E3: BioShock Infinite

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E3: BioShock Infinite

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We check out Infinite and love what we see.

When we first saw BioShock Infinite, many, myself included, summed it up as just being BioShock in the air - but didn't mean it as a compliment. Now, after seeing a gameplay demo, I can confirm that Infinite is indeed BioShock in the air, which is the best possible thing it could be. By moving the action out of water and into the clouds of Columbia, Infinite does something few sequels can truly manage: It recaptures the feeling of awe and wonder we experienced the very first time we saw Rapture.

Here's a quick refresher for anyone not up on the history of Infinite's flying city. Columbia is a flying World's Fair, a testament to the human drive to innovate and create. It's also a city on the brink of a new world order, and during the Boxer Rebellion, Columbia opened fire on civilians in China. The US cut ties with Columbia, which now roams the skies as a kind of roving boogeyman. Pinkerton Agent Booker DeWitt has been hired to find a young girl named Elizabeth, who's been kept prisoner in a tower for fifteen years. Her only companion has been her jailor, the enormous mechanoid Songbird.

The level we saw takes place about a third of the way through the game. Booker has managed to free Elizabeth, but can't get her out of the city just yet. She has powers that she neither understands nor can control, and she won't leave until she gets some help. Booker is hoping that Comstock, the leader of The Founders, can provide some answers. The Founders are one of the factions in Columbia, currently at odds with the Vox Populi, who started a peaceful counter to Founder leadership, but has since declared all-out war. Booker and Elizabeth must make their way through Emporia, the seat of Founder power, to Comstock House, where Elizabeth can hopefully get the information she needs, and Booker can finally get paid.

The demo began with Booker and Elizabeth poking around an old notions store in Emporia, which was filled with tourist trap-style junk. Songbird is after them, and the pair have to take cover as he looks through the window, letting out a god-awful shriek. The sound that thing makes might be the most terrifying noise ever featured in a videogame. Remember the first time you saw Jurassic Park and heard the T-Rex bellow? It's that kind of bone-rattling terrifying of a noise.

After Songbird clears off, Booker and Elizabeth continue making their way through Emporia, and we see a sampling of Elizabeth's powers when she comes across a dying horse. Apparently, she can tear through the fabric of reality and let other possibilities bleed through. She tries to open a tear that will result in a healed horse, but she can't control it and reality fluctuates between possibilities, finally resulting in Elizabeth and Booker standing in the middle of a street near a movie theater showing Revenge of the Jedi. She manages to repair things just in time to avoid being creamed by a truck.

Elizabeth's power can come in handy during combat situations, though. She can open a tear to pull through an object to use as cover or a new weapon, but she has to recover after each use of her ability. Areas open to tears appear in the world like outlines of static, as though there are objects just slightly out of phase with Columbia's reality. We got to see some of the gunplay as Booker found himself in an altercation with the Vox Populi, and after doing some damage on the ground, he took to Columbia's Skyline to shoot from the air. You can apparently hop from rail to rail, but the hands off nature of the demo makes it tough to determine if the mechanic is forgiving, or if you have to time your jumps or risk plummeting to your death. Hopefully it's the former; trying to concentrate on jumping while dodging bullets might rob what otherwise looks like a nonstop adrenaline rush of its thrill.

The nuts and bolts of Infinite certainly look appealing, but what's really changed my mind about this game is how it evokes the feeling of BioShock without copying it. Columbia, like Rapture, is a city stuck in time, tearing itself apart as differing ideologies vie for dominance. But Rapture was a claustrophobic space. Everywhere you went, you felt the oppressive weight of the ocean bearing down on you. Columbia, on the other hand, is a wide open space, with huge expanses and lots of room. Rapture was held down by tones of blue and brown, Columbia is brightened by reds and whites. The people of Rapture pushed inward on Jack, with communication that was strictly one way, but Booker can speak. His influence pushes outward into Columbia as he talks to Elizabeth. Infinite has enough in common with its predecessor to let us feel comfortable with it, but this isn't just BioShock all over again. The emotional interaction with the city is completely different.

The demo introduced us to Elizabeth, Songbird, and the high-flying Skyline hopping, but it was just a tiny sliver of the overall package. There were times when the conversation between Elizabeth and Booker felt a bit forced and artificial, but I'm certainly curious to know more about her powers and what they might mean for the factions of Columbia. Consider me converted - I'm an Infinite believer.

BioShock Infinite will be released for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in 2012.

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Sounds like everything a sequel should be.

How to make an original sequel sound boring i will let your imagination do the rest

High praise, hopefully with continued news as release approaches the sense of anticipation will continue to grow for what sounds like a great sequel.

This is what they should have waited to do a sequel about, the second wasn't terrible or anything, if it was a stand alone game it wouldn't be anything to be disappointed about. But it lacked a substantial amount of originality from the first.

After this one I don't really know what they could do, space doesn't really work with steampunk, so maybe underground civilization?

I think it's kinda nice that we're working with the Order & Law team rather than the anarchists by default; too many games have you playing on the uprising side, and although that's often a good thing, it's interesting to see a little shakeup in the formula. Looking forward to this.

Well, I'm still going to call it "Skyoshock" for fun.

am i the only one who thought the skyhook in the first demo video was awesome, and this new one looks like a play-mobile sand toy?

Wait... was that 'Revenge of the Jedi' bit actually in there? I can't imagine that it would be, but still this seems like a pretty serious, non-sarcastic write-up.

If it is there that is badass

Mike Richards:
Wait... was that 'Revenge of the Jedi' bit actually in there? I can't imagine that it would be, but still this seems like a pretty serious, non-sarcastic write-up.

If it is there that is badass

yeah, I was thinking the same thing. They (Irrational Games) have put awesome little easter eggs in their games before though.

Susan Arendt:

When we first saw BioShock Infinte, many, myself included, summed it up as just being BioShock in the air - but didn't mean it as a compliment. Now, after seeing a gameplay demo, I can confirm that Infinite is indeed BioShock in the air, which is the best possible thing it could be.

I disagreed with the majority of critics who didn't like BioShock2. I disagreed with those who were saying this was the same and that this was a bad thing. To me it meant that more of the writing and emotion transfer in 1AND 2 were likely to be present. I'm glad to see you changing your mind on this, Susan. Let's hope the young mind shows up to both our screens.

I really can't wait for this one; Levine's signal has to date been amazingly clear and true ringing.

Bioshock one and two bored me to tears, but this one looks pretty cool. The art-style is not my cup of tea and it may put me off buying it, but we'll see.

Mike Richards:
Wait... was that 'Revenge of the Jedi' bit actually in there? I can't imagine that it would be, but still this seems like a pretty serious, non-sarcastic write-up.

If it is there that is badass

bawkbawkboo1:
yeah, I was thinking the same thing. They (Irrational Games) have put awesome little easter eggs in their games before though.

Yes, it's really in there.

AC10:
Well, I'm still going to call it "Skyoshock" for fun.

I've always leaned more toward Flyoshock.

OT: That second to last paragraph shows just how Bioshock 2 failed. Not that the game itself is a failure, but in that way.

Those rail-way thingamajiggers look both terrifying and awesome to use. Can't wait for 2012 to come.

I can't play this game if I will be taking the role of a fucking Pinkerton. There are some things you don't do.

nrghhh i'm so skeptical of this game, bioshock was not a game that should have had a sequel, just look at bs2 *snort* if they think they can fool me into thinking the sky will be somehow be different from the sea-
0.0 OMG BLOONS!! must have!

I can't wait for this game!

Well, that's me fallen for the Infinite hype.
I enjoyed the crap out of the other Bioshock games (2 more than 1, surprisingly), and this seems like it will be a very welcome addition to the Bioshock series.
The SkyLine idea seems quite interesting, but it may lead to many-a-ragequit when you miss and go flying down to the ground many many metres away.

I've been on the S.S Bioshock-Hype since day 1 when they released the debut trailer. Ever since I saw that thing I can't stop drooling over this game.

But one question: Would you kindly let us watch this demo video with the Emporium? I can't seem to find it anywhere on the net; I MUST SEE IT WITH MY OWN EYES!!!

Susan Arendt:
-snip- Consider me converted - I'm an Infinite believer.

I believe I can Fly. I believe I can touch the-*ahem* [clears throat] Sorry couldn't resist.

OT: "Vox Populi" is latin for "Voice of the People" right? That's.......wierd, that they're casting the (presumably) democracy touting civvies as the Bad guys. Isn't belief in the "people" and "Democracy", utter fucking Sacrosanct in American culture?

Now I'm really intrigued by this.

first of all lets get this out of the way: it takes place in a city in the sky. Its true that they manage to bring back the sense of wonder but rapture was much more than that: you where traped at the bottom of the ocean, without any clue that you would ever be able to scape, without any idea of what you where doing there. How will a game that takes place in the skys, wich features enormous maps, will deliver the same claustrophobic experience?.

The second thing that i noticed is that the new protagonist is given a voice, a clear story and a personality, normally developers overuse the "mute" protagonist as an excuse for being to lazy to create a story for him, to not make those cutescenes or hire a voice actor. But there are some games where having a character unable to show any sign of emotions allows you to have a much more immersive experience, games such as half life or shadow of colosus manage to pull it off But the one game that really took advantage of this was bioshock: remember when you found out that your character had been being controlled by atlas, what an amazing plot twist it was. It was because you dont feel like your character was deceived, you realise that you where being manipulated, every thing that you did, every little choice that you made, every way that you showed your freedom where a lie "a man chooses a slave obeys".

The third thing that i dont like about what they are doing with infinite are the cutescenes, its a small thing but there are games that are not ment to have them and ofcourse bioshock is one of them, for example at the begining when you see the woman crying over the stroller it took me at least ten minutes to find the courage to come near her, now imagine the same thing as a cutescene where you are not the one who controlls the character.

Finally the last thing: you are given a sidekick, remember the feeling of lonelyness?: everything on the game makes you feel lonely from the music to de desolated environments. Remember waiting for that 20 second message from atlas to remind you that you are not the last sane person in the world? well now you can kiss it goodbye.

To sum up Infinite can be a good game, it can even be a great game but for me those four changes means that they are taking away everything that made bioshock be bioshock. Call me a fanboy but there was something about playing that game that really touched me and without that all there is left is a beautyfull city, a fun gameplay and a decent story. And that is all infinite will be for me.

The previous demos left me concerned that this game would be overly scripted; hopefully when the first reviews start to come in they will allay these concerns but for now they're hard to ignore.

metal mustache:
nrghhh i'm so skeptical of this game, bioshock was not a game that should have had a sequel, just look at bs2 *snort* if they think they can fool me into thinking the sky will be somehow be different from the sea-
0.0 OMG BLOONS!! must have!

Thats what I think makes this game different. It isn't really a sequel, its a re-imagining set in the same world. Its a new journey, a new hero, new allies, new enemies. And its gonna be the better for it. Will it be better then the original maybe, maybe not. But it looks like a step in the right direction for the franchise(its better then just going back to rapture over and over again)

They should make bioshock inspired movies / tv series like Lost's Dharma oriented.

Wow an original FPS was featured at E3?
/Shocked
Also...I'm scared of heights so this should be the most terrifying game I shall ever play. Yes, even more so than Amnesia, a game which caused me to sweat profusely while playing it.

I've been looking forward to this game ever since I read about it in Game Informer. I think focusing on similarish combat and different settings with interesting ideological roots as the connecting thread is really the way for the Bioshock series to go. If they can make the combat good and the settings involving and interesting every time then this series can last quite awhile.

Bioshock is one of the greatest games I've ever played, and 2 wasn't on the level, but still better then most. Jokes multiplayer.

I have hopes for this game =]

Also, Songbird is SUCH a badass name for a big bad... I'm hoping he's the constant, relentless super-terror the Big Sister was supposed to be.

Susan Arendt:
E3: BioShock Infinite
finally resulting in Elizabeth and Booker standing in the middle of a street near a movie theater showing Revenge of the Jedi.

*Ahem* Return of the Jedi...or Revenge of the Sith :P

Anyway sounds awesome, can't wait for this!

arc1991:

Susan Arendt:
E3: BioShock Infinite
finally resulting in Elizabeth and Booker standing in the middle of a street near a movie theater showing Revenge of the Jedi.

*Ahem* Return of the Jedi...or Revenge of the Sith :P

Anyway sounds awesome, can't wait for this!

Ahem. Revenge of the Jedi was the original title of the third movie. Lucas changed it to "Return" later. Toys that bear the "Revenge" name on their packaging are worth a small fortune.

Susan Arendt:

arc1991:

Susan Arendt:
E3: BioShock Infinite
finally resulting in Elizabeth and Booker standing in the middle of a street near a movie theater showing Revenge of the Jedi.

*Ahem* Return of the Jedi...or Revenge of the Sith :P

Anyway sounds awesome, can't wait for this!

Ahem. Revenge of the Jedi was the original title of the third movie. Lucas changed it to "Return" later. Toys that bear the "Revenge" name on their packaging are worth a small fortune.

:$ woops my bad...

Sorry xD

As long as Levine holds to his promise that it is going to be developed for the PC and not ported and that the PC version will be mmmmmazing, then I will totally get it.

Susan Arendt:
After Songbird clears off, Booker and Elizabeth continue making their way through Emporia, and we see a sampling of Elizabeth's powers when she comes across a dying horse. Apparently, she can tear through the fabric of reality and let other possibilities bleed through. She tries to open a tear that will result in a healed horse, but she can't control it and reality fluctuates between possibilities, finally resulting in Elizabeth and Booker standing in the middle of a street near a movie theater showing Revenge of the Jedi. She manages to repair things just in time to avoid being creamed by a truck.

What the fuck did I just read??

Scrythe:

Susan Arendt:
After Songbird clears off, Booker and Elizabeth continue making their way through Emporia, and we see a sampling of Elizabeth's powers when she comes across a dying horse. Apparently, she can tear through the fabric of reality and let other possibilities bleed through. She tries to open a tear that will result in a healed horse, but she can't control it and reality fluctuates between possibilities, finally resulting in Elizabeth and Booker standing in the middle of a street near a movie theater showing Revenge of the Jedi. She manages to repair things just in time to avoid being creamed by a truck.

What the fuck did I just read??

My feelings exactly

I'm very much looking forward to this game. I wasn't a big fan of Bioshock 2 but I loved Bioshock 1. I really hope Infinite hold up for me.

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