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'Bioshock' anticipation builds

By Alex Sferrazza
On April 4, 2012

It's hard to believe that it's been almost five whole years since game designer Ken Levine and his studio Irrational Games released the multi-"Game of the Year" award winning classic "Bioshock" back in 2007. Introducing players to the Underwater City of Rapture, players were sent on a fantastic voyage filled with excellent First Person Shooter combat, a healthy dose of RPG elements and a story so good that it would make many Hollywood heavyweights look foolish by comparison, "Bioshock" became an iconic step forward for the medium. Its influence in art design, ambiance and plot development can be seen in many titles since it' release including the likes of "Batman: Arkham Asylum" and "Portal 2".

Needless to say, the entire gaming community is absolutely giddy with excitement over Irrational Game's follow up almost acting "irrational" in anticipation. And they've been given plenty of good reason to do just that.

"Bioshock Infinite" is an entirely new game from Irrational Games built from the ground up. Despite the "Bioshock" name in the title, the game is neither a sequel nor prequel to the original game. "Infinite" takes place in an entirely new setting with completely original gameplay and characters. While it will still retain the "feel" of "Bioshock," "Infinite" will be an entirely original game in its own right.

"Bioshock Infinite" takes place in the early 20th century atop the floating American City of "Columbia." Designed to be a utopia much like Rapture, the player must fight enemies and, if necessary, civilians to rescue a girl named Elizabeth from her prison in the city.

The companion character of Elizabeth, despite her rather "inviting" features, is another in a recent trend of having strong female characters in games. In preview footage she is seen as more of an ally rather than sidekick of player protagonist Booker DeWitt. Using her special abilities, she is able to warp reality and the elements to assist the player. We've also seen her very human characteristics in footage from tearfully talking to Booker and helping an injured citizen to making humorous quips, Elizabeth may well turn out to be one of the most fully-realized characters in videogame history.

The game will also contain spectacular action set pieces. From gunning down enemies with pre- WWI artillery to avoiding destruction by zipping around on Columbia's roller coaster zipline-esque skyway, all of the heavy action pieces look amazing.

The Songbird, presumably the game's villain, is a giant mechanical bird (bearing somewhat of a resemblance to "Bioshock's" Big Daddies) that looks frightening, sounds terrifying and I can't wait to beat the heck out of it.

The art style and music of the game fit right into the 1910's theme and look incredibly inviting. Everything from the heavy pro-American propaganda posters to the layout of the parks looks fantastic.

For hardcore players, the game also features a "1999" mode, drastically increasing the difficultly to the level of seen in games of old (such as Irrational's 1999 classic "System Shock 2") by allowing the player to make permanent choices in upgrading their characters that cannot be undone.

Featuring a gorgeous new world, compelling characters, and what looks like and hopefully will be amazing gameplay and combat mechanics "Infinite" is not to be missed. And judging by all the anticipation, it won't be.

"Bioshock Infinite" launches this fall for PS3 and Xbox 360. Don't miss it!


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