Game of the year?

Andrew Mullen
Arts & Entertainment Editor

BioShock finally hitting shelves and exciting gamers on March 26.

One of the most anticipated games of the spring season, “BioShock Infinite,” is set to release on March 26, and has the gaming world waiting with bated breath for what is bound to be one of the most well-received titles in history.
However, such high claim does not come easily.
This family of video games started in 1994 with what is now widely regarded to be a cult classic, “System Shock.” This title garnered some critical acclaim at its time, but fell off of the radar as other larger titles were released through the years. In 2007, the game was rebooted in the form of a spiritual successor, “BioShock.” This title took the gaming world by storm. The story line was fresh, new and inviting while simultaneously combining a mysterious and somewhat horrifying environment with critically acclaimed gameplay. The game introduced what are now iconic villains, heroes, images and gameplay elements such as Big Daddys, Little Sisters, Plasmids, the city of Rapture and the simple phrase “would you kindly?”
After receiving unbelievable and widely unexpected fame, the series went dormant for a few years at the rights to the title bounced back and forth between companies and men in suits. Eventually, in 2010, “BioShock 2” was released by 2K Marin and 2k China with help from Arkane Studios. Where the first installment of the series earned top marks and the highest awards, its predecessor only received average scores. Fans seemed to enjoy the gameplay more, but the story less, and wanted something more. “BioShock 2” was received well, but won no awards, especially not in the fashion of its big brother.
For three years, there have been whispers and rumors of what Irrational, the original producers, will do next with the series. Many fans called for a reboot, some cried sequel, while others wanted an entirely new direction and asked for a massively multiplayer online version of the franchise.
Irrational delivered by unveiling “BioShock Infinite,” which is set in the time before the other two games took place. The games are in the same world, but are not related in story.
The art style is relatively the same to the other two games in the series, offering vivid colors and breathtaking environments. This time around, the setting is not the underwater, crumbling metropolis of Rapture, but the sky-high government instated city called Columbia.
Columbia is quite literally sky-high, as it is mainly suspended by giant balloons or lifted by massive blimps. The style and decorum of the city can be described as steampunk, a term that references anything and everything sci-fi and steam powered. Think industrial revolution meets Victorian America, with a science-fiction twist. This allows for a huge array of different types of weapons, gear and what are known as vigors, potion-like drinks that instill the main character with magical abilities to aid in combat and subterfuge.
“Infinite” is shaping up to be focused heavily on the two main characters: the protagonist and player controlled Booker DeWitt and the mysterious Lamb of Columbia, Elizabeth. Booker is an ex-Pinkerton agent sent to retrieve this woman from Columbia who gets mixed up in the city’s civil war and political turmoil, resulting in a feud between warring factions through the city that all seek out Elizabeth for one reason or another. Elizabeth is portrayed, in the few brief trailers released, as being obscenely powerful, very independent and steeped in mystery. The plot seems to be fueled by the interaction between these two, and fanned by the fires of civil war. The action is fast paced and high-octane with many different enemy types, combatable by an even larger array of items, abilities and weapons available to Booker.
“BioShock Infinite” has already been delayed once, but seems to be right back on schedule. This game has been in production for a long time now, and is quickly shaping up to be a heavy hitter in this year’s games roster. There are already fans saying it will reach Game of the Year without even trying. Keep an eye out for the buzz on “Infinite,” because it has massive potential. Pick up a copy, would you kindly?