We've Been Had
I don't play many games anymore, but I was extremely excited about Bioshock Infinite, and now I'm really pissed off.
Irrational Games used supposed "game play" trailers to deceive us, delivering a product that is NOTHING like what was shown to us for the past two years since the game's announcement. From a consumer point of view, I paid $60 and didn't get what was advertised. Here's why I feel that way:
The game itself is good, it's not as good as the original Bioshock, but I'm not comparing the two; this isn't a critical review of the game. This is an angry rant about what was SHOWN--not hinted, not promised, SHOWN--to me wasn't delivered.
First of all, about two years ago, a nearly 10 minute "game play demo" was released showing this game.
Here it is if you never saw it:
It was amazing, and everyone I knew was talking about it and we were rightfully excited.
In the trailer, it shows your companion, Elizabeth, doing all kinds of amazing stuff during the course of game play. She summons a storm, and turns a bunch of junk into a big flaming ball.
This is a still from that trailer where she's clearly using some awesome power.
This is where she makes the metal ball out of junk that the player throws at an enemy.
The problem is NONE OF THIS STUFF IS IN THE GAME. In the game, the most interaction Elizabeth has with the environment, is leaning up against a wall, which was actually praised in the IGN review. Are you guys kidding me? A character leaning against a wall impresses you?
The only time the player actually interacts with Elizabeth is when she randomly throws you a coin or some ammo in battle. This is actually really annoying, because this sequence, which is the same animation every single time, brings the game to a complete stop while you turn and watch Elizabeth throw you a coin or ammo. What's worse is the button to accept this animation is also the reload button.
So from this "game play demo" to actual game, we went from interacting with Elizabeth's amazing space/time manifestations to kill enemies, to pressing a single button to accept a coin she throws at you. So am I supposed to believe that she had these amazing powers and the guys at Irrational Games just decided to 86 them in the 2 years since the trailer? I don't believe that was real "game play" in the "game play demo" and I think that the actual released game is clearly evidence of this. Also, this demo was never released to the public, we only ever saw videos of it. I don't think it was actual game play.
But you know what? Sometimes games change. I can understand that, but you should tell somebody about it. At some point, Ken Levine, creative director, had to have realized what they were going to release was not what they had been showing. They should have said, "We really wanted Elizabeth to have these awesome powers, but we weren't able to fit it in the game. We bit off more than we could chew making that amazing demo, which clearly wasn't part of the actual game, and we hope that people will still buy and enjoy the game we were able to make. Sorry."
But they didn't, and they continued to hype the game, based on the footage from the demo and ACCEPTED AWARDS based on it. Actually they didn't just accept awards, THEY'RE USING THIS HIGHLY AWARDED STATUS TO PROMOTE THE GAME. UNBELIEVABLE. Check this out:
But the thing is that the game inside this box art ISN'T THE GAME THAT WON THOSE AWARDS!
Those awards were given to the game that was showcased in those demos, which isn't THIS game.
This is flat out false advertising. This would be a different story if they had released other trailers, but they never did. For 2 years all we saw were the two hands-off demos.
What I have mentioned above is the biggest complaint I have, but it's not the only thing that didn't make it into the final game, that was showcased in the supposed "game play demo." And, a year after, they released another, even longer, 15 minute "game play demo" that showed more stuff that isn't in the game. I could probably list 30 things that were shown and aren't in the final game. And I'm not just talking about aesthetic choices, entire scenes were fabricated, in-game powers and abilities that aren't there. But the main selling point for me and what I feel the original "game play demo" showcased was always Elizabeth and how the player was going to interact with her which turned out to be completely non-existent.
But just for fun, here's the list of things shown in the trailers, that aren't in the game, for which Irrational Games won 80 awards.
From the 10 minute "game play demo" posted in 2010.
1. The player is shown to have telekinesis, like in Bioshock 1 & 2 and uses it to throw around all kinds of stuff.
2. Huge cannons are firing all over the place and destroying the environment. They aren't in the actual game at all.
3. Enemies have glowing yellow eyes--seem possessed or out of control like the citizens of Rapture. This is clearly not the case in the game; the citizens are motivated to kill Booker solely from political/religious ideology.
4. Pieces of buildings come crashing down in front of the player, including a huge bell from a floating bell tower.
5. Crows eating a dead horse.(Update 4/5/13: This implies that Columbia is in a state of decay and that there are literally dead animals laying in the street. This is an echo of Rapture when you first arrive there--remember the chaos and uncertainty? They were trying to get us to think that Columbia would have the same terrifying atmosphere as Rapture. And this one image, along with the slumped over man driving the cart, really implied that Columbia was out of control and a sort of post-apocalyptic environment, which is much more interesting than what we really got. Conflict is always interesting. I refuse to believe that they didn't have the story figured out by that point, and I think they were using very effective imagery which reminded us about Rapture to misrepresent the game.)
6. Skyline system more extensive in demo than in actual game.
7. Cargo moves along the skyline system independently providing natural hazards to avoid. In the game, other than the first area, the only time cargo moves alone the skyline is when Booker uses a lever a few times to move stationary boxes out of the way.
8. A man named Charles uses Murder of Crows vigor against the player and crows surround the screen and obstruct the player's view. In the game nothing this elaborate is used against the player.
9. The player runs at Charles and rams him off the ledge of a floating platform. In the game there is a Ram vigor, but it's not nearly as cool as sprinting at an enemy and elbowing them off a cliff. If this is real game play, why is this suddenly not available in the game?
10. The possessed enemy uses the skyline to escape from Booker. In the game the Skylines are almost completely barren, the AI rarely uses them, and they certainly don't use them to try to escape a battle; they're not that smart.
11. The player can zoom in, and look at things closely without using a sniper scope.
12. Telekinesis is used to Pull things toward the player quickly. In the game, there is a pulling vigor, but it requires charging and it can only be used to pull enemies toward you, not to pick up things.
13. While riding the Skyline, Booker is vocally animated when jumping between lines. He yells and has flailing arms. In the actual game, none of this danger is present. Again, if this is actual game play, Irrational just decided to axe this?
14. Booker melees an enemy off the skyline. In the game, you can only shoot while riding the skyline, because your melee weapon is the skyline thing.
15. Booker uses telekinesis to take the gun out of an enemy's hand and makes the gun shoot the man while floating. In the game, nothing like this occurs at all. Same question: if this was actually in the game, why was it removed?
16. Booker is able to stop a huge cannon shell in the air, reverse it, and shoot it back at the cannon, destroying it. In the game, you can absorb some small enemy fire, and shoot out a ball of kinetic energy. Not nearly as cool.
17. Blood splatter on the screen from where the enemies shoot you(Update 4/5/13: I agree this is an aesthetic criticism, which I said I wasn't doing. Ignore this, I don't want to renumber this thing. But what's cooler, generic red arrows or blood splatter? I'll leave it up to you..........I think it's the blood.)
18. Elizabeth creates a storm cloud by shooting some sort of beam from her hand. She then tells Booker, "Hit it now" and Booker shoots electricity into the cloud, frying a huge group of enemies. This is the completely omitted in the game; Elizabeth has no independent conjuration abilities whatsoever. During some battles, there are stationary objects like cover or machine guns that you can tell her to reveal for you. It is not even hinted in the game that she can create things--at the very end, there is 1 line of dialogue about how she used to be able to create "tears" in reality when she was young.
19. More telekinesis is used to pick up an object and throw it at an enemy.
20. Elizabeth, acts independently and creates a huge fireball out of pots and pans that Booker uses to "throw" at a group of enemies. In the game, Elizabeth picks locks on doors and leans against walls.
21. Elizabeth is physically drained from using her awesome powers and is coughing and gripping her midsection in pain saying, "I'm okay, I just need a moment." Nothing like this ever happens, probably because Elizabeth just walks around and picks locks when you tell her to instead of acting independently like was promised us.
22. During the handyman fight, he throws a galloping horse back at Booker and Elizabeth and also catches something that Booker throws at him.
23. During the handyman fight, Elizabeth uses some kind of beam from her hand to help Booker bring down a bridge on top of the Handyman. Again, in the game, Elizabeth has no such power at all.
24. A Handyman dies by slipping off a cliff. In the game, they fall down and explode, nothing dramatic at all. Again, if what we are looking at is real game play, why was it removed for something worse? It's just a video, but awards were accepted and praise accepted because this was supposed to be the actual game.
From the 15 minutes of supposed game play footage from July 2011.
25. Booker and Elizabeth enter a sundries store which is abandoned and has evidence of a squatter that Booker even comments on, "Looks like some poor fellow called this place home." This insinuates that Columbia has descended into chaos, like Rapture, and that the city has become derelict. This store doesn't exist and Columbia is not in a derelict state, rather the people there seem extremely happy and nothing is run down at all.
26. In this store, Elizabeth interacts with several things like a gold statue and wears an Abe Lincoln head. Other than the beach scene, Elizabeth interacts with the environment by leaning against walls sometimes or sitting on a bench.
25. Booker searches a barrel and discovers several things that aren't in the game, like a melee weapon called the executioner which looks like a sword. Also something which affects movement called spring-heeled. In the actual game, you cannot switch melee weapons, nor can you upgrade your movement at all. The buttons on the prompt are also clearly Xbox buttons. You're telling me that the console version had different melee weapons and you decided to cut all that?
26. The dead horse scene. It's cool, and it's not in the game. Let's not beat it any more. It's not as though I
need to see that exact scene again, but Booker argues with Elizabeth about whether she is able to bring the horse back, showing a deeper relationship between Booker and Elizabeth and teases that her powers are much more than what is actually in the game. But anyway, if this is truly game play, why were the voices recorded and animations done and everything and then cut? Because it's not real game play.
27. Elizabeth and Booker walk amongst the Vox Populai undisturbed, until someone actually recognizes Booker and attacks. There are some areas of the game where you can walk amongst the enemy without them attacking you first. However, it is not nearly as cinematic as what is shown and in my playthrough, tiny things you didn't mean to do will destroy this. For instance, while exploring, I crossed an invisible line that triggered my attack. I restarted the checkpoint and went another way over the line and the attack was triggered again eventhough no enemy saw me. So this notion that you can sort of sneak through places until you're discovered is an illusion.
28. An enemy taunts Elizabeth somewhat sexually, which scares her and causes Booker to draw his weapon on the man, chasing him away without gunplay. Nothing like this ever occurs Enemies don't even acknowledge Elizabeth nor do people on the street. You certainly can't interact with the environment by drawing your weapon and threatening, which is what this scene implies.
29. The Vox rebellion is shown as the Vox are rounding up Columbia's citizens and harassing them. In the game, the rebellion takes place completely off screen, and there is 1 small scene where a Vox kills a well to do citizen.
30. A citizen is thrown through a window on the street by the Vox and they are holding an informal trial type of execution for one of Comstock's men for his crimes. Booker is given the choice to intervene or not through Xbox button prompt. Something similar does occur, but it's not nearly this elaborate.
31. An enemy starts to sound a huge alarm and Booker has to kill him before he does.
32. Booker uses a vigor to levitate enemies and then instructs Elizabeth to materialize a moving box on the rail system which smashes into the levitating enemies. This isn't in the game. Why would this have been removed if we're actually watching real game play?
33. Booker wants Elizabeth to materialize a turret to use, but she says, "I can't. It's too soon. I won't be able to control it" making it sound like she's tired from using her powers too much, adding a cool-down factor to using her in combat, adding more drama and excitement to the experience. In the actual game, this is not an issue and she can pop in whatever thing you want as many times as you want, but there are really only four of five things that she can ever actually materialize: weapon cache, health, turret, cover, sky hook.
34. Rail system is shown that is huge and sprawling with tons of enemies shooting at the player and bullets and rockets whizzing by. In the game, the rails aren't nearly as extensive, usually consisting of two different rails per screen, not an extensive network of intertwining rails. Riding around on them isn't nearly this exciting, as most of the rails cover a small area and are just a loop, not a sprawling system throughout the city. Many scenes don't have any rails at all, and in ones that do, IMO they don't provide much of a tactical advantage.
35. An enemy pursues Booker on the extensive rail system. This never happened in my game. A few enemies entered on the rails and got off.
36. Booker and Elizabeth come upon Comstock House and Elizabeth says, "Is that really Comstock House? What if he won't help me?" Booker replies, "I can be persuasive." This dialogue is never in the game, nor is what it implies. The implication here is that the game is a sort of Off to see the Wizard theme, and Booker and Elizabeth are traveling to see Comstock for his help with a mystery assignment with which Elizabeth needs help. It's another layer of intrigue and mystery. In reality, Comstock is the villain from the start, he's constantly taunting Booker and sending guys to kill him. Elizabeth never needs anything from him except to kill him and ask him where she comes from.
These things were shown to be in the game, but aren't on the disc I bought. I'm really disappointed with this game, and I'm puzzled as to how Ken Levine could have put so much effort into these game play demos and not include any of it in the game.
I don't think I'm alone in assuming that since these were called game play demos, that what we were seeing was actually from the game. That's a natural assumption. It seems that we were wrong and that these demos were not action from the game but action using the game's engine and setting. That's a really fine line, and as I said before the game shown in these demos is not what is in the box.
When the critics gave this 80 Most anticipated awards every year it was in development, is this final product what you were anticipating? From the massive ommisions that were shown to be game play, I think the only award this game us up for now is biggest let down of the century.
What the fuck happened here?