BioShock Infinite made a very quiet and sneaky entrance into Gamescom yesterday, catching us off-guard because we'd just taken a look at the game during its reveal last week. Little did we know that we would find out more on the far shores of Germany, ensconced in a theater outfitted with fine mahogany wood, leather couches, old-timey phonographs belting out old-timey tunes, plenty of brass, and posters trumpeting the need for people to bear arms and defend Columbia.
"YOUTH OF COLUMBIA -- WILL YOU BEAR HER SWORD?" was emblazoned across one poster. This was not going to be your typical demo. While many details were revealed in last week's writeup we have some new stuff for you to check out, including some details from Ken Levine himself, so read on about what is shaping up to be one of the must-have titles for 2012.
Above, you can get your first peek at Elizabeth, outside of the trailer. Booker DeWitt, the character you play, is tasked with finding her, and has managed to do so in the sprawling, enormous, floating cityscape of Columbia. However, getting her out is going to be a lot harder than finding her. In fact, I can't describe to you how crazy things get in this demo, which is just a tiny snippet of the game, and about one third of the way into the title.
The demo started off with DeWitt flat on his back after an attack, and he slowly comes to, focusing on a mural of a triumphant George Washington atop a heap of caricatured versions of foreigners. "It Is Our Holy Duty To Guard Against The Foreign Hordes" claims the painting. As he looks around, Columbia comes into view, and it is a staggering sight. It's hard to impress how gorgeous this city looks, and we're told video will be made available sometime soon. After all, pictures speak louder than words.
A steampunk horse clops by, with a vendor selling newspapers off a cart attached to it. A well-dressed woman earnestly sweeps the front porch of a house that is entirely engulfed with flames, and an enormous statue representing Columbia towers about everything. Far above, a floating building, complete with a clock tower, floats by. Abruptly, the clock tower breaks off, and smashes to the ground in a pile of rubble and flames just in front of you. No one seems to mind.
There's a political speech happening nearby, being belted across the floating portions of Columbia (which are tethered together by winding rails that look a like like roller coaster tracks) from a nearby gazebo. No crowd is gathering around to listen, but the man inside warns of the dangerous coming to Columbia. Signs around him state: "They'll take your gun. They'll take your wife. They'll take your business. They'll take your LIFE!" A final poster with an image of the speaker identifies him as Saltonstall.
He's urging the citizenry (which is nowhere to be seen) to take up arms and defend the city, "The needs of our great city of Columbia must come before the desires of any foreigner!" he proclaims, spitting that last word out with particular bile. Nearby are barrels and crates full of rifles. As you approach and pick one up, he turns towards you with lightning quick speed, his eyes blazing like coals. "WHO ARE YOU?!" he snaps. He yells for an attack, and calls for someone named Charlie, who hurtles a murder of crows towards you.
After exchanging some gunfire (Charles falls off the edge of the area, and Saltonstall hurtles himself towards one of the rails, grabbing on at the last second with some sort of small mechanical hook attached to his wrist. DeWitt finds an interesting bird-shaped bottle nearby and chugs it down, imbuing him with lightning powers. Distantly, you hear Saltonstall shout "FIRE!", and a huge explosion erupts nearby. He's having artillery fire on you! DeWitt flexes his wrist, out pops a mechanical hook/claw of his own, and he leaps onto a rail. Since this game is all from your POV, this is a very harrowing ride, particularly when you lose your grip at one point. Luckily, another rail is nearby.
The fight continues onto multiple levels, and at one point DeWitt frantically runs into a nearby bar. It's very opulent (and the bartender appears to be passed out from drinking behind the bar), and no one turns to blast away at DeWitt. However, the respite is very brief after someone blasts the record player, and shouts "WE'RE CLOSED!" Then, the frantic combat continues, and DeWitt exhibits a new talent just in time. He's able to telekinetically yank guns out of people's hands, turn the weapon around in mid-air, and make it fire on its previous owner. Very awesome, just like the scene with Magneto and the cops in X-Men 2.
There's a frenzied battle as what feels like the entire populace of Columbia is raining down on you, when Elizabeth finally appears. She casts a storm cloud / whirlwind out towards the attackers and yells for you to "Hit it now!" Doing so with your lightning causes a huge lightning storm to erupt. Your foes get caught in an electrical field that levitates them a few feet off the ground, and promptly fries them. Then she magnetically pulls in a lot of shards of ... something, forms a huge ball, and blasts a path clear. Whew.
But, you're not out of danger yet. Remember those mechanical hands, the big boots, and the heart beating through the window in the trailer? Well, one of those comes after you. Not only are they huge, but they can also snatch anything out of the air that you hurl at them telekinetically, including massive shells from the cannons Saltonstall had trained on you. Elizabeth helps you collapse the bridge on him, and he plummets off, then a huge birdlike creature with the head of a Big Daddy swoops in (I kid you not), makes the classic Big Daddy honking cry (for lack of a better), and blammo! It's over. And I've wet my pants.
BioShock Infinite looks far above and beyond anything else I've seen recently, and it's nice to have an unexpected demo blow you away. Someone invent time travel so it can be 2012 already, because I need this game now.