You can picture happy gatherings
'Round the fireside long ago,
And you think of tearful partings
When they left you here below.
Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, by and by?
Is a better home a-waiting
In the sky, in the sky?
—Will the Circle Be Unbroken, as sung by Elizabeth
BioShock Infinite is the third game in the BioShock series, released on March 26th, 2013. It takes place in 1912, in the floating sky city of Columbia, "designed to demonstrate to the world by example the founding democratic principles of the United States, the product of American ideals, endeavor and industry." However, a visit to China by the city during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 revealed a much darker purpose on the part of its makers: the city revealed itself to be heavily armed, and bombarded a group of Chinese civilians. This incident prompted the American government to disown Columbia and cause it to go rogue and disappear into the clouds. Now it exists as a Death Star without an Empire, a roaming boogeyman imposing its will on whatever unfortunate target it chooses.
The player is Booker DeWitt, a disgraced Pinkerton Detective sent to the city by a mysterious stranger to find a woman named Elizabeth who was locked up in Columbia since she was five. Only giving DeWitt a few sparse details, he tells Booker that he'll transport him to the city if he decides to accept.
But predictably, this mission won't be simple or easy: since it went rogue, the city has fallen into a violent civil war between the Founders, the ultranationalist, xenophobic ruling class, led by Zachary Hale Comstock; and the Vox Populi, a group led by Daisy Fitzroy which initially sought to open Columbia to people of all races and religions before years of conflict morphed them into a terrorist group that fights out of blind hatred. Both factions believe that Elizabeth is the key to winning the conflict, which will inevitably prove to be a problem.
There is also the matter of Songbird - a massive clockwork creature that looks like a deranged cross between a bird and a gargoyle and is often referred to simply as "Him" - whose sole purpose is to retrieve Elizabeth, and violently kill anything that tries to stop it...
While game head Ken Levine has said that BioShock Infinite takes place in a different universe from the original games, a key game mechanic is the manipulation of portals that lead to different timelines.
- Action Girl: Elizabeth has shown to be pretty skilled in using her powers to destructive effect in tandem with Booker.
- The 15-minute gameplay trailer also shows her kicking a member of Vox Populi in the balls in background while Booker fights the main horde. Since the developers didn't want the game to be one long escort mission, they made sure that Elizabeth could take care of herself in most situations. The support she needs from Booker is more psychological than physical.
- Adorkable: Elizabeth, if the new two minutes preview is anything to go by. It's both cute and a little sad how much she tried to cheer (or make rapport) Booker and how fast she went to frightened out of her mind.
- Air Jousting: Sort of. The preview shows Booker one-shotting an incoming hostile citizen with a wrench while moving along the sky rail.
- All the Myriad Ways: Columbia is somehow full of "tears" between alternate universes, and Elizabeth manipulates them.
- Anachronism Stew:
- The phonograph in the gameplay preview seems to be playing a ragtime-waltz version Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". Saltonstall's badge also briefly turns into the Communist hammer and sickle (which didn't exist as a symbol in 1912) at one point.
- Recent previews reveal that these may be connected to "tears" in the space time continuum scattered thorough Columbia.
- In addition, the E3 2011 demo has Elizabeth accidentally open a tear into the future with a theater in the background that's playing Revenge of the Jedi, the dropped title of "Return of the Jedi". That timeline is similar but different from our own (although it does have the Tears for Fears version of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World").
- Also during said demo, eagle-eared listeners might notice one of the Vox Populi call Booker "Kemosabe". Apparently, Booker and Elizabeth are not the only time-travelers.
- Apathetic Citizens: In the gameplay preview, Columbia is falling apart, and the citizens seem largely self-interested and without care. Mortar launcher just explodes outside your bar? Not your problem! (Subverted when they all start attacking the PC. When you shoot a man dead in their midst...)
- To say nothing of the woman sweeping the front porch of a burning building. Word of God says that, yes, something weird happened to the people here.
- Artifact Title: It does look like BioShock is now going in a Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest like direction, where each game is thematically linked with some recurring elements but ultimately self-contained.
- Artistic License Physics: The skyrail concept. The force from falling and grabbing those rails would be enough to tear your arms out of your sockets in real life. But it's an Acceptable Break From Your Shoulder, er, Reality to make a really interesting game mechanic. At least this is acknowledged by making significant falls from rail to rail hurt Booker.
- Art Shift: Unsurprising, since it's now set in a turn of the century city in the sky. The Dragon is pretty Rapture-like, however, aside from the fact that he's designed for aerial use rather than underwater.
- Awesome but Impractical: Elizabeth forging a cannon was the single biggest show of power in the entire BioShock franchise... and a complete waste, since it would have been easier (and less dangerous for her) if she simply: pushed the carts, threw the pans with great force, force lifted the shooters, or anything really. Of course, she's new to her powers, and not a soldier.
- Badass Abnormal: Booker is already a fairly badass man, but it's only enhanced with his use of tonics.
- Badass Moustache: The Handymen have some serious old-timey mustaches going on.
- Bait and Switch: The trailer begins with an underwater shot and a Big Daddy... which turns out to be the inside of a fish tank. Cue the sky.
- Casual Danger Dialog: Occasionally.
Booker: (While contemplating how best to escape a turret shooting at him, he pulls out a hook.) Well, nothing ventured... (Leaping onto a rail hanging thousands of feet above ground.) nothing gained!
(Later, upon finding Elizabeth.)
Booker: Hey, you don't look so good.
Elizabeth: I'm okay, I just need a moment. (A Handyman is heard screaming towards them.) A moment we don't have.
- Cool Airship: Oh hell yes.
- Cowboy Cop: Booker's reputation before leaving the Pinkerton Agency.
- He was apparently forced out due to "behavior beyond the acceptable bounds of the Agency." Which really makes you wonder given Pinkerton's usual MO...
- Crap Saccharine World: Columbia. Beautiful sky-high city... under ultranationalist, imperialist rule with angry robots, gun-toting xenophobes and blood thirsty anarchists trying to kill you. It's worse than Rapture!
- Daylight Horror: In contrast to the dank and gloomy Rapture.
- Deadpan Snarker: Booker.
Elizabeth: (After Booker shoots a Handyman.) That's just making him angry!
Booker: He was already angry!
- Deconstruction: The game seems to be a deconstruction of American Exceptionalism, as well as the nationalism and imperialism that come along with it. Also falling under Levine's deconstructive eye is the concept of La Résistance, as seen with Vox Populi.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: For a start, it's 1912: you either get this or Politically-Correct History. The most striking part is the militant xenophobia of Columbia's inhabitants.
- Different World, Different Movies: The theater showing Revenge of the Jedi.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The relationship between Elizabeth and Songbird mirrors an abusive romantic relationship, which Word of God confirms is deliberate.
- The Dragon: Songbird appears to fill this role rather literally, considering that he rather resembles a clockwork cross between a Big Daddy and a Night Fury... with every bit of the nastiness that implies.
- Eagle Land: Columbia is what happens when a type-2 gets worse.
- Embedded Precursor: The Blu-ray copy of the game will include the first BioShock, free of charge.
- The Empire: Columbia serves as a military powerhouse, likened to the Death Star, to conquer other nations for an expansionist despot, in keeping with the theme of imperialism.
- Evil vs. Evil: Comstock's Founders (Bible-thumping, jingoistic bigots) against Fitzroy's Vox Populi (destructive, bloodthirsty, vengeful, and just as morally myopic as the Founders).
- Fate Worse Than Death: According to Elizabeth, she would rather die than be captured again by Songbird.
- Feathered Fiend: Songbird.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Booker and Elizabeth.
- Floating Continent/World in the Sky: Columbia.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Songbird.
- Foreshadowing: In the demo, about a minute before Songbird attacks, you see lots of empty birdcages hanging above.
- The Gay Nineties: The general atmosphere of Columbia, which was launched a good fifteen years before the events of the game.
- Giant Mook: There's an entire range of these, dubbed 'Heavy Hitters'. They range from the previously-seen Handymen to heavily-armed robots such as the Motorized Patriot. They're all designed to not only give Booker a bigger challenge than the regular mooks of Columbia, they're also made to look as creepy as fuck.
- Grey and Grey Morality: You play as a disgraced Pinkerton Detective, and as noted above both of the enemy factions are Well-Intentioned Extremists at best by the time you arrive.
- Heroic Mime: Averted by Booker DeWitt, in contrast to the last two BioShock protagonists.
- He Who Fights Monsters: The Vox Populi. Originally created to resist the tyrannical Founders, their ideology of "Everything should belong to everyone" went to "Everything should belong to us".
- Hidden Elf Village: Averted hard: everyone knows about Columbia. Though the mysterious strangers actions seem to imply that getting there is a pain. It makes sense, since not only does the game takes place before the proliferation of airplanes and the invention of radar, but while everyone knows that Columbia exists, no one knows where it went.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl:
- In the fifteen-minute demo, Booker's hand is shown to be bigger than both of Elizabeth's combined, and when she places his hand around her neck, it easily encircles it.
- Not to mention that wanted posters for Elizabeth and Booker state their heights to be 5'1/2 and 6', respectively
- Elizabeth and Songbird (assuming Songbird is/was a guy).
- La Résistance: The Vox Populi started out as this, only to degenerate over time into a hate army just as blind and psychotic as the Founders. Of course, they still believe themselves right.
- Large Ham: Saltonstall spends the entire preview chewing the scenery. "CHARLEEEEEEES! ATTEEEEEEEEEEEEND!"
- Late to the Party: Purposefully averted. Whereas in the original BioShock you arrived in the aftermath of the conflict, this time, you arrive in the middle of it.
- Lighter and Softer: Slightly, due to the protagonist now being able to speak.
- Lightning Bruiser: The Handymen, who are terrifyingly fast and agile for their size.
- Living MacGuffin: Elizabeth.
- Macross Missile Massacre: The Vox Populi zeppelin launches one of these at Booker and Elizabeth during the E3 trailer.
- Manifest Destiny: Something of a background theme in the game, Columbia itself being almost a monument to its success.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Elizabeth's power comes through manipulating a mathematically proven scientific concept... but how is she able to do it?
- ...The existence of tears in space time leading to alternate universes is not mathematically proven.
- Meaningful Name:
- Word of God says that the "Infinite" in BioShock Infinite is there for a good reason, In the third developer video, it seems to derive from the concept of a multiverse of infinite choices and possibilities.
- Elizabeth's ability is the power to create "tears" in space-time into alternate realities, making the possibilities of what she can do truly "infinite".
- The Vigor "Murder of Crows", both in its nature for summoning killer crows, and the fact the word "murder" is another way of saying "group of crows".
- Daisy Fitzroy, leader of the movement that was supposed to help the little guy, has a surname that means "illegitimate child of the king." Like much of the Vox Populi, she has an ethnic name: in this case, Irish, complete with accent. Now consider the bigotry the Irish had to endure in the United States up to the period this game is set in.
- Zachary Comstock's name cuts two ways. He could be named for the Comstock Lode mine in Nevada, which was for most of the 19th Century the richest vein of silver ore in North America; he could also be named for the Comstock laws, a series of regulations introduced at the request of Ulysses S. Grant's postmaster general, which made it a federal crime to send pornography or contraceptives through the U.S. mail.
- Mechanical Horse: One is seen trotting down the street, pulling a cart with a missing wheel. The rider in the cart is slumped forward as if asleep, drunk or dead.
- Mighty Whitey: This mural, featuring a George Washington-esque white man in an elegant and shining outfit holding the Liberty Bell in one hand and the Ten Commandments in the other, rising up above dreary, poor and pathetic racist caricatures of all races.
- Morality Pet: It's been stated that Elizabeth is this to Songbird. In fact, Songbird was specifically engineered to feel betrayed whenever Elizabeth escapes. Elizabeth will most likely also be this to Booker, the once-amoral Pinkerton agent.
- The Multiverse: The source of Elizabeth's power: she can pluck anything from other multiverses through tears in the fabric of reality that only she (and Booker) can see and bring them to our universe.
- Mythology Gag:
- One of the alternate realities? Yep, Rapture.
- Songbird's eyes change color depending on his status (green=calm, yellow=alert, red=hostile), just like those of the Big Daddies.
- No Mere Windmill: Saltonstall's gazebo is surrounded by signs reading "they'll take your GUN! they'll take your WIFE! they'll take your BUSINESS! they'll take your LIFE!". Given the xenophobic nature of his speech, you assume "they" are "those dirty foreigners" or something... until you meet the Vox Populi, who prove that Saltonstall isn't stirring up phantom threats:
Vox Populi Mook: Your homes are ours! Your lives are ours! Your wives are ours! It ALL belongs to the Vox!
- No OSHA Compliance: One of the means of traveling around Columbia is via a magnetic rail system known as the Skyline traversed via hand-held hooks. It's very fast, there's no safety nets, and landings appear to be rough (during the gameplay demo, Booker jumps from one rail to another and laughs with relief that he's not now plummeting to his death). The Skylines weren't originally intended for people's use, according to Ken Levine in a video.
- Not the Fall That Kills You: You can jump from one Skyline rail to another, and as long as you actually grab on to a rail, you'll be fine. Even if you fell two hundred feet (of course it'll hurt like a bastard, but...).
- Of Corsets Sexy: Elizabeth wears a corset outside her dress. While a corset is a period appropriate piece of clothing, it would commonly be worn as underwear rather than outerwear in that era, suggesting that it is for a bit of light Fan Service. Given her non-specified abusive-seeming relationship with the Songbird, it may be in-canon fanservice (not to mention that wearing it wrong can be seen as yet another proof of how sheltered Elizabeth really is).
- Only One Name: Elizabeth, so far. Even her wanted poster only has her given name on it.
- Power Incontinence: Elizabeth doesn't exactly have complete control over manipulating the tears, as shown when she accidentally dumps her and Booker in the 1980s before wrenching them back.
- Psychic Nosebleed: Elizabeth gets one after doing several impressive psychic stunts in a row.
- Psychic Powers: Booker uses a telekinetic "force pull" and the old "fist fulla loitnin'". Elizabeth breaks out greater telekinesis, and a sort of localized weather control. She has reality-warping powers to open tears in space-time and pull in objects from parallel universes.
- Punk Punk: BioShock Infinite delves in Victorian/Edwardian steampunk, much like Mars 1889, in addition to the Biopunk of the first two games.
- Ravens and Crows: The "Murder Of Crows" vigor lets you summon a flock, and they definitely play up the creepiness.
- Recycled in Space: Bioshock Infinite is Bioshock IN THE SKY. Or, going further back, System Shock NOT QUITE IN SPACE.
- Regenerating Health: Of the Brink or Far Cry 2 variety, where you have one main health bar and can stock multiple additional "pips" that don't refill unless you receive special medical attention.
- Retraux: To fit the theme, GameInformer drew two covers in the style of The Saturday Evening Post, popular in 1912.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Vox Populi, who are so opposed to the Founders' definition of "civilization" that they've taken to executing postmen as running-dog lackeys of the regime.
- Ripped from the Headlines: Over the course of the game's development, the tone of American politics has become increasingly more extreme on the left and right, with movements such as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, while elections are becoming increasingly corrupt due to unlimited corporate spending from Super PACs. While it doesn't seem to be intentional, especially considering the game has been stuck in Development Hell for a long time, BioShock Infinite's Deconstruction of American idealism couldn't have come at a better time.
- Rule of Cool/Rule of Fun: Why don't Booker or Elizabeth or anyone dislocate their shoulders when leaping from rail to rail? Who cares!
- Scenery Porn/Scenery Gorn: Straddles the line quite a bit, if the trailers are any indication.
- Scripted Event: The majority of the first "gameplay preview" seems to be this, much to the worry of fans.
- Thankfully, it only appeared to be an intro. The choices made in the second 15-minute E3 trailer appear to have all sorts of paths and choices to make.
- Self-Imposed Challenge: The rare official variety, which was added to combat Complacent Gaming Syndrome. Veteran gamers who didn't like the instaspawn of BioShock can play 1999 Mode. Gotta pick specializations, and stick with them, for better or worse. If you don't have the resources when you're killed, it's Game Over (which is an homage to System Shock if you didn't have enough nanites).
- Shown Their Work: A recent trailer used a rendition of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" by the lead voice actors, which drew ire from religious groups for removing a lyric with the word "lord". That's an error: the lyric was added in the Carter Family rendition "Can the Circle Be Unbroken(By and By)", recorded in 1935. The devs merely used the original hymn unaltered.
- Ken Levine actually visited the Occupy Wall Street protests in Boston in order to make the atmosphere of the protests depicted in the game more authentic.
- Stalker with a Crush: Songbird, very much so. The game isn't subtle about it, either.
- Stockholm Syndrome: The undercurrent of the relationship between Elizabeth and Songbird. Tellingly, she'll beg you not to let it take her back, then get angry at you for hurting it.
- Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: The "Motorized Patriot" enemies are animatronic George Washington robots armed with miniguns. They were originally used as tour guides: why would they need to be strong enough to carry a BFG?
- Since Columbia is paranoid about foreigners, they might be used to summarily execute any spies who've come under the guise of tourists.
- Take That: The "Infinite" of the title seems to be this for Numbered Sequels, much like Marathon Infinity.
- Two Shots From Behind the Bar: After the player blunders into his bar, the bartender screams "WE'RE CLOSED!", fires off a single shot then orders you to leave.
- Up to Eleven: The gameplay preview shows that the powers in this game are much flashier and stronger.
- What Did You Expect When You Named It?: Columbia's code name was "Project Icarus". Great name for your flying city.
- A Worldwide Punomenon: One of the vigors is the ability to sic a group of crows on your enemies. A murder of crows, of course.
- Video Game Caring Potential: You have the choice of turning a blind eye to the atrocities around you and being left alone or intervening and risking being attacked. A prime example is when you find the Vox Populi trying to execute an innocent postman: if you call out the executioners, the huge crowd present immediately turns on you.
- According to Levine, you can rescue the dentist seen in the E3 demo from the group of thugs harassing him. You meet him later in the game piling up corpses and pulling out their gold teeth. He then recognizes you and gives you a handful of teeth as "thanks".
- Yandere: Word of God is that Songbird is programmed to be one, which is why he jealously seeks to murder anyone who tries to help Elizabeth escape her captivity.
- Zeerust: Columbia manages to feature even more strange Zeerust than Rapture while it also wallows in Victorian steampunk.