Bioshock Infinite : First Look at Steampunk Heaven
Underwater Utopia of the Past
I crashed my plane in the Atlantic Ocean , back in 1960, swam desperately through the flaming wreckage and climbed onboard a strange lighthouse island. I was welcomed by a Ryan Industries poster and took a rickety bathysphere down to Rapture, the underwater utopian vision of millionaire Industrialist Andrew Ryan.
Minutes after my arrival, I was confronted by the nightmare dystopia of a vision gone wrong. Armed with plasmids that reprogrammed by genes I fought wandering zombies, hulking metal monsters, crazed scientists and fought moral dilemma over what to do with the little sisters. Until, ultimately, I confronted the megalomaniac who dreamt this dream and had watched it turn into a nightmare.
I was hooked. The art deco vision of 1920s, the scratchily magnificent vinyl music, the sober tones of the leader streamed through tinny audio, genetically enhanced enemies that scared the life out of me, the U- Invent vending machines and robotic cam/guns that I could hack, the drill-armed Big Daddies that clomped scarily towards me all made Bioschock the game I wish would never end.
It’s no wonder it is rated the third best PC game of all time at Game rankings. Immersive, innovative and incredible, Bioshock captivated millions of fans and sold out across all formats.
The dystopian vision was created and masterminded by Ken Levine with a script heavily influenced by Ayn Rand’s works such as Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead. ( The character Andrew Ryan is a partial anagram of Ayn Rand).
A sequel, Bioschock 2, offered more of the same and took us back to Rapture last year.
For our next adventure in the Bioshock Franchise, we are not going underwater but flying into Steampunk Heaven.
A City in the Sky
Bioshock:Infinity, takes a leap back in time to 1912.
Set in a airborne city of Columbia, it is a vision of zeppelins and dirigibles, sky hooks and metal chambers suspended in mid air. Created by the United States government as a vision of the future, the airborne city of ‘Columbia’ was floated to much fanfare to mark the dominance of Uncle Sam at the 1893 world fair. Its citizens were pioneers launching into the new world of airborne living.
Columbia is soon revealed to the international community as a battleship. The US Government disowns Columbia to avoid any diplomatic scandal. Cut loose by the very nation that launched them the c the disillusioned citizens form ‘Vox Populi’ (Voice of the people) and decide to revolt against the powers that control the city, the ruling class.
The ruling class exhibits and promotes Xenophobia, Ethnic cleansing, Eugenics and racial purification to a shocking degree misreading the constitution and exhibiting the short sightedness and prejudices of isolated communities that believe their vision is pure.
With weapons all around, the civil war drives each faction to fight an increasingly cruel battle between the factions, driven by hatred and despair. The utopian vision has yet again, become a dystopian nightmare.
As years go the Government and the people of US would rather forget this failed experiment and pretend that it never happened as miles above their heads, the war rages on in this cloud construct.
Bioshock- Infinity once again marries steam punk tradition with a vision of alternate history. It is a commentary on power and politics, race and discrimination. It has the flavour of Ayn Rand’s works and George Orwell’s 1984 infused with Jules Verne and HG wells.
Rescue Mission or Descent into Oblivion?
A disgraced Pinkerton’s agent Booker Mcdewitt is hired by persons unknown who seem to know the location of the disgraced cloud City of Columbia. He is tasked to travel secretly there in order to rescue a girl called Elizabeth, held captive in the city of Columbia.
Finding Elizabeth is the easy bit, as it soon emerges that there is something about her that is central to the civil war raging inside the cloud city. Fighting his way through the increasingly manic rage filled denizens, facing up to genetically enhanced monsters and slipping between floating platforms, Booker must uncover the secrets that creep under the dystopian drama. Will he escape with life unscathed and more importantly will be able to bring Elizabeth back to those that hired him?
Threatened by hulking half-man half metal monsters, chased everywhere through the fire ravaged city by xenophobic citizens, and aided by Elizabeth's mysterious powers, Booker sees his life spiral out of control as mystery and intrigue deepen.
From the trailer and gameplay footage it is clear that the method of navigation between the floating platforms and structures is the Skyline that criss-crosses Columbia. Using a wrist mounted device we can jump onto the rail and navigate by what feels like one roller coaster ride after another. The enemies have the same capability so we can’t run far.
Elizabeth has her own powers and will aid Booker in his quest to escape she seems to geenrate rainstorms and exhibit telekinetic abilities. Booker drinks plasmid type enhancements that give him electricity bolt ability ( like Infamous) and telekinesis too. There is something called the 'murder of crows' that unleashes bloodthirsty crows onto a crowd of pursuers.
The developers Irrational Games promise new weapons and enhancements while retaining the first person shooter and puzzle solving aspects that made the first two games such a delight.
Set to be released early 2012, the game has been in development for over 3 years ( simultaneously conceived during Bioshock 2). It was originally called ‘project Icarus’, gradually unveiling the current title , Bioshock :Infinity. Even though it shares the name and the steam punk vision of the other two games it looks like an entirely new direction away from the dark underwater confines of Bioshock 1&2.
The Web is abuzz with so many first-look images, trailers and the fans are beside themselves with excitement at the concept arts and game play clips. The glorious visuals, the bright sunny backdrop of the sky city and the new mechanics are all very exciting to look at.
Game Informer 'vintage' look teaser
The Game informer magazine collaborated with Irrational Games and came up with a special ‘firt-look’ edition in October 200. The look of the magazine was akin to early 20th century Saturday Evening Post and featured beautifully rendered art and visuals from the game inspired by the art and posters of that era.
I don’t mind being continually teased by the in game snaps and gameplay footage but to wait a whole year for this game is a crime. I am sure this wait means further polish on visuals and gameplay ensuring an unforgettable experience worth waiting for.
With the rumoured Bioschock film stalled in development hell ( it was to be directed by Gore Verbinksi of Pirate’s fame) Bioshock Infinity will the be adequate consolation for fans of the series.
Don’t Miss Bioschock:Infinity!
City in the Sky Trailer
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© 2011 Mohan Kumar
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