In an unveiling demonstration held at NYC’s swanky Plaza Hotel this past week, journalists got a first glance at Bioshock Infinite. This will be the third installment in the award-winning BioShock franchise, and will be developed by 2K Games’ Irrational Games studio. Reporters at the unveiling event were required to hand over their electronic devices and promise to keep the details quiet until August 12th, when the Web exploded with interest surrounding the upcoming game. A cinematic trailer has been released, showing off BioShock Infinite‘s incredible setting and a taste of the story to come.
The BioShock games are first-person shooters that have an almost eerie ability to engage players on an emotional level. Like the Fable video games, BioShock lets gamers make moral choices to influence how the game turns out. You’re given the option of killing or saving the adorable-yet-creepy Little Sisters to get your hands on a mutagen called ADAM – after defeating their huge diving suit-wearing bodyguards, called Big Daddies. Elements of horror, dystopian fiction, action/adventure, stealth and RPGs all play a part in making these games unique, as do the detailed steampunk-esque surroundings.
The first two installments in the franchise take place in an alternate timeline of the 1960s, in an underwater city known as Rapture. BioShock Infinite is also set in a historical context, but with obvious twists – I don’t recall reading about any Big Daddies in my history textbooks, do you? For BioShock Infinite, the game takes place within a floating city known as Columbia. That’s right kids, BioShock has left the sea and hit the sky. Columbia is part-dirigible, part America circa 1910. But this glorious city in the sky may not be the stuff of dreams, after all. As Irrational Games’ creative developer Ken Levine said at the press event, “Columbia is a Death Star.”
Something’s gone terribly wrong in Columbia, leading the city to fly into hiding. You play as “disgruntled former Pinkerton agent” Booker DeWitt, seen falling from the sky in the trailer. You’re hired to find Columbia and save Elizabeth, who seems to be equal parts damsel in distress and partner in crime. In the cinematic, Elizabeth reaches out to save you from falling, only to be scooped up by a Big Daddy gone (presumably) bad. The game promises a rich storyline, but let’s not forget that this will still be on the shelves in the first-person shooter section. A network of sky-trains called the Skyline also play a part in Bioshock Infinite, seemingly a combination between transportation facilitator and combat helper. Ship combat is always fun and interesting, but should get an extra twist with the wind conditions at 30,000 feet. It’s reported that a whole new engine needed to be created to make combat in Columbia happen, so it should be interesting to say the least.
Apart from the trailer and the information released at the press event, there’s a lot we still don’t know about BioShock Infinite – and probably won’t for at least another year. If that’s not foreboding enough for you, I leave you with a quote from Ken Levine. “The only thing gamers can be certain of is this: the rules of the BioShock universe are about to change.”
BioShock Infinite is expected sometime in 2012, with versions for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
Christopher Grant. “BioShock Infinite preview: Setting foot in the floating city of Columbia.” Joystiq.
Stephen Totilo. “BioShock Infinite Goes Beyond The Sea & Into the Skies.” Kotaku
“BioShock Infinite announcement trailer.” YouTube.