If you have not played Bioshock Infinite yet, this post will likely contain some minor spoilers. While the primary discussion is gameplay, the basics of the plot are necessary for discussion and I feel the need to warn you to play the game first. If you're never going to, or just don't care about spoilers, feel free to read on. A fair warning to "I don't care about spoilers" people: Bioshock Infinite has a twist ending and its difficult to see coming until the last moment, so in this case take my advice and avoid reading the discussion.
If you don't know the plot to Chrono Trigger I am amazed at your ability to survive under a rock without ever having seen the light of day. On to the discussion.
Bioshock Infinite stands, right now, as one of the highest rated games of all time. People are lauding the game with praise only a few days after its release, and its currently the exact same score on Metacritic as Half-Life. After having played it over the course of two days, I have to agree, albeit with a few objections.
While the game is great, it is not revolutionary, it is not a drastically better story than what has been presented in other games, and its not very innovative in terms of gameplay. The graphics are not attempting at a realistic world, the concepts presented aren't particularly mind-blowing, and overall the game is a very safe mechanical development. So why is it so good?
To understand why, you need to head back to another gaming classic. No, not FF6, though my friends will fight to the death over these two, but Chrono Trigger. Chrono Trigger, having stood the test of time, represents the logical conclusion of the original 2d Genres. It had animated in-game cinematics using sprites already in the game, it had a semi-real time battle system, excellent music, different time periods to play in, and a good story. The game itself was not particularly revolutionary - FF7 is the revolutionary in terms of modern day JRPGs, or KOTOR for Western RPGs - but presented the logical conclusion of the genre.
The game took advantage of years of industry development; the battle system was fluid because after vast numbers of 2d turn based battle systems, you can easily master a slightly different one. The environment was detailed, as were the sprites and the music. Nothing in Chrono Trigger is really game-changing, not even the story.
Right now, we have a game that's similar in a great deal of respects. Bioshock - I'm going to drop the Infinite for brevity - does not attempt to push graphics beyond what is currently capable, and instead opts to stylize the models to cover flaws in design. Emotions not displaying as well as L.A. Noire? Its the style. Gameplay is that of a first person shooter; you aim and shoot, with the added gimmick of special powers. Special powers are not new to the genre, its just that these powers can combo with guns and are well thought out.
Death is present but handled in a manner that is very fluid; there's rail segments that player controls, there's cinematics from the first-person perspective, parts of the environment can be created and destroyed at will, everything present already exists inside the FPS genre, but none of them are blended quite so well together.
What does this mean, exactly? Well, no game is going to come close to Bioshock as a modern day FPS. Yes, other games will do certain things better, but no game will do all of them better without being almost an exact clone. The existing standards have all been fulfilled. There's well made companion mechanics, an interactive environment, tactical cover, a variety of upgradeable weapons, different ways of defeating groups of enemies, and varied groups of people to fight. Story is present and well made without mostly bogging down the player with unnecessary details.
Its the end of what was the old FPS-RPG genre, just like how Chrono Trigger really ended that sort of classic JRPG 2D genre, and while they both certainly had flaws - nothing will ever be perfect - they both took what was established at the time of development and ran with it until they couldn't.
Getting a bit deeper here, games can really be divided in to two categories; experimental and realizational. A game that pushes the boundaries, that changes a genre or gaming as a whole is an experimental game. Think of something like the first few Ultima games; they changed all of Western RPGs forever. Same with KOTOR and EQ.
Realizational games attempt to improve upon what experimental games create, and yes, sometimes games can shift, especially now that games can be updated electronically. Experimental games are rarely classics, but realizational games - when done well and towards the end of a concept's life - are much more likely to be.
There isn't a great deal of innovation necessary to make a well realized game, just enough for small improvements. Tweaking mechanics, adding in some gimmicks, general improvements. World of Warcraft is perhaps the ultimate example of a Realizational Game. It took what EQ had, what all of the more experimental MMOs possessed and worked to improve it. World of Warcraft was a technically superior game to something like Ultima Online while being vastly less interesting.
Bioshock Infinite and Chrono Trigger are both realizational games, games that improved upon a pre-established design to the point where improvement could only be done at the sacrifice of other aspects. Realistically, they are the best in those old genres, because what else can be done without altering what the genre is?
Don't despair. There will still be other games after Bioshock, even if they aren't as good. All that's required right now is for someone to come out with an experimental game that shatters what an FPS is. Meanwhile, enjoy the Chrono Trigger of left trigger to aim, right trigger to shoot.