Bioshock Infinite preview: cheery, sunny, and unsettling

Saltonstall's invective echoes through the floating city, and Booker turns to look for him, affording me a wider glimpse of Columbia in the process. The buildings move gently in the breeze, cutting through clouds. Below is the checkerboard pattern of fields – a long, long way below. I want Booker to spend more time admiring the view, so that I can take in the remarkable world of floating buildings, teetering on dirigibles, and all moving independently of each other. But Saltonstall's escape, while cowardly, was also tactical. He's retreated to a big god-damned cannon.

There's a distant crump, mixed in with Saltonstall's threats, and a flaming ball arcs over the serene view. It crashes down near DeWitt, who grabs a hook on a travel rail. He's taking the Eddie Izzard approach of fighting someone with a giant gun: head towards them. He's whizzed along the track through the floating city, dangling with one arm free. Another of Saltonstall's men heads towards him, hanging from another rail. DeWitt swings a wrench at him and whacks him off the rail. He ragdolls into a building and drops out of the city altogether.

I suspect a lot of people will die as victims of Columbia's sky-high locale, which Levine confirms. “Verticality and movement is much more important to us. The goal is more than little inspired by the original Halo where you're in these dungeony sequences and then you're out and moving at 60 miles per hour. We wanted that variety because it's cool and it's exciting, but also it adds a lot more to your toolset.”

Booker swoops through a Parisian floating archway and lands near Saltonstall. The crazed political preacher turns and fires again, but Booker escapes... into a nearby pub. Whereas everyone was against you in Rapture, things aren't so clear cut in Columbia. The pub patrons, seemingly oblivious to the concussive cannon shots outside, ignore Booker's presence at first, at least until more of Saltonstall's men arrive and attack. There are way more of them than you'd get attacking you in Rapture, but this is tempered by Booker being able to dualwield his powers and weapons. He plucks a shotgun from one attacker, cocks it and fires it mid-air before it even reaches his hands. When he does grab it, he can blast away while also firing electrical bolts and unleashing his murder of crows to make an escape. He emerges onto the street, and Saltonstall is waiting. With a gun.

Saltonstall fires, nearly point blank. Booker grabs the projectile out of the air with his telekinesis and fires it back, sprinting away without looking to see if Saltonstall survived.

Still fleeing, Booker is forced to duck behind a train of wooden trucks. He seems overwhelmed. I'm starting to wonder if the game is unbalanced, when Elizabeth, the woman Booker has been sent to rescue, appears.

She's been trapped on Columbia since her childhood. It's not explained why you're here to get her, but it's clear her powers are a factor. As Booker cowers behind the train, she creates a localised storm above his pursuers: the blue sky disappears and the day darkens. “Hit it,” she shouts and Booker zaps the cloud with a bolt of electricity, launching the 15 men into the air, scorching them all with a hairraising blast of crackly power.

Elizabeth is present in combat to provide a different way of fighting. She can use her powers to change the flow of a battle, although you'll be free to ignore her if you have a different plan.