To start with: I love this game. I think it's an excellent game that everyone should play, and it deserves a lot of the praise it gets.
It is not without flaws, and those flaws have become much easier to notice since the second and third games have been released.
First, the gameplay is average. Having to switch between weapons and plasmids was clunky, and trying to go back to this game after playing Bioshock 2
is downright painful. Plasmids are well balanced to avoid being gamebreakers; it's obvious they're meant to supplement your guns, you can't go through the game on plasmids alone and instead need them to give you an edge, but using them is downright aggravating and there's no reason it had to be this way. Bioshock 2
shouldn't have had to innovate in the area of weapon/power synergy. This is arguably still better than Infinite
where vigors can be very overpowered.
More damningly, while the concepts and messages of the story are thought-provoking, the execution is awful.
The pacing is completely screwed up; not only does the big twist bring the player too high too long before the end, but there is nothing
of substance between that point and the end. It's not just a matter of the plot after the twist being weak, it feels like there is no plot at all. It feels like the map designers worked overtime and built too many maps for the writers to do anything with. It's truly bizarre that such a thought-provoking work can have such a large portion be nothing but dead space.
There is no point to the morality system; you get more for saving the Little Sisters than harvesting them, and it doesn't take long to realize it. The bad ending is a descent into cartoon villainy; it's simply absurd and, as such, not even remotely satisfying.
This is a good game game. You should play this game. You should play it before the others in the series not just because Bioshock 2
benefit from having played this one first, but because they're so much better that it's hard to do it any other way.