Bioshock Infinite 3 Hour Hands On Preview
This is a slightly different preview, rather than one persons views on the preview three people went to 2K Games. Choose whos view of the preview you would like to read from the links below.
OK, I am going to come clean right now. I am not the biggest fan of the Bioshock series of games. I liked the setting and the story the underwater world of Rapture presented, however, I felt the gameplay was very samey and the narrative was a bit odd. Despite this though I did enjoy the games but could never really call myself a fan of the series which is a shame. I feel that if I had been drawn in a bit more I could have wanted to fully explore Rapture and possibly would have loved it. Why do I mention this you may be thinking, well, Bioshock Infinite did something different?
Bioshock 1 and 2 have you exploring Rapture after things have gone down leaving the environments dark, empty and filled with madness which really helps the feel of the game but it takes away from setting up the world. Rapture, while being impressive, felt like it was always made to be the mess it was when you play the games and thus became (for me at least) a bit fake. Infinite does a much better job. Right from the get go Columbia is introduced in its prime; you get to see how people live their lives in the skies, how there world works and how they live. This makes it much more interesting and dramatic when you mess everything up, you can see how this floating state goes to madness after you start your mission to retrieve Elizabeth. This makes the world feel much more real and believable as the player can see the change they are inflicting as it happens which in turn creates a much more powerful and engaging experience.
This is what drew me in, I loved seeing how Columbia worked, the way the city floats, how everything connects to each other and even just NPC’s getting their shoes shined and just having a chat, you feel like you become a part of the game. This, among other things, really got me pumped to play this game which is what a title such as this should do right off the bat.
The world of Columbia is so good at drawing you in that when you realize the world is set in the 1920’s and the true nature of the floating state is revealed you are actually surprised and a little taken back. Something that stood out to me was the racist nature of the people in the game, it’s so there and in your face that it is quite shocking, but what you remember is that this is what things were like during this time period you wonder why it got to you so much. That’s how hard it hits; the moral choices presented to you feel like they have actual weight and not only shape your story in the game but also helps to define your character throughout the game.
Speaking of characters something that was also a little surprising to me was how fast I started to enjoy playing as Booker and how his relationship with Elizabeth felt so un-forced. I say un-forced because in most games when a character is forced upon you in other games of this genre there is rarely anytime to learn about your new partner or even for the character to realistically get attached to them. Even in this short demo I could feel the budding relationship of Booker and Elizabeth growing and getting more and more complex which is something I could feel myself looking forward to exploring further when I get the game.
Me getting the game itself is yet another compliment I can give Bioshock Infinite, I didn’t get the other Bioshock games on release. I played them at friends’ houses and discussed them with my peers and them after sometime I would the purchase the titles on various deals or price reductions and after playing them I could accept that they were good games and worth the money I paid. In Infinites case after returning home I went online and immediately pre-ordered the game because I really want to know what is going on in Columbia.
However, while the demo may have impressed me enough to purchase it, this does not mean I will necessarily become a fan and really enjoy the game. Like other FPS’s it could be played once and then fall into the abyss of being “played-once-then-shelved” and I cannot tell you from a demo if this will happen or not. However what I will say is that after seeing the beginnings of the game, the character interaction and the interesting narrative combined with a more powerful combat system I can only hope this game will not fall into that area. Bring on March 26th!
Before even going in I tried not to read up too much on the game so I went in with more of a fresh mind. After playing through the previous 2 Bioshock games I thought I knew what to expect, and I can say I am definitely happy that I was wrong!
As I was the first person to play the demo, the game dumped me straight into the story. Brooker (your character) is being taken to a lighthouse by two of the strangest British people I have encountered in a game, and the introduction has the same feel as the previous games. The dark, abandoned lighthouse has a creepy feel, especially with the biblical references written on the walls in certain places. You expect something to happen within the darkness, but nothing happens until you reach the top where you encounter your first puzzle. It’s a bit of a ‘what the heck’ moment as you’re strapped into a chair and fired into the sky and end up landing on the gorgeous land of Columbia.
The first thing to notice is that the game is gorgeous. Columbia differs greatly from the start of the game: the introduction is dark, dank and raining, whereas Columbia is sunny, bright and colorful – a great contrast. The art style is colorful and semi-realistic, with the town connecting together through steam-powered mechanisms. The bright colors give it an ethereal and otherworldly feel, and the world blends steampunk with old and new to create an impression of a sheltered world kept separate from the world below.
While I don’t want to ruin the storyline too much, the world is set in 1912 and even has the racial segregation and attitudes that seemed to be present around that time. You are given choices throughout the game, with the first being whether you stone an interracial couple or not. I chose not to do that (because I’m nice) which caused me to be found as the ‘false prophet’. The entire game appears to have a heavy religious feel which definitely takes you on a bit of a crazy train with many twists and turns. This quite quickly introduces you to the melee combat. The melee is strong enough to use on its own without a gun, and allows you to punch and even ‘finish’ people (in true Mortal Kombat style). I have to admit, the melee was my favorite weapon in the game. You could punch people in the face repeatedly, and then finish them by ripping their heads apart. It meant that you could survive until finding your first gun.
When you get your first weapon, the game takes a turn towards being an FPS. The controls are simple: right trigger shoots, left trigger zooms, and you run around shooting people. The best part is that the enemy health is displayed above their heads, so you know how much damage you are doing and how long until they die. This is how I knew that (unlike some FPS games) headshots were actually effective. You can carry 2 weapons at a time, which allows you to change your tactics in a heartbeat, and you can quickly alternate between a gun or your melee. Again, I still prefer the melee weapons just because you can modify them, adding certain abilities such as setting them on fire with a single punch!
Another reason I personally like the melee weapon is that, while you are on sky lines traversing the various levels of terrain, you can select an enemy below you and jump on their head, effectively one shot killing them. You can also use your gun while travelling around these, so you’re not as vulnerable as you might think.
Another thing I really loved about the demo, and the game itself, is the Vigors. These appear to be unrefined versions of the Plasmids present in the previous games: they are more raw and, to be honest, more painful for poor Brooker. These give you certain abilities, and the first is the ability to turn mechanical items to your allegiance. After playing part of the demo, and watching the rest of it, I can say that I love the crows. These distract enemies for their first function as well as dealing damage. Each vigor has 2 functions as well, so again you get to change your strategies. It makes killing things REALLY fun!!
One of the best parts of the demo are the emotional responses and interactions with Elizabeth. When she’s angry or sad, her face reflects these emotions with startling accuracy. And in the short time you know her you become attached, wanting to protect her and keep her safe even though there are so many questions about her. Why was she locked away her entire life? What’s her exact relationship to the bird? And how does Brooker know her, even calling her Anna? It’s not the first time she’s mistaken for her as well.
The demo leaves you with so many unanswered questions. For example there are two moments where you see things that shouldn’t be present in 1912. It really questions what time frame this world is even in, and what is happening. The music is great, changing from creepy to fun and cheerful (a particular beach scene), and the two characters you meet in the beginning reappear frequently. Who are they? After about 2.5 hours there are so many unanswered questions, and it’s definitely made me want to pre-order the game. I think I’ve got more questions coming out than I had going in!
I am a fan of Bioshock games. I love both the first and second game and recently replayed from start to finish Bioshock 2 (19 hours well spent), so this preview allowed me to be able to see how if Irrational Games have been able to keep the Bioshock universe intact while creating a new game in a completely different location.
The first impression I received from the initial scene is when all you see is water, once again like the first game this gave me a sense of nostalgia and more than anything the first connection to the Bioshock universe. Your character begins on a boat with two other people and he is holding a box, this box contains information on your “target” and you speak to yourself “find the girl and wipe away the debt”. Instantly this created the first questions who am I playing, who is the girl and what is the debt.
After this you find yourself at a lighthouse, dull, dingy and dark, you find yourself looking at a note on the door and you try knocking, of course there is not answer so like any good game protagonist you just walk your way in. All the while the sounds around you such as the sea waves crashing and the wind howling creates a very chilling and tense atmosphere which makes feel yourself slipping into the world and within minutes wanting to know more and more on what is actually going on.
After entering the lighthouse which is creepier than outside you make your way upstairs, see blood smeared on the walls, pick up some money, have a look around and head to the top you are welcomed by a small puzzle. Without spoiling the puzzle (which is very easy…) you are welcomed by everything turning red, red literally floods the sky and then you hear massive amounts of noise bellowing everywhere around. This noise is meant to be like a loud horn but it reminded me more like an old school Big Daddy when they make the loud deep whale like noise.
After some more loud noises the light in the main part of the lighthouse disappears and is replaced by a chair. Seeing this makes you just know what is going to happen, you can see the metal restraints on the arms of the chair. Once you sit in the chair you are “strapped” in and you feel a sense of Deja vu as the walls of a strangely familiar pod like structure is built around you. At this point I felt like I was playing Bioshock 1 and once again knew this game was linked into the Bioshock universe.
The pod going against my brain shoots up into the air and passes the clouds, you are greeted by a sky scene of the floating city, a sky ship like a zeppelin and a massive angel. This is the part of the game you realise, this is Bioshock but its not the Bioshock you are use to or familiar with. Everything is bright, colorful, vibrant and down right beautiful. The game aesthetic is the exact opposite much like Ying and Yang, if Rapture is the dark city in the ocean where Columbia is the vibrant city in the sky.
After some time you do get control back from all the cut scenes even though long they do feel needed, you finally get a chance to explore the city and are given your first objective, Irrational Games have kept a lot of the sounds from the original Bioshock, for example the objective noise – they have changed it a little by deepening it but you do get that recognition of the previous games. Even at the beginning of the game they are really making sure the player knows they are playing a Bioshock game even if it is just the little things. After this I found myself walking around parts of Columbia which it seems at this point the city is just one massive fair and beach side resort all happy, bright and cheery.
Sometimes parts of the narrative for me were predictable, an example, you get told cryptically do not do this (no spoilers). At this point you are like what? Oh well lets continue then a bit later you are entered into something and low and behold the advice given earlier was the one thing you have been thrown into with no choice of getting out of it, making it feel a bit static and foreseeable. At this point in the game you do get your first morality choice which feels like another link to the previous games and I also started to notice certain controversies which were around at the time in the 1920’s. The game then jumps from the previously mentioned cheery fair/fete to my character or Dwitt plunger a rotating hook into a guys face with blood and bits of face everywhere. This was a massive jump into climax but most welcomed start to the action and story unfolding.
After this initial action the game jumps from action to action but also has moments of peacefulness, the most endearing part of Infinite is you are able to explore anywhere and everything you see, hear and take in adds to your perception of the world. Over hearing a conversation between two women on the beach can surprisingly give you some nugget of information to your quest or just to expand your knowledge of Columbia. The amazing but frustrating thing about Infinite is there are so many questions which open up to you as you play and with every answer brings double the amount of questions back in return. After playing the game for 3 hours and go back to bits in the game to try a different scenario I still found more information and more questions which was fantastic.
One thing to note is that the Plasmids in the game are now called Vigors and are seen as more of a convenience but an expensive one. Even though they are seen as a powerful god like commodity they are brutal to the point that when you get Devils Kiss and you drink it, you literally see your skin and muscle melt from your bones, which sends a shockingly powerful message to say, these come at a price but pack a punch.
I could go on for pages but I will leave you with my personal favorite part of the game. This would be the relationship between Elizabeth and Dwitt, the moment they meet face to face you slowly watch their story and relationship grow and unfold. The connection between them is something you can not really describe but have to see and feel yourself, every action changes the bond and develops in a way which you feel a connection to Elizabeth through Dwitt and start to form your own emotional attachment to not only Elizabeth but also Dwitt which really adds to the immersion into the world. Elizabeth is not just some annoying in game AI character she is your companion and important one but also a mysterious one that you need to uncover.
If you like the Bioshock Games you should love this one and if your not a fan of the Bioshock games then you should play this one and see a different side to the Bioshock universe one that you will not regret putting your time into.