Wednesday, May 11, 2011

BioShock Infinite: The Basics

What's not to love about a new Bioshock game set in the early 1900's?  It's a first-person shooter with a heavy emphasis on story, and it's set in the bizarre world of Columbia, a floating city above America at the beginning of the 20th century.

Here's a little video that's all you need to know about the upcoming Bioshock: Infinite.  Enjoy

The primary setting of BioShock Infinite is a city suspended in the air by giant blimps and balloons, called "Columbia", named in homage to the "female personification" of the United States. Unlike the secret development of the underwater city of Rapture, Columbia was built and launched in 1900 by the American government to much fanfare and publicity. The city was meant to symbolize the ideas of exceptionalism; the reveal trailer for the game alludes to the 1893 Worlds Fair which is historically considered to be the emergence of American exceptionalism. On the surface, Columbia appeared to be designed as a floating "Worlds Fair" that could travel across the globe; however, some time after its launch but before the game's events, the city was revealed to be a well-armed battleship, and became involved in an "international incident". The city was disavowed by the United States government, and the location of the city was soon lost to everyone else.

So, this isn't a sequel... or prequel... or... whatever?

BioShock: Infinite isn't a sequel to BioShock or BioShock 2, and it doesn't seem like a prequel as such to either of those games. Instead, consider BioShock Infinite a "spiritual successor" - much like the original BioShock lifted elements of gameplay and storytelling from the System Shock games, BioShock Infinite is taking ideas from the first game and expanding on them in a recognizable but new way.

What's the Story?

Players assume the role of Booker Dewitt, a has-been private detective hired to find the missing Elizabeth. His search leads him to the floating city of Columbia, where he finds a disturbing world of patriotism gone poisonous. And... that's all we know, really.

What's the game like?

BioShock: Infinite is, at first glance, an awful lot like BioShock. Players can find tonics (see: plasmids) that give them special abilities such as telekinesis, but the tonics seem to offer more finesse than plasmids did. Irrational's video demos of BioShock: Infinite show finer control of the Telekinesis ability, allowing for Booker to use weapons hands free.

The upgraded engine in Infinite has also changed the weapon balancing and powers considerably. Irrational head Ken Levine has stressed that fights will involve as many as 15 enemies, requiring players to use those new and upgraded powers in more creative and destructive ways. The big open spaces have also made long-range combat a factor.

Then there are the rails. Columbia is actually made up of a number of pieces held aloft by giant balloons, and these pieces are connected by "skylines," which can be traversed with a special hook mount attachment that will send Booker rocketing along at about 80 miles an hour. This would be nerve-wracking enough without the countryside thousands of feet below, or the aggressive citizens of Columbia that Booker will have to take on while riding the skylines.

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