10 things you should know about BioShock Infinite
At Gamescom 2010, Irrational Games showed to journalists gameplay footage from BioShock Infinite and, as of tomorrow, they will start distributing this footage to a wider audience. To build anticipation for this moment, Irrational have been drip feeding us information over the past ten days, through their website, with a series of articles entitled, ‘Ten things you should know about BioShock Infinite.’ Well here are the ten things that you should know:
- The people of Columbia aren’t completely mindless enemies who will shoot you on sight. If you step into a bar, they may observe you and utter insults but they won’t necessarily shoot you without provocation. We’re told that Columbia’s “citizens have more unpredictable motives, and their enmity–or their loyalty–can’t be taken for granted.”
- You play as Booker DeWitt. He is unlike previous BioShock characters in the sense that he has a personality, a known background and even a voice. Irrational avoided giving previous characters strong personalities because they wanted players to impose their own personalities into the game, so this marks a big change. DeWitt is a former Pinkerton agent, now private detective, who has arrived in Columbia to track down a mysterious girl called Elizabeth who has been held captive for the past 15 years. We’re told that DeWitt was kicked out of Pinkerton because they disapproved of his questionable methods. It’s hinted that these methods will come in very handy during his time in Columbia. Intriguing.
- Elizabeth isn’t simply a helpless princess. As well as playing a crucial role in the story, she has a wide range of abilities that can be used to aid you in battle. You can make yourself more effective by combing her powers with yours. If this brings back horrible memories of irritating sidekicks (who do nothing but get in your way) then rest-assured, Elizabeth will only fight alongside you if you want her to.
- Infinite depicts an America caught in a sea of change and optimism. While the latter parts of the 19th century saw America still struggling to come to terms with the death of Lincoln and the tragedies of the Civil War, the new century brought with it a wave of optimism and confidence: “immigration and industrial production skyrocketed, and victory in the Spanish-American War catalysed an international influence that continues to this day. Told in 1898 that they could soon be living above the clouds, many Americans would not have blinked.” The floating city of Columbia was born from this optimism.
- Columbia isn’t one large block, it is made up of several different islands joined together by an intricate web of “Sky-Lines.” By using his wrist-mounted Sky-Hook, DeWitt can freely zip across these Sky-Lines to get across to other islands. This isn’t just important for transport, you’ll need these lines to make quick escapes and to get in close and personal with the enemy.
- Infinite will have larger scale fights than its predecessors had, and it won’t be unusual to find yourself fighting against more than a dozen enemies at any one time, across a much wider expanse than you will have experienced before in a BioShock game. They will engage you in close and long range combat and they’ll even try to flank you using the Sky-Lines.
- Infinite is running on a whole new engine from the previous two BioShock games. They were based on a heavily modified version of the Unreal 2 engine with touches of Unreal 3 thrown in. It was just about capable of handling the confined spaces of Rapture, but it wouldn’t be powerful enough run Columbia’s large exterior environments and lush lighting effects. That’s the job of Unreal 3. By upgrading engines they can now have Elizabeth as your companion character and more complex AI interactions.
- The missions statement: “A BioShock game is about allowing player expression. It’s about exploring worlds that are larger than life, yet grounded in human experience. Rapture served as that framework for two games, but that city’s story has been told. Although it is not a sequel or prequel in the traditional sense, BioShock Infinite very much builds on and reinvigorates what BioShock established.” We’re told to pay close attention to the gameplay footage when it goes live and watch it more than once. All will become clear, apparently.
- Columbia isn’t a stationary city. The islands are independent structures that move relative to each other, they may even collide. The ever altering locations open up new gameplay and presentation opportunities. You will come across both dark, constricted areas and wide open expanses. Variation is the key.
- DeWitt isn’t the only person after Elizabeth. The powers in control of Columbia have a vested interest in keeping her imprisoned, as they’ve done for the last 15 years. Meanwhile a newly radicalised and militant faction called Vox Populi want Elizabeth. We’re told that the United States has severed contact with Columbia following a “devastating international incident” and that this has resulted in the conflict between these two groups reaching boiling point. But why do they, or DeWitt for that matter, want Elizabeth so badly? We’ll just have to wait to find out.
The gameplay video will be shown on Xbox.com tomorrow as part of a 24 hour exclusive deal. It will be live on BioShockInfinite.com from the 22nd September onwards. We’ll try and get it on PS3 Attitude as soon as we can.
So, getting excited yet?