Ken Levine's been working on what he calls 'linear narratives' for 19 years, most recently in BioShock Infinite. In February, his studio Irrational closed and Levine left to start a new game with a smaller team, focusing on making something story-driven but replayable. At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on Friday, he gave a talk to explain what he means by that, and to lay out the basics of a system he thinks might be able to achieve it.
A lot happens in the opening moments of Burial at Sea: Episode 2. You'll meander through a Disneyfied version of Paris, one that's a garlic garland short of full stereotype; be threatened by Atlas back in the post-Episode 1 version of Rapture; and discuss pseudo-quantum science with an incorporeal Booker. As a concentrated dollop of Bioshock lore, it's alienating but also strangely liberating. Halfway through Infinite, we started to jump the infini-sharks, now the game is willing its players to give in and enjoy the view.
Ever since Irrational Games announced that its BioShock Infinite downloadable content would take place in Rapture, fans have speculated about how the worlds in the BioShock franchise could be connected. As we get ever closer to the release of Burial At Sea Episode 2, a new, very spoilery video starts to hint at answers—while showing off a whole host of returning characters from both Rapture and Columbia.
Seriously, spoilers ahead. You've been warned.
Has the desire for hats, hats, delicious TF2 hats diminished over the last few years, or is the public's interest in digital head-adornment as strong as ever? I ask because Valve and Irrational are adding BioShock clobber to Team Fortress 2, and- hey, don't all load up the game at once. You'll need to buy BioShock Infinite's season pass on Steam to gain access to it, which I believe comes with a few pieces of downloadable content in addition to a very small selection of hats. Full details here.
Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea - Episode 2 is an impressively long DLC name, to the point that it's almost a shame they didn't go all the way. Why not hark back to the heyday of ridiculously long PC expansions and call it Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea - Episode 2: Steampunk Boogaloo (This Time, It's Elizabeth)? I would happily step through into that alternate reality. Back in this one, though, Irrational have announced the release date for their second bit of BInfinite story DLC. Episode 2 will arrive on March 25th.
Before running away for a few days of making resolutions and breaking last year's, Evan, Cory, and Tyler gathered to talk about BioShock Infinite, and how they feel about it now that the buzzing excitement and debates have settled into a low hum. Watch the whole five-video series on the PC Gamer YouTube channel, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more regular content, gameplay footage, and conversations.
It's financial bragging time, when the industry's big publishers wave around their massive accounts, trying to outdo each other with displays of fiscal acuity. Or not, as the case has increasingly been this year. Still, thanks to Bioshock Infinite, Take-Two saw a strong fourth quarter, shipping 3.7 million units of the Irrational sequel, and enjoying first month sales which they say "significantly" outperformed any previous Bioshock game.
One of the sillier controversies of last year centred around the content of Bioshock Infinite's cover. It was more a mild consternation than white-hot internet outrage, but fans were still disappointed to find that one of the year's most anticipated games was choosing to display itself to the public using the same man and a gun design used by every game ever released. Probably.
In response, Irrational opened voting for a reversible cover - with a beautifully muted sketching of Songbird winning voters' blessing. And now they've also released a series of hi-res covers online, available for printing.
Have you finished it yet? Once you’re through puzzling over the game’s conclusion, you may well be thinking about where the promised story DLC will take you next. We’ve put together a short list of tweaks and twists we’d like to see - but we’re sure you have more and better ideas. Let us know in the comments. Of course, spoilers lie within.
It's over! We did it! Bioshock Infinite's launch is imminent, and according to Tom's review, it's a game you should be seriously excited about. But forget that, because something even more momentous has happened: Irrational have released their launch trailer. And that means we've survived the near-endless visual onslaught of promotional Bioshock Infinite videos that have bombarded us since the game's announcement.
Garry Schyman's career has spanned film and television but it's his work in and with videogames that has brought him his widest acclaim, delivering complex, rich soundscapes in a body of work as remarkable for its variety as its pedigree. From Front Mission Evolved to Destroy All Humans and, not least, the original BioShock and its sequel, his work is adaptable but unique and always recognisable. I asked Schyman, ahead of BioShock Infinite's release and amidst the hype-fever spreading web-wide, how he's seen his specific corner of the industry mature and why working with Irrational is the best gig in game music.
Worried that the download copies of BioShock Infinite will sell out, when it lands on the 26th of March? You might want to sit and think about that for a moment, or alternatively you could pre-order the game from Steam - you know, before you know whether it's any good or not. Your wallet may or may not thank you in the long run, but at least you'll get a bunch of free stuff, including the spin-off Industrial Revolution puzzle game, some in-game tat, and a copy of the original BioShock. If an unspecified number of other people put their money down as well, you'll also get a copy of XCOM and several TF2 items, but I don't see how anyone would be interested in those.
Irrational have announced the pre-order bonuses that eager Bioshock Infinite fans will receive on pre-ordering the game. The Industrial Revolution pack contains a selection of character buffs, extra cash and five lockpicks. As you may know, the industrial revolution was the thieviest of time periods. A trailer runs through the content, as well as provides more glimpses of the game's frenetic combat.
The evenings may finally be getting lighter, but the Frost Giants who rule this frigid land have yet to be driven back into the icy lairs. If this was the floating city of Columbia (as seen in the spectacular story-driven shooter Bioshock Infinite, this month's cover-star) we'd simply quaff the pyrokinetic vigor known as the Devil's Kiss and turn them into Puddle Giants instead. Alas, we must resort to the meagre compensation provided by thermal underwear and sneaky swigs from a hip flask while the editor isn't looking. But at least we can all settle down with the latest issue of PC Gamer and vicariously experience the blue skies and gruesome immolations of Bioshock Infinite through Tom Francis' gigantic hands-on feature.
A new selection of Bioshock Infinite screenshots have been released. You'll see some new environments, a glimpse of combat and the anticipatory thrill of a punching about to occur. Also, Elizabeth's got hold of a book. I don't know why I'm describing this stuff to you, because they're all embedded below.
Proving that people can get worked up about anything, the reveal of Bioshock Infinite's box art sparked apoplectic rage among fans. Speaking to Wired, Bioshock Infinite's creative director Ken Levine admitted he knew the cover would prove unpopular with gaming enthusiasts. "I understand that some of the fans are disappointed. We expected it. I know that may be hard to hear, but let me explain the thinking."
It will also be the most ambitious thing Irrational has ever done, according to Ken Levine, BioShock Infinite's creative director.
We sent two intrepid reporters to get the lowdown on Irrational's follow-up to BioShock, this time set aboard Columbia, a floating city inspired by ideas of American exceptionalism circa 1900. Both Tom F and Evan got to sit down and play the game for several hours, and then caught up with Levine for a lengthy chat afterwards - more of which you will be able to read in the January edition of the magazine. But we couldn't resist teasing you with Levine's comments to Tom about how the team reacted to criticism of BioShock's ending - specifically, how that game failed to evolve following its twist.
I spent about two and a half hours with BioShock: Infinite yesterday during a press event in Los Angeles. Infinite already feels like something really special, mostly on the merits of its presentation and creativity. Inside, I’ve expounded on five things I really liked.
Go read Tom’s spoiler-free preview for more thoughts on the same demo, and tune in tomorrow for a list of things I didn’t love.
I’ll get this bit of reassurance out of the way: Infinite runs perfectly. Our demo PCs were admittedly above average: an AMD FX-8120 (an octo-core CPU) and a single card in the AMD Radeon 7900 series (I didn't have time to verify which one), alongside 16GB RAM on Windows 7. With that considered, I didn't experience any hiccups, frame rate dips, no texture pop-in, or crashes.
Digging into the settings menu, here’s what was adjustable...
I've just played the first five hours of BioShock Infinite, and I've come away with the same dazed feeling I got after I first played Half-Life 2. It's a sensory overload: a relentless series of staggering sights, astonishing events, and more story and detail and mysteries than I could possibly absorb.
I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, but not this.