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The third game in the BioShock series leaves the bottom of the sea behind for an entirely new setting - the floating city of Columbia, circa 1912. Come to retrieve a girl named Elizabeth, ex-detective Booker DeWitt finds more in store for him there than he could ever imagine.
BioShock Infinite is the third installment in the BioShock franchise. Rather than the underwater city of Rapture, Infinite is set in the airborne city of Columbia, an American colony of sorts that cut itself off from its parent nation. The game is principally set in 1912, in contrast to the later dates of the previous two games which took place during the '60s. Despite the departure from the series' previous setting, it is still mechanically familiar in its blend of first-person shooting, superhuman abilities, and multiple upgrade paths.
The game was released on March 26, 2013, for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC via Steam. In North America, the PlayStation 3 version of the game comes bundled with the original BioShock.
Just like previous games in the franchise, the game is played from a first person perspective, with the right hand firing guns and the left hand firing powers. These powers are referred to as "Vigors", and are the equivalent of Plasmids from the previous games in the series. Continuing BioShock 2's improvements on the Plasmid system, Infinite allows players to fire guns and powers simultaneously, without having to switch between them. Players can make use of powers such as fire, lightning, and even a murder of crows to attack enemies.
Elizabeth has the power to manipulate "tears" - windows in space and time. DeWitt can ask her to open these tears at any time during battle; these tears can bring in objects & weapons in from another dimension.
Columbia also features an intricate series of "Sky-Lines," a rail system that connects the different pieces of the city. Players can leap onto these rails using the Sky-Hook, a magnetized tool that allows for quick travel around the environment. These rails can also be useful in battle, as players can perform jumping melee attacks onto enemies.
Creative Director Ken Levine announced during Sony's 2011 E3 conference that the game will offer optional Move support. Players can play through the entirety of the game using the PS Move and Navigation controller.
Upon completion of the game for the first time, 1999 mode is unlocked. This mode increases the difficulty of combat significantly through tweaks to damage and ammunition. The game's resurrection system has also been tweaked for the mode; if players do not have the required death penalty fee, the player will be reverted back to a previous save game.
In its originally announced incarnation, 1999 mode was intended to expand the role-playing systems of the game by making equip-able items permanent. This would create the semblance of a class-based system focused on player choice and specialization. This version of 1999 mode was removed as changes to the equipment system made it untenable.
This mode can also be unlocked without completing the game by entering in the Konami Code (Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A).
After the positive feedback for 1999 Mode by some players, Irrational announced that they would also include 1998 Mode for the Burial At Sea - Episode Two DLC. The mode will require players to complete the entire episode with non-lethal methods, requiring players to master the stealth tools and mechanics. Whereas 1999 Mode was a reference to System Shock 2, which originally released in 1999, 1998 Mode is a reference to Thief: The Dark Project, which was originally released in 1998. The new mode was promoted with a mocked up variation on the box art of Thief: The Dark Project.
Players take on the role of Booker DeWitt, formerly a private detective with the Pinkertons, who has incurred heavy debts to dangerous people. In order to wipe his debt clean, he is given the task of retrieving a girl named Elizabeth from Columbia and bringing her back to New York.
Finding Elizabeth will be easy enough, but escaping from a city ten thousand feet in the air won't be quite as simple. Players travel throughout Columbia with the goal of seeking out the residence of Z.H. Comstock, leader of The Founders, who Elizabeth must see before they can escape (Comstock is the only person who can help Elizabeth realize and take control of her powers fully). In the process, their secondary goal is to find a viable escape route from the warring floating city. Elizabeth acts as a companion to the player, providing support during combat, as well a helping to progress the story as DeWitt's relationship with her deepens. This is another departure from traditional BioShock gameplay, as the player took on the role of silent protagonists who discovered their histories as the game progressed.
Elizabeth is also being chased by the Songbird, a mysterious monster hell-bent on keeping her from escaping. It is unclear why the Songbird wants to keep her imprisoned; it seems that this was what it was initially tasked to do when it was brought to Columbia.
BioShock Infinite takes place in the majestic floating city of Columbia, circa 1912. Engineered by the American government, Columbia was initially intended to be a floating symbol of American ingenuity and ideology at a time when the United States was just emerging as a prominent world power. After being developed and completed the floating city was subsequently dispatched to distant shores with great admiration by a beguiled public as a herald for the new technological age.
Notwithstanding, what began as a groundbreaking venture to promote prosperity and goodwill suddenly and abruptly goes horribly awry, after a major international incident within China affects the floating city profoundly. In addition to the international incident's already profound effects, it also reveals to the citizens of Columbia and to the rest of the world the floating metropolis' true nature: that in contrast to its Utopian exterior, the interior contains a heavily armed aerial warship of massive proportions.
The incident also created a rift between leadership in Columbia and the United States, which causes it to be immediately disavowed and subsequently leads to the city's disappearance shortly thereafter; it vanished among the clouds in a world that wasn't equipped with the modern technology to track it.
Since its disappearance, civil war has suddenly erupted within the city, which split its citizens into two prominent factions with drastically different ideological beliefs. The more prominent of the two, The Founders, are a group of ultra-nationalists, religious fanatics and xenophobes who believe in American exceptionalism and little else. Opposing The Founders' ultra-nationalist ideals is the internationalist, anti-capitalist, Marxist group called the Vox Populi, Latin for "the voice of the people." This echoes the conflicts in BioShock 2 between Ryan's Objectivism and Lamb's Communism.
Allusions to Other Media
Columbia can be categorized as steampunk, and has been compared to Gulliver's Travels, Hayao Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky, and Steamboy. Elements of the city have also been compared to Star Wars (the Bespin cloud city and the Death Star) as well as the airships of Final Fantasy.
The game also shares many overt resemblances to The Wizard of Oz (both the novel and the movie). This is outlined in an article by Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
Like in Bioshock and Bioshock 2, the score was composed veteran composer Garry Schyman. However, unlike Bioshock where Irrational Games went out of their way to not have dynamic music, they found that for Bioshock Infinite it would be too difficult to follow to do that again, so Infinite does have a dynamic soundtrack. The soundtrack even features stingers when the players score head-shots or critical hits and it has a dynamic outro that plays to let the player know that combat is over.
Bioshock is well known for using period music to create mood. However, as authentic recordings from the period are hard to come by, some recordings of period songs including After You've Gone (which plays at several points during the game and over the start menu) were made specifically for the game and produced to sound like they are from the era.
Columbia claims to have the songs of tomorrow today. A tear showing songs from the future appears before musician Albert Fink and he repurposes the songs to make them period appropriate. These versions can be heard at different points throughout the game and certain songs appear in their original forms via tears the player encounters. The anachronistic songs included in the game are:
Three DLC packs were released, with a Season Pass made available for players who wished to purchase all of it at a discount.
Clash in the Clouds
The first DLC pack was released on July 30, 2013; it is set in Columbia and features wave-based survival gameplay. It features fifteen waves of enemies spread across four different locations. Within each wave a special objective can be achieved that will grant the player more Silver Eagles (Money) and a Blue Ribbon that ultimately leads to the Blue Ribbon Champ achievement. There are sixty of these objectives total (fifteen waves times four levels). The DLC also features a number of additional Voxaphone recordings from Rosalind Lutice. The four playable maps are:
The OPS Zeal
Duke and Dimwit Theater
Burial at Sea
Burial at Sea spans across two DLC packs. Episode One was released on November 12, 2013. It features both Booker and Elizabeth within Rapture, set just prior to the events of the first BioShock game (December 31, 1958). Players will continue to play as Booker in the first Burial at Sea DLC.
Episode Two of Burial at Sea was released on Marh 25, 2014. It continues the story right where the previous episode left off. However, instead of continuing to control Booker, players have the opportunity to play as Elizabeth. She comes with new gameplay options, including a silent crossbow, a grappling hook for scaling vertical distances, and the ability to hide in shadows to steathily evade enemies.
Steam Trading Cards
On Steam, the game supports Steam Trading cards. There are a total of 7 cards to collect by playing the game.
The Steam Badge awarded for collecting and crafting the complete set of trading cards is called "Slate's Trooper".
"Name in the Game" contest
On April 8, 2011, Irrational Games' Community Manager Chris Remo posted a contest on the Irrational website, titled "Get Your Name in the Game," offering fans the opportunity to have their name in BioShock Infinite. Fans simply had to enter their full names and email addresses for a chance to appear as the "namesake of a building, a character, a business–whatever [their] artists come up with" in the game. Touted as the "ultimate bragging right," the Get Your Name in the Game Contest entry period ended on April 13.
The lucky winner of the contest was Payton Lane Easter, and Irrational's Mike Swiderek created an advertisement for Payton Lane Easter & Sons Premium Automated Stallions.
E3 2011 demo
The demo of the game shown at E3 2011 was shown to the public during an episode of GTTV, featuring a lengthy interview between Creative Director of Infinite Ken Levine and GameTrailers intrepid Geoff Keighley. Subsequently, the 15-minute demo was made available to the rest of the media. Ken Levine later revealed that the demo was not from the actual game but a general target for how the team envisioned the entire experience. This forced them to raise the bar in terms of their ambitions and, according to Ken, ultimately pushed them to create a better game.
At Sony's E3 Creative director Ken Levine appeared on stage and announced that there would be a Playstation Vita version of Bioshock Infinite that mirrored the experience of the console and PC version. This version of the game was also supposed to feature cross play. In an interview with Joystiq in 2013 Ken Levine said that the deal with Sony still had not been worked out with publisher 2K Games. He also stated that it was something that he was still interested in doing but needed money to be started.
Industrial Revolution is a standalone browser-based puzzle game that was made available exclusively to players that pre-ordered BioShock Infinite. The game was developed by Lazy 8 Studios, and features gear-based puzzles, similar to those found in Lazy 8's previous game, Cogs. Industrial Revolution was first made available on October 21, 2012, and will remain playable until August 26, 2013.
The game yields rewards that can be unlocked in BioShock Infinite - these include extra money, extra lockpicks, and additional gear. As well as this, the game rewards players that complete all puzzles with images that can be used on Facebook and Twitter.