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BioShock: Infinite Gamescom Preview

2007's BioShock successfully merged a complex story with an incredibly memorable dark and twisted setting. With gameplay as deep as its narrative, the game went on to be one of the best titles of the last few years. Despite a successful sequel that lacked the scope and emotion of its predecessor, it seemed that returning to Rapture for a third time might be one trip too many. However, the recent announcement of BioShock Infinite and our Gamescom preview had everyone here at GameOn blown away: literally!

BioShock  Infinite

Instead of returning to the underwater dystopia of the first two titles, BioShock Infinite reinvents the series, setting it atop a vast flying city, known as Columbia. Supported by vast hot-air balloons, the metropolis was built and launched in 1900 as a physical embodiment of everything that made America great. Designed as a mobile World's Fair which could travel the world and spread the ideals of democracy, it wasn't long before the peaceful utopia was at the centre of a violent struggle. With various factions fighting for control of the city, it soon disappeared into the sky and was never seen of again. That is until 1912, when BioShock Infinite begins...

BioShock Infinite

You play the role of Booker DeWitt, an ex-member of the notorious Pinkerton National Detective Agency (a private law enforcement company from 1850s America). His methods were seen as too extreme even for the infamous group and as such he finds himself taking whatever work comes his way. DeWitt is approached by a mysterious individual who asks him to track down a missing woman, Elizabeth: the only problem is her last known location was on Columbia. Providing him with details of how to get to the flying city, DeWitt soon finds himself onboard the crumbling utopia. It soon becomes clear that finding Elizabeth will be fairly straightforward, but leaving alive will be far more problematic.

BioShock Infinite

One of the first thing that strikes you about BioShock Infinite is how astonishingly different the art style and visuals are from the first games. The oppressive and shadowy atmosphere is gone and replaced with a truly beautiful picture-postcard blue sky, with vibrant colours as far as the eye can see. Graphically, this sequel impresses with some fantastic textures and environments at this early stage. The demonstration began with DeWitt awakening on a crumbling side street, with large propaganda posters covering the decaying brick walls. Working his way slowly down the road, he encountered a run-down horse drawn cart, its driver ignoring his presence entirely.

BioShock Infinite

As DeWitt reached the end of the street, the entire city's foundations shook, sending an enormous bell tower crashing to the ground only a few meters away from his feet. Moving around the wreckage it became very clear that BioShock's unsettling atmosphere will carry over into this follow-up as a woman continued to sweep the entrance to a blazing building. While a fairly subtle touch, it created a chilling atmosphere of a once-great civilisation turned into a nightmare.

BioShock Infinite

Walking through an archway covered in sinister propaganda posters, a distant voice slowly became more distinct, talking about preserving the purity of Columbia's citizens. DeWitt gradually moved through a small park, passing a young man sat surrounded by dozens of crows, until he reached a large bandstand. Decked out in radical political banners, evocative of extreme right-wing isolationism a man stood preaching to a non-existent audience. As we drew nearer and picked up a rifle, from an enormous stack of armaments, the man suddenly wheeled around calling for reinforcements. The young man from earlier soon appeared calling his birds to attack and initiating a large battle as DeWitt was forced to use the rifle to take the man down. Activating a crow shaped bottle found on his corpse led to the acquisition of the "Murder of Crows", a plasmid-like ability that could be used on enemies.

BioShock Infinite

However, before this power could be put into action, the bandstand came under heavy fire from a distant gun emplacement, manned by the preacher who had fled along "The Skyline". This looping rail connects the different areas of Columbia together and before another barrage of shells arrived DeWitt was forced to jump onto it and zip towards the distant turret. As he neared the bottom the preacher rushed onto the opposite end and zoomed towards him, but was soon sent plummeting to his death with a well-timed smack of a pipe.

 

As DeWitt landed he was soon attacked by large groups of enemies, very reminiscent of the splicers from the previous BioShock games. Using telekinesis to steal a shotgun from an opponent's hands, he then used it to gun several of them down, with the weapon hovering in mid-air, which looked incredibly satisfying. The crows also proved very useful, pecking at enemies in huge swarms and thinning their numbers. DeWitt's telekinesis extended to taking down the gun turret, as he waited for an explosive round to be fired at him before catching it and throwing it back, leaving only a pile of rubble.

BioShock Infinite

At this point, Elizabeth suddenly emerged and some of her powers were demonstrated. As a large group of foes advanced menacingly, she summoned a storm soaking the enemies, allowing DeWitt to use an electrical attack to take out all the opposition. Irrational Games explained that using Elizabeth's powers cause her physical harm, creating a moral choice. Taking advantage of these abilities will injure her which will be communicated through her responses with DeWitt. While it is not quite clear exactly how this companionship will work throughout the game, it has been designed to involve the player with the characters and the story in a more meaningful manner.

 

The demonstration ended with DeWitt and Elizabeth being attacked by a mechanical monstrosity, which was both similar but different to the Big Daddies from Bioshock. Seemingly powered by a human heart housed in the centre of its body, it required a great deal of ammunition and powers to subdue. However, before either character could breathe a sigh of relief a gigantic, robotic creature with wings appeared on an adjacent building. Gradually, the game faded to black with Elizabeth's ominous dialogue, "That, is the thing that's been following me..."

With most of the room sat in an awed silence, the Irrational Games developers smiled and coyly asked whether we were impressed with the title. BioShock Infinite has already been in development for over two years after Ken Levine finished work on the original title and the degree of work that has gone into it certainly shows. With a release date due sometime in 2012 on the PC, 360 and PS3, this was undoubtedly the game of Gamescom 2010 and one of the most exciting projects currently on the horizon.

evilgiraffeman | 22nd August, 2010
Si^'s picture
Another game that is on my want list!!! so many games coming out i dont think i can buy anymore!
Dead Alive's picture
Definitely not interested in this, I lost interest in the BioShock series about an hour into the original game.

Thankfully one I can avoid, which is nice. There's so many great looking games coming all at once.

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