Previews

BioShock: Infinite

Rapture takes to the skies...

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's an early 20th century cyberpunk sky city flying thousands of feet in the air.

According to the word on the internet this is the new Rapture: it's not a crumbling secret dystopia for the elite, it's Columbia, a flying (literally) spectacle of American Achievement that hovers around the world showing the Russians and their communist friends exactly how fantastic Uncle Sam is.

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The US City of Colombia floats on giant airships, moving from country to country as a beacon of great American endeavour... until that is, something goes horribly wrong. According to online reveals Ken Levine - who's heading up the project - Colombia was always more than a symbol - it's "armed to the teeth" like a 1912 Death Star, a secret that ends in disaster.

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Years later you, playing as ex-private detective Booker DeWitt, are hired to track down a woman who disappeared during the Colombia incident. The girl, Elizabeth, holds a secret; she's hugely powerful and lies at the centre of whatever's going on aboard the floating city.

Levine promises the same consequence-driven drama (although Irrational's offering no details on what those choices will be) as we've come to expect from the designer - and if you've watched the trailer it's difficult not to see similarities between Colombia and Rapture.

The city is enormous, incredibly beautiful and full of detail. In the demo shown to online press, Big Daddy-esque stomps alert Booker to a giant mechanic horse pulling a cart, a dieing man slumped across its back. It's clear that Columbia isn't in the good shape first thought; buildings are on fire, dead animals lay rotting in the street and armed thugs take every opportunity to shoot our man in the face. In one scene described Booker's attacked by a group of thugs, which he swiftly dispatches using a powerful telekinesis attack (yes, it looks like plasmids - or similar - will return).

Just like in BioShock DeWitt can stop firing projectiles in mid air and launch them back at his opponents. Later, when the detective eventually finds his woman, her powers can be used to boost your abilities, creating violent lightning storms and swirling balls of telekinesis-controlled objects.

One thing at least that sets the two games apart though are its characters, which Ken Levine himself has stressed are a lot less Neanderthal-like in his next big blockbuster.

Although BioShock's mad inhabitants offered sprinkles of personality and dialogue, when push came to shove they'd just run at you with pipes and knives - a bit like an N64 Turok dinosaur. Levine promises this will change in Infinite.

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"When designing BioShock Infinite, we thought, 'wouldn't it be great if you walked into a room in this game and you didn't necessarily know the dispositions of the people in it? Are they going to sit there? Are they going to attack you? What might set them off?'," he told our colleagues at PC Gamer.

"We really wanted to have a notion that not everyone in the city was automatically hostile towards you. Instead it has more of that 'Wild West' feel where you walk into a bar with your hand on your pistol and you're not sure what's going to happen to you," he added.

Ironically, the demo's said to end with a more fool-minded boss character on a bridge outside, when Elizabeth and Brooker are disturbed by the metallic stomp of a 'Daddy'. This chap isn't quite as cuddly as Rapture locals however, sporting a man's face, black parted hair and an elaborate moustache.

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