I originally posted this as a comment to an AskReddit post about games that had potential, but failed (RE: What video game had the most potential but failed completely?). I thought you guys might find this worthwhile.
It didn’t fail completely, but the original vision for Bioshock Infinite was so much more ambitious than what we ended up getting. Watch some of the original trailers to see what I mean. This web page — https://bioshock.fandom.com/wiki/BioShock_Infinite_Removed_Content — lists all the features that were originally intended for the game.
Some of the most important features that were cut that I found were that Songbird was supposed to be much more involved in the gameplay, there were whole areas of the game that didn’t make it to the final cut, the sky-lines were supposed to be more expansive and complex to use, a difficulty setting that would have made the game more reminiscent of the system shock games was cut, and tears were supposed to be a much more prominent gameplay feature.
The plot itself had some great twists, the two main characters had great personalities (though doesn’t it seem weird that Elizabeth had such a vibrant and extroverted personality despite being locked up her whole life), and the ending was really moving. But I think the plot also suffered from an extensive exposition dump during the last 30 minutes, some pretentious philosophizing about the nature of reality, and its point about religious extremism being dangerous for society was really unoriginal.
One of the things that was so great about the first Bioshock game was how it critiqued Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophy which I had never seen done in any story before or since. The third act twist was also much more coincident with the themes of the game then Infinite’s twist. It almost seemed like Kevin Levine was put into a Shyamalan-like trap where he felt the need to one up the twist in the first game.
I also didn’t like how the game tried to equivocate the vox populi faction with the pro-Columbia faction. One was a socialist uprising and another a racist, nationalist, religious extremist group that kept minorities enslaved or at the very least segregated. The socialist uprising didn’t have to be defended by the game as a reasonable response, but the game didn’t have to basically say “oh they’re the exact same as each other” which I think is an actual line of dialogue stated by Booker at some point.
Overall I remember really liking this game and finding it terribly profound and meaningful for weeks after I played it (and even now I still think there are great aspects of the game) but compared to the first game in the series — and especially compared to what it was originally supposed to be like — the game was a failure.
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