It was an unexpected treat when we got in to see Irrational Games' latest masterpiece, BioShock Infinite at E3 2011. Ushered into a room that was practically bursting at the seams with eager media, we grabbed our seats and waited until the presentation began. What we saw was definitely worth the wait.
For the first time in the BioShock series, you get the chance to play a voice character, a disgraced Pinkerton by the name of Booker DeWitt. Now that he's turned a little more mercenary and has become a private eye, he's been sent into Columbia to rescue Elizabeth. The lovely young lady has been locked away in a tower in the middle of Columbia for fifteen years, held captive by the myserious Songbird. Throughout the gameplay demo we got to see a true conversation system in action: Booker and Elizabeth discussed topics based on what you guided them to in a room, or outside in the city of Columbia itself. It's downright scary how realistic the conversation is, as it goes on even when they are running for their lives. From what I can tell the game plays more like an interactive movie than a simple first person shooter.
Elizabeth isn't simply just a tagalong though, since as soon as you free her you soon realize she's not all that she appears to be. First off, Elizabeth seems to have the abillity to rip through time. At first this happens randomly, but as you move through the game she is able to control her use of time powers, or Vigors, more and more. In the gameplay demo we saw her attempt to heal a horse by ripping open the fabric of time and trying to pull a younger version of the horse back into the present. In addition Elizabeth is the sort of companion who helps rather than hinders. She points out enemies when they flank you, bashes them over the head if they get too close to her. All-in-all if I were ever stuck in a corrupt floating city, she would definitely be the girl I would want to have with me.
Gameplay in BioShock Infinite is as frenetic as it is beautiful. There's something so daring about placing the third game in the series in a setting so completely sunny. It's as if Irrational said, "well look, we know our artwork is flawless, so we're going to prove it to you." And Columbia is flawless, at least from a visual standpoint. Granted, the people within are truly twisted, but it wouldn't be BioShock without horrible emotional disfigurement and disillusion with society.
BioShock Infinite comes out February 6, 2012 for PC and the Xbox 360.