E3 2011: Bioshock Infinite Preview

By Lauren Alessandra on July 4, 2011, 10:43AM EDT
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When thinking about Bioshock: Infinite, past fans would do well to disconnect themselves from the events of the first two Bioshock titles. Why? Because it's not a sequel nor a prequel. Infinite stands completely on its own taking place no where near Rapture, but the nation of Columbia. Built in 1900, Columbia is a nation that lives in a sky; a floating "World's Fair" as some call it. Its inhabitants are not the creepy malformed splicers, but a bunch of political activists.

After the killing of innocent Chinese civilians during the boxer rebellion, the people of Columbia formed two groups; the Founders and the Vox Populi. The Founders are those who retain power over the city and hope to keep Columbia an American only city. The Vox Populi are a group dedicated to stopping the Founders, however, they have problems themselves as they fight the Founders out of blind hatred.

Enter the first talking protagonist of the Bioshock series, Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton agent who got sent off for bad behaviour. Upon accepting a job from a mysterious host, Booker is tasked with finding and protecting a young woman named Elizabeth. However, a ferocious mechanical creature who goes by the name of Songbird does not make protecting Elizabeth any easier. As fate would have it, Songbird is a man-made creature designed to protect Elizabeth and it feels betrayed when she leaves.

Songbird's very reminiscent of a Big Daddy, however, all the more brutal. He'll rip whole walls off of buildings in order to steal back his beloved Elizabeth. It's unclear how combat against Songbird will work at the moment though, as there hasn't been a gameplay video yet where Booker is required to attack it. Each appearance of his has been a cutscene so far, so perhaps we won't be seeing an epic fight between Booker and Songbird till the game's release.

Players familiar with the previous titles should have no problem picking up Infinite as many of the controls remain the same. But there are still some interesting additions to be noted, one of which is the Skyline. This acts as a way of transporting Booker through various parts of the city. Attaching oneself to a Skyline is not permanent though as Booker can choose to carry one rail out or can even let go of one rail and jump to the other. This is a more entertaining way of getting around unlike the original Bioshock where making your way around the world meant taking an elevator. There will also be instances where players will need to battle enemies while holding onto the rail with one hand and shooting enemies with the other.

Plasmids from the first game are replaced this time around with vigors and nostrums. Though they grant similar powers to that of plasmids, some restrictions have been added. You are only able to use as many vigors as you have on you and once you choose a vigor or nostrum, you will be stuck with it. For now it seems as though this will play a huge part in the later parts of the game when you are attempting to beat some of the harder bosses, but all of this is still unsure just based on the preview.

Now to tackle your new female companion, Elizabeth. She had only a bit-part role in the gameplay trailer, however, this time a bit more of her involvement as Booker's partner is featured. She acts not as a damsel in distress, but an extension to Booker's weaponry. As a sorceress, she is able to use so called "tears in reality" to assist Booker. By targeting these Elizabeth is able to repair the tears and create things such as a doorway or something to cover you from enemy fire. All you need to do is get over the fact that she has a very possessive mechanical bird who just might kill you at any second.

Choice seems to play a huge part this game as now you can affect the lives of the people around you. If Booker walks past a public execution taking place, he has the ability in choosing whether or not to intervene. He could take the trigger happy approach by shooting up the joint or he could choose to talk it out like an adult. Just don't expect the other characters to share the same level of maturity. Also depending on who you save could even come back to bite you later in the game. That seemingly innocent dentist getting attacked by the cruel Founder member could be deserving of the punishment he's receiving and due to this might become one of your enemies later in the game.

The changes revealed so far in Bioshock Infinite seem to really be working well for the game. Perhaps 2012 will be a good year for Bioshock.

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