Another World: BioShock Infinite vs Reality

By Alec Meer on June 24th, 2011 at 9:53 am.

But is it as nob as Revenge of the Sith?

Those of us who didn’t spend the best part of a week legging it around a giant convention centre earlier this month could only swoon at the resulting tall tales of BioShock: Infinite’s newly-announced reality-rift feature, known as Tears. Now we get our own crack in space-time to peer through, as Ken Levine talks about (and demonstrates) companion character Elizabeth’s ability to introduce elements from other realities into the player’s game-world.

The theory is that there are any number of alternate universes she can tap into, where Columbia is broadly similar but with tiny changes to paths and populace. The idea of choice here – that you could choose whether to bring over a new skyline or a door to get away, or a clutch of ‘friendly’ NPCs to help battle your current foe, or just something to hide behind – is pretty neat, and in the BioShock idiom of choosing and combat being closely aligned.

Also, a brief glimpse of what happens when Beth’s (do you think she minds if I call her Beth?) powers go a bit haywire and time as well as parallel reality is traversered…

Reality-bending – the new Little Sister harvesting/saving?

And there’s sooooooooo going to be a Rapture visit. An Easter Egg at the very least.

More details on BSI’s rifts and everything else in our E3 preview and interview.

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72 Comments »

  1. CaspianRoach says:

    Elizabeth has the pose of a default ragdoll in this picture.

  2. sonofsanta says:

    Hence the name Infinite, of course.

    This is the kind of mechanic that while very cool, will always disappoint me, because there will always be something else I’ve thought of that the designers haven’t and I’ll always be settling for whatever I’m allowed. I want my impossibly detailed procedurally-designed game content!

    • CaspianRoach says:

      Know what would make a great easter egg — Elizabeth opening a portal to your room. On that thought, I need to clean up around a little.

    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      So not really Infinite then? Three choices, you say? Maybe they could’ve put a three in the title somewhere…

    • Xercies says:

      @Caspian

      I was thinking that to, if you had a webcam it could take a picture and it would quickly model your room for you and as an easter egg you could see yourself as you see through one of these things. Of course that would put in loads of privacy violations.

    • Quinnbeast says:

      Bioshock: Infinit3? Thrinfinite?

      Sorry, a bit late to the party!

  3. kikito says:

    Can I enter that cinema and watch Revenge of the Jedi from inside the game?

  4. stahlwerk says:

    You know, the sounds and sights of reality shaking at the end of this clip are breathtaking.
    Take that, movies*.

    *) Edit: yes, I know there are still movies made that utilize the power of special effects to create incredible imagery and stories, but they’re few and far in between. Also, they don’t let me push ‘A’ at just the right time.

  5. Kominaut says:

    Oh science! You never fail to impress!

    • torchedEARTH says:

      Hmmm, a door to somewhere -ooooh! Some weapons, meh, a train or something, meh.

      Which one do we pick? The train thing. meh.

  6. The Dark One says:

    It reminds me of the alternate worlds in the Amber books. One group of beings can travel through different universes by focusing on little details and ‘changing’ them as they walk past, bit by bit, until they’re where they want to be. The other group can pull objects from nearby dimensions into theirs. In the second half of the series, the main character has inherited the mantle from both!!

    • Zenicetus says:

      I re-read that whole series recently. It still holds up pretty well after all these years, although my original take on it was reinforced: I still think the first half (the Corwin arc) was the better storyline. Maybe it’s just that I prefer swordplay to magic. I still tend to choose the name “Corwin” when I play sword-and-sorcery RPG’s.

      And yes, this game mechanic is a little like the Amber world, although that wasn’t quite parallel universes, more like reflections of the one true reality that could get weirder with distance. I worry that the way they’re doing Tears in this game will feel too much like a choice between random objects, but I’m trying to keep an open mind.

    • d32 says:

      I’m still hoping for a _good_ game based (or at least loosely based) on these books. ZAngband didn’t work for me.

  7. markcocjin says:

    This is just some pseudo-intellectual excuse to spawn stuff into the game and to give the girl with popping boobs an excuse to be important.

    The thing with even the first Bioshock is, if you take all those themes away, they’re just shooters with fancy ways to shoot. The game itself can be separated from its theme and you’ll find nothing new.

    I played and finished Bioshock and found the great parts to be moments where you listen to narrative or witness it while contained in some chamber. They’re intermissions short of actual cut scenes. Playing the game was a matter of switching weapons. Upgrading and repairing weapons. Leveling up with more built-in weapons.

    Bioshock Infinite will probably be as good a game as the first one. The first one is just not as bar raising as people thought it was.

    • godgoo says:

      a somewhat reductive argument isn’t it? a bit like saying assassin’s creed is just a platformer.

    • noom says:

      This is just some pseudo-intellectual excuse to spawn stuff into the game and to give the girl with popping boobs an excuse to be important.

      What exactly is your point there? I’d call that creative license.

    • MajorManiac says:

      To me, the best thing about the Bioshock games is how direct attack is usually suicide. Like Deus Ex the need to observe an area before attacking it, and then coming up with a plan, is often key to success.

      That and just hastily improvising when things go wrong. Few games get this balance right and I think that is why they are special.

    • viverravid says:

      I think he does have a point, which is that these “Tear” events are all going to have to be hand made little scripted thingies tied to a particular location. If Infinite is relying on things like this, it maybe isn’t going to have so much of the emergent fun that System Shock and (to a lesser extent) Bioshock had – where the designers just set up a bunch of interesting game systems and let the player and AI mix and match.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      Those there is Quantum Boobs, as predicted by the Many Boobs Hypothesis.

    • Veracity says:

      I reflexively flinch from “pseudo-intellectual” because it seems to be bandied about so much and mean so little. I’d go along, though, with the idea that multiple reality hopping and warping is bottom-of-the-barrel science as magic schlock that it’s disingenuous to aggrandize by name-dropping a few scientists everyone’s heard of because of some not really related later guff about a cat in a box.

      Also somewhat share the concern that tears inevitably mean a move away from simulation into scripted fairground ride shenanigans. Then again, a bit more resignation to linearity might be sensible for the games Levine & Co are trying to make.

    • dskzero says:

      If “you take those themes away” of course you will have a regular fancy FPS. That’s what it is. The “themes” are what makes it interesting.

      On a related note, I suppose these tears will be scripted events, but at least they offer you different choices. After all, it worked on Bioshock, right?

  8. MuscleHorse says:

    The shape of her body is embarrassing. One day, in the far, far future, I like to think I’ll be able to play a game in front of my partner without feeling ashamed about the ridiculous representation of women. The one game I can think of where women are on an equal footing with men is Thief 2, which was a while back.

    • Urthman says:

      where women are on an equal footing with men

      Far Cry 2 fits that description as well.

    • PatrickSwayze says:

      You sound embarrassed to be a man. It’s okay to notice boobs.

    • Muzman says:

      I agree with the sentiment but she is wearing a fairly period accurate ‘spleen crusher’ corset though (well about ten years out of date, like Columbia itself from what I gather)

    • metalangel says:

      Has she actually said anything or are you being embarrassed on behalf of your partner?
      Mine just comes in, sees a female character and either says, “ooh, I want to be HER!” or “pffft, slut.”
      I’ve yet to work out the bust size/scantiness of clothing/pout factor that determines which of the two labels is chosen for each character.

    • MajorManiac says:

      Yes I find the direction they have gone in a little weird.

      Vulnerable and cute, fine. That brings out protective feelings. But why also make her over-sexualised?

      Being in my early 30s my personal preference for a large on-display chest would be on a more mature lady.

    • hello_mr.Trout says:

      portal?
      mirrors edge? (maybe)

    • Rii says:

      Has anyone at Irrational actually commented on the subject of Elizabeth’s appearance?

    • Premium User Badge shoptroll says:

      Aren’t they going for a more stylistic design for people? It’s not intended to be ultra-realistic.

      However, I agree. The proportions on Elizabeth still don’t look right. This shouldn’t be Lara Croft in a dress.

    • tanith says:

      I wholeheartedly agree with the Original Poster.

      Besides, this guy is just spewing so much bullshit. Max Planck proposed the Planck constant and he only did so because he was completely at a loss as to how to explain it otherwise.
      Einstein introduced the Photo effect and relativity etc. and Heisenberg proposed his uncertainty relation.
      Not one of them was talking bullshit about some kind of “worlds” or something like that.
      I assume that what he’s talking about is the Many World Theory which is an interpretation of Quantum Mechanics which was done in the late 1950s, long after the turn of the century.

    • tawa says:

      I think you replied to the wrong post Tanith. Altho I think it was more a case of this era being the origins of (scientific) questioning/research into a sub-emperical view of the universe and the nature of matter/Body (yes, I know, electron microscopy is still emperical, I am using the the term very loosely (ie, not entirely correctly ;) in order to elucidate my point), rather than their research being directly about many-worlds. And being something of Levine apologist at the same time (he made system shock dammit!).

      In response to the post this is actually replying to; how come all these commentators have an issue with a somewhat sexualised/stylised appearance of Elizabeth but are perfectly ok with the whole ‘damsel in distress needing saving from the big bad robot bird by a brave man’ idea? (I admit, I have some issues with the sexualisation of the damsel, but they emerge from the original depiction of her needing to be saved, not the simple nature of her appearance…).

      It’s ok to depict women as sexually attractive or beautiful, they are (at least to a certain section of the populace, and frankly beautiful even when detached from sexuality). It’s what their roles/characters are within a fiction that is the important point. Complaining just because she has hips and tits is either a fear of sexuality, a desire to be ‘modern and feminist’ (not entirely bad motivations, but the understanding of what is sexist is somewhat flawed) or merely bowing to bland, grey modernity.

    • Tei says:

      Unrealisitic depiction of reality if fine in art.

    • gwathdring says:

      I don’t like it because it looks weird. I’m fine with stylized character design in general, I just think the breasts look weird. It’s distracting to me in a negative and non-sexual way. The design just doesn’t look right.

      This said, I really don’t understand why it’s a bad thing to want male and female character designs to fall more in line. In games where the females are hypersexualized, the males should as well. It’s a matter of design continuity as much as of gender ethos.

      But what really bothers me are the “ashamed to be a man” comments, which oddly happen on both sides of the discussion …. coming from any side of the issue, they are ridiculous. I don’t define my masculinity by how often I look at women’s breasts. When advertisements and other media shove breasts in my face, I sometimes get annoyed: but that annoyance doesn’t have anything to do with me being uncomfortable with my sexuality or gender. I’m perfectly comfortable as a sexual being, and I have nothing against sexual content in books, movies, and games when it feels narratively necessary, doesn’t get in the way, or when I’m just in a receptive mood. But sometimes I’m not in the mood and I either specifically don’t want sexual content or am disinterested and want to get back to the genre of content I was attempting to consume prior to the unwanted intrusion. Sometimes it’s just badly implemented and uninteresting/incongruous whether or not I’m in a receptive mood. And when I’m not looking for a sexual experience, not expecting a sexual experience, and quite engrossed in a gameplay, story, or character segment that I don’t feel ought to be related to a sexual experience …. then I bloody well don’t need or want to have sexual characteristics signposted on every inch of the screen. Newsflash: being male doesn’t mean always wanting sexual experiences. Even Saxton Hale sometimes just wants to punch things instead of having sex with something first.

      And frankly, even staying on a strictly sexual plane, not all men have the same sexual interests. Not all men want to see gigantic breasts everywhere even when being addressed at a sexual level. I don’t know if you were intentionally stirring the pot, Patricksawyze, but I very much abhor the notion that in order to be a “man” I must want sexual imagery and absurdly drawn and absurdly consistent physical stereotypes flaunted at me while I play my games.

    • Zenicetus says:

      @ tawa: “In response to the post this is actually replying to; how come all these commentators have an issue with a somewhat sexualised/stylised appearance of Elizabeth but are perfectly ok with the whole ‘damsel in distress needing saving from the big bad robot bird by a brave man’ idea? “

      Can’t speak for the others, but for me there are two levels going on here at the same time. One is the “damsel in distress” thing, which is a very old trope and maybe worth a separate discussion. But that’s not the big problem.

      The big problem is that the Elizabeth model is skirting (hah) the line between an overtly sexualized woman, and an overtly sexualized child. Her body size is very small. She has the large head proportions and big eyes that trigger child-protection instincts in humans. She “reads” as a child in every way except one — the prominent boobs. Either the art department couldn’t make up their mind about what age Elizabeth is supposed to be, or else they’re intentionally going for this gray area.

      Maybe it’s intentional — maybe there’s some big reveal about her age in the romance development (“oh hey, I didn’t realize you were that old!”). But I wonder if it isn’t just that the art department couldn’t make up their minds which way to go between sexy woman and child, and so they went both ways at once.

    • McDan says:

      Agreed to that last poster, it’s just a real shame that they changed her from how she was. I.E.: the tougher looking elizabeth that was shown in some of the screenshots they released a while back. Now while I’ll still get, enjoy and like Elizabeth when I get the game, it’s still a shame they changed her, because now I’ll feel like i’m liking her for what she looks like rather than who she is character-personality wise.

    • gwathdring says:

      Anyone remember the Elizabeth from the original teaser trailer (first person falling thing?). She still had the exaggerated bosom, and still looked as stylized as anything Bioshock, but she looked less child-like and perhaps even less doll-like but that’s debatable.

      I kind of like that very early design. Here’s the evolution of Elizabeth:

      http://gamerfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/BioShock-Infinite-Announce.jpg

      http://www.cosplayresearch.com/images/bioshock/Elizabeth/elizabeth13.jpg

      http://static.gamesradar.com/images/mb/GamesRadar/us/Games/B/BioShock%20Infinite/Bulk%20Viewer/PS3%20360%20PC/2010-08-18/Elizabeth–article_image.jpg

      http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20101021011535/bioshock/images/thumb/b/bd/Bioshockinfinite_elizabeth_portrait.png/285px-Bioshockinfinite_elizabeth_portrait.png

      http://loyalkng.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/bioshock-infinite-elizabeth.jpg

      Though I might have the timeline wrong, and there might be some missing/duplicate ones. It’s a bit hard to tell since all of the angles and scenes and expressions are different, too.

    • gwathdring says:

      Good point, zenicetus. That’s something I noticed when I was looking for the “original” Elizabeth form the teaser. Certain things became more mature and other things became more childish throughout the evolution of her design as far as I can tell from Google Image mining.

    • MajorManiac says:

      @ Zenicetus

      Thats exactly what I was trying to get accross. Though I think you made it more clear.

  9. Muzman says:

    Caption for the image:

    …A Whole New Woooooaaaaaarld…
    “Next!”

  10. metalangel says:

    I don’t see this as being particularly different to what PCG said about (was it Singularity?) Singularity, in that the concept (the handheld time device in Singuarity’s case) sounds great but all you really end up doing with it is using it to fix doors/stairs/buttons. This is being expanded only slightly to allow you to spawn items/NPCs, at scripted points.

    • diebroken says:

      Strange, I used the TMD a lot in Singualrity. In fact it was one of the best and probably the most useful of all the weapons in the game (using time for offense and defense), the same with can be said with controlling time in TimeShift (a greatly underrated game).

    • Wulf says:

      TimeShift was unexpectedly clever. *nod.* The amount of stuff I could get through via time manipulation without actually killing anyone was amazing to me.

      That’s what I want from games.

      Easy Option: Take lives. Noobs do this. (They even said it in the TimeShift trailers!)
      Hard Option: Don’t take lives. Find other ways to deal with the problems, no matter how inventive or even potentially game-breaking you have to be.

      Deus Ex did this, too. So many good games did. And New Vegas, to a degree. Alpha Protocol goes without saying. That’s just mentioning the more recent games that had this as an option.

      I’m often baffled at how incredibly and unmitigatedly hostile gamers are to this idea, talking as though finding ways around killing is somehow ‘retarded.’ Welp, Deus Ex must have been the most utterly retarded game of all time, then. Oh, Thief, too! Those games were so retarded. :P Honestly, it really bugs me how hostile gamers are towards ideas like that these days. But I suppose, to pass the buck, it shows the gamer-wide decline in overall intellect, an ongoing degradation that can be observed and gauged.

      If people get to be hostile about not-killing, I get to be hostile about killing. It’s only fair.

      But really, nothing worthwhile is ever easy and I consider not taking lives to be worthwhile, and any game that gives me the option to do something–no matter how difficult–to not take the life of something, be they creature, a non-human sapient entity, or a human, then I’m going to take that option. And I’ll be a better gamer for it, because killing is the easy way out. Deus Ex taught me that.

      So yes, TimeShift I liked for being clever. If you were very clever then you could use time trickery to avoid killing people. I appreciated that. I’d love to see more of that. Not easy, no, but not killing people in any game never was easy.

  11. PatrickSwayze says:

    I just felt sad for the horsey :(

    At least he’s alive somewhen.

    • Premium User Badge MonkeyMonster says:

      is it not still actually somewhere – the when is still now (or then) as it were

    • Melmoth says:

      As I see it, she exchanged the dead horse in our universe with an alive one version from another. So it’s not our horse anymore and that other universe has the dead one now.
      So she’s acting rather selfish.
      Also: with an infinte number of universes, there’s an infinite number with the horse being dead and an infinite number where it’s alive (can’t have infinite/2).
      Unless it’s a multiverse, where the quantum-state is undecided, the horse dead and alive at the same time, until something (Elisabeth) brings the decision to either one. At least that’s my understanding made from various articles, movies etc. on the topic.

      edit: just wanted to point out, that her action did not really change anything except that another Elisabeth in another universe now wonders, why there’s a dead horse lying around.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      The universe plays rock, paper, scissors to decide if you live or die. It cares that much. When you work out the quantum mechanics equations, the answer says “LOL N00B”. In another universe somewhere you appear in a lobby screen with a really shitty K/D ratio.

    • Melmoth says:

      So my equation is wrong again? Dammit!!!
      But I’ll figure it out, and if it’s the last thing i do!!

      AND THEY CALLED ME MAD muhaha!!

  12. poop says:

    those titties just get sillier when you can actually see her body below them in a screenshot :(

  13. Vinraith says:

    The contrast between “big, serious ideas” and “ridiculous, barbie-doll sex object” is really jarring here. I really thought we’d moved on from Lara Croft-style character design.

    • MajorManiac says:

      This could be the first game to get mods that actually tone-down the sexuality of the main female characters.

    • diebroken says:

      Heh, just reminded me of the versions of the Rebirth mod for SS2, which first greatly ‘enhanced’ the midwife model, and then in turn was later toned down again… closer to the original vision of the model.

    • Wulf says:

      …I barely even noticed, I was looking more at the environment.

      Looking though… hm. Not sure what to say any more, really. It’s not a sex object aimed at me so I don’t really care. But BioShock Infinite will hopefully be modable.

  14. Longrat says:

    I liked her more when she had a creepy/dark edge. Just sayin.

    • Veracity says:

      Dunno about “dark”, but she certainly used to look weirder than that. When did this happen?

  15. nootron says:

    Spolier: Elizabeth is really Mad Moxi from Borderlands.

  16. wcaypahwat says:

    You’ll probably be too busy yelling at her to spawn cover or to stay out of the line of fire to look at her cleavage, anyhow.

    Plus, I think that’s where the giant robobird lives.

  17. Wulf says:

    …oh my…

    Interest level++.

  18. molten_tofu says:

    T2 / Irrational: “So there’s this girl, and she has boobies. Oh and mystical powers and sh*t that makes her too powerful for her own good and a man has to save her.”

    God@mmit!

    *rage quits the internet*

  19. yutt says:

    Oh goodness! A female with breasts! I am incredibly generically offended. Why can’t these designers adhere to my puritanical, arbitrary, and ephemeral standards.
    I’m extremely angsty about this, guys.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      More sexy boys plz

    • gwathdring says:

      Behold! My puritanical hatred of breasts, with no specificity in my argument whatsoever! My opinions are so much more arbitrary than yours are! And games are so sexually liberal they consistently handle sex in a mature, multifaceted fashion allowing for people of various genders, sexual preferences, or at the very least tastes to enjoy themselves. Clearly, I’m sexually conservative and puritanical for bemoaning the state of things in such an arbitrary, irrelevant and offhand way. I’m saying it here folks: the next game that includes women with any breasts whatsoever is going to be burned on my backyard anti-sex pyre.

      Really now, do you read people’s arguments before you attack them so nonsensically?

    • molten_tofu says:

      Really solid C- debating there – all the good stuff: strawmen (strawpeople for arg sakes?), ad hominem, other stuff I don’t know the name of (damn you, preposition!).

      I actually reacted specifically here to a certain set of plot devices I’m bored of seeing strung together and trotted out while some marketing dept. goes into a frenzy talking about “interesting” characters and “epic” story lines. It’s just all very lazy.

      And because I’m feeling quite pedantic all of a sudden, I’m going to say that if you think these types of arguments people like me are making are generic and (by implication) unfounded, you’ve got a lot to catch up on. Start with Gender Trouble by Judith Butler – should be an easy read for someone of your purported intellectual caliber.

  20. Strangineer says:

    She looks like a young woman in a chronologically appropriate dress and corset. I wonder if she might not have an easier time running around without that corset on so tight, but I’m rather sure that would be unbecoming for a young lady of the time. Other than that, I don’t find her inappropriately sexual. That’s what those dresses do, they make your cleavage look bigger. They were worn back around then, in the late 1800′s, as far as I know.

  21. rg4liff says:

    SO YOU KNOW B.D
    starwars, return of the jedi was suppose to be named Revenge of the Jedi, but was later chaged when lucas realised that Jedi’s don’t have revenge. so she must’ve gone into a alternate reality in which they kept that name. mah dad used to work for lucas films and has a box full of merch that was thrown out that says “revenge of the jedi” on it