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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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The name says it all - more, perhaps, than you might think. BioShock Infinite is about time travel, subspace rifts, callbacks to previous Irrational games, and ideas that feel like the future.

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It's about the groundbreaking, the clichéd, and a story of unique ambition. In short, it's about whatever it takes to make the most exciting game of 2012, expectations be damned. As Irrational boss Ken Levine likes to remind us, there are no sacred cows.

"Besides all the sort of gameplay stuff that is unique to BioShock, I think we're just trying to make a world for people to explore and be in," he tells us. "There is just no other medium where you can get that kind of feeling. A world that lets you explore it at your pace, that lets you discover all its nooks and crannies; and this feeling of the fantastical and, in a lot of ways, the real."

This is Infinite's message for today - as opposed to yesterday when it was all about rollicking trailers that looked more like movies than a game. Now it wants to assure us that, for all its Final Fantasy-esque transmogrifications, it's a very familiar BioShock underneath. Its open spaces and highfalutin decor might shine in a midday sun, but its corners are still as dark.

Columbia, the game's city in the sky, harbours many of the same tensions and demons as BioShock's Rapture. A political powder-keg held up by rockets and balloons, it floats around the world teaching foreigners the American Way - much as the Death Star teaches planets how to explode.

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To Booker DeWitt, a disgraced investigator sent there on a rescue mission, Columbia is a chance for redemption. But to the object of that mission, a buxom maiden called Elizabeth, it's a birdcage. Her powers to manipulate space and time have made her central to a war between the Founders (the ruling class) and Vox Populi (a violent civil rights movement). Her warden, ironically, is a giant mechanical bird that doesn't react well to betrayal. Not well at all.

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