2K Games and Irrational Games have released some gameplay footage for their upcoming dystopian adventure.
Bioshock Infinite finally takes players finally out of the confines of the underwater Randian nightmare world of Rapture. This third game in the franchise follows the tale of a mercenary, Booker DeWitt, sent to the paradise cloud city of Colombia to retrieve a woman. When he arrives he finds that he cannot complete the job as easily as he thought, and he and Elizabeth are forced to fight their way through the supposed utopia.
There is a lot here that's noticeably different from the two previous Bioshock games, and it's more than just the elevation of the setting. The city of Colombia is still in use, populated with normal, reasonable people, opposed to the desolated city of Rapture, which mostly only held crazies and death. The darkness of Rapture is replaced by an ironic lightness and huge pallet of bright colors. The augmentation system seems to still be in place, but otherwise the weapons and tools of the character have changed, including the addition of a sky-hook (a nice ironic name) which allows the character Batman-style mobility and positional tactics.
The biggest difference in the gameplay itself, however is the addition of an active partner. Elizabeth will be tagging along for most of the game alternating between valuable helper and damsel in distress.
She will frequently assist the player in combat maneuvers - we see in the trailer a moment where she locates a better gun for the protagonist and tosses it to him mid-combat - but she will also need to be protected, as her safety is a major concern of the character, and presumably, the rest of Colombia is out to get her.
There is also a difference in the ideological themes. While the first two games were a farcical look at Randian philosophy - Rapture was intended to be the hidden paradise that was set up on pure capitalist ideals in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged - this game instead mocks American patriotism and exceptionalism. Colombia is a city by and for 'Americans' only, where pure Americans have settled to create a dream world of American values and opportunity. Of course, like Rapture, it's all falling apart.
Bioshock is not known for its tactical combat options - the fighting in the first game especially is a bit repetitive - but perhaps this one will also introduce some new positional and stealth combat which would deepen the experience.
The game also takes place, primarily, in 1912 - 50 years before the events of Bioshock - and has not been confirmed to take place in the same story-world. I can see, now, why they decided not to call it Bioshock 3.
Bioshock Infinite will be available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows on February 26th, 2013. It's already available for pre-order over on Steam.