by Andrew Hallam
previewed on PC
Unless you've been living under the sea for the last 5 years you're no doubt aware of 2K Games' award winning masterpiece Bioshock. Well, after two games set in Rapture, 2K have gotten bored of the underwater paradise and have jumped back in time for what is set to be an indirect prequel of the previous games in their latest instalment in the Bioshock series, Bioshock Infinite. Ditching the under the sea digs for the high flying scene, Infinite takes place some 50 years before the original Bioshock in the 1910's at the advent of aviation history. By some stroke of genius, some unknown entrepreneur has managed to create a fully working flying city that'd put the Wright Brothers Flyer to shame, giving birth to the game's setting on the flying air-city of Columbia.
Unlike the secretly developed 'Rapture' of the first two games, Columbia was commissioned by the US government as a monument to American exceptionalism. This alludes to the 1893 World's Fair: Columbian Exposition which was the grandest World's Fair or its era. The flying city Columbia is truly a monument to human engineering, even by modern standards, as the city closely resembles what can only be described as a cross between New York and a steampunk Death Star. However, much like Rapture, Columbia is far from the promised utopian city, falling into a more chaotic, oppressive state that has more in common with Nazi Europe than you'd care to imagine.
Originally designed to be a floating technological marvel, Columbia was set to trade the globe to show people the height of American engineering. However, the reason Columbia resembles a steampunk Death Star is revealed in its true nature as a floating battle station. Eventually, Columbia became involved in an 'international incident' when it fired upon a group of Chinese civilians during the Boxer Rebellion, causing it to be disowned by the US government and left to wander the world on it's own, reeking havoc wherever it went.
I'm Going To Tear You A New Space-Time Continuum
Taking place in 1912, Infinite puts you in the shoes of one of America's most randomly named Pinkerton agents, Booker DeWitt. If you're not up on your early 1900's history, Pinkerton was the national detective agency at the time, a sort of like a private FBI for hire. At the time of Infinite, Booker has been dismissed from the agency for some as of yet unknown bad behaviour but is back in his detective shoes after being hired by some 'Mysterious Individuals' who are aware of Columbia's location. Tasked with infiltrating the giant air-city and saving a young woman named Elizabeth, Booker has no small task on his hands. Columbia is currently rife with government radicals who are hell-bent on elitism and racial purification, forcing all immigrants of non-European or Irish descent to be singled out in a way that is not dissimilar to that of the Nazi segregation of Jews in Europe.
As you might imagine, some people weren't so keen on this when the thoughts and values of Abe Lincoln were still fresh in their minds and so the 'Vox Populi' is born, deciding to take up arms against the ruling faction known as 'The Founders'. And so, while Booker is able to find Elizabeth with surprising ease, it gets a little tricky once you discover that both factions are out to kill you and capture Elizabeth for their own means. You see, Elizabeth has unnatural power over space-time, meaning that she can materialise objects that weren't there before as well as manipulate the world as the player sees fit. If that wasn't enough, she also has a giant robotic steampunk bird that is programmed to beat the living crap out of anything that might steal her away from it.