Look, Up In the Sky!: First Video from Bioshock Infinite [UPDATED]

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You know what pain is? Pain is having to wait TWO WHOLE YEARS for a game you want in your hands now. In this case, that game is Bioshock Infinite, which marks the return of Ken Levine and the Irrational Games studio to the franchise they created in 2007.

(More on Techland: Irrational Games Announces BioShock Infinite)

Now, fans are finally getting a chance to see what the all-new locale of Columbia looks like. The trailer went up exclusively on Xbox Live today, but it’s already been ripped to YouTube. Here’s the link while it lasts:

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The new video and images–pulled from the same gameplay chunk demoed during the game’s announcement–show off the Skyhook travel system, Booker and Elizabeth’s battle against the Alpha steampunk cyborg and the virulently xenophobic attitude of the floating city’s inhabitants.

We’ll have more on Infinite as the development progesses.


(More on Techland: Video: Ken Levine Talks BioShock Infinite, Blows Our Minds

[UPDATED with impressions]

  • From the very opening seconds of the trailer, Inifinte’s themes get writ large. Columbia’s the ultimate exemplar in executing the ugly isolationism that cyclically rears its head throughout American history. But, aside from the big posters and newspaper headlines, you can see it in the smaller touches, too. The newsvendor’s horse is robotic and his carriage apparently has no wheels. Rather than use the same technology to invent some new means of transportation, the mandate is stick to The Way Things Ought to Be. It has to be a horse, because anything else would veer from the vision of the Real America.
  • Liberty Bell reference, anyone? Columbia looks like the kind of place where lip service gets a lot of lip service but things probably play out in a very fascist manner. Listen to the radio right after that bell tower. Around 1:57, he newscaster’s recounting what sounds like racial violence leading a lynching incident. Justice in Columbia sounds particularly rough.
  • Again, the repression and myopic focus on “normalcy” come out in little details. With a house destroyed behind her, a nameless woman sweeps up as if everything is just peachy. It’s kind of chilling.
  • And if you’re still doubting that racial tensions might not play such a big part in Infinite’s themes, peep the slogans on Saltonsall’s political posters at 2:25: “For Faith. For Race. For Fatherland.” Looks like the game’s ultra-conservative mouthpiece could be modeled after the charismatic leader of the Third Reich, eh?
  • Superpowers in evidence as of 4:30: Charles’ Hiitchcock-style bird attack, Saltonsall seems like he might be trying to use some psychic mojo on you right as the demo’s first fight starts and the player-controlled character Booker DeWitt uses telekinesis to retrieve the Murder of Crows tonic from Charles’ dead body (4:10).
  • As I said in my first look at the game, the Skyhook system comes across as a first-person roller coaster ride. The Irrational guys said that you’ll be able to switch routes dynamically and we see Booker do just that when he jumps from rail to rail. And judging from the citizen who tries to attack Booker around 5:30, there will be Skyhook combat, too.
  • More obliviousness at 5:50. Shells are being lobbed outside and the bar patrons act as if nothing’s wrong. Hell, they’re toasting each other! Booker gets told that they don’t want strangers here with a face full of buckshot. Of course, he returns the favor by telekinetically yanking the gun and shooting it back at the bartender. Using TK powers to fire a gun is a nice wrinkle on the way the power was implemented in previous BioShock games.
  • Catching a bombshell and lobbing it back at the cannon that launched it at you? Bad-ass. Also, the swarming mob that chases Booker out of the bar fires on him with guns, a big difference from the combat in BioShock 1 and 2. When splicers came at you, it was mostly with melee weapons. It also looks like there’s a ton more on-screen enemies in Infinite, a testament to the strength of the game’s all-new engine.
  • As the mob chases Booker, he throws a few electro-bolt zaps at them. This is another intriguing tidbit that may link Infinite and BioShock 1 together. Could the Plasmids and all the ADAM/superpower research in the first BioShock have been built off of the advances in Columbian science?
  • And do all those on-screen xenophobes get taken out? By teaming up with Elizabeth. The woman Booker’s been sent to look for uses weather control to douse the madding crowd with rain, setting them up for a mass electrocution at Booker’s hand. Elizabeth also seems far more powerful than anyone else so far: her stunt at 8:00 that forms the huge glowing globe seems to involve wind control or telekinesis, magnetism and possible pyrokinesis to fuse things together. No wonder she’s winded. Also, Ken Levine noted during our talk that that sequence was all in-game and if you wanted to attack the problem differently, you could.
  • You know what you get with a protagonist that talks and constant AI partner? You get banter. In this case, very good banter. “You’r just making him angry!” He was already angry!!” Sidenote: the facial expressions on Elizabeth’s face as she speaks boast to some very high-powered digital acting technology underneath Infinite’s hood.
  • Climbing up walls, giant Hulk-like leaps… that angry Alpha’s a lot more mobile than the Big Daddies of Rapture. Also: he throws a live horse at you. Alpha no like horse? The showdown on the bridge with the Alpha seems to indicate there’ll be certain hotspots in the environment that Elizabeth will be able to prime for co-op attacks.
  • Finally, the words “That wasn’t him” denoting the giant winged creature that swoops down to end the trailer seems to indicate that there may be more than one type of Alpha. Makes sense as BioShock had different grades of Big Daddies. Rosies, Bouncers, etc.