Secrets and Insight: Bioshock Infinite Gameplay Trailer

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With the preemptive leak of the Bioshock: Infinite gameplay footage seen for the first time almost a month ago at a press conference in New York, gamers are even more curious to know just what it means. There’s the obvious: Raven Tonic is like a plasmid, the sky-hooks allow for quick aerial transportation and combat, and conflict between isolationist and internationalist policies lies at the heart of the war over the city in the sky, Columbia. But as with most first gameplay reveals, more can be gleaned by paying close attention to detail in the footage and then making some educated inferences. So what secrets does Columbia hold, and what can be expected from a game that appears to share only a few choice similarities with its predecessor? Let’s find out.

The Collapse of Columbia

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Around 1:30 in the trailer, the protagonist, Booker, sees a floating building crash right in front of him. The aspect of this to consider is simply why? Of course the city is being torn apart by the conflict between the idealists and their followers, but it seems that this building actually just malfunctions. The balloon support holding up the end closest to Booker flickers and deflates just before the collapse, which may imply that the city is actually suffering from basic structural issues that may come into play as Booker traverses its wide expanse.

Digitized Cloth

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This one may just be a bit of speculation, but I do have two pieces of some brief evidence to support it. At around 1:45, as Booker turns to peer towards the burning building, a digital, pixel type sound can be heard, followed by what looks like the materialization of a banner with the words "Columbia Celebrates" appearing on it. While this doesn’t necessarily mean anything directly for gameplay, it’s a bizarre addition to the environment if it’s indeed true. Obviously the rest of the technology of Columbia draws on much more primitive ideas, but it’s hard to ignore that banner.

Tenuous Race Relations in Columbia

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Although brief, around 2:07 Booker overhears what sounds like a news radio broadcast describing a murder in which a "colored man" stabs another man with a razor. Apparently, the victim is heard calling his assailant "Negro". While this was an issue broached late in the game by Bioshock 2 developer, 2K Marin, perhaps the issue of race relations, especially as they relate to "foreigners" for the isolationists, will be a centerpiece of the fragile situation in Columbia. This can be confirmed a few seconds later in the video when Booker sees a political poster with the slogan "For Faith, For Race, For Fatherland".

Slow-Motion Attacks

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Jumping ahead, past the crows and the sniping, around 5:35 Booker encounters an enemy while on the sky-rails and attacks with what looks like a wrench. What’s interesting, however, is the way that the game slows down immediately following the hit. My guess is that these on-rail kills may all have that added feature, though it’s important to notice that time slows only after the hit is made, so there isn’t any "Dead-Eye" aiming mode or anything like it. At least, not that’s been announced. The slow-motion is likely to accent the kills in such a way that they don’t just whip by unappreciated by the player, adding a more visceral feel to them. Likely, but not for sure.

Telekinetic Opponent Disarms

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This is one of the more obvious tells from the trailer, but awesome enough worth noting again. Seriously? Taking away an enemy’s shotgun and shooting him with it all from ten feet away? Who knows how this will work from a gameplay perspective. Perhaps if Telekinesis is used directly at an enemy, this move actives, or perhaps it’s another power entirely. Either way, it kicks serious ass.

The Robot-Giant/Big Daddy Relationship

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Ever since the reveal trailer, fans have been wondering about these new iron giants and just what role they’ll play in Columbia. It doesn’t appear that Little Sister’s or ADAM work into this new equation, so the question is what motivates these new big baddies? They seem to be part human, given their beating heart in the first trailer and the human head seen on one in this trailer, so it’s likely that they can reason, maybe even talk, and take commands. My guess is that they are the key in some major arms race between the major factions vying for control of the city; though becoming one obviously requires some level of dehumanization. It also seems pretty clear that they are being used to try and capture Elizabeth (but somehow she continues to escape), though the reason for that also remains unclear. Expect these monstrosities to be at the center of the action and the conflict in Infinite.

Choreographed Action vs. Player-Driven Combat

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I think the biggest question I have coming away from this trailer is to what extent this was a demo of general gameplay mechanics, locations, and characters as opposed to a straight demonstration of in-game content. Obviously it’s been made more cinematic by eliminating the HUD (there’s got to be a HUD in the final product, right?), but is that the only thing Irrational cleaned up? For example, in the three segments where Booker uses Elizabeth’s powers combined with his own to attack enemies or change the environment it seems like those would happen in a very on-rail, choreographed kind of way. Is that how all of their team efforts will unfold, or will there be a little more room for creativity on the part of the player? And even in a segment like the short battle with Charles the bird-man, Booker knocks him over the edge where he conveniently drops his tonic on a suspended crate. To what degree was this fight choreographed, or how much freedom does the player have to approach the battle in whatever way they see fit.

If I had to guess, I’d say this was more a vague demonstration than anything else. I think the trailer was meant to show off the basics of the game, but perhaps this level will never even make it into the final game. Bioshock was designed with a distinct eye towards letting the player negotiate Rapture and its hostile inhabitants in whatever way they could think given their arsenal of weapons and powers. I expect nothing less out of what is sure to be an intriguing and expansive sequel.


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Author: Dan Crabtree View all posts by
Dan is Managing Editor for GamerNode and a freelance gaming writer. His dog is pretty great. Check him out on Twitter @DanRCrabtree.

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