Talk about a (Bio)shock to the system -- Irrational Games, the studio responsible for the BioShock series, is officially closing up shop after close to two decades of game development. Co-founder Ken Levine delivered the sad news to the gaming community in a blog post today, saying he's at a point where he needs to refocus his energy on a smaller team with a more direct relationship with gamers.
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.
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?