I thoroughly enjoyed Bioshock Infinite. The first 30 minutes were amazing. Then action happened and the game started declining in quality. Then Elizabeth entered the game and it was awesome again. Some time passed and it degraded into a stupid action game. The combat grew more and more annoying throughout the game as enemies become increasingly bulletspongy. The story grabbed me and unfolded wonderfully. So what made me finish the game? Well. The combat left me wanting to quit, but I stuck around for the story.
And after having thought about this for some time, it's not at all unlike the other shooters I've played in recent years.
Let's take Far Cry 3 here. The action was somewhat better than Inifite, but the story was nowhere near as interesting. Why did I finish the game? Because hunting down random animals, turning on radio towers and performing similar missions around the island was fun? Nah. That was a fucking chore. I wanted to see how the story progressed.
Crysis 3? The action was dull, the story was trash. I finished it because I wanted to see just how bad it would get. It got bad.
This happens when I'm playing almost all "new" shooters. The action quickly gets dull or annoying. I stick around to see how it unfolds. This rings true for Crysis 3, 2, Far Cry 3, Rage, Singularity, Wolfenstein 2009, Bulletstorm, Doom3 BFG Lost Missions. I could go on.
To be honest I don't think Infinite's action is all that much worse than most other shooters. It's just a lot more noticeable when everything else in the game has so much thought put into it. As for action, well, I think the novelty of almost any game wears off after a while. Sure I'll still play Doom from time to time, but it's not something I'll do for hours on end. I see it as a casual game like having a game of freecell. I'm not really invested in the game, but I'm killing time in an enjoyable fashion.
Personally I'm at a point where I'd like more out of a *new* game than simply pointing at enemies and clicking. I want world and context. That of course doesn't mean I don't think action should evolve (and hopefully evolve beyond the stupid two weapon/regen crap), but I think it's more of a composition issue than it is "story vs. gameplay" which is, in my eyes, a stupid debate.
The action in the Black Mesa mod didn't annoy me. For one it's much better implemented, but the game also has a much better balance between its action and narrative. Neither conflicts or contradicts with each other.
I'm not sure how I feel about Biosock Infinite.
The first hour of the game is fucking amazing. I really love they way they introduce the game, story and especially the world which I view to be quite hard.
Over the last years I've noticed that introducing a game (especially a new franchise) is very hard to do. Let's take Dragon Age: Origins for instance. In the human warrior intro, you are put in a boring castle full of boring people.BORING. Because of this, my first impressions of the game were quite bad and only after I tried the game for the third time did I really enjoy it. The game only got interesting after about 30-45 minutes, when Morrigan and Alistair are introduced. Now some of you might say that 40 minutes is not a long time but when you are trying to make a first impression, every minute counts.
In Bioshock, I especially like the initial presentation of the game. It was wondrous, beautiful, incredibly original yet even in the heavenly intro, you still get the feeling that something is not quite right but the feeling is very subtle (just as it should be).Rarely have I seen anything like this. However, after about 3 hours, the quality of the game is gradually worse. The guns are boring, the upgrades are especially boring and you fight the same enemies over and over and worst of all, you are limited to only 2 guns. The gameplay is a Far Cry(lol) from the masterpiece that is System Shock 2 which I consider to be superior in many ways to BioShock. The experience gradually goes from amazing to good (most of the game) and the rest is OK. Also, although I really liked the introduction of Elizabeth, I could never really connect with her. Maybe it's because she viewed me as a crook and wanted to get away from me ASAP.
Another example of great introduction is of course E1M1. It's simple yet highly effective and more to it than meets the eye (just like the game!). What exactly makes it so good? Up until then, players had never seen anything like it, every room in Wolfenstein was basically a square with some doodads maybe. The first room of the game showcases the game's new features very subtly and in a highly effective manner. The first thing you see is the increased texture count and quality, then you see the height variation and then a window. All of these were highly innovative back in the day yet Romero introduced them in a clean and efficient manner (unlike some modern devs)
Oh, and I get what you're saying about uninteresting action in those games but how did RAGE have uninteresting combat? If anything, it had some of the best combat mechanics of 2011 and they had Battlefield 3 to compete with. The guns sounded great, they looked great, the feedback was great, the alternative ammos were great (pop rockets and fat mommas FTW!).
It also had lots of little things that made the game better.The introduction sequences when you pick up a new weapon, how changing ammo types subtly changed how weapons looked and sounded, how they took this even further with the Nailgun, how great it sounds and looks when you see sparks flying from authority soldiers.You can really see how hard they tried to give the weapons personality and why wouldn't they? Guns are often the only things that give an FPS character personality. RAGE had a great deal of problems but the combat was the best thing it did.