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BioShock Infinite

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PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Bioshock Infinite tweaks let you skip intro videos, increase FOV and adjust sensitivity">bioshock-hard







38 seconds! That's how long it takes for Bioshock Infinite to play its plethora of unskippable introductory splash videos and let you into the game. I know it's 38 seconds because I measured the level of bruising incurred by repeatedly hammering the escape key in a desperate, but ultimately futile, attempt to get to the bit where I shoot a man with some crows. Then I remembered my phone had a stopwatch. Now I feel a bit stupid and my finger hurts.



Luckily, you can avoid my mistakes thanks to the clever folks at PCGamingWiki, who offer up a selection of .ini file tweaks that can not only skip that long intro wait, but also increase the FOV range and mouse sensitivity options.



For all the tweaks, you'll need to first find the config folder. It's hidden away here:



%USERPROFILE%My DocumentsMy GamesBioShock InfiniteXGameConfig



Disable Intro Videos:



Find XEngine.ini in the config folder, and change:



StartupMovies=2KLogoSweep720p2997

StartupMovies=IrrationalLogoTest

StartupMovies=UE3AnimatedLogo_ProRes

StartupMovies=AMDLogo720p



To:



;StartupMovies=2KLogoSweep720p2997

;StartupMovies=IrrationalLogoTest

;StartupMovies=UE3AnimatedLogo_ProRes

;StartupMovies=AMDLogo720p



Increase FOV Range:



Bioshock Infinite's FOV slider currently only offers a 15 degree range. A fix is incoming, which should offer a much increased display, but you can get the same results by tweaking a value in the config folder's XUserOptions.ini.



Locate the line: MaxUserFOVOffsetPercent=15.000000, and change the value to 100. Alternatively, if you want an FOV setting of 90, set the value at 28.5 and increase the in-game slider to its maximum.



Adjust Mouse Sensitivity



If you'd like some finer control over the lowest settings of the in-game mouse speed, you can easily change the option menu's slider range. Again, you want XUserOptions.ini for this one.



Search for the lines: MinMouseLookSensitivity=0.100000 and MaxMouseLookSensitivity=4.000000. Change the Min value to 0.05, and the Max one to somewhere between 0.5 and 1. Again, this is purely for those wanting a finer spectrum over the lower range of mouse speed. If you prefer a twitch shooting style, you can happily skip this tweak.



Finally, as previously noted, you can unlock 1999 Mode from the very start with a keyboard modified version of the Konami code. Just enter Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Esc, Enter at the main menu. I'm assured that 1999 Mode doesn't just replace the soundtrack with an endless loop of Ricky Martin's Livin' la Vida Loca. That would be awful.



Enable Multiple Save-game Slots



Infinite's saving system defaults astonishingly to only one slot, and that throws an electric-charged wrench into the prospect of keeping several playthroughs at once with different power combinations and choice outcomes.



Luckily, GameFront figured out, with a little file finagling, how to swap around multiple saved games whenever you need them. The process is somewhat clunky, but it gets the job done:



1. Make sure Steam cloud synchronization is disabled.



2. Make a backup of your BioShock Infinite “savedata” directory. It should be located here: ..Steamuserdata8870remotesavedata



3. Create as many subfolders as you want within this directory. Assume that each of them contains a save game.



4. Simply move the contents of the “savedata” directory into the corresponding subfolder whenever you or anyone else wants to start a new game.



5. When you start a new game, a new save file for that game will be automatically created within the main “savedata” directory.



6. When you want to switch playthroughs, first move the current file in the “savegame” directory into a sub-folder for safekeeping (remember to name the sub-folders so you remember which is which). Secondly, move the playthrough you’d like to load from its sub-folder into the main “savegame” directory, which will enable you to continue from that file.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Why you should play BioShock Infinite on Hard difficulty">bioshock-hard







Your virginal play-through of a story-driven game like BioShock Infinite is precious. And after finishing Infinite, I think Hard difficulty brings out its best aspects as an acrobatic, frantic shooter—especially if you play plenty of FPSes. Here's why I'd recommend starting the game on Hard.







If you are starting BioShock Infinite this week, read up on our settings suggestions, then let us know what you thought in our BioShock review comments. And when you're done, give 1999 mode a shot.



PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Nvidia GeForce 314.22 drivers boost BioShock Infinite, Tomb Raider performance">BioShock Infinite







As it typically does for a major game launch, Nvidia has updated its GeForce card drivers to 314.22 for boosts in performance and stability. It claims recent titans BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider both get a significant bump in frames-per-second, with the former increasing by 41 percent and the latter by an astonishing 71 percent.



Nvidia's article provides benchmark results and pretty green graph bars to scrutinize. Though the company's test hardware was an Intel i7-3960X and a GTX 680—a beefy setup most definitely on the high-end of priciness—Nvidia says the improvements apply to most other cards in the GTX family.



Other frame gains include an extra 30 percent for Civilization 5, 22 percent for Sniper Elite V2, and 12 percent for Sleeping Dogs. Smaller boosts are given to Batman: Arkham City, Battlefield 3, Borderlands 2, Black Ops 2, and Skyrim. Really, if you're playing nearly any graphics-heavy game from the past few years, and you're a GeForce user, pick up the drivers on the official website or through the useful GeForce Experience tool. It's green across the board.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Unlock BioShock Infinite’s 1999 mode with the Konami code">BioShock Infinite







Only hours remain until BioShock Infinite emerges from cloud cover on leathery steampunk wings, and we're eager for you to play one of the most artistically powerful games we've seen. Once you beat the campaign, you'll enable access to 1999 mode, a throwback to the challenges of old-school shooters with toughened enemies and a leaner health bar. But if you want, you can hop on the pain sky-train right from the start with a very familiar code.



On the main menu, hit this key combination:



Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, (Cancel), (Confirm)



It's the Konami code, the universal cheat found in nearly all of Konami's console games of the '80s and '90s. Irrational has a love for lacing its games with subtle nods to its influences and gaming history, so it's no surprise if more references jump out at you during your time in Columbia.



Irrational also released Infinite's launch trailer, seen below and set to "Fury Oh Fury" by Nico Vega.



PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Bioshock Infinite’s launch trailer signals the end of the infinite trailers">Bioshock Infinite Elizabeth







It's over! We did it! Bioshock Infinite's launch is imminent, and according to Tom's review, it's a game you should be seriously excited about. But forget that, because something even more momentous has happened: Irrational have released their launch trailer. And that means we've survived the near-endless visual onslaught of promotional Bioshock Infinite videos that have bombarded us since the game's announcement.



There's been the one with the skyhook violence, the one where Elizabeth cuts loose, the one with the faux-documentary, and then the other one with the faux-documentary. *Deep breath* Then we had the one with Comstock and his City in the Sky, the one with the questionable pre-order bonuses, and the one with the entirety of the game's first five minutes. And that's just been the last few months.



Now, sit back and enjoy Nico Vega's Fury Oh Fury backing one final cathartic burst of moving pictures cut straight from the game's belly. You've earned it.
Product Release - Valve
BioShock Infinite is Now Available on Steam! Check the game page for the release time in your territory.

Indebted to the wrong people, with his life on the line, veteran of the U.S. Cavalry and now hired gun, Booker DeWitt has only one opportunity to wipe his slate clean. He must rescue Elizabeth, a mysterious girl imprisoned since childhood and locked up in the flying city of Columbia. Forced to trust one another, Booker and Elizabeth form a powerful bond during their daring escape. Together, they learn to harness an expanding arsenal of weapons and abilities, as they fight on zeppelins in the clouds, along high-speed Sky-Lines, and down in the streets of Columbia, all while surviving the threats of the air-city and uncovering its dark secret.

PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Bioshock Infinite review">Bioshock-Infinite-screenshot-Elizabeth-and-Songbird







When I finished BioShock Infinite – don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything – I was dumbfounded. I wanted to tell someone what I thought, but for a moment I had absolutely no idea. I’d experienced a kind of excited panic, then total delight, then momentary confusion, and then a rush of extraordinary sights, powerful scenes and sudden twists that left me struggling to keep up.



It’s a spectacular ending. It’s just a shame it doesn’t make a lick of sense.

"The plot really does jump the shark. It jumps a lot of sharks. It jumps BioShark Infinisharks"

Infinite is wonderful. Every single person who can play it, should play it. It’s a fascinating and gruesomely fun adventure in a genuinely unique, magnificent place. But the plot really does jump the shark. It jumps a lot of sharks. It jumps BioShark Infinisharks. That’s not uncommon in cinematic first-person shooters, but I mention it now because the game’s mysteries are such a big part of its appeal.



You’re on a flying city of magical racists in 1912, and that soon drops to being only the fifth or sixth most puzzling thing about your situation. Who are those two? Why are they talking about me? What’s with the giant cyborg bird? What does AD stand for? How does he know... why does she think... when did they... why can I shoot crows from my hands? And how do these pants help me reload?







The intro says you’re Booker DeWitt, a private investigator tasked with retrieving a girl named Elizabeth. But I played more like a crazed amnesiac looter, scouring the city for spare change and story clues. In cheerful contrast to the original BioShock’s deep-sea madhouse, the flying city of Columbia is still thriving, still beautiful, and still populated – albeit with magical racists. That means it can give you little pieces of these puzzles in more interesting ways, and hoovering them up into a wonky jigsaw is a joy.

"You get to know Columbia as a tourist: a dazzling dream of an impossible city in an impossible place – tranquil, prosperous and happy."

I think it still would have been, even if a tear had opened in the fabric of spacetime and future alterno-Tom, stroking his goatee, had told me that the plot ultimately doesn’t add up. So I’m telling you in the hope that you’ll still enjoy the process of assembling that wonky jigsaw, without being quite so disappointed when the game itself cuts all the nobbly bits of the pieces so it can cram them together the way it wants to.



Really, it’s just a pleasure to have a game this substantial to explore – and one that gives you the breathing room to do so. You still spend a lot of time killing things in BioShock Infinite, but it knows when to give you space. You get to know Columbia as a tourist: a dazzling dream of an impossible city in an impossible place – tranquil, prosperous and happy.



Shops, blocks and districts waft wonkily through the air, listing as they cruise in to dock with each other. Bells chime, children play, locals picnic. There’s a fair on, and everyone’s out in their 1912 Sunday best. The sun is dazzling, the views are breathtaking, and everyone you meet is chattering happily. As heavy metal clamps lock a tailor’s shop in place, I realise the times on the sign outside aren’t their opening hours: they’re arrivals and departure times.







Your arrival is one of gaming’s few truly perfect scenes: a chapel, floors awash with holy water, stone walls echoing with the calming harmony of a gospel choir. Stained glass dioramas flood the space with brilliant gold light, and the heat from a hundred candles creates a gentle haze. The only hint that you’re not actually in the afterlife is an occasional, very distant clanking, as some chunk of the city drifts against its restraints. It’s more than atmospheric; it’s exquisite. That kind of ridiculous artistic flair runs throughout: staggering works of sculpture, transformative use of light, perfectly judged ambience, and music that both nods to the plot and subtly changes the mood. The mileage this game gets out of the song Will The Circle Be Unbroken alone – all four times it's used – deserves some kind of award.

"Your arrival is one of gaming’s few truly perfect scenes"

Columbia is a less restrictive setting than BioShock’s Rapture, and each district has a different vibe. That makes your adventure through it fascinating, and each new area exciting to discover. Even close to the end, you're visiting remarkable new places with radically different moods.



I keep wanting to say that it’s ‘directed’ brilliantly, the elements fit together so well. But that’s not the right word, because the other thing it does well is keeping you in control. There are no cutscenes, no switching to third person, no agency-limiting tropes like mounted gun sections. The few times you’re not free to move are generally when your character physically wouldn’t be.



Maintaining that respect for the player, even when you need to tell a character-driven story, is a rare and wonderful thing. Like Half-Life 2, Infinite doesn’t feel like a game made by frustrated filmmakers. It feels like a game made by people who know how to make films, and decided to make something else.







Early on, the times when combat does break out are the low points. There seems to have been some internal rule against adding any exotic weapons, so Infinite’s guns stick religiously to convention: pistols, shotguns, three types of machinegun, rifles, grenade launchers and a rocket launcher. None of them let you choose an ammo type the way BioShock did, and only the revolver and shotguns are really satisfying to use. Those aren’t available in the early fights, when guns are your primary tools.



It gets better the more you drink. You acquire magical abilities by downing Vigors, which come in beautiful custom bottles relating to what they do. A lot of the early ones just let you disable and damage a group of enemies – by swarming them with crows, setting fire to them, or floating them into the air. But they get more interesting.

"There seems to have been some internal rule against adding any exotic weapons, so Infinite’s guns stick religiously to convention"

Charge lets you dash to a group of enemies and hit them with explosive force. Return to Sender absorbs incoming damage while you hold the button, then releases it as a projectile when you let go. Undertow can knock enemies back with a wave of water – often the end of your day, in a flying city. Or you can hold the button down to reach out with Donnie Darko-style tendrils and yank distant snipers to your doorstep. The water even holds them still while you line up a headshot.



Some of them form natural combos: soaking wet Undertow victims are really hoping that you’re not going to- oh, you’re electrocuting them before they can get up, classy. Enemies currently being pecked to death would like to request that you don’t set the crows... well, they’re on fire now, but for future reference.



There are only eight Vigors, and they’re all free when you find them. You only specialise when you buy upgrades: expensive but significant perks for each, some of which introduce new rules.



I wasn’t wild about Murder of Crows until I bought the perk that creates a nest every time someone dies during the pecking process. If anyone steps on it, that nest erupts in a new flock of crows. If anyone dies during that crow storm, you get new nests! Plenty of fights involve new waves of enemies flooding into the same area, and this self-perpetuating cycle of flapping and screaming and dying is a guilty pleasure.











You can tweak your abilities a little more with Gear – like the aforementioned pants that mysteriously help you reload. I also carry three magical hats, two spare shirts, a spare pair of shoes, and I’ve now upgraded to pants that make me explode when I land from a great height.



The system is insane and wildly incongruous, but it does allow for some entertaining configurations. If someone walks into one of my crow traps, I can then land on them to set the crows ablaze. If they try to hit me, my hat electrocutes them. And by then they’ve taken enough damage that my shirt will let me break their neck with one blow. This causes my shoes to heal me, as a reward for getting a melee kill.

"I’m wearing pants that make me explode when I land from a great height."

Vigors are very similar to BioShock’s Plasmids, of course, and Gear is the new version of its Tonics. Alone, they’re not enough to make Infinite’s combat much better than BioShock’s. But it is, and for a different reason: space.



The game’s biggest fights take place in huge open areas, sometimes several city blocks, and metal Sky Rails snake through the air between them. These rails are inverted rollercoasters: you hold a magnetic wheel gizmo that lets you dangle from them, then ride their curves with improbable speed. This changes the format of combat completely: instead of ducking behind cover when you’re in trouble, you leap up and ride off, too fast to be hit. As you zoom along you can aim for a landing spot, pounce on an enemy, switch to a different rail or – best of all – leap onto a hoverboat.



These boats swoop in at the start of a fight, touring the combat space before settling on a spot from which to pelt you with rockets. If you’ve got the sea legs for it, you can leap onto one of them as it’s cruising around, smash all its troops off, then jump off when it drifts near enough to another Sky Rail. The battlefield itself is in motion.







The final new element in Infinite’s fights relates to Elizabeth, the woman you’re here for. She can open ‘tears’ in space that lead to alternate universes. In combat, those universes seem to be full of heavy weapons, medkits, and turrets that are mysteriously on your side. She can only do it at predefined points: you see a ghostly image of the various things she can bring in at different spots, and you press ‘use’ on one to order her to make it real.

"If this isn’t sounding contrived yet, I’m not explaining it properly."

If this isn’t sounding contrived yet, I’m not explaining it properly. These tears are the very heavy hand of the level designer offering you a menu of choices, and they often make the fights feel staged. You can only open one at a time, but that decision is almost always an easy call: of course you want the turret. When you need health, opening the medkit tear is just one more press of the ‘use’ key, then you can bring the turret back. These things might as well be part of the level.



Elizabeth herself is nice. I liked her. If you were hoping for something more – perhaps even the fabled Strong Female Character™ – you might be disappointed. When you’re together, she’s relegated to the role of caddy, limited to passing you a new weapon when you run out of ammo, and only ever using her own abilities when you command her to. And when you’re separated, the plot repeatedly underscores how helpless she is without you. Again, this is not unusual in videogames, it’s just that the sublime introduction to Infinite’s story led you to expect more from it.



You do have a handful of really lovely character moments with her. But the few times that she does something of her own free will, the significance of the act is undermined by the plot’s broken logic, and so is the chance of building a more interesting relationship.







It’s awkward: I want to tell you why the plot failed for me, but I have to be vague. It has many, many leaps of questionable logic, but the ones that really hurt are when your terrible predicament seems to be the direct consequence of decisions that didn’t make sense at the time.

"your solution to a simple logistical problem is the equivalent of setting off an atom bomb to clear a cobweb"

At one point, your solution to a simple logistical problem is the equivalent of setting off an atom bomb to clear a cobweb. So when anything bad happens from then on, you’re thinking, “Boy, it almost seems like setting off that atom bomb was an insane, unnecessary and irrational thing to do.”



You don’t set off an atom bomb. That was a metaphor.



The worst culprit is the ending. The plot’s final emotional sting is an action that just doesn’t seem like it would achieve anything. It seems to be assuming some new rule about how this world works – but since those rules were never established, any drama that hinges on them feels arbitrary.



That completely deflates the ending’s potentially enormous impact. And not just for me: two other reviewers and I discussed it at length, trying to come up with a compelling version of the logic, and none of us could find one.







But all these scenes, even the stupid ones, are depicted with the same artistic flair I gushed about earlier. Even as you’re wondering why the hell anyone is doing any of this, you’re thinking, “God, that is beautiful, though.”



In a sense, that beauty makes it even more of a shame that the writing doesn’t manage to put all this spectacular work to better use. But it also means that these moments end up being emotional anyway. It’s like a surreal arthouse movie where nothing really makes sense, but where each scene is strangely compelling nonetheless.



It’s a weird note to end on, after a game that’s so magnificent in so many other ways. But it doesn’t change the conclusion: BioShock Infinite is something extraordinary, and no one should miss it.



I cover the techy and practical side of the PC version specifically in a separate article on the PC version of BioShock Infinite - performance, FoV, 1999 Mode and the rest.



Expect to pay: $60/£30

Release: Out now

Developer: Irrational Games

Publisher: 2K Games

Multiplayer: None

Link: Bioshock Infinite

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Notes on the PC version of Bioshock Infinite: graphics settings, loot glint and 1999 mode">Bioshock Infinite PC notes



The field of view slider set to minimum...



Our Bioshock Infinite review is live. That covers everything from the story, the setting, what it's like to play and whether it's any good (spoiler alert: it is). But perhaps you have more questions about the PC version. Questions about graphics settings, field of view options, mouse acceleration, V-Sync and 1999 mode. Questions that might be answered by an assemblage of notes illustrated with screenshots of Bioshock Infinite's options menus. We've done exactly that.



Bioshock Infinite needs Windows Vista or later to run, which is a surprise given that 9% of Steam users still have XP as their operating system. But if you've got a more up-to-date OS, and even several-year-old hardware, Bioshock Infinite looks gorgeous and runs great. It was smooth on Ultra everything on my relatively modest 3GHz Core 2 Duo, 8GB RAM, with a Radeon HD 5800. Textures aren't ultra-sharp close up, but it never bothered me. Generally much crisper and prettier than BioShock.



It does have a lot of bloom. But then, you are in the clouds. You can change a lot of graphics settings, but you can't disable post-processing - only switch it to an 'Alternate' mode which makes distant things clearer but closer things more blurry. Good job, Alternate Mode!



I did have to turn V-Sync off to get smooth mouse movement. Fine once I did though. You can disable mouse acceleration, and should.



Field of view is adjustable - here are the two extremes. If you get motion sickness, though, be warned: riding skyrails is exactly like riding a rollercoaster, and parts of the level are also moving around you. You sometimes have to use them to progress in the game.



I still resent having to press Enter to confirm certain menus. Look where Enter is! Look where a PC gamer's hands are!



...and maximum. Unlocks bonus shoe-shiner's arm!



You can't save manually, it's all checkpoints. They're regular enough that this never became a problem, but I still wish they wouldn't punish people who sometimes need to quit games and do other things.



You can turn off enemy healthbars, combat text, glint on loot and important objects, and 'Adaptive training'. Adaptive training keeps telling you how to do things you've done many times, but annoyingly it's the only source of useful information about how critical hits work on certain enemy types, how some Vigors combine, and how to switch between Gear you've picked up (check the Controls screen for 'Gameplay menu').



Medium difficulty is very easy - I only died a handful of times, and I'm bad at things. Hard encourages more tactical use of Vigors and weapon types against conventional enemies. When you complete the game, you get access to the 1999 Mode, which is meant to be like games in 1999. It's not - in 1999, you could quicksave. In this, you can't afford to respawn as much, but you can still load the latest checkpoint. Unfortunately it also makes enemies tediously tough - three pistol headshots to kill a regular guard - so it's just not very fun.



Get the full low-down on the new 'Shock in our Bioshock Infinite review.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Reality Check: Bioshock Infinite">Bioshock Infinite







Reality Check is an occasional column dedicated to sandblasting the fictive and fabulary flab from games to reveal the sturdy bones of real-world TRUFAX below.



Booker Dewitt, a former member of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Songbird, a flying mechanical menace. Columbia, a magnificent floating city in the clouds, first unveiled at the 1893 World's Fair. These are just a few of the elements we're looking forward to exploring in the upcoming Bioshock Infinite, but here at PC Gamer, we're curious: if we strip away the fantastical fanfare, will we uncover some firm facts? For this Reality Check, we fed what we know about Bioshock Infinite into our patented Truth Grinder™ to see what came out the other side.



 

The Pinkerton National Detective Agency

 





According to an interview with Ken Levine, Booker Dewitt, the protagonist of Bioshock Infinite, is a former member of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. The agency is entirely real: it was founded in 1850 by Allan Pinkerton, a guy who sounds like he'd make a great video game protagonist himself.



The son of a Scottish policeman, Allan Pinkerton emigrated to the United States and lived near Chicago in the mid-1800's, working as a barrel-maker and using his cabin as a station for the Underground Railroad. One day while out looking for lumber, he stumbled upon a gang making counterfeit currency. Rather than simply reporting the gang's activities, he personally assisted local law enforcement in tracking down and arresting the counterfeiters, doing such an effective job he was offered a spot in the police department. He accepted, and soon became Chicago's first police detective. This apparently didn't provide him with enough crime to fight, however, so Pinkerton decided to found his own private detective agency, the nation's first.



Pinkerton's agency bore the legend "We Never Sleep" under the image of an unblinking eye, leading to the term "private eye" to describe a detective. The agency quickly established a stellar reputation for busting crooks, and Pinkerton himself even performed personal security for Abraham Lincoln, foiling an (alleged) assassination attempt as he passed through Baltimore en route to his inauguration. Pinkerton also pioneered the mugshot, taking photographs of crooks for use on wanted posters and sharing the pictures with the police and other agencies, giving birth to the country's first national criminal database.



Pinkerton (left), Major General McClernand (right), and the guy in the center was probably important, too.



Soon, the agency was operating not just in big cities but in the Wild West, where they took on such outlaws as Jesse James, the Daltons, and Butch Cassidy's gang. After Pinkerton's death in 1884, businesses began hiring Pinkerton agents to infiltrate and investigate labor unions, and even to provide armed security for strike-breakers. Hundreds of Pinkerton agents were involved in one of the biggest labor disputes in U.S. history, the Homestead Strike, where a riot and firefight broke out at a Pittsburgh steel mill in 1892, resulting in the deaths of both Pinkerton agents and strikers. Booker Dewitt is said to have worked as a union-buster, and left the agency in disgrace. Could the Homestead Strike be the reason why?



 

Songbird

 





In Bioshock Infinite, Songbird is a large, flying, menacing... something or other. Honestly, we're not entirely sure of Songbird's origin or makeup yet, but it's been described as mechanical in nature, sporting massive clockwork wings and glowing eyes. While we wait for the chance to take on this giant robo-bird when the game is released next week, are there any real flying robotic birds we can practice on in the meantime?



As it turns out, some progress is actually being made in the efforts to fill our skies with creepy mechanical birds flapping artificial wings (and probably pooping batteries on our cars). A German company called Festo has developed a "SmartBird" that can fly and land autonomously. Watch it fly over a delighted audience at this TED talk (the flight starts around 2:00 minutes in).







Of course, the bird isn't large enough to carry Elizabeth away and probably wouldn't survive a single shotgun blast, but the glowing eyes are a nice menacing touch. The same company has also developed swimming robotic penguins and a flying jellyfish. For some reason. We should probably keep an eye on these guys.



 

1893 World's Fair

 





According to Bioshock Infinite's promotional videos, the floating city of Columbia was unveiled at the 1893 World's Fair, also known as The World's Columbian Exposition. Obviously, there was no floating city at the real fair, but there were plenty of other modern marvels on display. Some 200 buildings were erected, over forty countries participated, and nearly 30 million visitors attended to gawk at attractions such as George Ferris's original Ferris Wheel, Nicola Tesla's gas-discharge lamp, and Eadweard Muybridge's zoopraxiscope, which showed moving pictures of animals in the first ever commercial movie theater.



Visitors also got to their first exposure to a number of now-familiar tastes, such as Quaker Oats, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Juicy Fruit Gum, and the popcorn and peanut snack that would come to be known as Cracker Jack, then later come to be known as The Snack With The Prize Inside, and then more recently known as The Snack That Used To Have A Prize Inside But Now It's Just Some Stupid Folded Paper Thing.



Another first for the fair: a man named H. H. Holmes, America's first documented serial killer, murdered more than twenty people in his "Murder Castle", a hotel he bought just blocks from the exposition and customized specifically to slaughter his victims in a manner I won't go into here. A book by Erik Larson, called Devil In The White City, details both the fair and Holmes' gruesome activities, and has been cited by Ken Levine as a major inspiration for the setting of Bioshock Infinite.



 

A Floating City

 





Bioshock Infinite has the airborne city of Columbia, but how about us poor chumps stuck in the real world? When will we get a floating city in the sky? The answer, of course, is never, unless you change "in the sky" to "on the ocean", at which point "never" becomes "maybe someday?" The libertarian-founded Seasteading Institute is busy trying to facilitate the construction of mobile floating cities. Bobbing around in international waters, these floating cities plan to attract residents and workers who want to try out new "startup" governments and eventually gain sovereignty.



The question then becomes, would you really want to live on a floating city? In 2011, the Seasteading Institute's FAQ (since changed), contained this tidbit:



"A libertarian seastead should easily be able to have no zoning laws or building codes, low taxes, no import/export tariffs, few restrictions on weapons, local consumption of drugs, no minimum wage..."



Sounds... exciting, to say the least, but if you consider a floating city constructed without building codes by underpaid workers high on drugs and armed to the teeth, it's not hard to imagine it quickly sinking and ending up on the bottom of the sea, thus resembling Andrew Ryan's sunken city of Rapture more than Zachary Comstock's flying city of Columbia.
PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Irrational’s Ken Levine squashes BioShock Infinite budget rumors and talks about Oreos">BioShock Infinite







Just how much did Columbia cost? The studio is predictably keeping quiet on the shooter's overall budget, but a New York Times article mentions some analyst estimates put it around $200 million. Creative Director Ken Levine responds to the figure on Twitter with a denial and a healthy swig of a sarcasm power potion.



200 million for Infinite? Did someone send some checks to the wrong address? #unnamedanalyst— Ken Levine (@IGLevine) March 22, 2013



Analyst: @iglevine 's American girl doll collection cost 200 million.— Ken Levine (@IGLevine) March 22, 2013



Elsewhere, GameSpot spoke with Levine on the slightly-twitching-horse subject of Infinite's box art. He compares the need to market the game to non-enthusiasts with the packaging of Oreo cookies.



"What is the package of an Oreo cookie? It is a representation of something that is trying to catch your eye and appeal to you," Levine says. "Does it taste like an Oreo cookie? No. Does it feel like an Oreo cookie? Can you eat it? No. Does it have any nutritional value? No."



He continues: "I understand why people are bothered by this, because for some reason BioShock in particular is something they put this particular value on. But I have a responsibility to the company I work for, to the people I employ, to give them the best shot of having their work recognized and rewarded. And you know what, if I'm going to get criticized because I chose a box cover, those people don't have the same responsibilities that I do."



Although Levine does have a responsibility to both show off Irrational's work as best as possible and impart a strong hunger for Oreos (gee, thanks for that), he's also shown flexibility. Back in December, he held a poll to choose an alternative cover on the reverse side of Booker DeWitt's pose of zeppelin-sized machismo.



BioShock Infinite will be here on March 26. Keep your eyes to the sky for our review next week.
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