BioShock Infinite - Xbox 360

Game Description:BioShock Infinite is a first person shooter set in 1912 where players assume the role of former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt, sent to the flying city of Columbia on a rescue mission. His target? Elizabeth, imprisoned since childhood. During their daring escape, Booker and Elizabeth form a powerful bond -- one which lets Booker augment his own abilities with her world-altering control over the environment. Together, they fight from high-speed Sky-Lines, in the streets and houses of Columbia, on giant Zeppelins and in the clouds, all while learning to harness an expanding arsenal of weapons and abilities.
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BioShock Infinite First Look Preview

BioShock Infinite First Look Preview

By John Teti - Posted Aug 12, 2010


When members of the gaming media went into an Irrational Games press conference Wednesday night to hear a major announcement from BioShock auteur Ken Levine, we were expecting the unexpected. Which was stupid. Expecting the unexpected is impossible, after all, but we tried.

Levine came out on stage, he gave some perfunctory greetings, and the lights dimmed for a trailer. We’re underwater, and there’s a Big Daddy. Cute. The view pulls out—the water was just a fishtank, and we’re in a first-person point of view, inhabiting the body of some poor schmoe as a very angry machine-man rearranges his bones for him. Our protagonist gets tossed out the window into the void of a flying city, plummeting into an early-1900s skyscape. A woman reaches out to save him, showing off some serious telekinetic chops. Then, the logo: BioShock Infinite.

The common refrain in the room after the presentation: “I didn’t expect that.”


Nobody figured that Ken Levine had called the press to The Plaza in New York last night to announce the most obvious move possible: a BioShock title. Here was the man, or so the mythology went, that had struck a blow against the industry’s sequel-itis by declining to work on BioShock 2. He had clout, truckloads of it, and the closest thing to carte blanche that anyone gets in this business. And yet he chooses to make another BioShock game?

Well, yes and no. It depends how you define a BioShock game, because the world Levine unveiled last night had little resemblance to anything that’s borne the BioShock name before.

First and foremost: We’re not in Rapture anymore, Toto. Infinite takes place during the early 1900s, in Columbia, a utopian sky city built on massive airships. Levine explained that Columbia is constructed “as an example to the world of the success of the American system.” It isn’t a secret project like Rapture—it’s an international P.R. stunt.

But then, the story goes, something goes terribly wrong. Levine didn’t get too specific, but he did say that Columbia is also “a Death Star,” so let’s assume that the disaster involves Columbia raining murder down from the sky. Then the city vanishes, and nobody down below knows where it went.


This is about where your character, Booker DeWitt, comes in. It’s another split from BioShock tradition, as the hero has a name, a history, and even a voice—during a quick gameplay demo on Wednesday, he occasionally piped up with some hard-nosed private-dick dialogue.

DeWitt is a disgraced former agent for the Pinkertons (a corporate police agency that saw its real-life heyday in the late 19th century). A mysterious client comes to DeWitt with a job: Retrieve Elizabeth, a woman who has been trapped on Columbia for years. As it happens, Elizabeth is the telekinetic wonder who appears at the climax of the Infinite trailer, and her powers are the topic of ongoing conflict among the residents of Columbia.

What’s most striking about Elizabeth in the preview footage—aside from the whole moving-things-with-her-brain deal—is her look. The humans in Infinite are rendered with bold features and a bright color palette. They look more like people from a Fable game or a Pixar film than the shadowy, tarnished characters that featured in BioShock. Likewise, Columbia itself is a sparkling burg with the atmosphere of a World’s Fair. The ambience couldn’t be further removed from the mildew of Rapture.

It’s all the result of a development-team mantra that Levine repeated throughout the night: “There are no sacred cows.” Levine didn’t want anyone on his crew feeling beholden to what had come before, and he claims that Infinite doesn’t borrow a single line of programming from the BioShock codebase. But just because Levine declared open season on cattle doesn’t mean that Infinite is an entirely new beast.


The old BioShock DNA was most evident in the gameplay demo. There was DeWitt slugging down a bottle of mysterious goo, and within seconds, his left hand went into a painful spasm. They might not call it a “plasmid” in Infinite, but there’s no mistaking the symptoms. The original game’s first-person-shooter model—weapon in the right hand, quasi-magical powers in the left—is intact.

Near the end of last night’s combat demo, as if to drive the point home, sidekick Elizabeth trapped a gang of angry barflies in a pool of water, and DeWitt zapped them with a bolt of lightning from his hand—the quintessential BioShock force multiplier. Trapped amid another mob, Elizabeth offered up a huge hunk of metal for DeWitt to fling, with nothing but an extended hand, at the attackers. It looks like Elizabeth isn’t the only one who drank the telekinesis plasm—er, mystery juice.

Still, the differences from Rapture in BioShock Infinite are so drastic that it’s fair to ask: Why that title for this game? What makes a BioShock game, anyway? Levine said that it’s defined by a setting like “nothing you’ve ever seen before,” but that’s PR pablum. As far as I can tell from these early previews, a BioShock game is one that explores the American identity through the lens of Levine’s visionary historical sci-fi. That’s the common thread.

Infinite is exploring a chapter of American history—the turn of the 20th century—that doesn’t get a lot of play in modern fiction but has clearly captured Levine’s fascination. During his presentation, he read from a speech that William McKinley gave in justification of the Philippine-American war. “We could not leave [the Filipinos] to themselves,” McKinley was purported to say. “They would soon have anarchy and misrule…. There was nothing left for us to do but to take them all.” Levine hit that line a little harder than the rest.


It appears that passions of racial superiority will play a part in the cultural fabric of Columbia, and more specifically “purity.” That word kept popping up in the Infinite art that was on display last night: “purity,” drenched in flags and George Washington and Lady Liberty and any other patriotic imagery the talented Irrational artists could dig up.

The inspiration for Infinite may be antiquated, but with fights raging over gay marriage, Arizonan immigrants, and a Muslim group’s right to worship near Ground Zero, the question of what constitutes “pure” America is as current as ever. If Levine’s past work is any indication, Infinite will explore that rich vein of American identity in surprising, thought-provoking ways. We can expect at least that much.

Comments are Closed

  • mmhlaw360

    This must be some sort of prequel, the first Bioshock didnt happen until at least the late 1930s (Andrew Ryan had a message talking about the Reich and Stalin's 5 year plans and of FDR, yet the year on this is 1909, interesting.

    Posted: August 20, 2010 9:45 AM
  • Tamus_The_Great

    This game looks great and I'll definitely be picking this up when it comes out, all I know is now I have plenty of time to replay Bioshock 1 and Bioshock 2 !

    Posted: August 19, 2010 9:16 PM
  • xdarkjudgex

    Awesome..I think I just shat myself.

    Posted: August 19, 2010 7:38 PM
  • Captain_X

    i hope this is as good as it looks an if it is id like to see irrational do somthing with fallout that could turn up really good but it all counts on this but im gonna definitly get it this completly looks great

    Posted: August 18, 2010 4:21 PM
  • lefty2718

    Going to be amazing!! Another groundbreaking masterpiece from Ken Levine!!

    Posted: August 18, 2010 1:40 PM
  • the_kenster

    unreal cant wait. my question is when?

    Posted: August 18, 2010 4:25 AM
  • Mooninite4life

    i love the new city , cant wait to her more of the story and see gameplay

    Posted: August 17, 2010 3:43 PM
  • mel07

    Bioshock Gaiden

    Posted: August 17, 2010 1:28 PM
  • rickyd2

    damb this game will be the sht i cant wait until it comes out i love the details to this game these people have emagination and like that

    Posted: August 17, 2010 11:07 AM
  • SilentFan311

    I think of this in the same vein as the Silent Hill games. They have similar themes and trends, however, most of them are stand-alone games (with a couple exceptions). I think Infinite looks great, I can't wait to hear more about it!!

    Posted: August 17, 2010 12:21 AM
  • pepsimachine76

    So... since theres no splicers in the city (from the looks of the trailer), who/what is gonna be the enemy?

    Posted: August 17, 2010 12:02 AM
  • Angth

    Well as excited as everyone is, I'm hoping this is the last title they release of Bioshock and wrap up all the questions everyone has here and now. Once you make too many titles under the same name it feels like playing the same game with different things to look at, some of the same sounds. Idk about everyone else but I get bored of this kind of stuff.

    Posted: August 16, 2010 7:39 PM
  • rAWRcard

    -_-;; i wonder if there is gonna be a fat azn kid in this too...

    Posted: August 16, 2010 7:37 PM
  • Ericlr

    Wow. Look at all them American flags. This is just going to be another anti-american game like GTA 4. It's going to tell the story of how we Americans are stupid money lovers and how we hate everyone. Count me out.

    Posted: August 16, 2010 6:31 PM
  • joshwuhh

    dude i am so excited, but ill have to admit im a lil sad to say goodbye to rapture but i do agree change was needed also im gonna kinda be sad that all the grunge and destruction to the area is gone but who knows who knows the trailer doesnt show much but enough to make me feel like im gonna pee my pants lol

    Posted: August 16, 2010 3:54 PM
  • Malapropism

    what does chaffi mean?
    on the poster, burden not columbia with your chaffi,

    i tried searching for it on google but couldn't find anything

    Posted: August 16, 2010 3:04 PM
  • NegativeFeedbak

    I dont know if i can even wait a few months for this game... let alone a year and a half!!! :(

    Posted: August 16, 2010 10:07 AM
  • will_sutton

    Got a major video game chubby when I saw this

    Posted: August 14, 2010 10:11 PM
  • The_prince_of_canada

    honestly, im hesitant for this. I was worried about them milking the series, i heard they were gonna make 8 different titles of bioshock...so im kinda worried

    Posted: August 14, 2010 8:51 PM
  • Trityler

    That video reminded me of the very first press video for the first Bioshock all those years ago. (Remember, the one where the Big Daddy drills a hole in your hand and gut?) First one was so good, it actually got me motivated to READ Atlas Shrugged. Making a gamer read a huge book like that is a freaking achievement in itself.

    Posted: August 14, 2010 7:46 PM