- Posted: 11:09 AM, February 6, 2013
When the Post Game Report was offered a chance to get an extended hands-on demo with the upcoming blockbuster title Bioshock Infinite, I naturally jumped right on the opportunity.
During the demo, which was given during a four-hour window, I had the chance to play through the opening stages of Irrational Games’ hotly-anticipated first-person shooter and get a feel for what will be coming when the game hits stores in March.
For those who are not familiar with Bioshock Infinite, while it does share the name of its two critically-acclaimed predecessors, the third title in the franchise takes you away from the underwater development of Rapture and into the high-flying city of Columbia and is set in the early 1900’s.
The game’s main protagonist is former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt, and it opens off the coast of Maine in 1912, as you row towards an abandoned lighthouse armed with a pistol (which you quickly lose) and some small clues that will help you get to the top of said lighthouse.
Inevitably, you are rocketed off to Columbia and introduced to the cult-like settlement in the sky and are given cryptic messages that come into play later on during the game’s early stages. Things such as “don’t pick No. 77” and “find the girl” will all make sense further down the line in the demo, but what Bioshock Infinite did during my limited playthrough was remarkable as it kept me wondering and guessing what these messages and hints meant.
And that is exactly why I was so impressed with the game and it’s unique take on civilization.
Bioshock Infinite makes you think and presents you with choices/morality issues at seemingly every turn. At several points during my time with the game I was presented with decisions I needed to make, some of them trivial, such as heads or tails, and some with deeper meaning from a morality standpoint.
One of the decisions I had to make after gaining entry into the Columbia Fair and Raffle was to either pelt a couple who were tied to stakes for having an interracial relationship with a baseball or chuck it at the psychopath running the show. While I was told that none of these decisions hold particular weight in terms of creating branching paths with different endings, there are benefits to be had. Later on in the demo, because I had decided against throwing the baseball at the couple, I met up with them again and they provided me with a key gear upgrade as a token of appreciation.
It was moments like that and overall presentation of this sheltered, heavily religious, even cult-like civilization run by the mysterious Prophet Comstock, that really fascinated me and had me wanting to learn as much as possible about exactly what was going on in Columbia, what was being hidden from its citizens and why “The Girl” I needed to retrieve was so important.
The aforementioned girl is Elizabeth, and while we do not know much about her, even after spending three hours with the game, we do know that she is important, was held unknowingly held captive on Monument Island and guarded by The Songbird, has some link to Comstock and has the ability to open “tears” in the world. Also, she is obsessed with Paris.
After you rescue Elizabeth from Monument Island, she joins you on your journey to flee Columbia. Elizabeth is not your typical companion in the vain that she will be holding you back and presenting you with a simple (and frustrating) protect the girl objective that companion quests fall victim to so frequently. In fact, having Elizabeth along for the ride is quite enjoyable and helpful. In addition to providing unique insight into the world of Columbia and dialogue, she can scout areas, give you ammo, health and money and most importantly, open tears in the world.
The tears seem to play a very important role in the game’s story and overall gameplay. By activating one of these tears, Elizabeth can literally open the fabric of the world and bring objects into Columbia, such as grappling points, health and salt supplies and automated turrets. While it did not come up during my playthrough, I suspect tears will be used to change the tide and escape battles in a bigger way down the line.
Taking all of that into account, Bioshock Infinite is not difficult to just pick up and play. If you are at all familiar with the franchise or first-person shooters in general, you will feel right at home with Infinite. The same weapon/powers/gear systems seen in previous titles return and you can equip various firearms, Vigors (powers) and gear throughout the game with each being upgradeable via purchase or discovery throughout your travels.
While my time with the game lasted just under three hours (unfortunately ending right before I could fight a mechanical, machine-gun wielding George Washington), I did not learn much about the game’s story, which was actually a plus because it hints that there is a sprawling, epic story that will be presented throughout the course of the game and that there is a ton of things that can be pieced together via collectables and sidequests.
Needless to say I walked away from Bioshock Infinite highly impressed and cannot wait to see the full adventure unfold when it hits consoles and PC on March 26.