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E3 2011: Bioshock Infinite Preview
Posted on June 08, 2011 by

I didn’t have an appointment for 2K Games for Bioshock Infinite, but for X-Com. I’ve honestly never heard of X-Com, nor do I care for it. Luckily I was able to slip into the Bioshock demo, because I’m awesome like that. But enough about that, let’s start with what went down.

Booker, the main character, and Elizabeth, your damsel in distress, have entered a shop filled with novelties. While Booker looks at a pistol, Elizabeth is poking around playing with things like an Abraham Lincoln mask like a little kid. Having been locked in a tower her whole life, she’s a fish out of water, but she can be very silly when she wants to be.

That moment doesn’t last long though. A booming thud shakes the entire shop, and Elizabeth’s face turns white. We hea more thuds, and Elizabeth whispers at Booker to stay down. In a scene that feels straight out of Jurassic Park, a large shadow looms past the window.

Once the danger passes, Elizabeth checks outside to see if the coast is clear. She looks back at Booker straight in eye with a worried look on her face, begging him that no matter what: �Don’t let him take me back.� Booker reassures her by saying that it won’t come to that.

Moving right along, we move outside again, and we come across a dying horse. Elizabeth is starting to understand her powers now but can’t control them very well. The option to euthanize the horse comes up with a prompt to hit the X button, similar to the Little Sisters in the original Bioshock. However, the demo player skips that option and lets it slide.

She wants to heal the horse, and almost succeeds, but then a weird flash happens, and it’s like they’ve time warped. We hear cars running around, tall buildings and paved streets instead of the park we were just in. Both Elizabeth and Booker don’t know what’s going on at all, but after a few seconds we’re back in the park. And sadly, the horsey didn’t make it.

Booker looks up to see a politician’s house, which becomes our next objective. We run into rebels that are trying to kill a postman because they see him as part of the government that oppresses the people. Booker sees this as crazy, since the postman isn’t a significant threat to anyone. He speaks out against their actions. The rebels then turn on Booker, and things quickly become very chaotic.

The hostility of the people in the game gives off a Wild West vibe, where the slightest provocation can make the bullets start flying. Booker ducks behind cover, and Elizabeth offers to help with her powers. Three options appear, and she can cause tears in space-time that changes the environment to either damage enemies or give you new cover options. Booker chooses cover, and then climbs higher to catch on to a sky rail.

Sky rails are what really give the city of Columbia a much greater sense of scale then Rapture. At any point you can jump up, latch onto a rail, and freely leap between them. You can even be bold and leap hundreds of feet through the air to more distant rails. It’s taking risky chances like this that gives the game more of a daredevil style, which plays up the themes of American exceptionalism.

The battle gets insane, with the rebels sending out flares to call in more troops. Booker takes them out with a grenade launcher, but a blimp already saw the battle and starts pouring dozens of rockets blowing up just about everything. Again, Booker takes to the sky rails, and eventually is able to land on the blimp. He blows up the engine, hops off back on the rail, and we see the zeppelin go down in a sea of flames.

Elizabeth comments on how amazing that was, which, quite frankly, it was. The brief respite is only for a few seconds. A huge robotic bird-like monster crashes down from above. This is Songbird, Elizabeth’s keeper. He wants her back very much. In fact, he’s programmed to have feelings of betrayal if she leaves him, sort of like an abusive husband.

Anyways, Songbird is huge. I’m guessing around twelve feet tall or so. Trying to tangle with this beast is like trying to take on the Hulk. It’s just not going to happen. Hulk smash. Hulk tosses you helluva far into a building.

Booker, groggy from just being thrown through a brick wall, is pinned down by Songbird, and is about to eat a big metal fist sandwich until Elizabeth pleads with the beast to spare him and she’ll go back willingly. She’s crying that she has to go back, but she can’t bear to see Booker die either. She looks back at Booker with tears in her eyes as Songbird flies away, but it’s not going to end that easily. Booker hops out of the building on a sky rail and begins his pursuit. And that’s where the demo ends.

Bioshock Infinite looks to be dynamically different from the moody tempo of the city of Rapture. It’s an open world that feels more alive. There’s not so much of a mystery of what happened here, since you’re pretty much in the thick of the civil war. The themes here are about American exceptionlism and excess. The name, Columbia, refers to the female personification of the United States. Even the colors are very different, with bright golds and browns and healthy dashes of red, white and blue. And yet the soul is there. What made Bioshock what it is, is still there. It’s not the psychic powers (which are there, but very little has been shown, or even how they got there), it’s this incredible world that is run on powerful ideologies, which drive the story and gives you a sense of personal investment in the events happening.

I’m happy to say that Bioshock Infinite is looking very strong storywise and gameplay wise. Irrational Games is back on board. Instead of the retread that we got in Bioshock 2, there are a whole lot of new things to discover in Bioshock Infinite. Sadly, we’re not getting this game until sometime in 2012.

- Kyle

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What's your favorite Silent Hill game?

Silent Hill 1
Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 3
Silent Hill 4
Silent Hill: Origins
Silent Hill Homecoming
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (Editor's Note - If you pick this one, you suck)
Silent Hill Downpour
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