Preview: BioShock Infinite
BioShock ascends from the murky depths of the dark-blue ocean to a complete opposite end of the spectrum. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s all have a big Vigor-infused round of applause to the floating city of Columbia. BioShock Infinite has so many ideas and enigmas surrounding it, causing this writer occasional twitching and chronic foaming at the mouth, all out of sheer anticipation for a game setting out to be a one of a kind roller-coaster ride. Literally.
Title: BioShock Infinite
Developer: Irrational Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Expected Price: R631 (PS3, Xbox 360), R451 (PC)
Release Date: 26 March 2013
Have you ever felt that a certain game, book or movie was made specifically for you? In my case, it’s BioShock Infinite. From the very first announcement trailer and interviews, the whole idea of a floating city had my attention. More interviews emerged over time. A 15 minute gameplay demo was shown at E3 2011. That demo right there confirmed my fondness for the whole concept. As time went by, interviews and more gameplay sprouted its way to us. Just when I think they cannot amaze me any further, the next trailer comes out; proving my aforementioned statement moot.
There’s so much going for this game, and there’s so many aspects that needs to be addressed. Where to begin?
Accompany me to a brief glimpse of Columbia.
The game takes place several decades prior to the original BioShock in a post- Civil War America. You play as a former Pinkerton agent named Booker Dewitt. Booker finds himself in a jam with a hefty amount of gambling debt. Being offered the deceptively straight-forward job to find a certain woman and clear himself of said debt. Simple premise, but let’s be honest here, do things always go smoothly during these stories? Booker makes his way over to Columbia with a rather familiar looking start in comparison to the original BioShock, yet a completely different mode of transportation is used to get him there. He searches for Elizabeth, eventually finding her, complete with books being thrown at his face, he quickly realises that nothing is as it seems. Elizabeth has a lot of hidden potential and is probably the most powerful person on Columbia.
He finds himself in the middle of a civil war between the Founders and the Vox Populi. Two deadly forces believing their way is the only right way. Massacres in the streets, screams emitting from houses followed by a multitude of gunshots. Everyday folk being butchered and mugged on the street, all while the Founders and Vox Populi are running all over the place. Finding Elizabeth seems to be child’s play compared to the actual getting away and rescue part. As if things weren’t complicated enough, Elizabeth’s jailor, protector and only friend, the Songbird, a hulking mechanical entity/being/monstrosity is dead-set on keeping Elizabeth in her tower.
The Founders are led by Father Comstock or rather Zachary Hale Comstock. A prophet able to predict the attack of Booker DeWitt and his enemies. Many speculations surrounding this character can be seen on propaganda poster scattered all over Columbia. Is he a false prophet or indeed the real deal?
The Vox Populi are led by Daisy Fitzroy. Her message and appearance can be seen on various banners alongside projectors playing messages to the people on red drapes hanging from buildings. She’s aware of Elizabeth and her rather curious array of powers, hoping to harness it and increase the already robust Vox Populi. It is bound to impress and the all the interesting gameplay makes for something unique and truly breathtaking. Speaking of which…
Sure, it’s a first person shooter, but it is so much more than that.
Instead of everyone, besides the people constantly talking into your ear, being dead, you now have a companion, Elizabeth, as mentioned above. Character interactions in the original BioShock were fairly limited with the only people not trying to kill you either talking in your ear or talking at you from behind a piece of glass.
In BioShock Infinite, character interaction gets handled much more head on and feels overall much more personal. Not only do you have a companion interacting with the world around you, but she’ll be able to help you in combat while looking after herself. She’ll be able to pick locks for you if you have the needed materials to do so. She read a seeming amount of books while being forced to stay in her tower. Luckily lock-picking techniques were among those books. She will throw ammunition and much needed supplies your way if you signal her to do so. She’ll aid in combat with her own set of skills. She is not a copy and pasted model of abilities the player already possesses.
Speaking of unique abilities…
Elizabeth can use her abilities to open tears to alternate dimensions located throughout Columbia. These tears may provide extra supplies, reinforcements, cover, turrets and traps from another reality of Columbia. You won’t be able to activate all of them, forcing you to think on your feet, all while adding another extra layer to combat. Cargo and supplies move around the city on Sky-Lines. She can also call in supplies on the Sky-Lines.
Sky-Lines started out as a transport system for supplies and all types of cargo. Over the course of time, it was modified for personal use and provided an alternate mode of transportation. The best way to describe the Sky-Lines is like an old roller-coaster. Columbia is riddled with Sky-Lines, adding another completely unknown layer to gameplay, once Booker acquires his very own Sky-Hook.
Combine the Sky-Lines and Tears to phase parts of the rails in and out of existence, culminating in the very long fall and eventual death to those unlucky to end up on Booker’s naughty list. Choose to phase cargo into existence and you’ll clear the tracks in a more direct and merciless fashion.
Vigors and Nostrums
These may be seen as the new (or old?) Plasmids and Gene Tonics. Resulting in kick-ass powers and abilities to enhance your play-style. A number of differences can be read about when comparing Vigors against BioShock’s Plasmids. Booker can only carry a certain amount of Vigors with him. More of these can be found around Columbia. Vigors have a limited amount of charges and you have a limit as to how many Vigors you can carry. Chosen Vigors are permanent throughout the course of the game and cannot be switched like in the orginal BioShock.
You’ll pick up gear items on your journey throughout the game that will drastically change the way you play. For example: a gear item dubbed Betrayer will cause an insane amount of havoc on the battlefield. With Betrayer equipped, enemies that have been killed by Booker’s hand will explode into a destructive ball of fire. Bull Rush will have you sprinting towards the enemy, knocking him with a super-charged melee attack.
Another gigantic difference is the number of enemies you’ll encounter at any given time. You will now face groups of enemies, all set out to have their own slice of Booker DeWitt-pie. Some are just after Elizabeth and unfortunately, you are in their way.
Other than the normal enemies, Infinite invites another four mean mothers to the party. All of these Heavy Hitter enemies will add more danger to the already mental city. Each link takes you to a video focusing on that specific enemy if you’re interested.
The Motorised Patriot is made entirely out of machinery. With a porcelain face modeled after George Washington while toting a Pepper Mill minigun. This guy won’t stop until you’ve put him down for good.
The Boys of Silence are like a creepy bunch of walking cameras/alarms. Dressed up in a mask granting superior hearing is bound to have us tip-toeing around them. A faceless mask and creepy scream guarantees a few freaked out gamers along the way.
The Handyman’s past and origins haven’t been revealed. Judging from trailers, it would seem as though you offer up your body for a mechanical and more “superior” body. We can only speculate. Ken Levine mentioned that these guys have a tragic past.
The Siren. Ah, yes, the ghost-like entity reviving fallen enemies with her song. Deal with her first or deal with all the fallen enemies you’ve already dealt with? The choice is yours.
I’ll say it again; BioShock Infinte has some truly unique and enticing ideas behind it. We’re holding thumbs for it to rock our socks off and you should also be anxious to enter this one of a kind world. One can only speculate about what is truly going on in Columbia. We shall have to wait until the 26th of March to find out…
Before you depart, please tell us what you’re looking forward to in this game. There’s bound to be more than a few things. Personally, I look forward to the Vigors, the Sky-Lines and of course, the Songbird. I simply cannot wait to get lost inside this world.