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Can Bioshock: Infinite recapture the mystique of Rapture?

50 years before Rapture, 10,000 feet high...

The floating city of Columbia was built to travel the world as an ambassador for the greatness of America and a herald for a new technological age.

But the American dream became a nightmare; Columbia was transformed into a war machine, became embroiled in a major international incident, and vanished among the clouds in a world that wasn't equipped with the planes or radar to hunt it.

Five years after the city's disappearance, professional fixer Booker DeWitt is sent to the flying city by a mysterious man to retrieve a girl named Elizabeth.

In the summer of 1912 Booker finds a city gone mad. Where Rapture descended into anarchy, Columbia is a city of organised civil war - half its inhabitants want Elizabeth locked up and the other half want her dead.

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Finding her will be easy, but escaping from a city ten thousand feet in the air isn't quite as simple.

Infinite is Irrational's own sequel to BioShock, set fifty years before the events of Rapture in a sun-soaked city among the clouds. "For us BioShock was never about the setting" says BioShock creator and Irrational Games' boss Ken Levine.

"It was about a couple of gameplay principles. The principle of being in an environment that's strange and weird, ridiculously and over the top but still grounded in a human experience and humanity; and the principle that you have a set of tools and the challenge is to determine how you use those tools."

Like Rapture, Columbia is a city that's conspicuously wrong; it's a city shaped like a main street in late 1800's USA, but built atop enormous balloons and floated into the sky.

Cobbled streets, skyscrapers, and mechanical horses all tell the story of a city which belongs in the sky as much as Rapture belonged at the bottom of the sea.

As Booker walks through the town he sees an insane woman sweeping the steps of a shop ablaze, a horse dragging a wheel-less cart, and - most sinister of all - posters and placards celebrating eugenics and urging Columbia's people to keep foreigners out of the city.

As Booker walks through the town he sees an insane woman sweeping the steps of a shop ablaze, a horse dragging a wheel-less cart, and - most sinister of all - posters and placards celebrating eugenics and urging Columbia's people to keep foreigners out of the city.

"Everything was new and everybody was filled with this sense of 'technology's gonna fi x all our problems' But there was a dark side to it. Eugenics was deeply, deeply involved in the culture of 1912. People believed in scientific racism; it wasn't just 'we're better than them', it was 'we're better than them and we can prove it'."

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Just as Rapture finally went mad on December 31 1959, the signs in Columbia point to a meltdown and a 'Siege of Columbia' that sent the city into hiding.

Like Rapture, the population has had plenty of time to go mad, and so the people are armed to the teeth, plasmid-powered, and hostile to outsiders in a manner that goes beyond casual xenophobia.

Like Rapture, the population has had plenty of time to go mad, and so the people are armed to the teeth, plasmid-powered, and hostile to outsiders in a manner that goes beyond casual xenophobia.

It's a story that'll see you get lost in an isolated city, splice up, fi ght mechanical monsters, and make those famous moral choices.

It's also a story that'll see you work with Elizabeth, avoid tough shootouts with diplomacy, and ride rails between the city's floating 'blocks' battling spliced-up lunatics.

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