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E3 2011 | Bioshock Infinite Developer Demo Preview

Matt Gardner
Bioshock Infinite, Columbia, E3 2011, FPS games, Games previews
Bioshock Infinite

E3 2011 | Bioshock Infinite Developer Demo Preview To say we were looking forward to our appointment to see Irrational's Bioshock Infinite would be an understatement. It earned our vote for Game of Show last year at Gamescom and so it was with shivers of barely concealed anticipation that we entered a familiar looking fin de siècle lounge and nestled into the leather sofas eager to catch the latest glimpse of Columbia and the adventures of Booker DeWitt. Behind closed doors, away from the feverish hustle and bustle of the rest of the show floor, there was only the beautiful world Ken Levine and his team have dreamt up, and the piercing cry of the menacing Songbird. The relationship between Elizabeth – the girl who you, as Booker, are sent to rescue from her ivory tower – and the Songbird is a complicated one. She loves and fears him, we are told by the developers, her safety is his number one priority, but the Songbird is as much Elizabeth's jailer as her protector. 'You must promise me one thing,' Elizabeth says at one point, tears stinging her eyes, grabbing Booker hand and forcing it around her own neck. 'Never let him take me back.' For Elizabeth, sheltered as her life has been, to return to her imprisonment would be akin to death, and the point is reiterated later on in the section as she and DeWitt pick their way across the sprawling, gorgeous city in the skies. Elizabeth's powers have been awakened, and they are too powerful to control, thus the oddly matched pair – DeWitt all practical, clinical capability, and Elizabeth full of youthful innocence. There comes a point where Elizabeth rounds a corner and Booker shouts out in concern, only to find her hunched over convulsing body of a dying horse. She professes her ability to save him, turn back the clock and heal his wounds, in spite of Booker's caution, and ends up somehow transporting them decades into the future, a nearby cinema proclaiming the arrival of Return of the Jedi. E3 2011 | Bioshock Infinite Developer Demo Preview The relationship between Booker and Elizabeth is an interesting one certainly. Early on in the demo they find themselves in a novelty shop. Booker heads straight for the cash in the till and the gun on the table – 'Hello, Roscoe,' he mutters to no one in particular – as Elizabeth puts a comedy bust of Lincoln on her head and has a bit of fun. The banter between them later on, her stubborn refusal to heed DeWitt's warnings at first and later admittance of her own lack of control, sets the scene for an emotional tie that even in these early stages proves to be of great importance. Indeed, it is this relationship that provides the impetus for the section of the demo to which we were privy – Booker and Elizabeth seeking the aid of Founder head honcho Comstock in helping Elizabeth better harness her remarkable abilities. Columbia, of course, is practically a character in itself, in a similar fashion to Rapture. It shares a number of similarities with Andrew Ryan's utopia, all of which bear testament to the attention to detail Irrational have instilled into their development process. Stylised graphics are in, exhibiting once more a near cartoonish hyper-realism, but if you let that put you off well, frankly, more fool you. The main difference between the two is that the battle for Columbia, or rather the ideals that govern it, is still raging. The strife between the aristocratic Founders and the unrest brought by the Vox Populi plagues the streets. The route to Comstock's mansion is a bit tricky. As Booker and Elizabeth attempt to sneak past the out burst of violent conflict, it isn't long before a group of Vox recognise DeWitt and give chase. Here Elizabeth's powers are further exhibited, creating cover for Booker as he attempts to gun down their adversaries. The gunplay looks impressive, the array of weapons at DeWitt's disposal made my fingers itch for those trigger buttons, although the tables were somewhat turned with the arrival of an enormous zeppelin. E3 2011 | Bioshock Infinite Developer Demo Preview Realising rockets alone are not enough, Booker whips out his Skyhook and takes to the rails, embarking on a bullet-peppered rollercoaster, dodging Vox assailants and hopping from rail to rail. The demo showed DeWitt jumping rails at will, both laterally and vertically, dropping from great heights and catching himself on the rails below. It looked a little confusing to be honest and one wonders just how scripted the sequence was (if at all) and whether or not it might be possible to get slightly disoriented. Thankfully, the guys running the demo had absolutely no problems and Booker swung about like a Tarzan fantasist at Disneyland. The pacing, already accelerated by the outbreak of gunfire hits new heights once sky-bound. Booker is not alone on the rails and he has to fend off swift attacks from enemies, shooting them out of the air or switching rails for evasion. It's frenetic, heart-pumping stuff and, as DeWitt finally landed on the deck of the zeppelin and took out the foes who'd been shooting at him from relative safety (or so they thought!), the entire viewing audience leant forward that little bit more. I'm surprised no one slipped off of their seat. The battle over, DeWitt and Elizabeth take refuge inside. But their recovery is shortlived as the Songbird returns, hurling Booker to the ground with little effort. Just as the Songbird prepares to deliver the killing blow, Elizabeth interjects, promising to return to captivity if he will spare Booker's life. One of the last images is that of Elizabeth being taken away once more, tears streaming down her face, arms outstretched, the recognition of what she's just done dawning upon her face. Far from satisfying us, the demo simply posed more questions. How can Elizabeth time travel like that? What role do the Vox Populi and the Founders have to play in the larger story? Who is the Songbird really and how did he come into being? How the hell are we going to manage to wait days let alone months to see the final product?! Once again Irrational blew our minds, and had their audience utterly spellbound. It seems not even the sky's the limit for these guys. A strong contender for Best of Show yet again.

Add a comment4 comments
Late  Jun. 10, 2011 at 09:28

*Really* looking forward to Bioshock Infinite - but it seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time to get here. Since the gameplay trailer released September last year there seems to have been nothing of substance released/revealed (and tbh none is necessary - the trailer is awesome), and yet there still seems to be no release date, unless I'm missing something. Are we to expect it in the next year or so? Can it possibly take two years between a pretty comprehensive game-play trailer and a game release? This ain't Gran Turismo... :\

Joe  Jun. 15, 2011 at 20:00

@Late GameStop has a specific release date set at 2/1/2011, and has the game available for preorder. This may not be the final date, but it's great to hear that it's set for early next year!

With all the AAA titles shown at E3 that are coming sooner, this is still my most anticipated game. I've been reading and watching every bit of info I can... I hope Irrational releases the full E3 demo I've been reading about here and many other places soon!

Matt Gardner  Jun. 15, 2011 at 23:00

Every time we see it, the game just blows our minds. It's ridiculous. The firefights, the art style, Columbia, the inner city civil unrest, the weaponry, THE CHARACTERS!...all of it is adding up to a package that we still don't fully understand, but it's making our mouths (or should that be eyes/trigger fingers/thumbs) water. Itching to get hands-on with it, fingers crossed for Gamescom.

Late  Jan. 28, 2013 at 15:16

Blimey, I was already getting impatient for this over a year and a half ago?...

Not long to go now!

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