BioShock Infinite Trailer: In-Depth Analysis

By: Geoff Calver

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Today Irrational Games (formerly 2K Boston) revealed their latest project – BioShock Infinite – their first game since developing and creating 2007’s BioShock.

BioShock Infinite has some similarities to BioShock, but some shockingly awesome differences as well. For instance, it takes place in the sky. And it looks absolutely gorgeous. Read on below for our in-depth analysis of the trailer and what it reveals about the setting, story, and people. 

The trailer released today by Irrational Games begins with a view of an underwater city. Rapture? No, Chicago, 1893, in a small aquarium. A man suddenly gets his head pulled gasping out of the aquarium and into a dark room by a gigantic being much like a Big Daddy. In fact, the big creature seems to run on a heart surrounded by water. The creature throws the man through a stained glass window, where a big, bright, beautiful world suddenly appears.

Gorgeously decorated Victorian-style buildings float on what at first appear to be clouds. Soon, though, it’s revealed that these clouds are zeppelins. And the buildings are adorned with American flags everywhere.

The man miraculously survives a large fall from the glass windows to the top of a zeppelin which suggests either luck or perhaps superhuman strength? He scrambles at the zeppelin’s cloth, finally catching his fall just before plummeting to the earth thousands of feet below.

The buildings appear to be made of stone, and as the man swings around on the zeppelin’s cloth we see a billboard saying, “Burden not Columbia with your chaff.” Chaff, literally, is the husk of a small seed, though it also serves as a metaphor for something worthless. The billboard shows a tired arm holding a small, malnourished child as Columbia, a beautiful, strong woman like Lady Liberty, holds a strong baby and pushes away at the other.

Another billboard, in the distance against a building shows a pair of kids looking out at a “Columbian” flag from a deck. “It is our Holy Duty to protect them from the foreign hordes and the (malicious?) anarchists,” says the writing on the billboard.

A large house on top of several zeppelins rides upwards in a hurry, with flames spurting out from below as it passes by. This suggests an elevator, or perhaps constantly shifting locations of buildings? It hits some zeppelins and knocks the traveler off the zeppelin. He falls downwards until he suddenly hits a huge cloud of roses that suddenly fly off a balcony, appearing out of midair. The roses slow his fall and direct him towards a balcony where a woman is clearly seen pulling him towards her using the bed of roses.

As she pulls him one of the giant Big Daddy-like creatures yanks her away and the man falls, presumably to his death.

What’s interesting here is that the game world represents an earlier time period and very different ideology. It’s safe to assume that BioShock  Infinite takes its inspiration from the isolationist policies of the U.S. in the first half of the 20th century. Furthermore, the building styles, the dress of the people seen in the trailer, and the policies that appear to have formed the city in the sky reflect a time period prior to that of BioShock. It would seem that BioShock  Infinite takes place in the early 1900s. Furthermore, it takes place in a society that is clearly highly patriotic, isolationist, and anti-immigrant.

Clearly the creature seen at the beginning isn’t natural, nor is the bed of roses that temporarily rescues the falling man. But the question in BioShock  Infinite will be, how have the people in this world gained powers, and what are they. The people in the trailer clearly aren’t misshapen and horribly twisted like in Rapture. Rather, they appear to be perfectly normal.

Further setting BioShock Infinite apart from BioShock is the obvious fact that the city isn’t falling apart. It looks like it is in perfect shape. Of course, trailers aren’t always representative of the game. The trailer could show the beginning of the trouble, the moment when the guardians (or whatever the large creatures will be called) began enforcing some law and led to the downfall of the society. Perhaps the guardians have been created to drive out those with special powers – unwanted immigrants who have shown up and upset the society?

It’s hard to guess what the story is, and there don’t seem to be any hints behind the magical powers the woman displays, but at the very least, don’t allow the sunny exteriors of the game to fool you – Irrational likes to make scary games, and the insides of the initial room where the man begins his story in the trailer are dark and foreboding. Expect to have some scares, you just can’t know what they will be beyond the gigantic guardians shown at the beginning and end of the clip.

If nothing else, BioShock Infinite looks absolutely gorgeous, and will provide a welcome relief from the depths of the sea. A different setting, a different conflict, a different ideology. It should all make for an excellent gaming experience.

See anything we missed? Disagree with us? Have you own ideas? Add them below!

  • JCDR

    What about the man who’s back is turned? We got to see a short glimpse of him, and I must say he is reminiscent to the departed Andre Ryan. Black suit, gestures that appears to sermon, while “You’re a Grand Old Flag” plays in the background. The games antagonist or the catalyst for the entire plot, maybe?

  • Geoff Calver

    I thought about the tie-in to Andrew Ryan. My line of thinking was that perhaps Andrew Ryan grew up in Columbia (the floating city) and as a result, wanted out of a place that was isolationist, extremely patriotic, and wanted the exact opposite in terms of ideology. So he was driven to create Rapture, a society that focuses on the individual and lack of rule/law.

    Just found out, too, that the game will take place after something goes very wrong on Columbia and a special agent is sent to recover a girl who has unique powers – possibly the girl seen in the trailer?

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  • D’Amonta Jones

    @ Geoff Calver : how did find out about the agents?

  • D’Amonta Jones

    : how did find out about the agents?

  • Geoff Calver

    @D’Amonta Jones – Here you go! PC Gamer got to play a 10-minute, hands-on demo!

    http://www.pcgamer.com/2010/08/12/the-secret-bioshock-infinite-demo-blow-by-blow/

  • Toggle

    I’m pretty sure the sign says “traitorous anarchists.” 99% sure.

  • Geoff Calver

    @Toggle – Good call!

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  • Gabe

    I also thought of Andrew Ryan immediely after seeing the man on the balcony. The only reason i believe he is a main antagonist is because besides the girl and the “Big Daddy” so to speak, he is the only “person” we see.

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