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BioShock Infinite

BioShock Infinite

BioShock Infinite

BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games, and published by 2K Games. It was released worldwide for the Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 platforms on March 26, 2013; an OS X port by Aspyr was later released on August 29, 2013. Infinite is the third installment in the BioShock series, and though it is not immediately part of the storyline of previous BioShock games, it does feature similar gameplay concepts and themes. Irrational and creative director Ken Levine based the game's concept and setting on the ideas of American exceptionalism by taking inspiration from historical events at the turn of the 20th century such as the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, while also incorporating influences from more recent events at the time such as the 2011 Occupy movement.

Set in 1912, the game has protagonist, former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt, sent to the floating air city of Columbia to find a young woman, Elizabeth, who has been held captive there for most of her life. Though Booker rescues Elizabeth, the two become involved with the city's warring factions: the nativist and elite Founders that rule Columbia and strive to keep its privileges for White Americans, and the Vox Populi, underground rebels representing the underclass of the city. During this conflict, Booker learns that Elizabeth possesses strange powers to manipulate "Tears" in the space-time continuum that ravage Columbia, and soon discovers her to be central to the city's dark secrets.

The player controls Booker throughout the game, eventually working with the AI-controlled Elizabeth. Like previous BioShock games, the player utilizes a combination of weapons, Gears, and psychokinetic powers granted through Vigors. Elizabeth's powers can also be used to help fight hostile forces. In contrast to the limited spaces of the underwater city of Rapture, the open air city of Columbia provides for more dynamic combat challenges, including combat that takes place aboard the city's Sky-Line rollercoaster-like rail system. Downloadable content for the game includes a story-based mission, Burial at Sea, that links Infinite's story to that of the first two BioShock games.

The game won over 85 pre-release awards for its display at E3 2011, including Best of Show from the Game Critics Awards. BioShock Infinite received critical acclaim upon release, with many critics particularly praising its story, setting, and visual art design. The game went on to sell over 3.7 million retail copies within the first two months of its release, and has since sold more than 4 million copies overall. Infinite was the third-highest rated video game of 2013 according to review aggregator Metacritic, and it won numerous year-end awards, including Best Shooter at the VGX 2013, and Action Game of the Year at the 17th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards.

BioShock Infinite Plot

In 1912, Booker DeWitt is taken by Robert and Rosalind Lutece to an island lighthouse off the coast of Maine. Told to "bring us the girl and wipe away the debt", Booker enters a rocket silo which transports him to Columbia.

Booker is soon pursued by the city authority when he is found bearing a scar of the letters "AD", matching the description of the foretold "False Shepherd" who will corrupt Elizabeth and overthrow Columbia. Freeing Elizabeth from her tower, Booker narrowly evades her captor, the "Songbird". Reaching an airship, Booker promises to take Elizabeth to Paris; when she realizes they are going to New York City to wipe Booker's debt, a tearful Elizabeth knocks him out. Booker awakes to find the airship under the control of Daisy Fitzroy and the Vox Populi, who offer to return the ship if Booker recovers a weapon shipment.

Finding Elizabeth, Booker continues with her. Assisting with her ability to open Tears, Elizabeth grows disturbed by the consequential damage on Booker and Columbia by her altering reality: one Tear leads them to a world where Booker is a martyr of the Vox Populi, sparking warfare between the two factions. Believing a new, living Booker undermines the martyr Booker's sacrifice, Fitzroy turns her forces against Booker. Elizabeth kills Fitzroy to prevent her from executing a Founder boy.

As they attempt to leave by airship, Songbird attacks the duo and they crash back to Columbia. Continuing onwards, they unravel a conspiracy behind the city's founding: Zachary Hale Comstock had the Lutece twins construct a "Siphon" device to inhibit Elizabeth's powers; Elizabeth is Comstock's adopted daughter, whom he plans to groom into taking over after his death; and Comstock plotted to kill his wife and the Luteces to hide the truth. After Elizabeth is captured by Songbird, Booker pursues but is brought into the future by an elderly Elizabeth; she explains that, since Booker did not stop Songbird, she suffered decades of torture and brainwashing, inheriting Comstock's cause and waging war on the world. Explaining that Songbird always prevented his previous rescue attempts, Elizabeth begs Booker to stop Songbird with his song and returns him to his present.

Booker reaches present Elizabeth, and the pair pursue Comstock to his airship. Comstock demands that Booker explain Elizabeth's past to her; an enraged Booker drowns Comstock. Booker denies knowledge about Elizabeth's missing little finger, but she asserts that he has simply forgotten. Controlling Songbird, the pair fend off a Vox Populi attack, before ordering Songbird to destroy the Siphon. As Songbird turns on Booker again, Elizabeth's powers fully awaken, allowing her to open a Tear and transport them to the underwater city of Rapture. Booker and Elizabeth materialize inside the city, from where they see Songbird crushed outside by the water pressure.

Elizabeth takes Booker to the surface lighthouse, explaining there are countless alternate lighthouses and versions of Booker and Elizabeth; they are within one of infinite possible realities dependent on their choices. She shows that on October 8, 1893, Robert Lutece approached Booker on behalf of Comstock, requesting that he "give us the girl and wipe away the debt," referring to Booker's infant daughter, Anna DeWitt Booker's "AD" branding. Booker reluctantly agreed, but soon gave chase; arriving as Comstock barely escaped through a Tear, its closing severed Anna's finger. Comstock then raised Anna as his own daughter, Elizabeth, and due to her severed finger, her existing over two realities simultaneously allows her to create Tears and move between them. Robert Lutece, angry at Comstock's actions, convinced Rosalind to help him bring Booker to the reality where Columbia exists to rescue Elizabeth.

Elizabeth explains that Comstock will always remain alive in alternate universes, as the Luteces have enlisted different universe Bookers numerous times to try to end the cycle. As stopping Comstock requires intervening in his birth, Elizabeth takes Booker back in time to a baptism he attended in hopes to atone for the sins he committed at Wounded Knee; she explains that, while Booker changed his mind, some alternative Bookers accepted the baptism and were reborn as "Zachary Comstock." Comstock, later aware of his connection to Booker and sterile from overusing the Lutece Tear machine, abducted Anna to provide a biological heir for Columbia. Booker, then joined by other universe Elizabeths at the baptism, allows them to drown him, preventing his baptismal choice and thus preventing Comstock's existence. One by one, the Elizabeths begin to disappear, the screen cutting to black on the last.

In a post-credits scene, a Booker awakens in his apartment on October 8, 1893. He calls out for Anna and opens the door to her room before the screen cuts to black.

Gameplay

Like BioShock and BioShock 2, BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter with role-playing elements. In contrast to the limited spaces of Rapture in previous BioShock games, the expanded environment of Columbia provides for more dynamic combat challenges in Infinite. As Booker, the player must fight their way through Columbia using weapons and a variety of tools in order to complete objectives. The player may carry only two weapons at a time, and can collect other weapons and ammunition either from defeated enemies or from random locations around the city. In addition to his health, Booker is also equipped with a shield. When damaged, the shield regenerates after a few seconds, while health can be replenished with medical kits or food. Should Booker die, the player revives in a safe area but loses a slight amount of money; Booker regains partial health and is granted additional ammunition, while local enemies are also partially healed. The player can still recover from death should they lose all their money.

Booker gains powers and abilities through Vigors, Gears, and Infusions, all scattered around Columbia. Vigors, the equivalent of BioShock's Plasmids, grant activated powers such as creating shockwaves, releasing bolts of electricity, and machine/human possession. Vigors require Salt, the equivalent of magic points or BioShock's EVE, for powering their abilities. Salts can be found throughout Columbia, and are also granted upon death. Wearing Gears grant passive abilities that can improve the player's strength or damage resistance, similar in function to BioShock's Tonics. Each piece of Gear attaches to one of four specific slots: Hats, Shirts, Boots, and Pants. Only one piece of Gear can be affixed to a slot at a time; any extra Gear is stored in the player's inventory. Infusions grant the ability to permanently boost the player's health, Salts or shield meter by one stat; they also fully restore whatever is being boosted.

Booker wielding a gun as he rides the Sky-Line in combat.

Booker can traverse Columbia both on foot and by riding the "Sky-Line". The Sky-Line is a roller coaster-like rail-based system originally designed for moving cargo around Columbia but later used for personal transport whereupon the player activates a wrist-mounted tool called the Sky-Hook that Booker and enemies wear to jump and hang onto the self-powered tracks. Players can jump onto, off of, and between Sky-Line tracks at any time, and may face enemies that use the system to attack; the player can use one-handed weapons in Booker's free hand while using the Sky-Line. Freedom of movement along the Sky-Line allows for several varieties of combat, including flanking, cover, and area-of-effect attacks through creative uses of the system. Booker can also dive off from the Sky-Line to strike enemies with his Sky-Hook; while on the ground, he can melee and execute enemies with it.

Once reunited with Elizabeth, the player must work with her to escape Columbia. The player does not directly control Elizabeth, but instead she reacts to the player and the current situation in a manner similar to the AI Director in Left 4 Dead. Unlike BioShock, where the player is tasked with protecting a Little Sister while escorting her, Elizabeth requires no protection and can take care of herself in combat. While the player is in battle, Elizabeth scavenges the area for supplies such as ammunition, medical kits, Salts, and other items, and tosses them to Booker as needed. She can also use her Tear-opening powers to aid the player, bringing in weapons, health, Salts, environmental features such as cover or a ledge for higher ground, and automated defense units. Only one Tear can be opened at a time, making the player decide between the available options to suit the battle. Elizabeth also has the ability to pick locks using her hairpin. However, she requires "one-use" lockpicks, found all over Columbia, to open doors or safes storing valuable or hidden items.

While exploring Columbia, the player, and Elizabeth, can find various useful items such as cash, food, medical kits, ammunition and Salts. Vending machines, present throughout Columbia, can be used to buy supplies, and powerful upgrades for weapons and Vigors. Optional side-missions are also available, where the player must unlock safes or decode hidden ciphers; completing them rewards Booker with a handful of supplies, Voxophones and Infusion upgrades.

As the player progresses through the city, he is opposed by various enemies, classified into three types: Standard Enemies, Heavy Hitters and Basic Security Automata. Standard Enemies are regular foes consisting of several different human forces representing the Founders and the Vox Populi. Heavy Hitters are more formidable enemies, aligned with the Founders, who act as mini-bosses throughout the game, demanding new tactics from the player. They consist of: the Vigor-powered Fireman and Zealot of the Lady, the heavily armored Beast, the powerful robotic-like monster Handyman, the crank gun-wielding automaton Motorized Patriot, and the enemy-detecting Boys of Silence. The Vox Populi also possess their own versions of the Fireman, Beast and Motorized Patriot. Basic Security Automata are armed machines scattered throughout Columbia that act as a security defense system for the city, consisting of the fixed Gun and Rocket Automatons, and the flying Mosquito.

After completing the story mode on "easy", "normal" or "hard" difficulties, a "1999 Mode" is unlocked, where the challenge of the game is significantly increased. Enemies are much tougher, the player's navigational aid and aim assist is removed, and resource management is much more crucial to survival; also, the difficulty of the game cannot be changed while playing. Additionally, in this mode, reviving after dying uses up more money; should Booker die with less than $100, the game ends, and the player is sent back to the main menu and has to resume from their last autosave prior to the section where they died. Alternatively, "1999 Mode" can simply be unlocked by inputting a secret code the Konami Code in the main menu.

Reception
One week after its announcement, BioShock Infinite was exhibited at Gamescom 2010, where it received its first awards there, winning IGN's Game of the Show and Best Xbox 360 Game awards. It was nominated for Most Anticipated Game at the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards, though it did not win. Infinite was on display for the general video game audience at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011 (E3 2011), where it was heavily awarded, winning over 85 editorial awards, 39 of which were Game of Show. Most notably at E3 2011, the game received four Game Critics Awards for Best of Show, Best Original Game, Best PC Game, and Best Action/Adventure Game. For the second and third consecutive times, Infinite was again nominated for Most Anticipated Game by the Spike Video Game Awards in 2011 and 2012.


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