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BioShock Infinite

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BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter video game, and the third game in the BioShock series. Previously known as "Project Icarus", it was developed by Irrational Games for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms. BioShock Infinite is not a direct sequel/prequel to previous BioShock games, taking place at a previous time and different setting, though features similar gameplay concepts from these games. The player controls a former Pinkerton agent, DeWitt, as he attempts to rescue a woman trapped aboard the collapsing air-city Columbia in 1912.

Additional notes regarding Mac OS X

BioShock Infinite supports both the Xbox 360 Wired Controller and the PlayStation 3 Dual Shock 3 Controller in addition to the standard Macintosh mouse and keyboard. This game is not supported on volumes formatted as Mac OS Extended (Case Sensitive). Only English, French, Italian, German and Spanish are available when running on Mac OS X.

Supported Graphics Cards

NVIDIA

  • GeForce 640M, 650M, 660M, 675MX, 680MX, 750M, 755M, 775M, 780M

ATI/AMD

  • Radeon HD 3870, HD 4850, HD 5670, HD 5750, HD 5770, HD 5870, HD 6750, HD 6770, HD 6970
  • Radeon HD 7950 is supported only on Mac OS X 10.9.2 and later

Intel

  • HD 4000 & 5000 Series
  • Iris & Iris Pro

Unsupported Chipsets

  • AMD Radeon 2000 Series
  • AMD Radeon 2000 Series, HD 4670, HD 6490M, HD 6630M
  • NVIDIA GeForce 320M, 330M
  • Intel GMA, HD 3000 & 3100 Series

Plot

Setting

Bioshock-infinite-columbia

BioShock Infinite takes place on the steampunk air-city of Columbia.

The primary setting of BioShock Infinite is a city suspended in the air by giant blimps and balloons, called "Columbia", named in homage of the 'female personification' of the United States. Unlike the secret development of the underwater city of Rapture, Columbia was built and launched in 1900 by the American government to much fanfare and publicity. The city was meant to symbolize the ideas of exceptionalism; the reveal trailer for the game alludes to the 1893 Worlds Fair which is historically considered to be the emergence of American exceptionalism. On the surface, Columbia appeared to be designed as a floating 'Worlds Fair' that could travel across the globe; however, some time after its launch but before the game's events, the city was revealed to be a well-armed battleship, and became involved in an "international incident". The city was disavowed by the United States government, and the location of the city was soon lost to everyone else.

As a result of the city's isolation, a civil war eventually broke out on Columbia between different factions of citizens, each trying to seize control of the city from the powers-that-be. At the time of the game's events, only two main factions remain. One are the remnants of those retaining power over the city, whose spokesperson is an ultranationalist politician named Saltonstall. The powers-that-be seek to keep Columbia purely for American citizens, denying foreigners the same privileges as its citizens. The other group is the Vox Populi (Latin for "voice of the people"), a rag-tag resistance group opposed to the ultra-nationalists. The Vox Populi is formed from several factions with similar ideologies that fought to seize control and restore the rights of Columbia citizenship to all. However, years of war and struggle have driven the Vox Populi to fight the powers-that-be solely out of blind hatred, resulting in more violent and brutal methods and leading to sub-factions in the group.

Like Rapture, Columbia is considered a failed utopia, but with signs present suggesting a theocratic government taking control at some point, and similar racial-purification concepts such as Nazism, jingoism, and xenophobia. One of the items in the press packages for the game included a tag that would purportedly be worn by immigrants aboard Columbia, requiring those of non-European descent to list out numerous details, including religious affiliation and data relating to eugenics; another item was a Columbia propaganda poster that warned "We must all be vigilant to ensure the purity of our people". Columbia has been compared to a cross between steampunk (including similarities to Gulliver's Travels, Castle in the Sky, and Steamboy) and the Star Wars Bespin cloud city, as well as the airships of Final Fantasy settings, though Irrational's Ken Levine has compared the weaponized city to the Death Star.

Plot

The events of the game take place in 1912. The player assumes the identity of Booker DeWitt, a former, disgraced agent of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, who was dismissed for behaviour beyond the acceptable bounds of the Agency. He is hired by mysterious individuals, aware of Columbia's location, and tasked to invade the air-city and rescue a young woman named Elizabeth, whose been held aboard the air-city for the last twelve years. Though DeWitt finds Elizabeth easily enough, he quickly discovers that Elizabeth is central to the city's conflict between these two groups, as each faction seeks to use Elizabeth to turn the tide of the conflict in their favor, forcing DeWitt and Elizabeth to trust each other in order to escape.

Though the game takes place before the events of the previous two BioShock games (occurring from the 1950s to 1960s), Irrational Games has not confirmed if BioShock Infinite shares the same universe with these titles; Ken Levine left the question of the possibility unanswered in an interview stemming from the game's announcement.

Gameplay

BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter with role-playing elements similar to the previous two games. As DeWitt, the player moves about the various structures of Columbia using a grappling hook, a series of railways connecting the buildings called the Skyline, and other transport means to search for Elizabeth. The player will gain weapons which can be used in numerous ways within the environment, including on the Skyline, to defeat enemies. DeWitt has powers similar to those given by plasmids of the previous games; previews reported powers such as levitating weapons out of foes' hands and electrocuting them. Other powers are gained by breaking apart crow statues; one such power gained this way is the "Murder of Crows" that allows the player to direct a murder of crows to attack an enemy. Once reunited with Elizabeth, who also has a set of such powers, the player must work together with her to escape Columbia. For example, Elizabeth can create a localized rainstorm on foes, which the player, as DeWitt, can then fire upon with an electricity-based attack, electrocuting the foes. The player will not be directly in control of Elizabeth, but instead she will react to the player and the current situation in a manner similar to the AI Director in Left 4 Dead, according to Levine. However, using Elizabeth's powers also harms her, an action compared to the choice of killing or saving the Little Sisters from the previous games. Several different forces are at work opposed to the player's progress within the city. Furthermore, the player and Elizabeth are chased by both a Handyman - a robot-like monster housing a human heart - and a crow-like mechanical flyer that attempts to snatch Elizabeth from the player.

The Skyline is a rail-based system similar to the concept found in the Ratchet & Clank games. Levine stated that the Skyline concept goes beyond the Ratchet & Clank style that allows for several varieties of combat, including flanking, cover, and area-of-effect attacks.

At the present time, Irrational Games has not committed to including a multi-player element within the game. While the team will experiment with concepts for a multiplayer element, Levine has stated that they would only proceed forward if it is something new not otherwise found in other, more successful multi-player games like Halo or Call of Duty.

Development

Prior to its announcement on August 12, 2010, Irrational Games used the moniker "Project Icarus" to describe their next game, creating a teaser site in late July 2010. Over the weeks leading to the announcement, the animation on the teaser site slowly built up to an animated infinity symbol on the day prior to the announcement.

Though BioShock Infinite shares the same name with the other two games, Levine has stated that this is a new direction, and was coy to answer if they shared the same universe. Levine referred to the term BioShock not as a specific location or setting, but a concept conjoined by two ideas: the exploration of a fantastical setting, and the use of a large number of tools and abilities in creative manners to survive. Levine affirmed that with the similarities between the games, "It would be dishonest to say this is not BioShock". Similarly, Timothy Gerritsen, Director of Product Development, stated they wanted to keep the feel of the BioShock experience but still consider Infinite to be a new intellectual property; as a means to sever the implied connection to the previous games, the teaser purposely shows a Big Daddy figurine being crushed at the onset. This was furthered by the selection of the word Infinite as part of the title, to reflect the "many possibilities" they wanted to explore with the BioShock concept.

Irrational was working in secrecy on Infinite for two and a half years since completing the original BioShock; 2K Games gave them the freedom to develop their sequel at will. For the first six months of development, the team prototyped several possible ideas to brainstorm on what concepts would be effective for the next game. The idea of the air-city came early in the development. The open-air environment gave them an opportunity to use colour schemes that sharply contrasted with the darker palettes that were a staple of their earlier games. According to Irrational's Ken Levine, the name "Columbia", in reference to the female figure that personifies the United States, and the idea of American exceptionalism did not come about until six to eight months before the game's reveal. The idea came to Levine after watching a documentary about the late 19th century, which quickly caught on with the rest of the team. In particular, Levine pointed to one disputed quotation of U.S. President William McKinley on the eve of the Philippine–American War, which spoke to the need of America to "uplift and civilize and Christianize" the natives of the Philippines. Though the accuracy of the quote is disputed, Irrational's lead artist Shawn Robinson noted that the goal of BioShock Infinite was "not to teach any history", but felt such historical aspects helped to ground the work's fiction. Levine stated that in the same manner that BioShock was not built specifically around objectivism, Infinite is not built around jingoism, but only uses the concepts to help set the stage to tell the story of individuals caught up in the conflicts. Figureheads of the powers-that-be like Saltonstall are based on both historical and present-day nationalistic personalities, seeking to put the needs of America before others; Game Informer noted that such game speeches "eerily echo some of the race-baiting positions taken by far-right personalities like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Rand Paul". The Vox Populi were based on historical factions that often splintered into small, independent groups that undertook violent actions, such as the Red Army Faction from the 1970s and the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front of the present day.

The Irrational team reviewed much of the American culture and propaganda at the turn of the 19th century, using the artwork to create some of the in-game posters. Levine commented that at the time, such imagery was "really subtle", and considered that their re-envisioning of these posters within Columbia was "a great way to communicate ideas visually". Other sources of inspiration for the game's art included photographs from before and after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and from Sears-Roebuck catalogues from the turn of the century. Three different covers for Game Informer's first preview of the game for its October 2010 issue were a collaboration between Irrational and the magazine, envisioning what a video game magazine would be like in the early 20th century. Each cover, drawn by Irrational's Rob Waters, are inspired by the cover artwork from The Saturday Evening Post and include fictional advertisements based on early 20th century variants, including one re-drawn from a public domain ad.

According to Levine, the team had to revolutionize their previous work on the BioShock game in order to realize Columbia, including both indoor and outdoor settings that take place thousands of feet above the ground. The original BioShock engine, a modified Unreal Engine 2.x, was inadequate for their vision, and chose to work with Unreal Engine 3, modifying it with their own lighting engine and means to simulate the movement and buoyancy of the buildings. While Irrational had followed 2K Marin's work on BioShock 2, Infinite does not include any further improvements that 2K Marin had made on the original engine. According to Levine, all assets of Infinite are created from scratch. The bright, open-air environments of Columbia presented a challenge to the team to keep aspects of the horror genre within the game; Levine stated they took some inspiration from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, transforming an "antiseptic environment" into the "scariest ******* place [one's] ever seen".

One challenge facing Irrational was identified from BioShock, in which players, once equipped with specific plasmids and weapons, could complete the game without having to alter their weapons. Irrational wanted instead to create situations through Infinite's weapons and powers that allowed the player to progress to some point with certain combinations but then would be forced to learn new possibilities that Irrational had designed within the game. This was further enhanced by the inclusion of Elizabeth, who has powers that can be used in conjunction with DeWitt's to achieve more impressive results but that strain her powers and giving choice to the player as to when to use her. The inclusion of Elizabeth also served to better extend Irrational's vision of storytelling first-person shooters and to avoid other tropes used in similar games that have become "long in the tooth" such as receiving information over a radio or from someone on the opposite side of a window; according to Levine, having Elizabeth as a person working aside the player-characters helps to make the game "feel more grounded in humanity". In addition, they wanted to capture the aspect of BioShock where not every non-player character would immediately be aggressive towards you; Levine discusses a situation in Infinite where the player character walks into a crowded bar and cannot immediately tell the disposition of the non-player characters towards the player. Irrational wanted to make sure consequences of the player's actions were reflected in the game; part of this is through the strain on Elizabeth when using her powers, but through altering the suspended city, they are able to change the environment in response to the player's choice and force the player to consider different tactics.

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