Previews - Multi Platform
Written by Jayce Diaz Thursday, June 09 2011 01:24
Bioshock Infinite is one of those titles that you just know is going to do well, before ever laying eyes on it for yourself. However, after seeing a closed-door presentation at E3, I can tell you this: you absolutely have no idea just how much Bioshock Infinite will blow you away.
One of the biggest things to note is that the main character, Booker, is no silent protagonist. He has a voice, and uses it quite often. Seeing how this is an Irrational Games title, it makes the narrative quite a different experience than the original Bioshock. Booker has his own unique personality which comes through not only in his dialog, but even in the way he (and by extension, you) handles every situation. The demo took place about 1/3 into the campaign, and saw Booker trying to defend the powerful yet fragile Elizabeth from a menacing creature known as the Songbird. Elizabeth has escaped from its clutches and you must deliver her to safety before it finds you. At this point in the game, it is explained that Elizabeth has some amazing powers like telekinesis, but she has no idea how to control them or even safely access them.
I want to make one thing very clear about the Songbird: It is scary as hell, and outclasses the Big Daddy in every possible way. It is a prime example of stellar character design; its horrifying screams and intense reveal make it one of the most memorable experiences I've had at any E3, or with any next-gen game for that matter. It's powerful, alien, and especially violent towards Booker. The Songbird appears on multiple occasions, and each time literally had me holding my breath with tension and excitement..
There was a sort of big reveal in the demo that had everyone's jaw dropping. At one point in the game, Elizabeth and Booker come across a dying horse laying amidst small fires and other signs of war. Saddened by the animal's pain, Elizabeth believes she can control her abilities and heal the horse. Much to the dismay of Booker, she begins trying to heal the animal. She fumbles a few times, sending the horse back and forth between stages of dying and being completely healed, until she goes overboard and somehow causes a rift in time and space. Booker and Elizabeth now stand in the middle of a street that appears to be current day, when a firetruck comes racing towards them. Panicking from their new situation, Elizabeth struggles to undo what she's done, bringing Booker and herself back to their time period just as the fire truck is about to strike them down. It was amazing to witness, and has me wondering just what lies ahead in this mysterious game.
Booker and Elizabeth also got into a few big battles during the demo. Enemies came from all directions, using a variety of melee weapons and guns. One thing I was surprised with is just how freely the player can move around in this world during battles. You can easily jump from skyrail to skyrail using a hook device on your arm, and really get a feel for just how big Columbia (the game's fictional city in the sky) is. Overall, the battles were frenzied and intense, but never to the point of frustration. It looks like the team is really trying to strike a balance between letting the player feel powerful and challenging their skills and abilities. A few times, it looked as if the player took a leap of faith off a building and luckily attached to a rail. It was... exhilarating.
Another note is that not every person you see is hostile. While no one seems friendly, many will apparently leave you alone if you don't bother them. It's probably best if you don't go picking fights, but I wonder if any of the narrative would alter slightly if you did.
At the end of the demonstration, the Songbird returned and more or less beat the living hell out of Booker. Right when it was about to land the final blow, Elizabeth ran to it and apologized, saying she never should have left. Begging the mechanical beast to take her home, she is swept up by the Songbird and is taken away. I absolutely cannot wait for another chance to experience Bioshock Infinite, and I encourage everyone to keep an eye out for this ambitious title.