BioShock 2 was great and all, but if you couldn't help but feel a sense of deja vu surge through your synapses as you electrocuted an unsuspecting splicer in a pool of water yet again, you weren't alone. Enter BioShock: Infinite. It's the next game from BioShock creator Ken Levine (who, as a matter of fact, was not involved with BioShock 2's development), and as far as we can tell, it's BioShock in name only.
See, Rapture's completely out of the picture. In fact, Infinite's location is more or less the opposite of Rapture, floating atop the clouds instead of sinking to the bottom of the sea. Columbia, as it's known, is a steampunky testament to early 1900's American ingenuity – bright and optimistic as opposed to Rapture's thick fog of foreboding. However, all is not well. You play as an ex-detective named Booker DeWitt, who's snooping around Columbia in search of a psychic woman named Elizabeth. As previous Ken Levine games have taught us, however, don't expect things to remain that simple.
As for how the game itself works, here's the gist, straight from game design legend's mouth:
“When designing BioShock Infinite, we thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great if you walked into a room in this game and you didn’t necessarily know the dispositions of the people in it? Are they going to sit there? Are they going to attack you? What might set them off?’ We really wanted to have a notion that not everyone in the city was automatically hostile towards you. Instead it has more of that 'Wild West' feel where you walk into a bar with your hand on your pistol and you’re not sure what’s going to happen to you,” said Ken Levine.
Elizabeth will also function as your constant companion – the psychic, intelligent, actually useful Robin to your Batman. The game will also feature the return of “Daddy”-like enemies, hulking monster men who want nothing more than to escort you off the premises – which, in this case, means a thousand foot freefall.
Sound interesting? Well then, why not see it for yourself? Here's the first trailer. Real gameplay footage, meanwhile, is still a few weeks out, according to Levine and co. Here's hoping our crippling fear of heights doesn't keep us from enjoying it. Now then, we're off to spend two hours slowly working our way up one staircase, frequently pausing to cry and pray to the heavens for safe passage.
Fantastic news, everyone! 2K Marin’s bringing back a certain classic turn-based strategy franchise that’s been out of action since before it became uncool to have “2K,” 2000, or some variation of that in your company’s name. That’s right: XCOM’s coming out of retirement with guns a blazing. Like, literally. It’s going to be a first-person shooter.
“XCOM is the re-imagining of the classic tale of humanity’s struggle against an unknown enemy that puts players directly into the shoes of an FBI agent tasked with identifying and eliminating the growing threat. True to the roots of the franchise, players will be placed in charge of overcoming high-stake odds through risky strategic gambits coupled with heart-stopping combat experiences that pit human ingenuity – and frailty – against a foe beyond comprehension,” reads the game’s website.
“By setting the game in a first-person perspective, players will be able to feel the tension and fear that comes with combating a faceless enemy that is violently probing and plotting its way into our world.”
Before you plan out a meticulous strategy involving pitchforks and torches, though, remember who we’re dealing with here. 2K Marin met and – in some ways – exceeded expectations with BioShock 2. It won’t quite be XCOM like you remember it, but just because you’ll probably spend more time outgunning aliens and less time outwitting them doesn’t mean it’ll be a bad game. Here’s hoping we hear more soon.
So let’s say, hypothetically, that you’ve been living under a rock for the past year. We imagine you’re curious as to what’s happened ever since you decided to go on your vision quest or whatever. Well, here’s the long and short of it: not much. Oh, except one extremely crucial thing! Borderlands came out. And it was awesome.
We’re sorry. You must feel terribly out of the loop now. But don’t worry! Because this weekend, Borderlands and its 75 bazillion guns are on sale for a mere $24.99. Or, if you’ve got a few friends who’ve been in comas or something of the like, the Borderlands four-pack’s price has also been slashed – right down to a slim, trim $74.98.
The sale runs until 10 AM PDT on Monday. And what else are you going to do this weekend? Gorge yourself on chocolate rabbits? Spend time with your family? Does your family have 75 bazillion guns? Yeah. Didn’t think so.
We’ve heard many adjectives used to describe DLC. This, however, we think is a first. “Aggressive” DLC doesn’t sound like something we’d purchase, so much as we’d restrain it by luring it onto our PCs using money as bait. Then, with its fury temporarily caged, we’d try with all our might to beat the content before it could burst free from our hard drives and swallow us whole.
We don’t think that’s quite what 2K has in mind, however.
“2K Games announced today an aggressive post-launch downloadable content plan for BioShock 2 that extends and enhances the single and multiplayer experiences by adding more glimpses into the award-winning world of Rapture,” said the publisher in a press release.
Coming down the Bathysphere first is the Sinclair Solutions Test Pack, which brings a number of improvements to the multiplayer side of BioShock 2. These include new weapon upgrades, a rank increase to 50, new playable characters, five additional masks, And More ™! It’ll run you 400 Microsoft Points, or $4.99, and is launching in March.
Honestly, though, we’re more interested in the forthcoming single-player DLC, which promises “more narrative, new tools and new challenges that extend the lore and fiction of the failed Utopia under the sea.”
Still, though, a little something for everyone is better than nothing for no one, right? Regardless, it looks like BioShock 2 is here to say, and that’s a-okay with us.
There’s always a catch. Rapture was an underwater utopia, created as a permanent getaway for the world’s brightest minds… but, the place quickly degenerated into a brainpower-bolstered battleground. Which is good for us, as it means BioShock 2’s packing a fairly robust multiplayer mode. But, again, there’s a catch: no LAN or dedicated servers.
“There is always a finite amount of time for the development of a game. Bringing Multiplayer to BioShock was a daunting task between the tech (there was no multiplayer support in the codebase from the first game) and the expectations of the community. Either you try to do everything and so nothing feels finished or you focus your efforts to do a smaller number of things really well like an accessible online experience. We chose to spend the time we had creating a solid game foundation and unfortunately that did not include LAN play or dedicated servers,” says an FAQ on BioShock 2’s official site.
Instead, a matchmaking system’s been put in place to decide who stuffs whom in Davy Jones’ locker. Of course, private matches and parties will be an option for those who’d rather not entrust their fates to the whims of a jumble of ones and zeroes.
Still though, with Modern Warfare 2, RAGE, and now BioShock 2, things aren’t really looking up for dedicated servers. But screw those guys. We’re going to make our own underwater utopia where every game supports dedicated servers and LAN. And also, we’ll install about 50 vending machines that sell guns for a nominal fee throughout the compound. There’s no conceivable way that this plan could possibly go wrong!
If you visit this site, odds are, you’re a power user. You’ve listened to your mother/sister/grandmother drone on about their progress in Sorority Life II: Vampire Farmville or whatever it’s called, but you were too busy thinking about real games to care. Real games like Sid Meier’s Civilization… which is coming to Facebook in 2010.
“I wanted to let you know we’ll soon be looking for beta testers to help us develop a unique new way to play Civilization. Ever since we finished Civilization Revolution last year, I’ve been looking at ways of expanding the Civ gameplay experience to include solo, competitive and cooperative play to take advantage of the uniqueness of social networks. We’re calling this project Civilization Network and the full game will be available next year on Facebook,” said series creator Sid Meier.
The sure-to-be horrendously addictive game will allow players to join hands or cross swords en route to establishing the ultimate civilization. Nothing’s off-limits here – not even the vilest, most underhanded form of warfare ever conceived: Facebook notification spam.
Blech. Thank goodness for Twitter. Oh, hey ImaReeLGuRL24576, how are you today?
Ken Levine's latest dive 'n' demolish may have sold a gajillion of its umpteen-rapscillion units on consoles, but the brainy developer's true colors show right through his newfound wall of green. So, though it may be irrational, Levine is a PC man through and through.
"I wish the industry could find a way to make PC gaming more broadly successful. There are so many challenges for PC gaming--the complications from systems specifications to the drivers--most people look at PC games and say, 'What are you talking about?'" Levine replied when asked about his opinion on the industry's "biggest mistake."
"It's a shame because as a gamer, I am never more comfortable than I am sitting with a mouse and keyboard two inches away from my monitor."
Seems like a bunch of developers echo that sentiment -- which is great -- but can anyone other than Valve and Blizzard actually do something about it? What's your take?
Back when the PlayStation 3 launched in November of 2006, PC Gamer magazine tempted the gamers waiting in front of the Sony Metreon in San Francisco (the official PS3 North American launch headquarters) with a Faustian bargain (look it up). Our sister publication offered to give away a $7,500 Falcon Northwest gaming PC to one of the campers if they willingly relinquished their place in line. The catch: the unfaithful console fanboy who accepted the PC would also have to sign a legally binding contract preventing him from owning a PlayStation 3 for three years – an eternity in game industry time.
The (in our opinion) lucky gamer who volunteered to defect to PC gaming was one Neal Chung-Lee, a local student had at that point been waiting in line for several days to be the one of the first people to own a PS3. But after selling his console-loving soul to PC gaming (and making the front page of Digg), Neal fell off of our radar. That is, until we bumped into him this past week. And you’ll never guess where.
Read on to find out where we found Neal playing a PlayStation 3.