Columbia soars over Rapture as Irrational Games announce BioShock Infinite

If you heard that Irrational Games were returning to the BioShock franchise with their new game, you may be a little disappointed that they’re not moving on to new projects. However if I told you that BioShock Infinite looks absolutely nothing like the past two entries in the franchise, you might pick up your spirits a bit. Well do so, because we’re not in Rapture anymore. No, those dark, dank corridors are gone; welcome to Columbia, with bright skies and beautiful buildings. Oh, and it flies too.

The debut trailer above shrouds you in mystery, with a whole bunch of snippets that will undoubtedly be analyzed by excited fans. The press release for the announcement has already answered a few initial questions however. Former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt is sent to the flying city of Columbia, a technical marvel that was designed as a symbol of American ideals as they emerge as a world power in 1912. However, just like Rapture before it, the city soon descends into chaos as it diverts from its course and becomes lost.

DeWitt is there to rescue Elizabeth, a girl who has been imprisoned in the city since childhood. Over the course of the game, you’ll grow a relationship with her that lets you take advantage of her powers along with your own. These powers aren’t exactly called plasmids though; in fact the only link to the first two games we can really see is a mysterious Big Daddy-like figure along with the reference at the start.

Ken Levine, creative director at Irrational also revealed some tidbits of info about the tech behind their new game: “In order to explore the floating city of Columbia, we needed an entirely new engine. To bring Elizabeth to life, we had to build brand-new animation and AI systems. To create wide-ranging indoor and outdoor fire fights at 30,000 feet, we had to rethink, rebuild and expand the BioShock arsenal.”

BioShock Infinite is a far way off though; Irrational are aiming for a 2012 release on PS3, 360, and PC. We can’t wait to find out more.