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Welcome to Columbia, a fantastic floating city designed as a symbol of American Exceptionalism and national pride. That was before the Boxer Rebellion, when the city fired on innocent people. Columbia has since been disavowed by America, and become a symbol of xenophobia and hatred, a flying bogeyman dreaded around the world.
Columbia is now being run by the Founders, a group of self-appointed rulers, nationalist and religious zealots bent on keeping Columbia 'pure'. But opposing them are the Vox Populi, a rag-tag resistance movement hoping to overthrow the Founders and restore all rights to all the citizens of Columbia.
Thrown into this turmoil, you take on the role of Booker Dewitt, a disgraced ex-Pinkerton agent taking on a job that will clear you of "old debts" and maybe restore your name and reputation. The job? Journey into Columbia, rescue a girl named Elizabeth from the tower she's been held in for 12 years and return her to New York. Bioshock Infinite is a game where your actions have consequences, and where your very presence in the city will cause it to erupt into chaos the choices you make in you mission will have long-lasting effects.
But who is Elizabeth and why has she been held captive for so long? This mysterious young girl is equal parts sweet, funny and even scary, possessing the ability to open rifts to alternate planes of existence when she sees 'tears' in the fabric of reality. These powers will come in handy as you fight your way out of the city, as she summons everything from ammo crates to health pick-ups into existence, making the environments and combat more flexible. Elizabeth can also fend off foes on her own, too!
Fans of previous Bioshock games will welcome a mix of new and returning gameplay features in Bioshock Infinite. Like the earlier games, this is a first-person experience where you will use a combination of weapons, gear and psychokinetic abilities. You'll still scavenge for supplies and audio diaries, and ingest tonics to achieve powers like spraying fire, zapping electricity, and turning enemies against each other.
But there are some exciting new elements on top of this. The combat is more dynamic than previous games, thanks to Columbia offering wider open spaces than the confines of Rapture. You can only hold two weapons at a time, causing you to think more tactically in the long-term, and more reactive in the heat of a firefight. Plus there will be new powers to uncover, and you'll be able to zip around the city thanks to the magnetic Skyhook, offering a rollercoaster-like experience and adding a new level to combat. Bioshock Infinite is also the first Bioshock game where your character speaks, helping to develop your relationship with Elizabeth.
Also making their debut in Bioshock Infinite are the Heavy Hitters, mini-bosses to defeat, and each representing the dark heart of the people running Columbia. The Handymen are robotic monsters with oversized hands like those of porcelain dolls – and human hearts and heads. The Motorized Patriots are supposed to be guides for the city, but instead reveal heavy weapons behind their George Washington appearance. The foppish Boys of Silence are blind, but have superhuman hearing and boast a terrible scream. And the Siren can revive defeated enemies during battle, making you have to choose who to focus your attack upon.
For the more hardcore gamers out there, Bioshock Infinite offers a tough but rewarding challenge – 1999 Mode. This old-school way of playing harkens back to a time where games had limited health and resources, and when decisions you made were permanent, and challenges you to play Bioshock Infinite this way. Do you think you have what it takes?
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