Ken Levine on BioShock Infinite

Posted on February 02, 2011

FEATURE: Irrational Games Creative Director Ken Levine discusses the skybound city of Columbia and how it differs from Rapture.


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The Future of Action / Adventure Games: Looking Forward At L.A. Noire, Uncharted 3, The Last Guardian and More

Posted on December 29, 2010

The Future of Action / Adventure Games: Looking Forward At Bioshock: Infinite, L.A. Noire, The Last Guardian And More

We looked to the future as part of Epictober back in, er … October, but suffice it to say, we’re still looking forward to 2011. We’ve updated these posts with the games that were announced since then, and here’s what you can start looking forward to in 2011 and beyond. Just as a friendly reminder, 2011 starts in less than a week. So start your anticipating right now.

Real-life rarely presents us with either action or adventure, and when it does, we almost always regret it. Only truly crazy people like BASE jumpers and firefighters actually seek out excitement; the competing values of safety and sitting-in-a-chair are usually a lot less trouble, and you don’t get so messy. But still, something in the human heart yearns to experience moments of pure exhilaration during our dreary march to the grave. No amount of vicodin can squash Man’s eternal desire to discover new vistas, do the impossible, and jump very, very high; that’s where action-adventure video games come in. Plus, you don’t have to wear pants.

Like all modern video game genres, there’s no strict definition of “Action Adventure.” Games like Bioshock: Infinite lean toward shooter, where something like inFamous 2, with its moral choices and power-up skill trees, is practically an RPG. Gameplay-wise, upcoming action-adventure games run the stylistic gamut as well – inFamous 2, with its colorful, over-the-top hero, wall-climbing and lightning shooting action, and comic book morality will play entirely differently from the deliberate investigation at the heart of L.A. Noire, but all these games hold something in common.

Each of the high-profile action adventure games in the list below creates a truly unique, fantastic world in which danger, excitement and even love are around every corner. Each game on our list presents its world in fantastic detail, and most involves settings which we’ve never seen before in video games. This is a complex, mature suites of games – the action-adventure genre is quickly becoming home to the most thoughtful of gaming content, whether it’s the bleak, morally tortuous world of 1940s noir movies gamers will find in L.A. Noire, the childlike wish-fulfillment promised by Team Ico’s The Last Guardian, or the fantastically realized floating city of Bioshock: Infinite, truly the action adventure games listed below will give us all something to do when there’s nothing good on television.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Release Date: November 1 2011

In a move that shocked nobody, Naughty Dog finally revealed that yes, there will indeed be a third installment in the Uncharted franchise. It wasn’t shocking because the second game in the series sold like 48 bajillion copies, and they’re also working on a big budget movie featuring *shudder* Mark Wahlberg as Marky Mark. While we can’t get behind that decision, we can definitely support Uncharted 3 wholeheartedly.

Early gameplay videos and word from Naughty Dog are than Drake won’t be hiding out in lush jungles and exploring tropical caves this time around. Now he’s going to be out in the middle of the desert, providing new and different challenges for the development team. It’s also meant to be a bit of a bromance between Drake and Sully, providing ample opportunities (we hope) for some renegade adventures between the duo, who play a bit like Laurel and Hardy with guns. We don’t know a lot about the game yet, and it’s just under a year away from release, but Uncharted 2 represented one of the most powerful storytelling experiences we’d ever had in a video game, and if Naughty Dog can harness that again, they’ll give us a perfect hat trick of awesome games for the PS3.

My prediction? The movie will tank, the game will sell 50 bajillion copies this time around, and Sony will put out some lavish Uncharted Trilogy mega edition which will be hand-delivered to your home by Nolan North. I can dream, can’t I?

Prototype 2

Release Date: TBA 2012

Protoype was unfortunately one of the last games that most people would have put on their “needs a sequel” list, and I say unfortunately because I actually really enjoyed Prototype. However, the game came out around the same time as inFamous (which was a better game), and sort of got buried as a result, despite being on multiple platforms. But it was a lot of fun to play, and it is definitely worth picking up if you haven’t sunk your teeth into it you. You play as Alex Mercer, a man who gains bizarre powers due to a virus, and over the course of the game you become incredibly powerful as you learn how to use your skills with Barry Pepper doing awesome voiceover duty as the voice of Alex.

Prototype 2 will tell a different story, following an angry sergeant who finds out that Mercer was responsible for the death of all of his loved ones. He deliberately obtains a sample of the virus and infects himself, gaining powers that are very similar to Mercer’s. Of course, he uses these to go on a rampage of death and destruction, because this game definitely isn’t about playing nice with each other.

Do yourself a favor and pop in some Prototype gameplay to see how exciting it can be to pound your way through New York City proper. Yes, the superpowers you get are freakish, but who said that saving people was going to look pretty? And with the new protagonist out for revenge, here’s hoping we can more brutal kills this time around.

The Last Guardian

Release Date: TBA Q4 2011

When game industry know-it-alls defend gaming as an art form, the name Fumito Ueda always comes up. His Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are widely regard as the best gaming has to offer, high water marks in terms of creativity and artistic impact, and The Last Guardian promises to expand on his body of work thematically, artistically and in terms of gameplay.

On a nuts and bolts level, The Last Guardian is a third-person perspective game that combines action-adventure and puzzle elements, and involves running, jumping, climbing and other moves that will be familiar to anyone who has played Ico or Colossus. These classic, well-worn gameplay elements are employed here as a means to tell the story of the boy and Trico, a huge beast the unnamed main character befriends. Trico’s name, in Japanese, can be taken to mean “prisoner,”  “baby bird” or a combination of “bird” and “cat.” The cooperation between Trico and the boy make up the bulk of the gameplay. Players will be tasked with feeding and caring for their new pet, basically nursing the “bird cat” back to health.

The interaction between the boy and Trico has been described by Ueda as a rock-paper-scissor style interplay, where sometimes Trico’s powers will be used to protect the boy and sometimes vice-versa. The ultimate goal, of course, is to foster an emotional connection between the player and his “pet.” This is pure speculation, but when Trico finally flies, I predict there won’t be a dry-eye in gaming land.

If the gameplay footage included in this game’s trailers is any indication, it will play like Ico meets Shadow of the Colossus, but a potential pitfall could come from the complication of syncronizing the actions of two characters at once. I’m expecting the story to be totally in place and emotionally affecting…but will it be fun? Time, as they say, will tell.

Defining Feature: Heart. Unless you truly have no feelings, this game will fill you with longing and make you cry.

LA Noire

Release Date: TBA Q2 2011

L.A. Noire, an open-world action game, takes place in “a perfectly re-created Los Angeles” of the late 1940s, with players tasked with solving a spate of murders. Players take on the role of Cole Phelps, a cop working his way up through the post-war LAPD. The gameplay centers on investigation over violence, with Phelps compiling detailed dossiers on suspects in murder cases. Obviously one of the most important skills a detective possesses is the ability to read people, to tell if a perp is telling the truth, and to persuade him or her through the interrogation process. To re-create the sometimes subtle interactions between cops and criminals, Team Bondi, the game’s developer, advanced the art of motion capture to the point that the game will give would-be detectives the ability to watch suspects for subtle clues. The process uses 32 separate cameras to record actors doing their parts, basically creating a 3D film of every second of action with enough detail to make it all plausible.

Cool tech, though, is totally worthless without a compelling story, which is another area in which this game shines. You can tell from the title alone that L.A. Noire is heavily influenced by the Noir films of the 30s and 40s, movies that played in the gray areas of the urban experience, heavy on moral relativism, barely suppressed violence and sexuality, drugs, corruption and Jazz. In other words, the kind of rich, haunted setting perfect for the unique Rockstar vision established in the Grand Theft Auto series, and, for that matter, Bully. In keeping with the source material, L.A. Noire will feature moody, chiaroscuro visuals, heavy on deep shadows (courtesy of Darksprint’s real-time global illumination technology) and a unique, muted color pallet that’s as visually interesting as the game’s subject matter.

The game was originally revealed way back in 2007, slated for a 2008 release, and all available evidence seems to indicate the long development time is an attempt to get it perfect. We can only hope this game delivers on its massive promise.

You obviously can’t judge an entire game based on a single video of gameplay footage, but this one really blows me away. Everything I’ve heard has raised my expectations very high. Let’s hope it lives up to them.

Defining Feature: Rockstar’s open-world mastery combined with 1940s film noir equals ultimate gaming win.


Release Date: TBA 2011

“Everything old is new again,” or as in the case of 2K’s 1960s-styled investigative shooter XCOM, everything old has been thrown out and rebuilt from the ground up to fit with the sensibilities of modern gamers. As someone who never played the original paranoia-driven strategy series, which is consistently listed among the greatest PC games ever, I wasn’t as taken aback when 2K officially unveiled its first-person RPG-shooter remake of the acclaimed franchise as many gamers were, but I can understand the reaction. However, 2K Marin has made it a point to assure fans of the original games that the game will put a heavy emphasis on strategy. So not only will players have multiple options in combat, but there will also be a variety of research options available, as well as mission types, all of which will help make each playthrough unique for each player. Style, strategic depth, and goopy alien life forms: what’s not to love?

Trying to please both hardcore fans of the original game, and newcomers to the franchise is a tricky proposition, fraught with danger. It can be done (Fallout 3), but it ain’t easy.

Defining Feature: Combining field research and character interaction to develop new ways to blast alien baddies to pieces.

inFamous 2

Release Date: TBA 2011

Much controversy erupted when it was revealed that the main character of inFamous, Cole McGrath, would sport a fully revamped and changed look in the sequel. Sucker Punch relented to the fans’ outcry and ended up incorporating elements of the “old” Cole into “new” Cole’s design. So far, there have been little complaints about the rest of the content of inFamous 2.

It takes place in different city, New Marais, a New Orleans-inspired metropolis beset by The Beast, a terrible new enemy.  Cole and his friend Zeke flee to New Marais and prepare for Cole’s encounter with The Beast while battling The Militia, a shadowy group led by a man named Bertrand. The Militia has taken over New Marais in an attempt to keep all superpowered or abnormal things away. Cole will combat the Militia, explore New Marais, and learn about himself, Kessler, and The First Sons along the way while gaining new abilities to confront the Beast.

InFamous 2 will feature improved cut-scenes, more believable reactions from New Marais residents, more destructible environment elements, and a new suite of powers for Cole. Along with the electrical abilities we’ve come to love from the first game, McGrath will be able to harness the power of Ice for a new suite of frozen-water powers.

The ethical system is back in inFamous 2, and this time will be even more robust, with Cole’s decisions affecting the entire city he lives in very important ways. Speaking of morality, if you meticulously played inFamous as either good or bad, there will be some effect on your character/environment in inFamous 2, although how this will work hasn’t been revealed.

Sometimes, “more of the same” is the best thing in the world, and that’s what you should expect to get from inFamous 2 — if you liked inFamous, you’ll almost certainly like this sequel.

Defining Feature: Free-roam super-heroics and electricity attacks.

Batman: Arkham City

Release Date: TBA Q3 2011

Like its predecessor, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman Arkham City is an action game that incorporates elements of stealth, and a variety of The Dark Knight’s famous gadgets and deadly gimcracks. Also returning, a full stable of Batman’s notorious villains. So far, The Joker, The Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Harley Quinn, Talia al Ghul, Two-Face and Calendar Man are all expected to show up to bedevil Bats.

Arkham City refers to a section of Gotham which newly elected mayor Quincy Sharp has ordained as “no man’s land.” Sharp takes all the citiy’s various criminals and locks them in a slum, with no supervision. The rest of Gotham is kept safe by armed guards who patrol the perimeter. When Two-Face brings Catwoman into Arkham City with the intention of murdering her, Batman is forced to swing into action, save the day and crack some skulls along the way.

If all of that sounds dark to you, you’re on the right track. Arkham Asylum promises to up the bleakness and blackness of Batman’s universe in ways we can’t wait to experience. Tonally, the game has been compared to the animated, straight to DVD film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, a notoriously dark entry in the Batman canon.

Gameplay wise, AC seems to be following the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” with stealth and investigation taking the forefront. Although there is one notable improvement planned from the first game.  “Detective Mode” has been changed, and will now be more of an “augmented reality mode,” (in the words of Rocksteady art director David Hugo) which will work slightly differently, in that players won’t be able to just leave it on and complete the game without experieing “normal vision.”

Another big difference from Batman: Akham Asylum, there will be come kind of multiplayer in the game. It hasn’t been revealed if this is co-op gameplay or competitive, however.

Along with new abilities for old devices, Arkham City will feature new gadgets, including smoke bombs which Batman can use and sneak away in the confusion, and a broadcast tracer used to track signals to their source.

Like inFamous 2, this seems like more of a refinement than a bold new direction for the series, so your opinion will most likely depend on how much you liked the original Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Defining Feature: Batman, the most badass of all super-heroes, returns.

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Release Date: TBA 2011

Skyward Sword finds Link in Skyloft, a group of islands floating above the clouds. He discovers the Skyward Sword of the title, which leads him to a previously unknown land ruled by evil forces. Link will travel between the two worlds using the sword, and adventure will no doubt ensue.

Since Ocarina of Time, Zelda games have been the comfort food of video games, dependable, nutritious, and never all that spicy. It looks like the next installment of the franchise will continue the trend, with its cartoonish graphics and combination of overland, outdoor exploration and dungeon crawling, but there is one, potentially huge innovation: Motion control. While the last Zelda game allowed use of the Wiimote, it wasn’t really built for Nintendo’s flagship machine, and the controls felt tacked on. This new Zelda promises from-the-ground-up, one-to-one motion controls, allowing Link to weild his sword, pluck his bow and throw his boomerang with a true-to-life feel. He’ll also be swinging a whip and have a mechanical beetle as a helper.

You know what to expect from a Zelda game, almost beat-by-beat. The only wild card here is the motion control, a seemingly simple addition to the series, that could easily sink the experience. Judging from the demo video, it looks fairly easy to fight in the game, but imagine swinging your arms around for the 20-plus hours it will take to finish this one. Once a game makes you physically tired,  how many clay pots will you break before you play something else?

Defining Feature: Link’s adventures will be enlivened by full, one-to-one motion control.

Alice: Madness Returns

Release Date: TBA 2011

It’s been more than a decade since American McGee’s Alice hit PCs and redefined both Alice in Wonderland and what gamers can expect from an action-adventure title.  The sequel will have new arrows is its psychological quiver. McGee will be able to expand on his vision with the graphical power and brute force of current gen consoles, and expand Alice’s internal world to heretofore unknown levels.

Madness Returns takes place eleven years after the events of Alice — exactly as long as the lag between the two games — and finds the titular character released from the Asylum and under the care of a psychiatrist in London. Alice is still traumatized by the death of her family, and is suffering from hallucinations (?) that embody her internal pain. She returns to Wonderland seeking solace from her real-life problems, but finds that the imaginary realm itself is in danger. She must fight to save the residents of Wonderland from a great and terrible evil.

According to visionary McGee, Alice Returns will focus on these things: Really good story, solid third-person platforming gameplay, adventure, action, exploration and puzzle solving, all presented in a context that explores and demonstrates the process of going mad in great, glossy detail. Want.

The idea of this game is amazing, as is the pedigree of its creator, but translating those ideas into compelling gameplay, especially in a game that’s basically a platformer, will be tricky. Gaming has grown a lot in the last ten years; let’s hope Alice has too.

Defining Feature: Re-mixing Lewis Carroll’s classic tale into a dark psychological journey is guaranteed to bring us gothy joy.

Bioshock: Infinite

Release Date: TBA 2012

Judging from the video footage released and the history of the franchise, Infinite is looking more like a step forward for the entire art form and less like “just” a fantastic game. Ken Levine, the creator of the original Bioshock, returns to the franchise with this just-barely-a-sequel. The game takes place in the city of Columbia, which floats in the sky  as opposed to being sunken beneath the sea like Bioshock 1 and 2′s Rapture.

Set in 1912, during the tumultuous beginning of both the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of the United States as a world super-power, Infinite puts you in the skin  of Booker DeWitt, a disgraced former member of the famous Pinkerton detectives. You’ll fight through the various levels of Columbia’s steampunk-style failed-Utopia, with your sidekick, a psychic named Elizabeth, battling the crazed residents of the city, and the kind of over-sized, steampunk robots you’d expect from a Bioshock game. Bioshock‘s tonics and plasmids have been replaced by vigors and nostrums, and the game will feature a system of rails allowing travel through the air, which are described as “roller coasters on top of roller coasters on top of roller coasters,” so the trappings have changed, but Levine is adamant that this is truly a Bioshock game.

The surface similarities are on display: The atmospheric immersion, the combat that uses a combination of super-powers and bullets, but perhaps more importantly, Infinite retains the most unique aspect of the Bioshock universe: Use of a game as a serious means of examining philosophical and political issues. Where Bioshock is a critique of Randian  laissez faireCapitalism, Infinite’s emerging themes include commentary on dawn of the Industrial revolution, the rise of  American exceptionalism, xenophobia, and  jingoism leading to mass horror. Plus, you use mind bullets to fight gigantic, steam-powered robots.

The only thing that’s not awesome about Bioshock: Infinite is the release date. It’s not set to hit consoles until 2012. That’s a long way out, so it’s hard to tell how close the finished game will look to the first gameplay footage released, but the video looks highly choreograhed, full of set pieces and what almost look like cut-scenes, so it’ll be interesting to see whether the gameplay feels as scripted.

Defining Feature: Epic fever visions from Ken Levine, a true gaming genius.

Honorable Mentions: We’re really looking forward to the following games, but there isn’t enough hard information to really tell you much: The Agent (Rockstar’s examination of Cold War espionage),  Max Payne 3, promises an older, more mature titular character, and Grand Theft Auto 5 – which was not announced, but we’re sure it’s in the works.




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BioShock Infinite Cover Story

Posted on November 27, 2010

Our subscribers originally saw this story when it appeared in issue 210 of Game
Informer, but now our online readers can get check out the full text of the article.

Out Of The Sea, Into The Clouds
A young girl named Elizabeth was whisked away to a faraway city and locked up in
a tower. Confined to a single room, a hulking beast guarded her for 15 years until
a brave man came to her rescue.

This premise sounds like a fairy tale populated by idyllic characters and unambiguous
intentions, but it serves as the narrative core for the next BioShock – and
the situation is more complex than it seems. The minds responsible for Rapture’s
flooded corridors, Andrew Ryan’s twisted ideals, and the Big Daddies’
fatherly instincts wouldn’t be content to tell a simple fairy tale. With BioShock
Infinite, Irrational Games returns to the series it created, leaving the ocean behind
and turning its gaze toward the sky.

Elizabeth isn’t a typical damsel in distress; she has latent, dangerous special
abilities that are slowly awakening. The faraway city where she is kept is called
Columbia, a world-famous floating metropolis and one-time testament to America’s
power and industry. While the hulking beast is Elizabeth’s jailor, it is also
the only friend she has known during her long years of captivity. And the brave
man who saves her – that’s where you come in.

Starting Over
The city of Rapture defined the identity of the BioShock series when Irrational
Games released the original title in 2007. The ruined underwater utopia was more
than just a collection of tunnels and rooms for players to shoot splicers –
it became another character in the story with its own dark secrets. Given the popularity
of the setting, gamers weren’t surprised to learn that the sequel (developed
by 2K Marin) returned to Rapture. The art deco paradise and its iconic denizens
– Big Daddies and Little Sisters – seemed to be inextricable aspects
of the BioShock brand.

You won’t see any of them in BioShock Infinite.

“When we started working on this game, we decided that even though it’s
a BioShock game, there are no sacred cows,” says Irrational’s president
and creative director Ken Levine. In other words, everything gamers associate with
BioShock was up for assessment. This process began shortly after the first game’s
release, and resulted in a comprehensive look at its strengths and weaknesses.

“If you’re not the most critical person of your own stuff, you can’t
progress as a game developer,” Levine says. “For us, we have this game
that gets great reviews, and this great Metacritic average. But, it’s not
about continuing what we did. It’s about saying, ‘Where are the opportunities?’”

For Irrational Games, finding opportunities isn’t simply about adding a few
new weapons and characters. Three years after the project’s inception, the
Boston-based studio has a brand new game engine, a visually stunning setting, a
multifaceted story, and deeper gameplay – all while retaining the core of
the BioShock experience.

“For us, BioShock has never been about a city,” Levine says. “It’s
been about an idea. It’s about going to a place that’s mysterious and
strange and learning about that place and the powers you can use. It’s about
how you interact with that environment, how you interact with those characters.”

Even without the trappings of Rapture, fans will still see thematic and gameplay
connections to the previous two games; this is still BioShock, but any lingering
homesickness you may have for Andrew Ryan’s failed experiment will fall away
the second you lay eyes on Columbia.


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Bioshock Infinite preview: cheery, sunny, and unsettling

Posted on October 17, 2010

My first glimpse of Columbia, the floating city where Irrational have set their follow-up to BioShock, is of a sneering caricature of a Mexican face, reminiscent of racist US propaganda from the turn of the last century. Then the camera pans to a similarly twisted Asian face. Finally, it pulls back to reveal that we’re looking at a mural of a heroic George Washington, chin up, perfectly lit, surrounded by these sketchily drawn foreigners. Below it, the words ‘It Is Our Holy Duty to Guard Against The Foreign Hordes.’

Columbia is more than just a city: it’s a floating World’s Fair, travelling from country to country on vast hot-air balloons, a shining example of American endeavour. Beautiful colonial buildings hang in the void, tethered to each other by travel rails, parting clouds as they glide. It looks peaceful, but it’s a façade. Following an unexplained international incident, Columbia’s true nature is revealed. As Irrational’s creative director Ken Levine puts it: “it’s a DeathStar.” Columbia disappears up into the sky, and becomes a twisted symbol of what it once was. Years pass, countries fear its arrival, but it remains hidden from public view. Like Rapture, the ocean-floor hugging art-deco neighbourhood from the original BioShock, Columbia is another city cut off from the world, a place where an idea has festered, infecting the population. Here, American exceptionalism has twisted into evangelical xenophobia.

Mr Saltonstall, about to hook onto a travel rail.

It is 1912, years after the city vanished above the clouds. You’re Booker DeWitt, a disgraced former Pinkerton Agent (19th century detectives and skull crushers). He’s been asked to find a missing woman, Elizabeth. She’s in the sky. She’s on Columbia.

Same but different

At the game’s announcement event in New York, I asked Ken Levine how all this fits into an Ayn Randian world of Big Daddies, crushing fathoms of water and notions of free will? How can this possibly be the same universe that the original BioShock was set in?

“There are two things we think are essential to a BioShock game,” he said. ‘Put away all the things with Splicers and Little Sisters and all these… they’re important, and in Rapture they were important to BioShock, but they weren’t the centre. The centre was being in a world that is amazing and weird and strange and fantastical, but also grounded in the human experience and believable, and then exploring that world.

“The second thing is having a huge suite of tools and a huge range of problems coming at you, and you determining how to deal with these problems with your set of tools. To make a game and have those things – and we weren’t done with those ideas – and to put it in another city and not have it be a BioShock game would not be, I think, really honest.

OK, OK, it was the wrong time to ask you out.

“It is a BioShock game. BioShock has never been about Rapture, it’s been about those two core ideas.”

So while there are plasmid-like powers and metallic, groaning beasties to fight, Infinite is looking like a clean slate on which to write ‘fuck everyone’ over and over and over again.

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Ken Levine: BioShock Infinite Is Not About The Tea Party

Posted on October 01, 2010

As they’ve watched the BioShock Infinite gameplay video and read our cover story, many readers have noticed that the powers that be in Columbia have more than a few things in common with the uglier side of the Tea Party movement. We asked Irrational Games creative director Ken Levine about this in our special edition podcast, and he took the opportunity to set the record straight. BioShock Infinite is in no way intended to be a direct commentary on the current political climate.

“We get a lot of questions about this, and [it was] last thing that was on our minds – especially because when we started looking at these issues it was prior to some of the current political scenarios that you see,” he said. “I have no interest, and the team has no interest in masquerading a current political situation in our game as a way to comment on the current political situation. I think it dates what you’re doing, and if you’re dealing with something that’s very temporal and very current – pulled from the headlines – it’s not something that’s going to last. It’s not something people are going to look back on in 10 or 20 years and find any interest in. You need to deal with more timeless issues.

“I think if you look at the issues that we’re dealing with in BioShock Infinite, you’re seeing reflections of them now but that’s just because they are timeless. They come up over and over again – issues of nationalism, and issues of xenophobia, and issues of what is the role of government, and what is the role of individuals within the government. These are things that have come about over and over again though history because they’re the important tensions.”

So there you have it. Irrational Games is leaving the political punditry to the rest of the media.

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BioShock Infinite: Finding An Art Style

Posted on September 21, 2010

It only takes a brief glimpse at BioShock Infinite to realize that the city of Columbia has a different style from the underwater corridors of Rapture. We talked to the team at Irrational Games about the process of establishing and evolving a distinct visual identity for this ambitious new world.

Check out the video below to hear Irrational’s approach to finding the right look for Columbia.

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BioShock Infinite Gameplay Footage Available on the Xbox Live Marketplace, New Screens Released

Posted on September 21, 2010

The gameplay demo we saw in New York last month for Irrational’s upcoming return to the world of BioShock is now available for your viewing pleasure on your Xbox 360.

The nine minute gameplay demo of BioShock Infinite takes players through the sky-high streets of Columbia, showcases some of the abilities the main protagonist Booker DeWitt and the mysterious Elizabeth can utilize in tandem, and a screaming, flying horse. (You’ll understand what we mean when you see it.)

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Irrational Games Outlines 'Ten Things You Should Know' about BioShock Infinite

Posted on September 20, 2010

Over the last week and a half, Irrational Games’ latest employee–and former Shack editor–Chris Remo has been outlining ten things gamers should know about Irrational’s upcoming BioShock Infinite.

The slow trickle of details from Irrational concludes tomorrow, when the developer will finally reveal the first gameplay demonstration of the sky-high adventure.

BioShock Infinite

The “Top Ten” list covers a lot of what we learned when we saw the game in New York and in interviews with Irrational’s

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BioShock Infinite Demo Footage Goes Live Online Today

Posted on September 20, 2010

Our BioShock Infinite cover story has made big waves with gamers, thanks both to the amazing cover art and the fact that the game itself looks stunning. For a 24-hour-period starting at 9AM Pacific, you can get a glimpse of the BioShock Infinite demo that debuted at Game Informer’s PAX panel. For today only, the video will be available on Xbox Live and

If you don’t catch it today, you can wait until this Wednesday, September 22, when the video will be put up on and distributed to the Internet. Trust us, you are going to want to see this, it’s amazing.

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Meet The Guys At Irrational

Posted on September 17, 2010

If you think Bioshock was a fun game to play, imagine how cool it would be to work with the guys who made it. The team at Irrational is a bunch of lovable goofballs and we flipped on the camera just to see what we’d get as we wandered the office. Whether it’s jokes about Richard Dreyfus or silly stories from the balcony, the Bioshock Infinite team never seems to take themselves too seriously. We’re ending this week with a fun, light-hearted look inside the studio and we’ll be back next week with even more exclusives.

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Irrational Musings: BioShock Infinite In Their Words

Posted on September 17, 2010

Our latest cover story is packed with details about BioShock Infinite, but even 12 pages isn’t enough space to fit all of the cool observations and insights from the team at Irrational Games. During our visit to Boston-based studio, we heard plenty of interesting comments pertaining to many facets of BioShock Infinite, but we just couldn’t print them all. Now, we bring you a veritable highlight reel of quotes from key staff members that will shed a little more light on how the team is approaching this phenomenal-looking game.

On Previous Games:

“This is not a game about history, in the same way that BioShock 1 was not a game about history. But it’s set in the context of history.”
– Ken Levine

“We started from scratch and said ‘what was one of the challenges of BioShock?’ For one, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  Everything was a tight corridor. You were only facing one or two enemies. In this engine, you can fight 15 or 16 enemies at once in spaces of huge scale at high speeds.”
– Ken Levine

“On the story side, one of the criticisms from System Shock 2 to BioShock to BioShock 2 is that whenever you encounter somebody, they’re behind a piece of glass.  I invented that trick back in 1999. We’ve gotten rich and fat off of that trick, and we decided, ‘no more of that trick.'”
–Ken Levine

Creative director Ken Levine

Go to Source (Game Informer)

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