This editorial is spoiler free.
Bioshock: Infinite is one of the most engaging and absorbing games I’ve ever played. My review pretty much says it all. The game is a true work of art. As amazing as the game is, some gaming journalists seem to have a problem with the game’s violence. I agree that the game is very violent but I don’t think that is a problem. This editorial is meant as a counter argument in defense of the game’s violence.
Kotaku, Polygon, Buzzfeed, even Cliff Bleszinski have all complained about the over-the-top violence found in Bioshock: Infinite. I could talk about the ridiculousness of a man who makes his livelihood creating some of the most violent games out there complaining about a game being too violent but I won’t. These guys are all displeased with the violence, saying that it detracts from an otherwise enthralling game. I really don’t see where they’re coming from.
Once the shit hits the fan in Bioshock: Infinite, you essentially have an entire city out to kill you. What are you going to do, talk them into standing down? Of course not, you have to kill to stay alive. The world of Bioshock: Infinite is beautiful but it rests upon a lot of ugliness with all of the racism and class warfare going on. The violence serves as a means of conveying just how brutal this city really is. Having the game be less violent would neuter the experience. You’re not supposed to feel comfortable in this hostile city and the over-the-top violence serves to heighten this feeling. The violence serves the story.
One of the questions that these journalists asked was whether Bioshock: Infinite would have worked better if it wasn’t a first person shooter. There’s nothing wrong with the question in and of itself but I was frustrated by the fact that none of them could provide an alternate genre that this game could have fallen into. Even still, wanting Infinite to be, say, an adventure game would be kind of silly seeing as how the last two Bioshock games were also first person shooters. Did they want this game to completely abandon its roots as a shooter? You really think fans of the series would be happy with a genre change? There is something to be said about the limitations on a narrative within the FPS framework but since the series is already established in the genre, changing it for the third entry would have been absurd.
The people who think Bioshock: Infinite is too violent are entitled to their opinion. I do however think that they’re missing the point of what the game is supposed to be and supposed to be about. The main purpose of this editorial is to present the other side of the debate, the side which we’re not hearing too much from. Bioshock: Infinite’s violence doesn’t hurt it in the least. In fact, it helps to strengthen the message that Ken Levine and the talented folks over at Irrational Games were trying to present. The violence is there to never let the player forget just how ugly and horrifying the heavenly city of Columbia really is.