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BioShock Infinite: The possibilities are endless in Irrational's secretive sequel

We explore the sky bound city of Colombia with Ken Levine

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Girl interrupted
How about some of the other intricacies? The relationship between DeWitt (you) and Elizabeth, for instance? As tactical as it is emotional, it's as central to how Infinite plays as are 'vigors' and 'nostrums' (read: 'plasmids' and 'tonics' from BioShock 1). Elizabeth conjuring up rainstorms and whirlwinds is one aspect, the alley-oop to your own BioShock-style combos. Plucking strategic objects like cover points and doorways out of parallel dimensions is another, each appearing as apparitions you have to carefully select. Used too much though, Elizabeth's powers make her suffer.

Can there be moments [with Elizabeth] where you feel like you're actually with a person? Can that happen? That's our goal

"At the beginning you're sort of exploiting her to some degree, in terms of what you need from her, what she wants, and what you want out of her," says Levine. "That relationship evolves over time. She's going to be there to help you; opening tears; going through a story with you that I think you'll be sympathetic to."

Other choices in the trailer - whether to euthanise the horse, for one - are more than just tactical trade-offs. They have narrative significance, triggering what many games would consider 'cinematics'. Just don't expect some kind of Mass Effect-style morality system. Levine insists that it's more about consequence than choice, hinting at the kind of fatalistic narrative seen in the first game.

"I'm more interested in watching the player's reaction to seeing what those consequences are, rather than managing some sort of numerical spectrum of good and evil. Because I don't think there is one in life. If there was, life would be a lot easier.

IN YOUR HANDS

"It's going to be interesting for people to get their hands on it and actually experience the traditional BioShock verbs of using weapons and powers - weapons in one hand, powers in the other - but also having this ability to alter the environment you're in through the tears; and making decisions you're going to have to make on top of the decisions you're already used to having to make."

All of this, he hopes, will put Elizabeth on a par with the heroine that inspired her: Alyx Vance from Half-Life 2. "Elizabeth is such a focus for us. Can you get past that veil of having this robot with you? In some way gamers can fill in the blanks like they used to do with graphics, and obviously there will be some blanks to fill in with Elizabeth.

But can there be those moments where you feel like you're actually with a person? Can that happen? That's our goal, because I think if we can have that in a world that feels real, with a person who can feel real, that's going to be something that people haven't really experienced in a game before."

Zoom

Will it work? Levine doesn't know. Reminding us of the time when a room full of QA testers tore the first BioShock to shreds, mocking its dialogue and breaking his heart, Levine doesn't pretend to have all the answers. All he has are the instincts of himself and his team, which up until now have been pretty much impeccable.

"I would rather try big things and stumble sometimes," he says. "People say that Skyrim has bugs, but, good God, how could that game not have? Who knows, we may fall on our face, but I would rather fall on my face being ambitious than just pumping out the same thing every year."

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