generation": a game that featured a level of visual detail and depth of concept that wasn't possible on your Xboxes and PlayStation 2s. Rapture -- as the setting for a first person shooter at least -- wouldn't have been half as memorable without the extra processing power that came with the new breed of console hardware. Irrational Games' objectivist dystopia stands as one of the great places in gaming history. I had impossibly-high expectations of what screenshots, trailers and a couple of hundred previews promised to be a fitting follow-up. Could BioShock Infinite and Columbia live up to the hype? 

No. No they could not.  

Don't get me wrong, as a collection of corridors and open areas in which you dispense of hordes of people with guns and magic, this is a greatest hits collection -- complete with rockets, exploding heads and a collection of funky abilities and superpowers that could match an X-Men team from the mid 90s.  

New mechanics like the Skyline and tears -- which allow the player to use their companion, Elizabeth to summon items like cover, turrets and ammo -- help to freshen up what is some very familiar shooting and zapping for anyone who's played the previous entries in the series and most of the DLC attached to each game. It takes a few hours to find its feet, but the payoff feels pretty huge when you're riding a crazy roller coaster and slinging rockets and lightning at robotic George Washingtons. Despite its narrative and thematic failures, the gunplay is solid, sometimes approaching spectacular.  

High 5 imminent.

 Other returning mechanics serve to make others redundant, like eating food to restore health and "salts" as opposed to buying restorative items from vending machines (as an aside, salts are the energy that power your Vigors, which are essentially Infinite's version of Plasmids). If I ate an entire cake and five oranges -- which I found hidden on some corpses, so there's all types of bacteria to worry about too, I guess -- and followed that up with some coffee, I'd be set to dent some porcelain. Over the course of roughly ten hours, Booker DeWitt smashes a small corner store's monthly inventory, and he doesn't need to visit the loo once! Anyway, the plentiful supply of food negates the need to use vending machines and more than makes up for the inability to carry around health and energy packs. Talk about cast iron stomach... or broken game design. 

On the whole, the closest I've come to discerning any real meaning or message from BioShock Infinite's crazy ass, time-jumping narrative is care of GamesBeat's Rus McLaughlin who muses, "that there can be no morality in an extreme. Any extreme." Which, yeah, sounds great, but it doesn't account for a veritable plethora of plot holes and some truly uncomfortable racist overtones that serve as nothing more than window dressing. The caricatures of Native American warriors from the Wounded Knee Massacre, as well as the demonic depiction of the Chinese during the Boxer Rebellion presented during one sequence early in the game don't really challenge the player's understanding of events, they are, as put by the ABC Arts's Daniel Golding, used in a superficial way that "seeks not to make any meaningful statement about history or racism or America, but instead seeks to use an aesthetics of racism and history as a barrier to point to and claim importance." 

Infinite's story is character driven and focused. The city of Columbia, along with its troubling racist and fundamentalist Christian themes are there only to build Zachary Comstock up as an infamous villain. Comstock, it must be said, is no match for Andrew Ryan, the antagonist of the original BioShock. Where Ryan taunted the player and glorified the achievements of Rapture and his objectivist ideology, Comstock spouts racist bile and relatively rarely directs his ire at DeWitt himself. Voxophones, Infinite's answer to the Audio Diary, are geared more towards character development and major plot points than on world building, and Columbia suffers as a result. The final revelation says more about one man in isolation than it does about life, video games, the infinite possibilities of an uncharted universe or any particular ideology. It's entirely possible that you'll end up moved by the closing hours of this story, but for mine, there were too many questions with answers that failed to satisfy.  

Do you know this guy?

 Most frustrating of all is that several plot points are glossed over in Voxophones that you won't likely find in your first play through. I gleaned more about the fearsome Songbird from reading two years worth of previews than I did from the roughly twenty second sound byte that addresses its design and some throwaway comments from Elizabeth. Worse still, I didn't really get the feeling that its relationship with the heroine was anywhere near as strong as that hinted by a slew of games writers who saw the game across various stages of its development. The relentless focus on central characters means that, for me at least, several moments lacked the impact you'd imagine that they'd have. Worse still, it meant that Columbia was more a neo-classical poster board for racist and religious slogans than an actual place.  

Vigors are another example of important lore that's hidden in Voxophones and otherwise not addressed effectively. Without obtaining, and then listening to the relevant recording, you'd have no idea what such dangerous talents are doing at the disposal of every man, woman and child in Columbia. Not that the explanation afforded is overly convincing either, as I can't for the life of me figure out why a tyrannical figure like Comstock would allow something like the ability to shoot fire from your hands to be procured by anyone through the exchange of some coin. As many have pointed out already, Plasmids, which offer abilities similar to Vigors, were key to Rapture's downfall in the original game, yet somehow, in Columbia, the disruptive potential of, what is essentially, magic with murderous applications has been neutered somehow... by something. Vigors are another piece of Infinite's puzzle which just doesn't fit. 

Elizabeth cares not for plot when there's coins to be found.

 All of this brings us to the emotive crutch of Infinite's story, Elizabeth. Elizabeth is beautiful. She has Anime eyes and she throws you ammo and first aid kits and money and she has feelings too, but her duties on the battlefield and in general exploration come into conflict with her role in the story. Upon learning some of her and Booker's respective sordid personal histories, she's driven to collect more curiosities to interrupt what should be moving moments. Earth-shattering developments are cheapened by the heroine's compulsion to find useful shit. Her expression and mood change by the second and are more unpredictable than her movements, which see her teleporting ahead, behind, generally anywhere other than she's needed to be for the conversation at hand to work as intended. Elizabeth is your companion for most of the game, but she's never really there.  

So, I'm sure after reading this you could be under the impression that I didn't enjoy my time in Columbia. That's not true, as I must have been having enough fun with it to want to finish it twice; the second run on 1999 mode - the game's highest difficulty setting. I'd go as far to say that I liked BioShock Infinite, but no amount of crazy superpowers and sniper fights are going to make up for the fact that the story and setting failed to live up to the lofty standards set by my first trip to Rapture. There's a lot of problems, themes and important tidbits that are glossed over, while other explosive narrative developments are stifled by mechanical conveniences. If you're looking to kick ass and chew literal shitloads of food, this is the game for you. If you're looking for the evolution of the elusive Thinking Man's Shooter, you'll be left wanting. Recommended, but be sure to check your expectations at the lighthouse.