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July 14, 2014 at 7:22 pm
I’d never seen a video by Satchbag, so I went ahead and gave him a chance with this one. Oh man. Probably the most professional reviewer I’ve seen yet. Not only were the production values great, but every point was made with great clarity and a verbose vocabulary that almost every other video game journalist lacks. I was a little lost at the parts about Crash and Walking Dead and such, as I’m not very well versed in popular modern movies and drama TV shows, so I suppose that’s more my fault. Also, the Bearenstein Bears thing made me laugh pretty dang hard. I guess I’ve got ANOTHER video maker’s series to marathon now.
May 31, 2014 at 3:25 pm
I played through Bioshock Infinite recently, and at the time I had no knowledge of any of the “controversy” surrounding it, and I absolutely loved it. However, after I beat the game and went online to see if other people were as blown away as I was, I discovered that there is a pretty pervasive group of people who like to rip this game apart. And for the most part, all of their criticism comes down to what they thought the game should be, instead of what it is. Like you said, the game isn’t about the setting and the themes. They are merely the backdrop to the story of Booker and Elizabeth, who are the main focus of the game. Focusing on other themes or characters and their struggles too much would detract from that and make the story cluttered.
I think anyone who has any ill feelings towards Infinite need to watch this video and re-evaluate exactly how their own unrealistic expectations are getting in the way of enjoying something that is truly amazing. Sir, you have put to words something that really needs to be said, not just about Bioshock Infinite, but probably for games as a whole.
May 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm
Fan. Equipped. You sir, are a truly gifted speaker. I am now going to watch the other videos. I watched your first one and really liked it. This is a great review – though I’d be very curious to hear your thoughts on the ending/philosophical message re: Was the metaphor at the end Ken Levine’s message to those who will take over the BioShock name and “franchise” it?
Anyway – I wish you success, sir. 🙂 Thanks for the great video.
May 7, 2014 at 5:46 pm
I never got how Infinite could even remotely be accused of ludonarrative dissonance. Its an FPS where you play a criminal in a racist and fanatical city that openly tortures civvies in carnivals. Who could have guessed that violence would break out.
Besides, if there is no shooting, what the hell would you do in Infinite? What would be the gameplay? First 20 minutes are walking around which is great, but eventually you have to actually do something.
Though a point and click in Infinite would be well liked.
May 6, 2014 at 5:43 pm
This is basically a direct reply to Campster’s Errant Signal on BioShock Infinite. I mean, I know that you watch Campster, Satchbag; but why are you responding directly to him?
As per the Berenstain Bears analogy: I agree that we shouldn’t be asking the Berenstain Bears what their books are doing for the medium of books; however, this is not for the reason that the Berenstain Bears are not dumb or trite, this is for the reason that the Berenstain Bears are not our “mainstream” choice of book.
The reason people don’t like that this game didn’t do more, as it easily could have, is that this game was a full-on mainstream game. Too many mainstream games don’t give reasons and tell you to just start shooting, and that’s why many (including me) feel frustrated about the fact that this game does the same as many before it. I’m not angry at the lack of a plot that ties the shooting and story together, I’m just frustrated at the wasting of so much potential.
As much as I like pure action games that don’t say a word (like Quake 3 Arena), this game disappoints me only because it could have had so much more.
May 7, 2014 at 8:52 pm
I dont understand what you are saying. BioShock Infinite doesnt have dissonance combat at all. Comstock has convinced everyone in Columbia that Booker is the False Shepard or essentially Satan. Everyone is attacking him because either Comstock ordered them to or they’re trying to stop him because Comstock told them he was Satan.
May 4, 2014 at 6:21 pm
omfg I honestly can’t stand people who TRY to act intelligent and using unnecessary wording to make a simple point.
THIS IS A FUCKEN VIDEO GAME!!!
Bioshock had killing in it.
Bioshock 2 has KILING in it. WAKE UP
This game and sonic the fucken hedgehog are the EXACT SAME THING!
you save creatures from dr robotnic. Dr robotnic is racist against animals. So sonic is saving them like a rebel against the empire. Just cause there isnt blood and gore you are killing robots and creatures as sonic. SAME FUCKEN THING STFU
this is a fucken bioshock game therefore violence is gunna happen. STFU
Stop making things so simple that you have to make it so fucken convoluted and complex. Its so fucken annoying.
Here is a example of a person who wrote a comment and basically acts like you.
“I would point to GTA IV as a primary example of ludonarrative dissonance: the narrative tries to set a tone of a dark and gritty crime drama, but the moment the player moves into gameplay the behavior of the protagonist nosedives into wacky hyper-violent antics that invariably involve the elderly, cars, and rocket launchers. The events that take place in the narrative chunks and the events that take place during gameplay are so thematically and tonally at odds that the audience has to shift its frame of mind between the two.”
see all this bullshit? THE GAME IS CALLED GRAND THEFT AUTO. let me reword this guys paragraph into one sentence.
At first the start of the game seemed noire like. Then you start shotting people and blowing shit up like a game that isnt about grand theft auto.
Stop acting smart. I see right through all the bullshit.
May 5, 2014 at 4:40 pm
If video games are art, why should we not critique them as such? “Its just a video game” is not a very good excuse. Video games as a media have so much more potential to speak to the player and tell an interesting story. You don’t seem like a particularly educated type, and thus will not be clued in on subtext and probably are not qualified to have a voice in the opinion on ludonarrative dissonance. For example, you point to the fact that GTA is about stealing and killing, but what we are talking about is WHY the player(aka the character) is killing pedestrians for no reason. In GTA’s case it doesn’t make sense to the story. Because Bioshock is a fps, that does not mean that there automatically has to be violence. In fact, the first five or so minutes of this game don’t have violence because there is no reason for it. We are not “acting smart”, we are engaging in discussion about a topic. If you don’t understand big words you could just say so.
May 13, 2014 at 11:12 pm
WAAAAA-WAAAA-WAAA!! MY OPINION IS DIFFERENT THAN YOURS WAAAAAA.
This is all I see when I read your comment. You clearly don’t understand Video games as both a story telling medium, art, or a visual medium. Play games like Journey or Shadow of the Colossus, and then you’ll understand.
December 12, 2014 at 5:54 am
Hey buddy. I see that you quoted me in your comment. I’m honored.
It seems like you don’t want to over-complicate simple-minded fun. And you know what, good for you. If you don’t get anything out of “acting smart” and over-complicating things, then hey, that’s your prerogative. Party on.
It just so happens that I -genuinely- enjoy analyzing what makes a game fun or memorable. Game designers make choices, and sometimes those choices work, and sometimes they don’t. I have fun thinking about why that is.
And I’m not the kind of person who demands that everyone looks at life the same way as I do. So how about you do your thing, and the rest of us will keep having an enjoyable and civil discussion?
May 1, 2014 at 9:01 pm
You said no spoilers… But you gave a part of Lost away like it was nothing! D:
April 29, 2014 at 9:07 pm
the amount of violence is not what people have a problem with when it comes to ludo-narrative dissonance. The amount of violence is a problem with content and portrayal, not dissonance. I’ve read a lot of critics talk about the violence but in those articles I dont remember them pointing the finger at ludo-narrative dissonance. And ofc, I’ve read a lot of articles about Ludo-narrative dissonance about the gun play. He seems to think they are the same issues and meshed together but they are not.
The issue with race is more that the Vox Populi just becomes another type of bad guy to deal with later in the game. Daisy herself is later portrayed as a crazy zealot that has no regard for human life.
Honestly, to paint such a picture on a racial uprising is just a little too broad for such a complex subject. I understand Levine’s point when Bioshock shows that revolutions themselves can be just as horrible as the oppressive regime. But when it comes to racial issues in the early US, the use of violence by an oppressed group is far more complicated and morally grey than just “blood-thirsty extremism”. It makes assumptions about the people in the Vox that I think is unfair to make. That is the problem.
April 29, 2014 at 2:38 pm
Very well done, and I completely agree with you!
April 29, 2014 at 1:49 pm
This was great! Glad to have a fresh perspective on this game. Your last point was spot on, and an increasing problem with criticism in general these days, I feel. Unlike Bioshock 1 and 2, Infinite did what its predecessors could not do: hold my attention for the duration of the game. While I wasn’t so mind blown at the ending as some of my peers were (you read this sort of stuff in scifi/fantasy all the time) I thought overall, the game was very good, and worthy of its ticket price. Rare these days.
April 29, 2014 at 12:00 pm
What a refreshingly objective, thorough critical analysis. Satch is proving himself one of the most insightful, versatile, and valuable voices in the field.
But the Asian stereotyping rubbed me the wrong way. The neotenic speech patterns of improperly conjugated verbs, Suchong referring to himself in third-person, etc. It fits very comfortably into the popular American stereotyping of East Asians, which academics agree has been minimized in importance when compared to other forms of racism. This reinforces and perpetuates the constructed racial hierarchy without providing commentary or criticism of said construct. With a queue and changshan certain characters would feel at home in Chinese Exclusion Act era political cartoons about labor disputes.
April 29, 2014 at 4:52 am
I want to chime in about ludonarrative dissonance, because the Internet is nothing if not a peanut gallery.
Ludonarrative dissonance is, as you pointed out, the tension between a game’s mechanics and its narrative. From what I understand, though, you frame the issue as being whether the narrative “sets up” or justifies the mechanics of the game. However, I think the term “ludonarrative dissonance” is meant to describe a more specific phenomenon, and I feel self-important enough to describe my opinion to someone with a proven record of hitting the nail on the head with credible and thoughtful analysis.
I would point to GTA IV as a primary example of ludonarrative dissonance: the narrative tries to set a tone of a dark and gritty crime drama, but the moment the player moves into gameplay the behavior of the protagonist nosedives into wacky hyper-violent antics that invariably involve the elderly, cars, and rocket launchers. The events that take place in the narrative chunks and the events that take place during gameplay are so thematically and tonally at odds that the audience has to shift its frame of mind between the two.
During the cutscenes, I look at the protagonist as a self-loathing man who is trying to escape his criminal past, but tragically can’t; during gameplay, I look at the protagonist as a man who is trying to see how many old ladies he can pile together for improptu rocket launcher practice, as is allowed and indeed encouraged by the gameplay mechanics. And therein lies the dissonance.
In contrast, a game like Bioshock: Infinite is thematically -about- the juxtaposition between the appearance of Columbia and the reality underneath the surface. It is -about- how Columbia seems to be a quaint theme park, but is in reality a powder keg of societal tensions that can only explode into open warfare. This juxtaposition runs through every facet of the game’s design, up to the juxtaposition between the main characters: there is Booker–a trained hit-man who looks like a trained hit-man–and there is Elizabeth–an innocent and initially naive young woman who (intentionally, I believe) looks like a Disney Princess.
And I think that’s what all of the critics who were screaming “ludonarrative dissonance” were missing. It’s the difference between the “Singing in the Rain” scene of A Clockwork Orange and an alternate-reality version of The Passion of the Christ that used “Yakety Sax” as its soundtrack.
I don’t think that anything you said in your video is at all contrary to anything I’ve suggested here, but it did seem that your presentation on the issue presupposed that the inclusion of violence in Bioshock: Infinite was inherently at odds with its status as an art object, rather than an integral element of the game as an art object.
Setting aside my own two-cents on the topic, I just want to say that this video was–as always–an insightful and level-headed analysis in an area of criticism that sorely needs insightful and level-headed analysis. I cannot overstate how much I enjoy the artistic background and academic credibility that you bring to your discussions. Please don’t stop making these.
April 29, 2014 at 2:50 am
Fantastic. It takes quite a lot to shake my hardheaded nature up, but in the course of perhaps twelve minutes, you managed to make me completely rethink this game and my stance on it, reapprise the initial wash of joy I felt exploring it both as a game and as a story, and put words to a concern I’ve had recently, especially in the nature of independent game journalism/review.
Though I must say you are more then either of those, and instead setting out to cure what I think can be the most temptingly dangerous parts of either. Basically, I gotta object to you saying you’re part of the problem, my friend – if only because you do seem willing to grow and explore things, and as long as you do that I think that you become too flexible or adaptable to fall into easy pitfalls. Where to start –
I want to recommend a rather large number of books, but because time is limited I’m going to reign myself in. Instead – I think you hit the nail on the head with regards to race, and to a lesser extent, class. Infinite isn’t a story primarily about either of these too topics; it interweaves them to tell a tale that the player remembers, and hopefully learns from.
This strikes me as most important because a lot of media not only focus on the ‘excitement’ of racism (which itself is worrying to me, for multiple reasons), but do not portray it as a banal thing. Despite the ‘excitement’ present in Infinite, you as a player never stop thinking how present and normalized the racism is. This is good, great even; unlike more people, I’d actually prefer if it was more present but more subtle – and Infinite was fine as it was.
Because Infinite was a spectacle, and a deconstruction of spectacles, and most of all a fun game. I’m not primarily an FPSer. Give me my dungeon crawls where I can make up stories, my strategy games that I can muse over, my text-heavy interactive fiction! But I do have a few loves among the genre; Quake, Doom, Heretic, Hexen.
Infinite created a similar glee for exploring the background and trying to read into a story, with more of a story to read into, but ended up feeling somewhat brief and rather unreplayable, the only two concerns I have with it that still really hold water. And even with that I’d say it was a very good game indeed; better, in fact, than I first gave it credit for. Wonderful wrap-up, awaiting next signal.
April 28, 2014 at 11:59 pm
I feel like I missed out on so much in this title. I’d say I got a considerable amount of the Voxophones, but it’s almost like I don’t have the intellectual ability to piece together the worlds of Columbia or Rapture.
April 28, 2014 at 7:51 pm
April 28, 2014 at 3:23 pm
Very well done. You’ve just earned yourself another fan
April 28, 2014 at 7:01 am
Most of the problems I had with Bioshock: Infinite were gameplay related, it was a huge step down from the original Bioshock, after Bioshock 2 improved on the original in gameplay.
It was a dumbed down console shooter with most of the vigors being useless, boring guns that you could only hold two of and a much more linear design that didn’t encourage as much exploration. I finished the game with the 1st two vigors I got and just the rocket launcher on normal difficulty without experimenting with the combat as much as I did in the previous games. The game just wasn’t interesting as a game, and the story and plot wasn’t enough to make me ignore how dull the gameplay was.
May 13, 2014 at 11:17 pm
Really? I felt the gameplay was fun. Yeah the two weapon limit sucked, but I used the Vigors a lot,and it was fun experimenting with different weapons. I also felt that there was a ton of exploration to be had. Plus Sky-lines and Elizabeth made the game great in my opinion. Besides, the story and plot are so engaging that one such as myself, who generally isn’t a FPS kind of guy, still loved it. But, it’s your opinion, and I’ll respect it. Just a little shocked is all.
April 28, 2014 at 12:28 am
I had but one problem with bioshock:infinite and I’m not sure if I”m at fault for it. Regardless while playing I felt too rushed, I really wanted a slower paced game for that environment, but then we can get into the argument of keeping an audience captivated by forcing them to move forward.
April 27, 2014 at 5:26 am
After playing through the game and reading the reviews online, I was kind of surprised that people were so quick to criticize the game for “lacking vision” and “pushing the bounds of gaming”. To me, it really smacked of over expectation; the previous titles had them so fired up that, combined with their expectations of “bigger and better in the sequel”, they overshot to a point that no game could meet what they’d envisioned (at least, not yet).
I personally liked the ideas the game put forth, and the game itself went over my head a number of times: I actually didn’t notice many of the “destiny” themes until I read some reviews pointing them out. And many of the end game revelations and twists had me sitting stunned in my chair, which is a sadly rare occurrence for me in any media.
This game is extremely well made and successfully presents some very difficult topics in an interactive and interesting way, all while having interesting gameplay mechanics and non-playable characters that are useful and balanced during combat. To dismiss it because it “didn’t go far enough with the themes” is, to me, the equivalent of an armchair general sitting on his couch watching historical videos about WWII and saying “I could have done it SO much better if I was in charge!”.
April 27, 2014 at 1:10 am
Will Smith Co-Stars with Charlize Theron in Hancock. I mean she is from South Africa, but somehow I don’t think that makes her not white.
As far ludo-narrative dissonance is concerned, VIDEO GAMES! ABS games are the what video games are about. When players played as megaman single handedly destroying hordes of whatever the enemy faction was called in the original Megaman series, did those players shout, “Oh gosh, all this gratuitous killing makes for a bad video game!” Last I checked people actually liked Megaman.
As for the points you touched on, well unfortunately none of them were what I found horrible about the game. The first issue will be my biggest issue. Unfortunately, as far as I’m concerned Bioshock Infinite’s main story, outside of all the insert racism here, is plagiarism. From a Myst-like game known as Lighthouse: The Dark Being. Essentially the story remains the same, stranger steals your infant child, you have to search for your child. The only difference is that it’s not your child, it’s your neighbors child, and you’re simply babysitting at the time. “”Once the player has explored the house, a snap is heard, and Amanda begins crying. When the player enters her room, the “Dark Being”, described in Dr. Kricks journal, takes Amanda, and jumps through a portal.”” Take from the wiki, ultimately it does not matter what your choices are, as you the player ends up on a rocky beach in which the concept of “Godels Universe” becomes clear.
The goal of the game is to rescue the child(Amanda) and capture the dark being. Well I’m sure you can figure out who the dark being turns out to be.
The last issue is that Elizabeth loses her pinky due to a portal closing, and she becomes a time-lord. THIS IS NEVER EXPLAINED WHY THIS IS POSSIBLE! That part of the story telling was looser than the change in Obama’s pocket.
Anyways keep making videos, and I’ll keep watching them.
It really bothered me about the game. Hell it even had a Giant Mechanical bird with Watchdog like instincts.
April 26, 2014 at 10:14 pm
Great review, some of the more thoughtful insight of this game. I also really appreciated your Chrono Cross review. Look forward to a whole lot more.
April 26, 2014 at 9:10 pm
Frankly given Booker’s history of violence I think the amount of violence fits his character. He participated in the massacre at Wounded Knee & he busted unions as a Pinkerton. As he states later on in the game killing is easy for him.
April 26, 2014 at 8:59 pm
I think you need to sing more in your videos, haha.
Interesting video. I’m even more excited to finally getting around to playing Bioshock Infinite.
April 26, 2014 at 8:24 pm
There was dissonance, but in different ways than many had it. The violence only clashed one time, and that between the baseball scene and the finding of Elizabeth. The issue there was weak implementation. The city emptied of civilians, and the guards looked like clones of each other. While there were powers freely available, and it would have made more sense for them to take advantage of that, they didn’t which was strange considering powers’ effectiveness. It was a mixture of missed opportunities as well- exploring the city could have benefited from light stealth mechanics and alternate paths around the city. However once you hit the vox populi it suddenly makes sense. The violence, however, wasn’t the only dissonance- the role of Elizabeth was. She was the daughter of the supreme leader of the land, and yet at no point did a guard even notice her, focusing on Booker instead. While it was great to have a non-escort NPC giving you perks, this didn’t make any sense, especially given they could have distracted the player and tried to take Elizabeth as a two stage thing. Would this have been great on the player? No, but a simple shift of story, doing something like hiding Elizabeth’s identity through a disguise even very simply, would have fixed this. Violence itself wasn’t an issue, but the way the game used it in the beginning sections and crafted a narrative with such a glaring plot hole as “why didn’t anyone try taking Elizabeth sooner” caused dissonance of experience.
April 26, 2014 at 3:42 pm
Hey Satchbag, have you heard of extra creditz? Because they did an interesting video regarding aspects of previous titles not fitting a sequels worlds or tones, whats your take on this?
Heres a link if you want it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzkS0mt3B50
April 26, 2014 at 2:56 pm
Satchel! I discovered your videos after coming across Normal Boots on Reddit. Being two of my favorites games, I loved your Chrono Trigger to Chrono Cross analysis, and felt compelled to make an account after watching this video just to share my appreciation for your work. Thanks for providing a thoughtful and insightful look into games!
April 26, 2014 at 2:41 pm
Satch I disagree completely. The largest criticism to level at Bioshock Infinite is that it sucks as a game mechanically. The gunplay feels like absolute shit, and that’s almost all you do the entire time.
If the mechanics are at a detriment to the game, then what’s the point of them being there? Without engaging game mechanics, Bioshock Infinite might as well have been a movie. Games are an interactive medium, if the interactivity isn’t up to par, then it simply isn’t a good game.
Shadow of the Colossus is an amazing game which didn’t have ludonarrative dissonance, and I do think more games should go down that kind of path if they want to be taken seriously. Leave the arcadey games to be arcadey, (or emergent sandbox games where you define your own experiences, ect) and let the story driven games that want to be meaningful, have meaningful experiences rather than half a slice of arcade, half a slice of cutscenes. That’s absolutely pointless.
Bioshock Infinite – Decent Movie – Shitty Game
April 27, 2014 at 12:19 pm
the gunplay may be bad to you, but that’s not the case with everyone else. There’s a good chance he also enjoyed the combat, along with myself and many others. Also, how is the skyline not an “engaging mechanic”? All that aside, the gameplay feels and plays MUCH better than something like The Last of Us in comparison, which people have praised like the second coming of Jesus, even though that’s a mediocre game at best. THAT is a game where the interactivity isn’t on par and where it fell flat on its face while trying to balance Game with Movie, not this. BioShock Infinite is one of the smoothest FPS games you’ll find, save for maybe the Half-Life series.
April 26, 2014 at 2:17 pm
That was great Satch! I love Infinite and i love this even more keep up the work!
April 26, 2014 at 2:05 pm
that rendition of drunk in love at the end…
April 26, 2014 at 1:51 pm
It’s always a great day when Satchel (like a bag) releases a video.
April 26, 2014 at 1:23 pm
Nice to hear your thoughts on this Satchbag, I love how you talk about games and Infinite is one of my favourites so I was looking forward to seeing something from you on it.
April 26, 2014 at 10:58 am
Yes! I’ve been hoping he’d cover this game for a while. I even tweeted him asking if he was planning on doing a Bioshock Infinite meta-gaming/post-modernism episode.
April 26, 2014 at 9:57 am
Great as always satchell!
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