We know Irrational Games is taking the Bioshock franchise forward with Bioshock Infinite, and there is quite a bit of time before the next installment is released. Let’s try to touch some of the most intriguing parts of the Bioshock Infinite’s plot.
The first two Bioshock games had their story loosely built around the philosophical concepts of Ayn Rand’s infamous novel Atlas Shrugged. We were either the living puppet of Fontaine or the juggernaut-like Bid Daddy plunged into the hollow and dark surroundings which were revealed to be parts of the dystopian underwater city of Rapture.
Bioshock Infinite follows the same philosophical concepts in a setting that deviates from its predecessors. Instead of Rapture, we’ll be exploring the city of Columbia – not on the ground, but in the skies. Irrational seems to enjoy the extremes, and they aren’t shy of displaying their fondness to avoid solid ground.
The city is launched into the air in 1900 or so by the United States to symbolize their ideas. Though its initial purposes were to be a ‘Worlds Fair’ – a proud display of the standout constitutional concepts of America, the city took the embodiment of a massive well-armed battleship, which, after a certain reputation-crippling international incident, was disavowed by the United States government, and ultimately left to float into oblivion.
An isolated city, free of governmental chains and restrictions, meant only one thing: an opportunity for the more powerful aristocrats to seize the floating metropolis in their grasps. This led to a civil war among different factions. Only two factions eventually remained stably active.
One is lead by an ultra nationalist politician named Saltonstall. The second is the Vox Populi, a group consisting of rebel-turned citizens who offer resistance to the ultra nationalists.
The ultra nationalists are contended in preventing foreigners from entering the city, or limiting the rights of those who already have. Basically, their concepts revolve around Nazism, jingoism and xenophobia. The Vox Populi, whereas, claim to fight for the restoration of equal rights of citizenship to all the inhabitants of Columbia.
However, the Vox Populi, due to the prolonged rivalry with the ultra nationalists, now fight solely out of hatred, and have forgotten the main objective of their constant struggle – which has resulted in the creation of brutal and unorthodoxly violent sub-factions in the group.
The character you play ‘Booker DeWitt’ is thrown in the middle of all the mayhem in floating forgotten city. DeWitt is a not-so-well-behaved former agent of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, who had been booted because – he was not-so-well-behaved.
Ironically, a group of mysterious individuals, who happen to know the whereabouts of Columbia, hire him. Their requirements are seemingly simple: infiltrate the city and rescue a woman named Elizabeth, who has been trapped in the air-city for more than a decade.
But finding Elizabeth becomes a task too easily achieved, and our hero learns that she is important to both faction as seek to use her to turn the tides in their favor. Her immensely powerful telekinetic abilities may be a clue regarding her importance in the world of Bioshock Infinite, not to mention awesomely gigantic bird-like Big Daddy type things chasing after her.
The other noticeable feature is the raised level of interactions. DeWitt is not mute and dumb like the main protagonists of its prequels. Instead of his speech being limited to only a few repetitive grunts and ‘umphs’, DeWitt will engage in full-fledged conversations with various characters in the Bioshock world, including Elizabeth.
Furthermore, physical interactions with the surroundings have also been included, which hints that Irrational is keen in making Infinite more of a movie-like experience, rather than the conventional plain shooting and butchering. This greatly adds flavor to the game, and as far as I can tell, is catalyzing the story-telling experience.
The other eerie and mysterious element that has been revealed is the subtle transformations of banners, portraits, and also transformations in physique and personality of certain characters, caused by a strange shimmering effect. Not much is known regarding this phenomenon, but I can’t help get the feeling that it is more than just a cosmetic effect.
Another element, though not new to the series, is the inclusion of magic-like powers. The first two games blamed Adam for this curse-cum-blessing, but not much is known how or through which source these powers are obtained in Infinite, though it’s a safe bet that it has an integral part in the game’s storyline.
The “civil war up in the air-city” formula, combined with our socialized protagonist, seems very promising indeed. It’s a good thing that Irrational is focusing their efforts and hard-work on the story, as that will always be the core of a game such as Bioshock Infinite.
We may not have tiny girls to harvest or massive drills attached to our hands this time around, but what we’ve seen so far about Bioshock Infinite has definitely made everyone get an appetite for rescuing Elizabeth and fending off behemoth-styled flying monstrosities.