BioShock Infinite Preview - E3 2011
E3 11: Quite possibly the most emotionally impressive game that we saw at this year's show
Irrational Games have set the bar quite high for the industry as a whole with the release of BioShock a few years ago. Now, the company is back with yet another ambitious title in BioShock Infinite, a completely new experience that has nothing to do with water. Set in a flying city suspended in the air by giant blimps and balloons, called "Columbia", players take on the role of Booker DeWitt. He is hired by mysterious individuals to infiltrate the city and rescue a young woman named Elizabeth, who has been held captive there for the last twelve years. What we saw during our E3 demo was possibly the most impressive game of the show, not just because of gameplay but sheer design ambition and imagination of Irrational.
The demo begins with the protagonist and Elizabeth exploring a shop. Though she looks in her teens, Elizabeth acts and behaves as a bit younger. They are searching for supplies, as they attempt to make their way to the citadel at the other end of the city. At the citadel, a special person awaits who could possibly help Elizabeth discover and control her special powers. It wasn’t immediately revealed what those powers are – other than they were discovered by her captor, a large robot-like creature Songbird. While investigating the shop, a screech is heard and our heroes take cover from windows. A large beam of light scans the room, as Elizabeth holds her breath, panic clearly visible on her face.
The danger passes however. Still worried, Elizabeth asks Booker to promise to protect her – and no matter what, not to let Songbird take her back. She emphasizes her request but putting Booker’s hand around her neck. He rebuffs, claiming it wouldn’t come to this. As they step outside, a full view of Columbia presents itself, with awe-inspiring visuals and design. They advance down the street, careful to avoid the civil war battles that are happening within the city. They come across a dying horse – which Elizabeth feels sorry for and wants to save desperately. She offers to use her powers to do it – Booker protests, but it is not his decision. What follows is both inspiring and thrilling.
Elizabeth pauses, and places her hands on the ground. She grunts, and a circle on the ground appears around her. In it flowers are growing, and the horses’ body inside this healing circle comes to life, as it struggles to get up. But alas, Elizabeth is unable to extend the circle to cover the full body of the horse. It is a gut wrenching scene as the horse attempts to rise but is unable to, as Elizabeth fights with her power. Suddenly, she exerts a tremendous force- the circle expands significantly, including Booker in it. But this time, they aren’t in a flower field. They are on a town road, surrounded by WWII styled buildings, and a truck quickly approaches down the street. It’s a moment of surprise, amazement, and shock. Booker yells to Elizabeth to close the portal, as the truck is heading straight for her. She finally does, and falls to the ground exhausted. She admits that her powers are uncontrollable without help.
They continue down the road, shaken by the experience. They arrive at the site of an execution taking place. Of course, Booker intervenes, and a firefight breaks out. The gunplay in Infinite does look a bit similar to BioShock, but not without its unique twists. First, Elizabeth can participate in combat by spawning items for Brooks, such as cover or weapons. Brooks can select what he wishes to spawn and an approximate location, adding a new dynamic to the shootouts. Perhaps the more significant design addition is the air rails system, which covers a vast portion of the sky and allow for freeform travel with a grapple. This lets you get a better position on enemies, reach new locations and even chase others as they ride on the Skyline. It’s an interesting mechanic that takes the shootouts in a vertical direction. Booker eventually finds his way to a high platform and jumps onto a nearby flying enemy vessel. Having disabled it, he jumps out into freefall and grabs on to a nearby rail after falling a significant distance.
As he is reunited with Elizabeth, they are ready to advance. Songbird appears out of nowhere, the swipes at Booker, sending him flying inside a nearby building. Enraged, the Songbird follows him and is read to kill him when Elizabeth steps in. She pleads to save Booker’s life, but it’s not working. In despair, she says she is sorry for running away. Songbird freezes, curious at Elizabeth’s words, who continues to say she’d like to be taken away again, to go home. Songbird is distracted and calm now. She grabs Elizabeth and leaves. As Elizabeth gets carried away, she is crying and reaching out for Booker, who is unable to help. The demo then concludes.
If there was the most emotionally involving game at E3, Infinite would have to be it. From a story, character, and setting perspective, there was nothing else quite like it. The gameplay is yet to be experienced, but given the other merits of the title that we saw during the demo, this is most definitely a game to look forward to.
Commentsblog comments powered by Disqus